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

Jill Holtz

February 21, 2023

ultimate family guide to sligo

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Sligo located on the West coast of Ireland and on the Wild Atlantic Way combines scenery with stunning beaches, 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 Sligo for Families, we’ve picked some of our favourite things to do with the family around Sligo, 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 Sligo for Families

Family-Friendly Things to Do in Sligo

donkey

Take a trip down memory lane at Sligo Folk Park to experience rural Irish life at the turn of the 19th century. Show the kids what it was like before the age of laptops and iPhones, see the legendary Constance Markievicz’s old uniform and step into an old school house. You will also find one of Ireland’s largest model railway exhibits. Admission fee, café.

Enjoy splashing fun at Waterpoint Aqua Park in Enniscrone where you’ll find a heated pool, a 65-metre flume water-slide, a separate children’s pool, inflatables for children. Afterwards there’s a soft play area and climbing wall to enjoy.

At Gillighan’s World you will discover a natural world enhanced by “faeries” in miniature models villages and “enchanted” glades. Streams and secluded seating areas create a magical atmosphere, whilst a visit to the faerie fort offers spectacular panoramic views. There’s also a wild-life pond and aquatic cove, plus an informal guided tour round the Pet Village.

The Sathya Sai Sanctuary Trust for Nature is situated in magnificent surroundings adjacent to the Carrowkeel Megalithic Site (which is also worth a visit!) at Castlebaldwin. It’s a place of peace and refuge for old, injured, unwanted, abandoned, neglected and abused donkeys. Bring waterproof boots, enjoy your visit and give these humble animals the love they deserve.

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Free Things to Do in Sligo

sligo town

There’s a free guided walk around Sligo town during the months of June to September. Tours start from the Tourist Information Office, Temple Street at 11am (subject to change) Mon-Sat. You will see places of historical, musical, sporting and cultural interest in Sligo over two hours. You can join when you wish and leave when you wish, which is handy if the kids aren’t into it.

Bring the kids to one of these libraries in Sligo. Most have children’s sections where the kids can sit down and entertain themselves with the great selection of books, games and puzzles. Some also offer weekly story times.

There are some wonderful playgrounds in Sligo, dotted throughout the county. Why not head for one you haven’t visited before? The kids will love the novelty factor. We love the playgrounds at Calry, Ballinafad or Grange.

Visit Ireland’s tallest waterfall (150m/492ft) Sruth in Aghaidh An Aird, also known as the Devil’s Chimney. You’ll find it on the Sligo/Leitrim border, near its more famous neighbour, Glencar Waterfall. The waterfall’s Irish name means ‘stream against the height’, based on the folklore that during certain weather conditions (when the wind blows from the south) the waterfall is blown upward and back over the cliff from which it falls.

Outdoor Activities in Sligo

Hazelwood National Forest, Co Sligo – ICP (1)

At Hazelwood Demesne you will find picturesque walks, suitable for all the family, around the shores of Lough Gill in Sligo. There are several different walks, including the ‘Sculpture Tour’ where you will find wooden sculptures from Irish and international artists running alongside the track.

In Sligo we are spoiled for choice when it comes to amazing beaches. Enniscrone has 5km of sandy beach while Mullaghmore Beach is another stunning beach in North County Sligo (25km from Sligo town via the N15 and beside the town of Mullaghmore).

Doorly Park is located along the riverside in Sligo town, about a 10 minute walk from the town centre perfect for some outdoor time. You’ll find a children’s playground, green area, games area and exercise equipment. Bring a ball and a picnic then go for a stroll along Lough Gill and feed the ducks.

Union Wood is a haven for wildlife, including fallow deer, red squirrel, buzzards, swans, pine marten, and more. There are two woodland trails to enjoy, the easy Oakwood trail (4km) which takes in views of the Ox mountain range, Knocknarea, Ballygawley Lake and the surrounding Sligo and Leitrim countryside. Or for those with older kids, try the more strenuous Union Rock trail (5.5km), which includes a climb that provides fantastic views.

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Family-Friendly Museums & Galleries in Sligo

The Model, home of The Niland Collection, is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centres. It is a bright open airy space, very welcoming to children. They run frequent workshops and programmes for all ages. They also show family films and have activity sheets to help younger visitors get the most from their visit.

At Sligo County Museum you can explore a collection of exhibits detailing Sligo’s rich stone-age history, including a large firkin of 100-year-old bog butter. The Yeats Room has manuscripts, photographs, letters and newspaper cuttings associated with the local poet W. B. Yeats including a copy of his 1923 Nobel Prize winning medal. There’s also a display of artefacts and memorabilia associated with Countess Constance Markievicz and her sister Eva Gore-Booth. The museum is free to visit.

The Hawk’s Well Theatre in Temple Street runs children’s and family events, as well as showing visual arts, films and more.

