Summer time, no school, plenty of time to pack up a picnic and head off for the day with the kids (weather permitting). Here is my choice of 10 Wonderful Places for a Day Out with Kids in Ireland (in no particular order):
#1. Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Roscommon
Located in Boyle, Co. Roscommon and set in the grounds of the old King-Harman Estate on the shores of island studded Lough Key, the Lough Key Forest & Activity Park, offers hours of entertainment for all the family.
A wonderful enclosed Adventure Play Kingdom will entertain the smallest visitors, while the Boda Borg Challenge will test the mental skills and physical agility of everybody over seven!
Be guided back in time through 19th Century tunnels and stroll Ireland’s only Tree Canopy trail on the Lough Key Experience. Take a well-earned break and enjoy the vista of Lough Key in the Lakeside Café.
You can even stay over in the landscaped Caravan and Campsite but be sure to book ahead as it gets very busy during popular times. And bring swimsuits if the weather is warm to take a dip in the Lough too if you’re brave enough!
Other fun activities in the park include:
- Woodland Segway offering fun glides and historical tours.
- Electric Bike trails with traditional and electric bikes.
- Zipit Forest Adventures.
- Lough Key boat tours.
- Orienteering trails.
#2. Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is an experience that the whole family will enjoy. The Castle is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland. Built in 1425 it was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour and now contains mainly 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art which capture the mood of those times. Wander through the castle and marvel at the finest collection of medieval furniture in the country which brings to life a vital part of our medieval past.
Visit the farm houses and cottages and watch the tasks of rural Irish life, making sure to see the baking of the griddle bread next to the fire and tasting it hot with fresh creamery butter.
Meet a variety of farm animals including the Irish Wolf hounds, the piglets, the Billy goat and his playful kids, and more!
Finally let the kids run off some steam in the fabulous playground which includes a timber tower, playship themed area, 25 metre zipline and a variety of swings!
#3. Irish National Stud, Kildare
If you’ve never visited the Irish National Stud & Gardens in Kildare Town, then we’d recommend it. Located just off the M7 motorway, the Stud is home to both wonderful horses and beautiful gardens.
The Irish National Stud offers an unforgettable experience in 800 acres of lovely Kildare countryside that can be enjoyed by all the family. As well as the magnificent horses, you can enjoy:
- The stunning Japanese Garden
- St Fiachras Garden
- The Horse Museum
- Fun kids playground
- Lunch in the café
- Free pony rides for kids during school holidays on selected days.
#4. Brigit’s Garden, Galway
Brigit’s Garden in West Galway, located between Moycullen and Oughterard, is a magical place for families to explore. There’s plenty to do here for the day including
- Family-friendly Celtic gardens – kids love the basket swings!
- Children’s discovery trail
- Willow play area and sandpit
- Nature trail
- Ring-fort and crannog
- Gift shop
- Award-winning, family friendly Garden Café.
Check their website for their regular events such as Elves & Fairies Day held every year in August.
#5. Powerscourt Estate, Wicklow
Powerscourt Estate, just 20km south of Dublin, offers a fantastic day out for families with a choice of attractions to visit, walks and more. At the Estate you will find:
- Powerscourt Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens in Ireland
- Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s highest waterfall, a fab location for summer picnics and barbecues with plenty of space and a playground to keep children entertained
- Tara’s Palace, a unique and magical doll’s palace within a museum which houses a collection of historic dolls houses, toys and childhood memorabilia
- Powerscourt House itself, voted one of the Top Ten Houses and Mansions Worldwide by the Lonely Planet Guide.
You can bring a picnic, but there are also plenty of great value options for family dining at Powerscourt.
Be sure to check in advance of your visit as they have a year-round events programme of treasure hunts, enchanted walks and lots more.
#6. Westport House & Pirate Adventure Park, Mayo
Winner of Best Family Holiday Destination 2015, you’ll make a full day out of it at Westport House & Pirate Adventure Park. Explore the House and Gardens, or have some fun in the Pirate Adventure Park – a treasure trove of family fun with its Grace O’Malley-themed amusement park with rides and activities. Or take a trip on the Westport Train Tour which runs right through the grounds.
You also have a choice of milder to wilder adventure activities including zorbing, zip wire, archery, combat games, high ropes frame as well as tree climbing and archery tag. Be sure to arrive early for a full day’s fun – and dress for the weather!
They also have a very family friendly campsite if you want to stay over.
#7. Lough Boora Discovery Park, Offaly
For something unique, visit Lough Boora Discovery Park. At Junction 7 on the M6 Dublin/Galway exit towards Moate/ Clonmacnoise and follow signs for Kilcormac and Lough Boora.
These amazing parklands offer plenty of options for picnicking, walking and cycling. In the parklands you’ll find:
- Walkways and walking trails
- Fairy trail
- Sculptures dotted across the parklands. The artists, inspired by the rich natural and industrial legacy of the bog lands, have created a series of large-scale sculptures that are now part of the park’s permanent collection.
- Picnic benches
- Cycle tracks – there’s a bike hire facility if you don’t have your own bikes with you
- Bird watching
- Guided tours also available.
#8. Phoenix Park
The Phoenix Park is the largest urban park in Europe, and home to the Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (President’s residence), Farmleigh House, Visitor Centre, plus playgrounds, cycling trails & lakes.
Take bikes/scooters (or rent them) and enjoy the many great cycling or walking trails. There’s a huge amount of wildlife in the Park, so there’s a good chance that you will spot deer roaming around.
The playground and tearooms at the Visitor Centre are well worth a visit. Admission to the Visitor Centre exhibition is free, and visitors can enjoy a historical interpretation of the park from 3500BC, including the history of Áras an Uachtaráin.
Every Sunday morning free children’s workshops on nature awareness, history and heritage and arts and crafts take place, suitable for ages 6-12 years.
Top Tip: Free admission tickets are issued at the Visitor Centre to visit Áras an Uachtaráin on Saturdays only.
#9. Birr Castle, Offaly
Birr Castle is an experience of discovery for the whole family – home to extensive gardens and parkland, as well as the Historic Science Centre and the great telescope of the 1840s.
Start with a tour of the Science Centre then head out afterwards for a stroll around the gardens before you wend your way to the Tree House area.
Kids will adore the play area, complete with picnic areas, sandpits, and the most spectacular tree house – in fact you may find it hard to pry them away!
There is also a lovely cafe on site.
#10. Fota Wildlife Park, Cork
See a kangaroo hop in front of you, watch the cheetahs being fed, or get up close to a ring-tailed lemur at Fota Wildlife Park.
Only 20 mins from Cork city, the Park makes a super day out for all the family. There’s always something happening at the Park:
- Daily Wildlife Talks where you can learn more about the animals
- Witness the speed of the fastest land animal Cheetahs in the Cheetah Run exhibition twice a day
- Enjoy feeding times for animals such as Penguins, Siamang Gibbon and Seals being fed each day
Fota also hosts a variety of other activities – including African drumming, Arts & Crafts as well as regular festivals – throughout the year and younger visitors are also welcome to enjoy the themed play areas dotted around the Park.
Over to you now. Have you been to an amazing place for a day out with kids in Ireland? Tell us in the comments below.