HANDS UP: 5 Best Roller Coasters Within Driving Distance of Philadelphia

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, a theme park is defined by its roller coasters, and Philly is well-within shouting distance of some of the best steel and wood goliaths in the world. Here are the five coasters you have to hit before summer ends.

5. Steel Force: Dorney Park, Allentown




At 5,600 feet long, Steel Force is the longest coaster on the East Coast, and its 205 foot initial drop is nothing to scoff at, either.

Dorney Park may be better known for its family-themed Planet Snoopy, but the momentary pause before Steel Force's initial plunge and the pitch-black tunnel that immediately follows are enough to keep coaster enthusiasts coming back again and again.

4. El Toro: Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

The fastest wooden roller coaster in the world (top speed: 70 MPH), El Toro has managed to outshine its neighbor Kingda Ka—the tallest coaster in the world—since its 2006 opening.

Crafted out of prefabricated, laser-cut track by Intamin Worldwide, El Toro pushed boundaries like no wooden coaster before it, performing its initial dive at a 76-degree angle.

Ranked the #2 wooden coaster in the world by Amusement Today, El Toro is a must-ride.

3. Flying Turns: Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg

Based on a design that dates back to the 1920s, Flying Turns is a resurrection of the classic bobsled coaster model, which certainly lives up to its title.

For the most part, Flying Turns is trackless, allowing the train to freely skate around the course's wooden walls.

As an added bonus, admission to Knoebels has been free since the family-owned park's 1926 opening, making a trip on Flying Turns especially light on the wallet.

2. Skyrush: Hersheypark, Derry

An Intamin prototype of the wing coaster model that allows riders to freely sit over the edges of the track, Skyrush is Hersheypark's newest—and tallest coaster.

Measuring in at 212 feet tall, Skyrush subjects riders to forces as fierce as 5 G's after its first drop, and has become one of the most popular rides in the park.

With wing coasters starting to crop up at theme parks all over the country, Skyrush stands tall as the East Coast's best option for this particular thrill.

1. Nitro: Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

The only park to have two entries on this list, Great Adventure boasts 12 coasters to its name. But Nitro stands pound-for-pound as the most thrilling ride to hardcore coaster enthusiasts.

Boasting a 215-foot initial drop while hitting a top speed of 80 MPH, Nitro is best known for delivering an incredibly smooth ride as it zips around its hammerhead turn.

Holding a top five spot in Amusement Today's steel coaster rankings since 2005, no ride will be dethroning Nitro anytime soon.

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