9. Lake Compounce, Connecticut
Named for a native American chieftain, America’s oldest continuously-operated amusement park first earned renown in 1846, when thousands of spectators came out to watch a scientist explode a floating raft filled with gunpowder. This inaugural event was apparently a bit of a bust, but it did inspire the owner to make better use of his idyllic lakeside location.
Lake Compounce eventually grew into a bustling mixed-use space filled with paddle boats, a casino, carousel, and carnival rides, including the Boulder Dash, which still ranks among America’s top wooden roller coasters. In its heyday, the amusement zone was also a musical hub with a healthy roster of Big Band concerts. In 1941, 5,000 people showed up to dance to songs by an up-and-coming artist known as Frank Sinatra.