Car trips with kids can sometimes seem never-ending – between snack requests, toilet stops, feeling car sick, or bickering over toys and screens! It certainly takes some of the pressure off when you know you can break the journey into shorter trips, but often knowing where to stop is the real question. We have picked some parent-recommended favourites to give you some peace of mind and make the Dublin to Westport, County Mayo journey (or vice versa) a chance to see some fantastic sights.
These family-friendly pitstops offer plenty of opportunity to stretch your legs, recharge and refuel with some tasty snacks, and take in some impressive Irish attractions along the way. If you have the bikes on the back of the car for your holidays, you can even put them into use with a cycle along part of the Royal Canal Greenway.
Your travel day no longer needs to be stressful – make it part of the holiday itself, getting some fresh air, seeing the sights and finding some hidden gems along the way!
Where to Stop from Dublin to Westport
Donadea Forest, Kildare
Donadea Forest Park, run by Coillte, includes Donadea Castle and estate. There are many historical features, including the remains of the castle and walled gardens, St. Peter’s church, an ice house and boat house. Another feature of the park is the 9/11 Memorial, a scaled replica of the twin towers carved in limestone.
There are three looped walking trails to try, including a 0.8km looped walk around the lake where you can see plenty of ducks, a 1.6km nature trail through the grounds, and a more substantial 5.7km walk which takes you all around the park.
A small cafe is open all year, or pack a picnic to enjoy near the lake.
Royal Canal Greenway
Need to stretch your legs? The Royal Canal Greenway is 130km of level towpath, ideal for walkers, runners and cyclists of all ages and stages.
Starting in Maynooth, it follows the 200-year-old canal through Enfield and Mullingar to Cloondara in Longford, with cafés, picnic spots and attractions along the way.
Along the Greenway you’ll also discover the National Famine Way, a digitally and physically waymarked 167km walking trail that connects Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon with Custom House Quay in Dublin. The outdoor, immersive trail commemorates the journey which was made by 1,490 people from Roscommon to Dublin during the height of the Famine in 1847.
Belvedere House Gardens & Park, Westmeath
Belvedere House is set on an elevated site overlooking Lough Ennell with spectacular views of the 160-acre estate.
Discover 10kms of trails along the lakeshore and through the woodlands. The trails provide the opportunity to explore the flora and fauna at Belvedere. Some trees throughout the estate have been planted for hundreds of years. In addition there is a Victorian walled garden, an arboretum with many exotic plants, numerous follies including the infamous Jealous Wall, and a fairy garden for younger members of the family.
Mollie Moo’s Pet Farm & Playground, Westmeath
Just outside Mullingar, Mollie Moo’s is a family-run pet farm that is perfect for burning off energy! Children can interact with, cuddle and feed the animals, play crazy golf, ride pedal cars and go karts, and enjoy some fresh air fun in the playground.
Bring a picnic to enjoy while the kids run around, and there is a shop for drinks and snacks.
Check opening hours before you visit as the farm is closed during the winter months (Nov-Feb), and open weekends in off-peak times.
Strokestown Park House & Gardens, Roscommon
Strokestown Park, Gardens and Irish National Famine Museum is well worth a visit. Strokestown House, a Georgian Palladian mansion, was the family home of the Pakenham Mahon family and is built on the site of the 16th century castle, home of The O Conor Roe Gaelic Chieftains. It is unique in that it retains its original furnishings and professionally guided tours run daily giving an intimate insight into life in The Big House, upstairs and downstairs.
The six acre walled pleasure gardens have been restored to their original splendour and with features such as the herbaceous border, the fernery, lily pond, Victorian rose garden, pergola, peach house, and more.
The Irish National Famine Museum tells a different story and highlights the parallels between a tragic chapter of Irish History and contemporary global hunger.
National Museum of Ireland Country Life, Mayo
The National Museum of Ireland Country Life in Mayo offers an amazing free day out with activities to keep everyone in the family happy as you explore Ireland’s National Folklife Collection to see how people lived long ago.
Learn about age-old crafts, see the blacksmith’s forge, farming equipment and what an Irish home would have looked like in the 19th century. What would you have worn in the 1800s? Find out at the children’s dress-up station, which includes hats and outfits from times gone by.
In addition, head outside to discover and explore the woodland trails, get hands-on with the Discovery Station, go on an activity trail, burn off some energy in the woodland playground, or borrow the Games Box from the museum reception to see what children played in times gone by.
Combine a visit to the museum with a Greenway day out for all of the family. The 10km Museum Greenway is classed as ‘easy to moderate’ and links Lough Lannagh in Castlebar with the grounds of Turlough Park. Bicycle parking facilities are available at the museum and bicycle hire is available in Castlebar.
Dublin to Westport: Restaurants Along the Way
Stopping for a quick bite to eat along the way or to recharge is a good idea, and finding a family-friendly choice is always helpful. Here are recommendations from Mykidstime parents for restaurants along the route from Dublin to Westport.
- Family-friendly restaurants in Dublin
- Family-friendly restaurants in Kildare
- Family-friendly restaurants in Meath
- Family-friendly restaurants in Westmeath
- Family-friendly restaurants in Longford
- Family-friendly restaurants in Roscommon
- Family-friendly restaurants in Galway
- Family-friendly restaurants in Mayo