When I was a kid my parents, brother and I always took at least one family vacation a year, whether it be to the Great Lakes in Michigan, the Snake River in Washington state, the train in Four Corners, Colo., or to Devil's Tower in my own backyard.

We visited a few amusement parks, too, but they weren't as cool as they are now. We went to Disneyland and Disney World and the Epcot Center.

Lately there are a ton more, but some people don't know they're out there. With the summer vacation season coming, Family Circle magazine has some great ideas for you and your family. Here are a few:

  • My favorite will be Lagoon, just outside Ogden, Utah. I love this place for sentimental reasons. Even if our family took a longer vacation, we still managed to head to Lagoon at least once a year. We lived two hours away in Wyoming.
  • Six Flags Great America, which has parks across the country, is debuting Goliath, the fastest wooden coaster in the world, along with Zumanjaro Drop of Doom, which is supposed to be the tallest-drop tower in the world. Zumanjaro riders plummet 415 feet in 10 seconds -- save lunch for after the ride. You won't catch me dead on those, but I will go check out the parks.
  • If you're in Brooklyn, N.Y., don't miss Coney Island. Been a few times, but that was before they put in the 115-foot-tall Thunderbolt.
  • In Corpus Christie, Texas, hit the newly opened Schlitterbahn -- five water parks in one place. They must really rock! And Kansas City, Kan., has a new raft waterslide that's taller than Niagara Falls and making huge waves this summer.
  • Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., has just launched a family coaster called the Firchaser Express, which shoots riders backward, then forward to a huge explosion -- an amazing ride!
  • Or if you like Alan Jackson, visit Columbus, Ga., and try life in the reconstructed downtown along the real Chattahoochee River. It's the longest urban whitewater course in the world.