Are you living in or visiting County Laois with your family? Here our some of our favourite things to do in Laois with kids, from active days out to historical places to visit.
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Take a look through our suggestions for fun places to visit and things to do in Laois. Pick a different town or village or area to explore, compile a list of interesting places to visit beforehand and then have fun!
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Family-Friendly Things to Do in Laois
#1. Emo Court House and Gardens
Emo Court House and Gardens, owned by the Office of Public Works, is a hidden gem in the midlands. As well as the Gandon-designed historic house, there are beautiful gardens, parkland, wooded walks and a lake with lots of swans and ducks.
Picnic benches are available throughout the park and many visitors bring picnics on fine summer days. The Park is home to red squirrels and deer. The Tea Rooms onsite are child-friendly and open daily from 10am.
Entry to the Park is free and is open throughout the year during daylight hours. There are guided tours of the house during the summer months.
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#2. Visit the Slieve Bloom Mountains
Pack a picnic and take a scenic drive around the Slieve Bloom Mountains. There are lovely walks and views to enjoy, including:
- The Mountrath/Kinnity route or the Mountrath/Clonaslee route. There are lovely walks, both short and long, waymarked by Coillte.
- The Glen Bridge at Monicknew is very popular and has short walks, picnic benches and a stream for paddling. Enjoy the view over Offaly from the Cut and picnic benches are provided on both the Laois and Offaly sides.
- Visit the waterfalls on the Barrow in Glenbarrow, near Rosenallis. Take a walk around Brittas Lake in Clonaslee. You might be lucky enough to see deer or wild goats.
#3. Climb the Rock of Dunamase
This is a historic site and the views from the top make the climb very worthwhile.
Experience the lookout views that were used by the O’Moores to defend their territory from marauding armies. Incidentally the O’Moores were eventually defeated and ejected from the site by the ancestors of Stradbally Hall, the home of Electric Picnic.
The site is suitable for young children who are able to run and walk and will love checking out the views through the various parts of the ruin. Be warned – the children will want to run up and you might be slightly out of breath as a result!
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#4. Swim Outdoors at Ballinakill
The outdoor swimming pool in Ballinakill has reopened following a massive revamp, thanks to the local community and hours of voluntary work. The newly refurbished 35m pool includes a safe 10m toddler area.
The pool opens Monday to Friday between 5.30pm and 8.30pm and weekends from 2.30-5.30pm and 6.30-8.30pm. Admission is €3 per child and adults are €5. Family memberships are available from opening date until the end of August for as a little as €100.
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#5. Durrow Scarecrow Festival
The clever and quirky Durrow Scarecrow Festival has become a highlight of the summer, taking place each year at the end of July.
Families will love touring the creative scarecrow displays, as well as enjoying music, food, arts and crafts, petting zoo, treasure hunts and so much more. A daily calendar of events is available so you can plan your visit.
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#6. Burn Off Some Energy
If the weather is wet and miserable, take the kids to an indoor play centre. There are several to choose from, including:
Roll n Bowl in Clonminam Business Park, Portlaoise has a roller skating disco arena, ten-pin bowling, laser quest, multi-level soft play area, and teddy bear making!
Clown Around in Portarlington has two multi-level play areas with an additional sports zone and a large toddler play area. Parents can sit and watch from the comfort of the café.
#7. Visit a Farm
If your children want to see some adorable farmyard animals, you could visit one of several farms in Laois.
At Lisduff Adventure Farm kids can see plenty of animals, including goats, sheep, pigs, donkey, pony, emu, ducks and more. There are also playgrounds, a duck pond, picnic areas and a train. Rain can’t spoil the fun, thanks to a two-storey indoor play area, slides and air shooters.
Others include Castleview Open Farm in Cullohill, An Cnoc Ban Organic Farm in Abbeyleix, and Raincho Reilly Pet Farm in Graiguecullen.
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#8. Enjoy Some Culture
At the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise there are many events in cinema, comedy, dance, music and theatre. There is an art gallery, art workshops for kids, theatre performances and a café.
Other arts venues in Laois include The Arthouse in Stradbally or Mountmellick Library and Arts Centre.
#9. Ride a Steam Train
Learn more about Laois history at the Stradbally Steam Museum which houses many steam, fire and farm engines. These include a Land Rover Fire Engine which was stationed at Stradbally fire station in approximately 1950, a Guinness Loco Engine which was used around the Guinness Brewery streets over 50 years ago, and a homemade steam tractor.
The Steam Train runs on a narrow gauge railway on all Bank Holiday weekends (Sundays and Mondays) from Easter to October. The duration of the train ride is approximately 15 minutes and travels through the woodlands of Stradbally Hall estate.
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#10. Take a Barge Ride on the Grand Canal
Visit the scenic village of Vicarstown and go on a barge cruise with Barrowline Cruisers on the Grand Canal.
You could pack a picnic and have a family lunch while enjoying the lovely views. There are some great walks along the canal too.
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What are your favourite things to do in Laois with kids? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!