Step right back in time at Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery (reopening March 2023), where you will find the oldest and the densest concentration of Neolithic tombs in Ireland. Remains of over 35 passage tombs are found here, constructed almost 6,000 years ago. A restored cottage houses an exhibition that will inspire your tour through this landscape. Wear appropriate footwear for grass paths.

Lissadell House and Gardens is famous as the childhood home of Constance Markievicz, her sister Eva Gore-Booth and her brother Josslyn Gore-Booth. Constance was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, and was the first woman to be elected to Dáil Eireann and the House of Commons in London. House tours take place during summer months, and there are gardens and a café to enjoy too.

Rainy Day Activities in Sligo

kids swimming

Head to Strandhill People’s Market which operates out of the Hangar 1 at Sligo Airport on Sundays 11am-4pm, with local crafts, foods and textiles. The Market is a child-friendly environment and they have stalls that cater for little ones.

Enjoy some swimming and splashing time at Waterpoint and Sligo Regional Sports Centre.

For some bookshop time, head to Eason or Liber Bookshop on O’Connell Street, or Booksmart on Bridge Street.

For indoor soft play:

  • Five Star Fun in Grange
  • Funny Bones in Collooney
  • Happy Days at Cleveragh Business Park

Catch a movie at the Omniplex, or check what’s on at The Model as they occasionally show films for families.

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

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Family-Friendly Hotels & Accommodation in Sligo

The Diamond Coast Hotel in Enniscrone sits above the beach and offers a variety of accommodation including family rooms for up to 8 people. There’s a kids club during school holidays, family friendly dining, and the hotel also has a tennis court, playground, astro pitch and basketball court for older kids and adults to enjoy.

The Ocean Sands Hotel also in Enniscrone offers large family rooms as well as self-catering apartments with fully equipped kitchen and lounge area. There’s a specially constructed indoor playroom with supervised sessions and fun in-house activities including face painting and children’s library for some night-time reading. There is a designated toddler play area while tweens and older children can enjoy indoor football, a games area with their very own pool table and a separate TV area.

The Sligo Southern Hotel offers family rooms with double bed and a single bed as well as a sofa bed, leisure centre with pool and separate children’s pool. They also have a limited number of rooms that are dog friendly. Their mini breaks for families include family pizza and board games with hot chocolate.

The Pier Head Hotel in Mullaghmore is a family friendly hotel in the beautiful coastal setting of Mullaghmore. They have family rooms, children’s menus, a leisure centre with pool for rainy days and it’s less than 5 minutes to the beach when there’s a break in the clouds.

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 Sligo

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

  • Davis’s Restaurant at Yeats Tavern in Drumcliffe has a nice children’s menu and is always very busy. You’ll find a warm welcome, award winning food, in a beautifully decorated modern restaurant.
  • Eala Bhán restaurant in Rockwood Parade has a great children’s menu with healthy options such as sweet potato fries, tempura hake fish & chips, and fresh fruit kebab with chocolate sauce.
  • Shells Bakery and Café in Strandhill is a wonderful place to go for morning coffee and bakery treats or else lunch. Their kids’ menu includes fun options such as Little Bo Peep Lamb Stew, Sharky fish & chips, Cowboy burger or a Grazing Plate, perfect for wee ones.
  • At Áit Eile at Gilroys Bar in Enniscrone, winner of Traditional Gastro Pub of the Year in Connacht, you will find “Great food in a lovely setting where kids are very well looked after”.

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Things to Do in Sligo for Older Kids and Teens

For ten pin bowling you’ll have to head into Donegal to Bundoran Glow Bowl.

Enjoy a game of Pitch ‘n’ Putt at Bertie’s just off the N15. All equipment is supplied and they have refreshments as well.

Try Rollerblading, Skateboarding, Scooting And BMX at Zero Gravity Skatepark at Cleveragh Business Park, while Vertigo@Funny Bones in Colloney, has an adventure zone for older children with a 6m climbing wall and high ropes adventure course.

Head to Wild Wet Adventures at Temple House lake near Ballinacarrow on the N17 main Sligo Galway route, where you can do kayaking, canoeing, SUP and hiking.

Try surfing at one of Sligo’s fantastic beaches. For example, Strandhill Surf School offers beginner lessons with all wetsuit gear and equipment provided.

Have a go at making pottery with David McLoughlin who runs pottery workshops at the Benbulben Pottery in Rathcormac.

Need a retail blitz? At the Quayside Shopping Centre you’ll find Lifestyle Sports and River Island, while Penneys is on O’Connell Street.

Don’t Miss!

free things to do in sligo

Image courtesy Failte Ireland

Head to the Gleniff Horseshoe, a hidden valley with stunning scenery, located in North County Sligo for a family walk. At the base of the Horseshoe route there is a renovated Millsite, with a lovely nature walk and sculpture trail. There are also picnic tables.

This is where you’ll find the ‘Magic Road’ in Sligo, where your car will roll back up the hill!

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ultimate family guide to sligo

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