Family Things to Do in Northern Ireland and Ulster

Jill Holtz

May 26, 2014

Family Things to do in Northern Ireland

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Looking for things to do with kids? As parents, we are always on the lookout for great places to go with kids. In no particular order, we have rounded up our pick of fun summer outings and family things to do in Northern Ireland and Ulster! You’ll find a mixture of paid for and free places to visit, indoors and outdoors places, old historical places and brand new attractions.

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We hope you have fun visiting them all and be sure to let us know how you got on and what you thought of them, we always welcome feedback!

1. Exploris Aquarium, Down

explorisExploris is Northern Ireland’s public Aquarium and seal sanctuary, located at Portaferry. Discover pool demonstrations, run by experienced guides, at regular intervals throughout each day, which can give you the opportunity to interact with a variety of living marine animals. You can see how Exploris rehabilitates Northern Ireland’s sick, injured or orphaned seals back to health in the seal sanctuary.

2. Seaforde Tropical Gardens, Down

Butterfly_photopinSeaforde Gardens and Tropical Butterfly House are situated in the historic demesne of Seaforde, which has been a family home for almost 400 years.

The gardens and tropical butterfly house offer the perfect day out for the family. Enjoy the experience and beauty of free-flying tropical butterflies as you walk through the steamy jungle of the butterfly house. Climb the Moghul Tower and survey the walled garden from above or simply relax and enjoy the extraordinary collection of trees and plants within Seaforde’s renowned gardens. Seaforde Gardens also have tearooms, a Butterfly House shop, a maze, and a children’s playground.

3. Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh

The Ulster American Folk Park is an outdoor museum which tells the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Follow the emigrant trail, meeting an array of costumed characters on your way, as you journey from the thatched cottages of Ulster, on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship, leading to the log cabins of the American Frontier.

4. Titanic Belfast, Antrim


At Titanic Belfast, discover the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way. Explore the shipyard, travel to the depths of the ocean and uncover the true legend of Titanic, in the city where it all began. With several levels of interactive exhibits, tracing the story of the Titanic from its origins in industrial Belfast to the final tragedy itself, you will find plenty for all ages.

Don’t miss: Afternoon Tea which takes place in the Titanic Suite, featuring the Grand Staircase and overlooking the Slipway on which Titanic was built.

5. W5 Belfast

whowhatwherewhenwhy – W5 is Ireland’s award winning science and discovery centre at Odyssey in Belfast. With over 250 interactive exhibits and a changing programme of events, shows and exhibitions, W5 is a great value day out for all the family!

Recommended Reading: Family Holidays in Ireland

6. Armagh Planetarium, Armagh

armaghplanetariumArmagh Planetarium should be on your go-to list if there are any budding astronomers in your house! Interactive displays allow you to learn about the cosmos and watch the latest space news in real time. The Armagh Celestial Cathedral is a beautiful gallery of illuminated deep space images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope framed in dramatic gothic arches and the Astropark is a scale model of the Universe where visitors can walk through the Solar System and into the Milky Way and beyond. You can design, build and launch your own rocket too!

7. Ulster Museum

Ulster Museum, is located in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens, and admission is free. Pick up your free kid’s explorer map, complete with stickers in the welcome area, to help plan your way around the museum!

Do you know how big dinosaurs were or what a Mummy looks like? Have you ever wanted to see real treasure that was lost at sea? Well now you can – they’ve got all sorts of cool things that you’ll love to discover, and there are three interactive discovery centres(Discover Art, Discover Nature and Discover History) which are so jam-packed with exciting things to do that you will want to visit again and again!

8. Slieve League Cliffs Donegal

slieveleagueAlmost 3 times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, the Slieve League Cliffs in Co. Donegal reach to a height of almost 2,000 feet making them some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. With 2 car parks families can opt to leave their car at the lower level and walk the road to the base or drive along the winding road to the upper parking level.

From here enjoy the view across the Atlantic to Sligo, Leitrim and Mayo. The cliffs cater for all levels of climber, with a rocky path leading you to the top. For the more adventurous, you can climb to the one mans pass and discover early stone dwellings and sacred sites. See the Giants Chair and Table, which sit below the cliffs and can be seen from the viewing tower

9. Doagh Famine Village, Donegal

doagh famine villageStroll around Doagh Famine Village and explore the outdoor museum of life-size cottages and see what life was really like in Ireland during the famine times. Admission is €7.50 each and this covers a 45min guided tour by local man Pat and includes a tea/coffee, wheaten bread/biscuit at the end! You are free to wander around after your tour and the kids will love exploring the cottages while you take photos.

10. Donegal Castle

donegal castle

Donegal Castle, Donegal Town, was built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century, beside the River Eske has recently been renovated, and is open daily from Easter to mid- September, and Thursday to Monday for rest of year. Guided tours available.

11. Marble Arch Caves, Cavan & Fermanagh

marble arch cavesThe Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is located in the rugged mountainous uplands and the gentle rolling lowlands of counties Fermanagh and Cavan. Taking in the world-famous Marble Arch Caves, the Geopark boasts some of the finest natural landscapes in Ireland and offers a window into the area’s 650 million year past. Don’t miss the Cladagh Glen Walk, a beautiful walk alongside the Cladagh River where you might even spot a red squirrel.

Recommended Reading: 100 Rainy Day Places in Ireland

12. Tullydermot Falls, Cavan

The dramatic Tullydermot Falls are situated approximately 6km south-west of Swanlinbar in the direction of the Bellavally Gap.The Tullydermot viewpoint overlooks Slieve Rushen and the lowlands of north Cavan. There’s a great view of the summit of Cuilcagh mountains.

13. Dun a Ri and Killykeen Forest Parks, Cavan


Dun a Ri Forest Park is situated north of Kingscourt on the R179 to Carrickmacross. Amenities include Picnic Site, Public toilet, Walking Trails. There are four signposted walks in Dun a Ri Forest Park.

Killykeen Forest Park is located on the shore of Lough Oughter in the lake district of Co Cavan.  Amenities include Picnic Site, Playground and walking trails. Very scenic Forest Park as it lies on the shores of Lough Oughter which is part of the River Erne system. As well as walking trails that lead through dark forests, over bridges and along river banks, there are Picnic areas.

14. Cavan County Museum

The Cavan County Museum is located at Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan. The museum houses a medieval dug out boat and sheela-na gigs, galleries on folk life in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the great famine, Percy French.

15. Rossmore Forest Park, Monaghan

rossmore forest park

Rossmore Forest Park has several forest walks, a Nature Trail and a Yew walk. It has a car park, picnic sites, forest and lakeside walks, nature trails and viewing points. Located 3.5km south west of Monaghan Town on the R189 to Newbliss. €5 per car on Saturdays and Sundays. Don’t miss the rhododendron and azalea display, which is at it’s most colourful best in early summer.

16. Wildlife & Heritage Centre, Monaghan

The Wildlife & Heritage Centre, Contibret, Monaghan, is home to Ireland’s largest private collection of flora and fauna. Get up close to birds and mammals like you never would in wild, touring this exhibition of over 300 mounted specimens.

Recommended Reading:  Great Family Walks Ireland and Family Walks in Donegal & Cavan. We also have lots more ideas for fun outings in Family Things to Do in ConnachtMunster and Leinster

Did you visit any of the Ulster places we recommended? Tell us how you got on in the comments below!

Butterfly photo credit: Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel via photopin cc
Aquarium photo credit: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc
Titanic photo credit: infomatique via photopin cc


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