With the vagaries of Irish weather we have to grab the opportunities to get outdoors whenever we can. So here's some of the best places in Clare to get outdoors with kids and enjoy the fine scenery in the county.
Lisdoonvarna playground is one of our favourite destinations for picnics simply for the variety of activities for the kids to play and take a short walk.
Lees Road Sports and Amenity Park
Lees Road Sports & Amenity Park has pitches, wooded walks, skateboard park, track and playground.
Ballyalla and Lissycasey
For smaller children, Ballyalla and Lissycasey have short walks with ducks to feed. The paths are well maintained and suitable for pushchairs. There are picnic tables and/or benches to sit on. Don't forget to bring the bread for the ducks!
Dromore, Cratloe and Kilrush
Our favourite walks in the woods would be at Dromore, Cratloe, and Kilrush. The kids can run free amongst the paths in the trees. Dromore has a castle ruin and Cratloe is quite scenic. Kilrush Woods has the Vandeleur Walled Garden right there so you can pop in for tea and scones.
Clare is spoiled for choice between lakes, rivers and beaches. Fanore Beach, in the heart of the Burren and near Ballyvaughan, is one of the best beaches in Clare. The vast expanse of beach is ideal for races, running, walking and making sandcastles.
The sea lends itself to small kiddies paddling and also to bigger kids who are have recently learned to swim. There are sand dunes for hiding in and a little stream to paddle in and maybe spot a little fish or two. My kids would stay there in all weathers and I have to say there is something really special about it for me too.
Shannon Dolphin Trail
Kilrush town has a Shannon Dolphin Trail which starts at the Shannon Dolphin Information Board in the town's Market Square.
Follow the trail markers and it will take you to the Shannon Dolphin & Wildlife Centre where you can listen to sounds from the bottlenose dolphins, see real skeletons of whales and dolphins, and many more dol-fun educational activities for children.
Kilkee Habitat Trail
The Kilkee Habitat Trail follows the beach and cliffs. It's a scenic walk with six panels, each one themed to its location illustrating the diverse wildlife habitats of Kilkee. While you're in Kilkee, take the nets and try to catch fish in the rock pools, or play the unique local game of Racquets (a form of outdoor squash) against the West End wall on the beach.
Mount Shannon Playground
Playground was built in 2011 and is very modern and caters for both small kids and big kids. The little kids can enjoy their own slide, sea saw and rockers, the bigger kids have the spider climbing frame, spinning wheel, swings and there is a compbination of rubber matring and grass with few benches and tables for picnics. The beauty of this one is that is beside Aistear Iniscealtra – the amazing old maze, and you can also take a walk to the harbour to enjoy the stunning few across the lake.
A state of the art playground which opened in June 2011. It has a clearly defined Junior and Senior area and it has various playsurfaces. Best of all it has a Net-Scape and Cableway which are a major attraction.
Do you have a favourite outdoor place to go with the kids in Clare? Tell us about it in the comments below.