Are you looking for family day out ideas for this Halloween Mid Term Break? With restrictions coming and going, we’ve picked out some of our favourite places that have some element of outdoor space and are fun to take kids to. And there’s one for each county in Ireland!
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Whether you are looking for a day out close to home or further afield, we have put together an idea for a family day out in every county in Ireland. They are mostly outdoors, or have an outdoor element combined with a fun indoor visit.
Please do check before you travel to ensure any venue you plan to visit is open and if pre-booking is required.
This article was created pre the country going into Level 5 restrictions. Many outdoor options do remain open but you must be within a 5k radius to visit. Venues with indoor options will most likely remain closed to the public during the mid-term so please do check before you travel to any of the options below to avoid disappointment.
Fun Places To Visit For a Family Day Out in Ireland
Carlow: Oak Park Forest Park
Oak Park is a mature, mixed woodland with a universally accessible playground, outdoor exercise equipment, wheelchair accessible walkway and toilets, bat sanctuary and bird watching area. Plenty of trails and walks and an abundance of wildlife to see.
It’s open year round daily during daylight hours, admission is free.
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Cavan: Erica’s Fairy Forest
Erica’s Fairy Forest in Cootehill was created by her parents Natasha and Ciaran to honour five-year-old Erica’s memory and her unshakable belief in fairies and magical kingdoms. It is also a thank you to the people of Cootehill and surrounding areas whose love and support was never ending throughout Erica’s journey.
Bring your letters and pop them in the Fairy Post Box – you never know, you may get a reply! The Fairy Forest is free to visit.
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Clare: Aistear Park
Situated in the centre of the village of Mountshannon, between the main street and the harbour is a unique 4.5 acre park called Aistear Park which includes
- the Aistear Labyrinth, a maze incorporating timber, stone and foliage which takes the visitor through an informative exploration of Irish Spirituality over 9000 years. There are seven spaces within the maze, each displaying contemporary relics and artefacts reflecting the beliefs of past generations. All artefacts have been replicated from original archaeological discoveries making it a fascinating heritage walk.
- A kids playground area with swings, slides and climbing frames
- Picnic area
- An outdoor library called the “Wee Library”
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Cork: Fota House and Gardens
Fota House and Gardens in Cork offers visitors a look at how life was lived in the past, whether as a servant or as a member of the gentry. When you tour the house you get to see behind the scenes to the bedrooms and a Victorian nursery. Then visit the service wing, where you can see the working conditions of all the servants.
“Where is Mrs Kevin’s Cat?!” is a families tour through the House with a dedicated guide, solving the mystery of where the house keeper’s cat has got to. It’s a great way for children to enjoy learning about the House and the people who lived here.
Or you can go Digging for History in their award winning Victorian Working Garden, with a tour through the Victorian glasshouses with fun facts for kids, finishing off with a chance to pot up their own plant to take home and cherish. Both the Mrs Kevin’s Cat tour and Digging for History are suitable from 4 to about 11.
They also have fantastic outdoor trails for kids to follow in the gardens they have some really fun ones e.g. Junior Plant Hunters Activity Trail, Little Explorers Trail, and a Tree Trail.
And after all that fun you can refresh yourselves in the Bakestone Cafe.
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Donegal: Slieve League Cliffs
Almost 3 times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, the Slieve League Cliffs in Co. Donegal reach to a height of almost 2,000 feet making them some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. With 2 car parks families can opt to leave their car at the lower level and walk the road to the base, or drive along the winding road to the upper parking level.
From here enjoy the view across the Atlantic to Sligo, Leitrim and Mayo. The cliffs cater for all levels of climber, with a rocky path leading you to the top.
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The National Museum of Ireland – Dublin Museums
There are 3 National Museum of Ireland museums in Dublin to choose from and all offer free entry. You can make a full day of it, visit all 3 museums, start with NMI – Decorative Arts and History, then go to NMI – Archaeology and NMI – Natural History. Finally, head to Stephens Green to see the ducks!
The National Museums of Ireland in Dublin all offer activity trails for kids when you visit.
If you are planning to visit the museums, please do check that they are open and book your time slot in advance. If the museums do happen to be closed, you can still enjoy plenty of online activities and exhibits from the comfort of your own home.
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In the heart of Connemara, the National Park is well worth the drive. There is an excellent playground, multiple walks for all ages and abilities, toilets, an indoor eating area and a coffee shop (seasonal). The park is free to visit and you can easily spend a day exploring and taking in the amazing views. Be sure to go for a walk up Diamond Hill while you are there.
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Kerry: Tralee Bay Wetlands Eco and Activity Park
At Tralee Bay Wetlands Eco and Activity Park you can explore the Nature Reserve, ecology and wildlife park, take self guided nature walks, enjoy pedalo boats on the lake and generally immerse yourself in nature. They also have an outdoor playground and a cafe.
The park is open seven days a week year round with activities running at weekends from September to March and daily April to August.
