A to Z of fun places to take your child this summer

Looking for ideas for places to go to with the kids in Ireland? As well as our 50 Places to Take your Child this Summer, we have compiled an A to Z of fun places to take your child

aillweecaveA is for Aillwee Cave

Located just a couple of miles south of Ballyvaughan, the tour at Aillwee Cave consists of a 30 minute stroll through the beautiful caverns – over bridged chasms, under weird formations and alongside the thunderous waterfall which sometimes gently sprays the unsuspecting visitor!

Farm shop and tea room.

The Burren Birds of Prey Centre is also worth a visit.

butlerslogoB is for Butlers Chocolate Experience

Ever wondered what really goes on behind the doors of a working chocolate factory? Located in Dublin 17, the Butlers Chocolate Experience is fast becoming one of the top things to do in North Dublin.

Butlers Chocolates have grown to be a true Irish success story since its beginnings in 1932’s Georgian Dublin. Visit the Butlers Chocolate Experience to find out how the chocolate is made and to learn about different types of chocolate with plenty of chocolate tastings along the way!

C is for Crag Cave 

cragcavesLocated in Castleisland, Co. Kerry, Crag Cave is renowned as one of the finest examples of a limestone cave in Ireland with incredible examples of stalagmites, stalactites, and underground water channels to be seen.

Crag Cave is also home to Crazy Cave, a three tiered indoor adventure centre suitable for children complete with a mega astra slide, cannon guns, spiral slides and mazes.

D is for Dundrum Town Centre

dundrumBefore you wonder why we’ve included a place with lots of shops, there’s actually heaps of fun things to do with kids at Dundrum Town Centre.

As well as free events during the summer, there’s the world famous Hamleys toy shop, Giddy Studios and Rainforest Adventure Golf so plenty to do besides hit the shops.

Plus one of our favourite child-friendly eateries, Wagamama is there in case you get hungry!

E is for Exploris Aquarium  

explorisA visit to Exploris enables the visitors to view and learn about the marine species that are indigenous to Strangford Lough and the coastline of the island. Marine communities are recreated to enable the visitor to gain a better understanding of the complex inter relationships between different species.

The Seal Sanctuary affords the visitor the opportunity to view the process of rehabilitation of rescued seal pups from their arrival through to full health when they are re-introduced to the wild.

F is for Foynes Flying Boat Museum

The Foynes Flying Boat Museum, housed in the original terminal building in Foynes, Limerick, recalls that nostalgic era when Foynes became the centre of the Aviation world from 1937-45.

The story is told through a comprehensive range of exhibits and graphic illustrations featured throughout the original Terminal Building including in our authentic 1940’s cinema; the Radio and Weather Rooms—complete with transmitters, receivers and Morse code equipment; the Brendan O’Regan restaurant and of course, the only full sized replica B314 flying boat.

G is for Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is one of six national parks in Ireland. Situated in the Northwest of Co. Donegal, Glenveagh encompasses some 16,000 hectares in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains.

The award-winning Visitor Centre incorporates a living heather roof mimicking the surrounding landscape causing minimum disturbance. The extensive displays contained within provide an introduction to the parks natural and built history as well as providing information on walking trails, events etc. Guides on duty will also be happy to provide visitors with information about the park and surrounding area as well as tickets for the park buses.

H is for The Hunt Museum

In The Hunt Museum in Limerick you can see one of Ireland’s greatest private collections of Art and Antiquities, dating from the Neolithic to the 20th Century.

The Hunt Museum develops and provides many activities, such as Tours around the museum, Arts and Crafts Classes, Kids Activities, Camps and Lectures. Their Docents and volunteers will help you to create great family days or to learn more through our guided tours.

I is for Irish National Stud

The Irish National Stud in Kildare is far more than just a centre of equine excellence, it is also home to some of Ireland’s finest natural treasures, in particular the breathtakingly beautiful Japanese Gardens, the finest of their kind in Europe.

