Guide to Carlow for Families: Where to Eat, Stay, Play and Explore

Jill Holtz

November 1, 2022

Ultimate Guide to Carlow for Families

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County Carlow combines gorgeous scenery with cute villages, rivers, rolling hills, plenty of history, fun places to take the kids, and more. Enjoy nature, culture, delicious food, and a whole host of unique family-friendly activities and places to visit to keep you busy.

In our Guide to Carlow for Families, we’ve picked some of our favourite things to do with the family around Carlow, whether you’re planning a weekend break, looking to fill a rainy day, explore in the sunshine, or just try something new.

Our Guide to Carlow for Families

Family-Friendly Things to Do in Carlow


Pretend you are Willie Wonka by making chocolate at the Chocolate Garden in Tullow. Kids can try samples, see how different chocolate products are made, see and smell what a cocoa bean is actually like, and make and decorate a chocolate figure to take home. They also have a free Play Area and a covered outdoor picnic area.

Afterwards, pop next door to Rathwood. They run regular seasonal kids activities, for example Movies in the Woods or Teddy Bear Picnics. Take a trip on Rathwood’s Express Train through the woods and stop at the pond to feed the ducks, or go from Donegal to Cork in under an hour with the Maze of Ireland! They also have a great playground and a deer park with miniature ponies, goats, deer, geese and more.

Take a guided tour of Huntington Castle & Dungeon in Huntington. See the fascinating old house, tour the beautiful gardens and stop by the famous yew walk. They have a fantastic woodland adventure playground with swings, slides, play huts, monkey bars, balance beams, and much more. The castle also has a working farm, and kids will love to see the potbellied pigs who wander freely around the castle grounds.

At Duckett’s Grove, you can see the stunning ruins of the surviving towers and turrets of the house and walled garden while enjoying a walk around the grounds. The walled gardens have been restored and there is a small craft shop with local products. There is also a tea room on site, a large carpark and toilets.

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Free Things to Do in Carlow

Altamont Gardens in Carlow - Mykidstime

Known as the most romantic garden in Ireland, Altamont Gardens, near Tullow, is an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens located on a 100 acre estate. There’s a fascinating walk, which kids love, through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen with its canopy of ancient oaks leading to the River Slaney. You will also find picnic areas, and a garden centre with tea-rooms. The gardens are free to visit but there is a €2 car parking fee.

Visit Browneshill Dolmen, a granite portal dolmen, which is located to the east of Carlow town dating back to pre-historic times. It is said to be the largest dolmen in Europe and is estimated to weigh up to 150 tonnes.

Bring the kids to one of the local libraries in Carlow. Most have children’s sections where the kids can sit down and entertain themselves with the great selection of books, games and puzzles. Every Saturday at 11:00am Carlow Central Library hosts a storytelling session for children under the age of 6 years.

Most of the towns in Carlow have playgrounds, but here are some great playgrounds in Carlow that we can recommend, including Oak Park Forest Park which has an accessible playground with swings including a wheelchair swing and slides.

Outdoor Activities in Carlow

Diamond Hill 99 fantastic places to go in Ireland with kids

After a play in the accessible children’s playground, head off for a walk at Oak Park Forest Park, there are colour-coded trails, with wheelchair-accessible surfaces, including a looped boardwalk. Look out for ducks and swans. Picnic area also available. It’s also a great place to fly kites, with plenty of large open spaces.

Enjoy two different loop walks at the Kilbrannish Forest Recreation Area. The Windfarm Loop is 3km long with a good surface and uphill sections, it’s suitable for families with young children. The Kilbrannish Forest Loop is a bit longer, it’s 5km and will take you approx. 2 hours to complete. On either one you’ll get magnificent views of the surrounding lowlands and Mount Leinster on a good day. There is a picnic site and a car park close by.

Delta Sensory Gardens are a hidden gem on the outskirts of Carlow Town and have been described as ‘an oasis of peace and tranquility’ by TripAdvisor. Inside you will find themed gardens and numerous water features including the famous Kugal, one tonne of pink marble floating on a cushion of water. The fully accessible gardens have so much to offer throughout the year and a little coffee shop with delicious homemade offerings.

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Are you searching for what’s on for families in Ireland? Enjoy hours of family fun with our monthly round up of exciting events and things to do!

What's on in ireland container

Family-Friendly Museums & Galleries in Carlow

visual carlow

Visual Carlow is free to visit, there is a Gallery with quiet spaces to sit and browse art books, plus a Make and Do table for little ones. Children must be supervised by an adult at all times – but feel free to grab a takeaway coffee and avail of the free Wifi whilst they draw! They also hold drawing and art related workshops and events for kids and families so check before you visit.

Carlow County Museum, in Carlow Town, is open all year round and admission is free. Spanning four galleries, the museum has a wide collection of items and artefacts from Carlow county. Make sure to check out the original gallows trapdoor from Carlow Gaol, the 340 million year old fossilised squid and even the the last cigarette smoked by Kevin Barry, an 18 year old medical student who was executed for his role in the Irish War of Independence. You can also book a free guided tour. They have a Carlow County Museum Detective Quiz for kids to do while exploring the museum.

