Are you up for the challenge? These intriguing family activity trails around Ireland are packed with excitement. From giants to the Gruffalo and science to the solar system, there are trails to suit all ages and interests.
Heading off for a family walk is a great way to spend some time together, but you can add a whole new dimension with one of these unique trail ideas – you’re guaranteed to have a memorable day out!
Family Activity Trails in Ireland
National Famine Way Passport
The National Famine Way is an outdoor experience that marks the poignant story of emigration in Ireland during the Famine in 1847. This digitally and physically waymarked 167km national trail connects the National Famine Museum in Strokestown Park, County Roscommon with Rowan Gillespie’s Famine memorial on Custom House Quay in Dublin, along the banks of the Royal Canal.
The trail is accessible for families, casual walkers and cyclists, allowing you to set your own pace or complete the route over several visits.
When you order your National Famine Way Pack, you will receive personalised ticket with the name of a family who made the trip in 1847, as well as a passport to stamp along your route.
Don’t forget to present your stamped passport when you arrive in Dublin at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and receive your Certificate of Completion. Also, discover what became of your family group on their journey in 1847.
Activity Trails at Fota House and Gardens, Cork
There are several fun nature trails for kids to enjoy at Fota House and Gardens including:
- Junior Plant Hunters Activity Trail collect your activity book and take the trail to discover everything there is to see and do in the gardens and arboretum. A fun way to spend a morning or afternoon discovering nature.
- Little Explorers Trail around the gardens and arboretum to explore the wonders of nature.
- Plant Hunters Tree Trail is a trail to identify rare and unusual species at Fota. It is a free-ranging trail suitable for families with older kids and teens and adults.
Family Quest and Activity Tree Trail at Powerscourt, Wicklow
Powerscourt House and Gardens offers an amazing day out with the family. There is so much to see, do and discover including some fun family trails.
The trees at Powerscourt have been planted over the past two centuries and there are now hundreds of varieties for visitors to enjoy. Today they look quite familiar, but in the 19th century they were mostly new and exotic trees, collected from the Americas and all over the world.
Powerscourt boasts many wonderful tree species including Douglas-Firs, Corsican Pines, Giant Redwoods, Atlantic Cedars, Noble Firs and countless more. While you are taking a walk with the family, get the kids spotting the different trees and identifying them from the leaves!
There are also a selection of free audio tours available at Powerscourt. They are available in many different languages to download, via an app, to your smartphone in advance of your visit.
We have done the Family Action Quest Tour. This tour has 8 stops around the estate and takes between 60 – 90 minutes to complete. Although you will have to build in a bit of extra time for exploration along the way!
Dublin Castle Family Trail
Follow the route of kings, queens, aristocrats, presidents and heads of state through Dublin Castle’s famous State Apartments. This clever family trail will keep children engaged during a tour around the Castle, looking for symbols, signs and specific items, with riddles, pictures to draw and puzzles to solve along the way.
You can download the family trail here.
Sam Maguire Passport Trail, Cork
Sam Maguire’s name is well known from the Gaelic Athletic Association’s (GAA) All-Ireland Senior Football trophy, and now you can take the Sam Maguire Passport Trail on a journey to find out about the man behind the famous cup.
In one of the most unique family activity trails, you will travel around seven locations in Sam Maguire’s hometown of Dunmanway in West Cork, taking part in challenges and puzzles in his home, school, town and church. Collect a stamp at each location, and when your passport is completed you can apply to attend a Sam Maguire celebration.
The passport costs €2 and all locations are free to visit as you discover the facts about Sam’s life.
The Giant’s Lair Story Trail, Armagh
The Giant’s Lair Story Trail at Slieve Gullion Forest Park near Crossmaglen, is an innovative magical living storybook. The Trail takes visitors on an unforgettable journey of fairy house and amazing features creating a fantastical childhood land of mystery, dragons, giants, witches and fairies.
Follow in the footsteps of Flynn the mischievous fairy, who has one important job – not to allow anyone to wake Slieve Gullion. It might look like a mountain but it’s really a sleeping giant! Drop in for a cup of dandelion tea, grab a seat at the Giant’s Table, stroll along to the Ladybird House and sneak a peek at local witchy trickster, The Cailleach Beara.
Situated beside the Slieve Gullion Adventure Playpark, with car parking available. The Giant’s Lair is free to explore. The trail takes you into plenty of nooks and crannies so a backpack carrier or baby sling is recommended for tots.
Gruffalo Trail at Wells House & Gardens, Wexford
There’s no such things as a Gruffalo…or is there? While you explore the natural beauty of Wells House and Gardens, take a trip through the enchanted woodlands that include fairy trails, sculptures and a chance to see the Gruffalo and friends!
Those aren’t the only creatures waiting to greet you however – the animal farm is home to a flurry of furry animals, including pygmy goats, ferrets and meerkat.