Visitors can also savour the serene and spiritual experience provided by one of the Stud’s more recent additions, St Fiachra’s Garden, a stunningly raw representation of our country’s singular landscape.

From horses to horticulture, the Irish National Stud offers you a unique experience that can be enjoyed at your own leisure or as part of a guided tour.

J is for JFK Arboretum

The John F. Kennedy Arboretum located in New Ross, Co. Wexford is a good place to bring the bikes as small legs will get around more easily!  It has lovely walks, great trees and you can feed ducks by the pond and watch the fish dart about. There’s also a miniature railway.

The playground has plenty of picnic tables, a cafe, a small maze, a great slide and a house grown out of hedging. The lake is the most popular part of the Arboretum, and is a haven for waterfowl. A Visitor Centre houses exhibitions and audio visual show. Access for people with disabilities.

K is for Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle stands dramatically on a strategic height that commands a crossing on the River Nore and dominates the ‘High Town’ of Kilkenny City. Over the eight centuries of its existence, many additions and alterations have been made to the fabric of the building, making Kilkenny Castle today a complex structure of various architectural styles.

You can take a castle tour and Kilkenny Castle Park has extensive parkland, woodland walks & a superb children’s playground with swings, slides, bridges and benches for adults too! and is open until 8.30pm during the summer.

L is for Lismore Experience

Visit The Lismore Experience at the heritage centre, in county Waterford, to discover Lismore town’s past and present history. The town’s Celtic origins are on view in the historical display room while the story of Lismore, dating from 636 AD, is told in an award winning multi-lingual, audio-visual presentation narrated by Niall Toibin. Hear about monastic Lismore, Vikings, Normans, Sir Walter Raleigh and Lismore Castle.

Find out also about the many famous people who have visited this corner of County Waterford over the centuries, including William Thackery, John F Kennedy and even Fred Astaire!

M is for Malahide Castle

Malahide Castle, set on 250 acres of park land, was both a fortress and a private home for nearly 800 years and is an interesting mix of architectural styles. The house is furnished with beautiful period furniture together with an extensive collection of Irish portrait paintings, mainly from the National Gallery.

Apparently Malahide Castle has 5 ghosts! Guided & audio tours of the castle & gardens available. The Fry Model Railway and a huge playground are also situated in the grounds.

N is for National Aquatic Centre

AquaZone, at the National Aquatic Centre, is one of the most innovative water parks in Europe. A whole host of exciting features ensures that there is lots of family fun, thrills – and something for everyone.

If you crave extreme thrills, raging water adventures, flying through the air, or just an enjoyable day with your family, AquaZone at the National Aquatic Centre has a variety of water rides and attractions.

O is for O’Briens Tower at The Cliffs of Moher

O’Brien’s Tower was built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien a descendant of Brian Boru, Kings of Thomond, as an observation point for the hundreds of tourists who even then, visited the Cliffs. The tower stands proudly on a headland of the majestic Cliffs of Moher. On a clear day one can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, as well as the Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk mountains in Connemara, Loop Head to the south and the Dingle Pensinula and Blasket Islands in Kerry.

There is a charge of €2 for adults and €1 for children to visit the upper levels of the tower. This includes a small exhibition on the middle floor and the rooftop viewing platform outside. If you have any questions about the cliffs, wildlife or the tower itself, a Cliffs of Moher Ranger is based on the ground floor to assist you as well.

P is for Peatlands Park

Visitors to Peatlands Park in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, can explore the 265ha (680 acre) site on foot along its many paths and wooden walkways. In fact there are over 16km (10 miles) of paths leading the visitor through the many and varied habitats within the Park. Amongst the attractions in the Park are a miniature railway and an outdoor turbary site where visitors can get the feel (and the smell!) of cutting turf.

The Park is rich in insects, particularly butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies. Many woodland and wetland birds and several species of waterfowl nest here. Red and grey squirrels, badgers and hares are also present, while lizards and newts can be found in the open bog areas.

