County Offaly in the heart of Ireland offers stunning scenery with castles, mountains, parks, canals and more. Enjoy history, nature, culture, fabulous food, and a whole host of unique family-friendly activities and places to visit to keep you busy.
In our Guide to Offaly for Families, we’ve picked some of our favourite things to do with the family around Offaly, 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 Offaly for Families
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Offaly
Birr Castle Demesne and Science Centre has something for everyone and lots to keep you going all day! They have a range of activities for young and old, such as:
- Ireland’s largest treehouse, along with sand pits, climbing frames, slides and much more
- Science Centre exploring the wonders of early photography, engineering and astronomy with a special emphasis on the brilliant design and assembly of the world famous Great Telescope which you can visit on the grounds.
- Parklands and gardens with rare trees and flowers
- Walks along the rivers and the lake
- There is a café on the grounds.
- They run regular family events throughout the year so keep an eye out – some examples include their Castle Tours or Family Quests.
Escape the bustle of urban life on the River Shannon, Ireland’s longest river at 386km! The Shannon is a world-famous tourist destination and it has some beautiful scenery and wildlife. Experience it from a different perspective on a boat cruise! There are cruises from Banagher or enjoy a one-hour river cruise from Shannonbridge to Clonmacnoise.
Hilltop Farm Alpacas, located just outside the village of Ballinagar is a wonderful place to visit and see their lovely alpacas and take a peaceful walk through the herd.
Free Things to Do in Offaly
Clara Bog Nature Reserve is free to visit with a 1km boardwalk looped walk which lets you see the wonderful plants, birds and animals which Clara Bog is home to, and to soak up the atmosphere of an exceptional raised bog in the heart of Ireland (NB wear trainers or shoes). The Visitor Centre also organises walks, art and nature activities on a regular basis.
Glasderry Wood near Roscrea is part of an old estate and contains an artificial lake with picnic area.
Lloyd Town Park in Tullamore has a lovely playground, skate park and water features. There are walkways throughout the park and is a great spot for a familiy picnic, you’ll find the picnic area next to the playground, car parking is available in front of the park.
Bring the kids to one of the libraries in County Offaly. Most have children’s sections where the kids can sit down and entertain themselves with books, games and puzzles.
Outdoor Activities in Offaly
The Grand Canal at Edenderry is a good place to take the kids cycling, scooting and walking, as well as Tullamore, Ferbane, Banagher and numerous villages in between.
For a unique outdoor experience, visit Lough Boora Discovery Park, a beautiful landscape of reclaimed bogland. The Discovery Park consists of a magnificent collection of natural and man-made lakes, wetlands, walkways and walking trails, a fairy trail, sculptures, picnic benches, cycle tracks, angling, bird watching and a bike hire facility. There are a number of art sculptures throughout the parklands which you can explore using the free programme that you can pick up at the visitor centre.
The Slieve Bloom Mountains in the south of the county have numerous walking trails, with walking festivals and walks taking place at weekends. Picnic benches are provided at the entrance to most forest trails and at viewing points. There are 16 different looped walks starting from 6 different trail heads, most of these would be longer and more suited to older kids, but the Riverside Walk starting at Monicknew only takes 30 mins. The Monicknew Valley Walk also has a shorter loop option for smaller kids.
Take a family walk in Charleville Castle grounds outside Tullamore. The Gothic-style castle is considered one of the finest of its type in the country and is reputed to be haunted!
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!
Family-Friendly Museums & Galleries in Offaly
Birr Theatre and Arts Centre offers a programme of events including theatre, music – classical, contemporary, folk, jazz etc, film, dance, comedy. They also host events for Hullabaloo! Offaly’s Children’s Arts Festival and other festivals such as Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival.
Step back in time at Clonmacnoise in Shannonbridge, one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. The site, founded in the 6th century, has the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses as well as the largest collection of Early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. It has an interactive visitor’s centre where you should check out the original high crosses and their collection of fascinating artefacts.