Located in a 19th century Church in Carlow Town, the County Carlow Military Museum has many fascinating artefacts detailing the history of the World War 1, the War of Independence and much more. They have a military vehicle display on outside, a WW1 trench and 1916 memorabilia. It is open every Sunday from 2-5pm. Entry fee applies.

Rainy Day Activities in Galway

kids swimming

Enjoy some swimming and splashing time at Graiguecullen Swimming Pool which has a 25m pool and heated toddler pool, family changing rooms. It also offers accessible facilities including changing, toilets and pool hoist.

For some bookshop time, head to Book Station or Eason’s in Carlow town.

For indoor soft play:

  • The Big Blue Barn at Deerpark Business Complex, Carlow
  • 3D Jungle play and toddler play area at The Dome, Carlow
  • The Woodshed Cafe & Ark Playcentre at Rathwood

The Dome has 10 pin bowling and Laser Zone.

Catch a movie at Omniplex or IMC in Carlow town.


Plan a whole range of family days out with this brilliant checklist of 99 fantastic places to visit around Ireland!

Crop Download 99 Places to Visit in Ireland with Kids Checklist - Mykidstime

Family-Friendly Hotels & Accommodation in Carlow

The Mount Wolseley Hotel with an award winning spa and championship golf course is the perfect hotel for families or those wishing to have a break away with relatives or friends. All family rooms offer a double bed with 2 single beds or another double bed or double sofa bed. The rooms are large so a travel cot or foldaway bed can be added. And the hotel offers interconnecting rooms for those who have larger families staying as well as self-catering lodges.

There are lots of on-site activities to enjoy including an amazing kids club, Woolie Bear Kids Club, which operates during school holidays, playground with a zip-line, golf course that offer lessons, award winning spa and of course a leisure centre with a large pool. Babysitting can be arranged if you book it in advance and the hotel runs special offers for families throughout the year. For bookings and special family offers check out

Talbot Hotel Carlow offers family rooms with double, single and camp bed/cot. There is a 20m pool and fitness centre, and Tiger Kids Club during the school holidays for ages 4-12 years.

Check out more of our favourite family-friendly hotels and accommodation in Ireland – from luxury breaks and hotels with kids clubs to self-catering choices and family camping and glamping.

Family-Friendly Restaurants in Carlow

There are many good restaurants in County Carlow to choose from, here are just a few recommended by parents

  • The Forge at Ballon is great for home baking and local produce. Perfect after a visit to Altamont Gardens.
  • The Green Barn Restaurant at Burtown House and Gardens offers fresh food using produce that comes straight from the kitchen gardens, set in an inspiring interior space. The dishes on their Junior Menu are made to order with the freshest seasonal produce.
  • The Lord Bagenal Inn at Leighlinbridge offer a children’s menu where children can order half-portion meals.
  • Lennons is a contemporary cafe at the VISUAL Centre, serving good food from local produce. Open for tasty morning treats and lunch Wed-Sat and dinner Fri & Sat.
  • The Mullicháin Café, St Mullins, is a restored 18th century canal storehouse, offering sandwiches, salads, and desserts. They also offer gluten free alternatives. It has a rustic feel and upstairs they have a few comfortable and simple couches. Outdoor seating area along the river.
  • The Merry Tree Restaurant at Rathwood is a very spacious and family-friendly restaurant with breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, and plenty of items suitable for children. Outdoor seating area with climbing frames to keep the kids occupied while you enjoy a cup of coffee or bite to eat.

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Get set for a real treat with tiers of delicious bite-sized goodies to enjoy at these fantastic places for kids’ afternoon tea in Ireland – they are definitely worth a visit!

Kids Afternoon Tea in Ireland

Things to Do in Carlow for Older Kids and Teens

Go swimming during summer months at the Bagenalstown Outdoor Heated Swimming Pool which is a heated, outdoor 25m pool.

Head on a nature trail with Wildways Adventures and explore the wonders of nature in the woodlands and walkways.

For water-based fun, Pure Adventure offers full day and half day Canoe & Kayak trips on the Rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir, while Go With the Flow River Adventures offer half- or full-day activity excursions, their nstructors will guide you along exclusive trails and show you how to shoot weirs and ride the rapids – you can even take a swim in remote pools along the way.

Mount Brandon Pottery School at Tinnahinch offers pottery classes and workshops catering for all skills levels.

Enjoy ten pin bowling and laser tag at The Dome Entertainment Centre in Carlow town.

Head to the shops in Carlow town including Fairgreen Shopping Centre for a bit of retail therapy.

Don’t Miss!

Carlow Castle, Thomastown, Co Carlow

Image courtesy Failte Ireland

Carlow Castle sitting on the banks of trivers Barrow and Burrin near the centre of Carlow Town happens to be one of the most important Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland.

Today, two battered towers and part of a wall are all that remain after a local physician, Dr Middleton tried to turn it into an asylum in 1814. In an effort to demolish the interior he placed explosive charges at its base and demolished all but the west wall and towers.

The Castle is open to the public on week days.

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Ultimate Guide to Carlow for Families

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