Q is for Quin Abbey

The Franciscan abbey at Quin, 10km from Ennis in County Clare, was founded in the 14th century. The cloisters, which remain one of the abbey’s most prominent features, were constructed in the 15th century.

Additionally, from the top of the tower, visitors can take in great views of the surrounding countryside.

NB Closed Mondays

R is for Reptile Village

Reptile Village in Kilkenny has snakes, lizards, tortoise, turtles, crocodiles, alligators, caiman, spiders, scorpions, frogs, salamanders and more. It offers an interactive experience where you can get a little closer and even handle some of the animals!

As well as a Tropical Walk there’s a soft play area, indoor and outdoor picnic area, snack bar and gift shop.

S is for Sealife Bray

The National SEA LIFE Centre on the Seafront in Bray is an aquatic Zoo with 30+ displays which are home to over 1,000 creatures including: Black Tip Reef Sharks, Octopus, Seahorses, Stingrays and Red-Bellied Piranha.

The Aquarium is completely indoors making it a perfect rainy day activity. There are public feeds every hour and lots of fun events and activities to enjoy during your visit.

T is for the Titanic Experience Cobh 

Titanic Experience Cobh is a new permanent visitor attraction in Cobh, Co. Cork, situated in the original offices of The White Star Line, marking the departure point for the last 123 passengers who boarded the Titanic on its fateful maiden voyage to America.

Their story is told using innovative audio visual technology bringing characters to life through cinematic shows, scene sets, holographic imagery and touch screen technology.

U is for Ulster American Folk Park

Immerse yourself in the world famous story of Irish emigration at the Ulster American Folk Park, in Omagh, Co Tyrone. A museum that brings it to life.

Follow the emigrant trail as you journey from the thatched cottages of Ulster, on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship leading to the log cabins of the American Frontier.  Meet an array of costumed characters on your way with traditional crafts to show, tales to tell and food to share.

V is for Vandeleur Walled Garden

Beautiful old stonewalls enclose the sheltered Vandeleur Walled Garden (2.158 acres) which is set among 420 acres of native woodland. Formerly part of the Vandeleur Family Demesne, this garden has been restored around the old path system with a horizontal maze, unusual water-features and a free-standing Victorian-style working glasshouse which is accessible to visitors.

Chess enthusiasts can test their skills by playing the giant outdoor Chess game while children can enjoy the living willow structure, sand area and follow the butterfly trail.

W is for W5 Interactive Discovery Centre

whowhatwherewhenwhy – W5 is Ireland’s award winning science and discovery centre at Odyssey in Belfast.

With over 250 interactive exhibits and a changing programme of events, shows and exhibitions, W5 is a great value day out for all the family!

Read Etain’s review of W5 during her visit to Belfast.

X is for Wax Museum Plus

While remaining true to the ethos of a wax museum, The National Wax Museum Plus presents a snap shot of Irish cultural heritage but with a very modern twist!

Visitors to the museum are taken on a journey through Irish history, an enchanting children’s zone of discovery, Ireland’s only dedicated tribute to our top scientific inventors, a Green screen video room, a recording studio and all the exceptional life-like wax work characters you can expect at the national museum.

Y is for Ye Olde Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio 

Ye Olde Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio is located in the Martello Tower in Howth and houses a fine collection of exhibits chronicling the history of telecommunications from the 1840s to date. There are many examples of early Morse equipment, gramophones, crystal sets, valve radios and other pieces of equipment.

Pat Herbert, the curator is always happy to demonstrate some of the many working exhibits.

And finally, Z is well what else but for Dublin Zoo

Located in the Phoenix Park in the heart of Dublin city, Dublin Zoo is one of Ireland’s most popular family attractions, and welcomed over one million visitors last year.

Dublin Zoo is much more than a fun-filled, stimulating day out for all the family… it’s a place to learn about wild animals, especially those which are endangered. The Zoo is a registered charity – your visit will help maintain Dublin Zoo to a high standard, improve the Zoo and contribute to conservation programmes.

Did you visit any of our recommendations? Tell us how you got on in the comments below.

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