The Science Centre and Observatory at Birr Castle has many interactive displays including early photography, engineering and astronomy. Here you will also find The Great Telescope, the project of the Third Earl of Rosse. It was built during the early 1840’s and was the largest reflecting telescope in the world for more than 70 years. People travelled from all over the world to view what lay beyond the earth and it is considered one of Ireland’s greatest scientific wonders.
Rainy Day Activities in Offaly
Enjoy some swimming and splashing time at Clara Swimming Pool, Edenderry Swimming Pool, Aura Tullamore Leisure Centre or Birr Leisure Centre.
For some bookshop time, stop by Midland Books or Bookstation in Tullamore.
For indoor soft play:
- Jumpin Jacks Fun Factory and Playtown in Tullamore.
- Tons of Fun in Edenderry
- Clown Around Play Centre in Portarlington
Cosmic Bowl in Tullamore and Roll ‘n Bowl in Portlaoise offer ten pin bowling.
Catch a movie at IMC Tullamore or Birr Theatre & Arts Centre.
Family-Friendly Hotels & Accommodation in Offaly
The County Arms Hotel in Birr offers a selection of accommodation options for families. Each family bedroom is equipped with a set of bunk beds that will sleep two children and a queen size bed for parents. An extra single bed and a cot will comfortably fit if required giving a maximum of two adults and four children per family bedroom. The second option is a queen size bed plus two single beds. Babysitting and Kids camp during school holidays are available. There’s also a playground for smallies.
The Tullamore Court Hotel has Family Rooms accommodating up to 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 12. Adjoining rooms and baby cots are also available upon request. Enjoy the swimming pool with dedicated children’s pool. On bank and school holidays, there’s also an action-packed Kids Club.
The Maldron Hotel in Portlaoise has spacious family rooms include 1 double bed, 1 single bed and 1 sofa bed, ideal for 2 adults and up to 3 kids under 12, and they also offer interconnecting Family Rooms. The leisure centre has a 20-meter pool while the location of the hotel is handy for Roll n Bowl Entertainment centre in Portlaoise and only 20 minutes by car from Kildare Village shopping outlet as well as The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens.
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 Offaly
There are many good restaurants in Offaly to choose from, here are some that have been recommended by parents:
- Sirocco’s in Tullamore offers a lovely children’s menu with pasta and “My Own Pizza” – make your own pizza option.
- Cafe India and Yaagdar both in Esker Court (off Patrick Street) in Tullamore are very friendly Indian restaurants which are welcoming to kids. Both open for lunch & dinner.
- The Townhouse in Tullamore offers a kids menu with pasta, nuggets/goujons or else child slice of turkey or chicekn with mash and veg.
- Crank Rd Restaurant and Cafe in Banagher has a good Sunday menu with Kids roast and other children’s options on it.
- Eden Deli Café in Edenerry is deli and café near the harbour known for its good wholesome fare. Bread and cakes baked on premise. Children welcome with high chairs available.
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!
Things to Do in Offaly for Older Kids and Teens
Take a splash in Banagher Outdoor Pool, located on the River Shannon with with Offaly on one side and Galway on the other.
Head to the Skate Parks at Birr, Tullamore and Edenderry.
Offaly has four Pitch & Putt courses throughout the county where families and individuals are welcome to play.
For outdoor adventure experiences try Mid Ireland Adventures and Birr Outdoor Adventure Centre.
For some retail therapy head to the Bridge Shopping Centre in Tullamore (or sneak off to Kildare to go shopping at Kildare Village or Whitewater Shopping Centre)
Kinnitty Pyramid, the only one of its kind in Ireland, is situated in the graveyard of the Church of Ireland in the village of Kinnity. Standing 30 feet in height it is an exact replica of the Pyramid of Cheop in Egypt and was built as a crypt by Lt. Col Richard Wesley Bernard for his family on his return from Egypt in the mid 1800’s.