Theme parks are man-made marvels; national parks are nature marvels.
Do you have a favorite destination between them or do you like them equally?
Honestly, I made the drive to visit a friend near Roanoke when I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg/ Kings Dominion, and the Blue Ridge Parkway was SPECTACULAR!
I went to Crazy Horse and got to hike up on his arm, really cool and highly recommend it! The only catch is, they do this once a year on a weekend in June, so you have to plan accordingly. You can still visit the site and visitor's center and museum, but won't be able to hike up top.
Theme parks and national parks are the same way. As a traveler, I love being in both narrative and natural environments. They are different experiences, but both rewarding.
The notable thing about America's natural parks. In my experience, a huge percentage of fellow visitors are not American. It seems that international travelers often appreciate our parks more than we Americans do.
That, or they are more likely to be able afford to take vacations these days. I don't know which explanation makes me more sad.
I love both! But they deliver different experiences. You need time to truly appreciate a nature park, while in a theme park you can do multiple attractions in a short period.
But there are some common points. I am a huge safari fan, and I can trace back this taste to the first time I went to jungle cruise in WDW. Sometimes in a theme park my anxiety to go to all main rides spoils my fun. The same thing can happen when doing a safari in Africa and you fall in the paranoia of seeing all the big 5.
If you like wildlife I would recommend Serengeti and Ngoro Ngoro in Tanzania. These parks are unbeatable!
If you like a mix of man made with nature made I recommend Cappadocia, in Turkey.
I have been to only 3 national parks in USA, Sequoias (CA), Upper Peninsula (MI) and Everglades (FL) but I find then very organized and with a very good touristic infrastructure. I belive is that, plus the natural beauty that attracts foreign visitors. The same is true for South Africa National Parks.
My home country, Brazil, unfortunately is the opposite. We have many and very beautiful parks, but with a lousy touristic infrastructure (information included).
I would love to go to Yellowstone and Yosemite, but my kids are too young for that. What do you think would be the ideal age (or the minimum age) for a children to enjoy these parks?