Activity Trails at NMI Country Life, Mayo
The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life offers a chance to immerse yourself in objects, rare archive photography and films that explore Ireland’s rural past and an almost vanished but recent way of life.
There is a range of free activity sheets and museum trails available from reception. One trail challenges children (and grown-ups!) to find Peadar the Pygmy Shrew who is hiding at various locations in the galleries.
Family Quest at Birr Castle Demesne & Science Centre, Offaly
For those interested in nature, discovery and adventure, Birr Castle Demesne Centre’s Family Quest is a great activity. The Quest will take the young and maybe not so young explorers on a journey through time, from great engineering feats to wildlife discoveries, and many more highlights in between. The Quest can be picked up at reception on arrival and is included in the admission fee.
Visitors can also take the Red Tree Trail which covers 5km and includes 65 trees of distinction, or walk the X-Trails Solar Trail and experience the size, distance and scale of our Solar System along the 2km route. Both of these family activity trails are included in general admission ticket prices and you can pick up maps and challenge sheets at reception.
Stamp your journey through Wicklow! Drive, cycle or walk the length and breadth of Wicklow and discover the many activities, attractions and flavours to be experienced. Along the way, collect the various Wicklow Stamps at participating locations and, once you have 15 stamps, you could be a Wicklow Ambassador!
From restaurants and hotels to museums and shops, there are dozens of places you can have your passport stamped in towns across the country.
You can order your Wicklow Passport online, or pick one up at a participating venue.
Earth Quest Trail at Brigit’s Garden, Galway
Engage the children and have lots of fun on the Earth Quest family activity trail at Brigit’s Garden. Working as a team, you will navigate the Garden and solve science-based challenges on your quest. There are several science-based installations around the Garden, including a water engineering play area (waterproofs would be a good idea!), a pedal-power generator, a geodesic camera obscura and a weather station to reveal a few.
Families discover, observe and identify things as they explore Brigit’s Garden, recording their findings on a special Earth Quest guide, which children can collect at Reception.
Narnia Trail at Kilbroney Park, County Down
Take a visit to Narnia with an enchanted family loop trail through woodland at Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor. As a young boy, C. S. Lewis spent much holiday time in the Mournes and Rostrevor in particular, allowing him to imagine, dream and wonder, and inspiring his creation of the magical world of Narnia.
The walk brings to life the Chronicles of Narnia with a number of features along the route. The trail is entered, like the magical world of Narnia itself, through a ‘Wardrobe Door’, beyond which lies a land filled with strange and intriguing creatures. Enter at your peril, as the White Witch has put a curse on the land. It is always winter and never Christmas – and she can turn you into stone. Be warned, don’t eat any “enchanted” Turkish Delight! Other features along the way include ‘The Lamp Post’, ‘The Beaver’s House’ and ‘Aslan’s Table’.
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.
Story Trail at Woodstock House & Gardens, Kilkenny
Step into a story book! Irish author Brendan McDonald’s children’s book, Elephant on the Farm, has been transformed by Kilkenny County Council Libraries into a fun story trail at Woodstock House & Gardens in Kilkenny.
In addition to the story trail, there is plenty to enjoy for a day full of fresh air fun, including extensive gardens, woodland trails, orienteering trails, arboretum, tea rooms, picnic area, and children’s playground.
Dublin Docklands Family Trail
It’s time to drop anchor and get exploring Dublin’s Docklands with the Explorers Family Trail! There is so much to see and discover in Dublin’s Docklands, from Ireland’s smallest museum to the magical creatures hidden atop The Custom House. This circular trail can be started at any of its seven stops and, with a range of activities, it’s suitable for all the family to take part in and enjoy.
You can download your trail map here or pick up a copy from EPIC or the Jeanie Johnston. Don’t forget to drop your completed passport into the EPIC Museum Gift Shop and you could be in with the chance to win an EPIC goodie bag.
Land of the Giants, Mayo
Welcome to the Land of the Giants, a forest walk loop trail extension to the Clare Lake Walk in McMahon Park, Claremorris.
A towering yellow door, a red chair that belongs in the world of Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant, a massive wellington boot, an enormous set of keys that can never be lost, dangling from a random tree and a caged T-Rex dinosaur – these are just some of the sights to behold. Two giants, Clare and Morris, live here, but nobody has ever seen them…
Its family, buggy, bike and wheelchair friendly and with a total distance of 5km and with a flat terrain, it’s a walk for all.
Make the most of your trip to Titanic Belfast with a handheld multimedia guide. Choose from a handheld device with single-use disposable earphones or a mobile version to use with your own smartphone and personal earphones.
Multimedia guides offer a verbal and visual ‘feel’ to the experience and offer additional information that is not displayed within the galleries, giving the experience a more personal touch.
For children, there is a specially designed multimedia guide to engage and delight throughout their visit.