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Kildare: Irish National Stud
Enjoy a great day out for all the family at the Irish National Stud & Gardens in Kildare Town, Co. Kildare. This family-friendly location offers an unforgettable experience in 800 acres of beautiful Kildare countryside with some of the most magnificent horses and sumptuous gardens to be found anywhere in the world, including the beautiful Japanese Gardens and St Fiachra’s Garden.
Enjoy a tour of the Horse Museum and explore the magical ‘fairy trail’ in the woodland area, and afterwards let the kids run off some steam at the fab playground before you stop by the café for refreshments. Please book in advance to guarantee entry.
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Kilkenny: Castlecomer Discovery Park
All the family will enjoy a day out at Castlecomer Discovery Park. There are many activities to do including zip-lines, high ropes course and camps during holidays. They are open daily during the Halloween mid-term break, but also every weekend up to the end of November.
During the Halloween mid-term from October 24th to November 1st, families can enjoy a Monster’s Inc themed Family Fun Scavenger Hunt! You must book in advance to attend.
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Laois: 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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Leitrim: The Organic Centre and Eco Park
At The Organic Centre situated on the south western shores of Lough Melvin you can explore their gardens, follow the butterfly trail or take a bug hunt adventure. There’s a small playground & picnic area and an eco-park with 17 acres of woodlands walks. Children are free and there is a small entrance fee for adults.
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Limerick: Lough Gur Heritage Centre
Lough Gur is a magical and mysterious place that is rich in folklore along with a wealth of archaeology and history dating back to Stone Age times. The Heritage Centre provides a fascinating interpretation of the sites associated with Lough Gur.
At the Heritage Centre you will find interactive exhibitions with touch screens. There’s a fully guided tour and also audio guides and outdoor acoustic guides to help you enjoy your visit. For children there’s an activity sheet, dressing up, and a neolithic pot building section.
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Longford: Royal Canal Greenway
The Royal Canal Greenway is the longest off-road Greenway in Ireland, running along the Royal Canal which stretches from Dublin to Longford. The “Royal Canal Greenway” between Maynooth and Richmond Harbour / Longford Town was completed in June 2020. This Greenway is perfect for walks and cycling for all ages and abilities.
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Louth: Castle Roche
Castle Roche near Dundalk is one of the most striking Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland and can be viewed for miles around. Located on a rocky hilltop, it commands wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
Legend has it that Lady Rohesia promised her hand in marriage to the architect if he completed the castle to her satisfaction. When he went to claim her hand, she had him thrown from one of the windows, which to this day is known as the ‘murder window’. You can walk to it through farm gates (be sure to close them after you).
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Mayo: National Museum of Ireland – Country Life
The award winning National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Mayo offers a lovely, free family day out. Throughout the year there are free workshops and events. There are interactive exhibitions and a fun games box for the kids.
If the museum is not open you can still explore the stunning grounds and surrounding woodlands. There’s an amazing playground that the kids will love! Then enjoy some refreshments at the Museum café afterwards.
Admission to the Museum is free but you may need to book in advance of arrival so check before you go.
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Meath: The Irish Military War Museum
At the Irish Military War Museum you will find an amazing array of World War 1 & 2 memorabilia with many ‘hand on’ exhibitions. Visitors can also enjoy the outdoor playground, petting zoo and a picnic area. You can book to drive a tank too but that does cost extra.
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Monaghan: Lough Muckno Leisure Park
At Lough Muckno Park there’s plenty to do here with walking trails, a waterski & wakeboarding club, fishing, nature walks and a picnic area. It is open all year around and no admission fee.
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Offaly: Birr Castle Demesne
Owned by the Parsons family, the award-winning Birr Castle Demesne in Offaly is a must for a visit with the family. The magnificent castle is a rare gem in the heart of Ireland.
Over 150 years ago if you were an engineer, astronomer or scientist, Birr was the place to be. Back then Birr had the world’s largest telescope and attracted some of the best mathematical, engineering and creative minds. The science centre is still there today so be sure to add a visit to it while checking out the castle.
With 120 acres to explore, Birr Castle Gardens is home to the world’s tallest hedge boxes, waterfalls, lakes and rivers. They even have three different walking trails. Also a big hit with the kids is the Treehouse Adventure Area at Birr Castle which opens daily from 9.00 until 17.00. It features the largest treehouse in Ireland along with slides, a hobbit hut, climbing frames, a bouncy pillow (weather permitting), sand pits, picnic benches and so much more.
Spooktacular Halloween Mid-Term Fun
Look out for some special spooktacular Halloween activities if you visit Birr Castle Demesne during the mid-term break (Saturday October 24th to Sunday November 1st)! Wrap up warm to enjoy socially distanced family fun including:
- Halloween Pumpkin Trail
- Family Quest
- Treehouse Adventure and much more!
Activities are included in the general admission price and run during opening hours (9am to 5pm daily). Pre-booking is essential due to limited capacity.
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Roscommon: Strokestown Park
Strokestown Park houses the Irish National Famine Museum, a must-see visitor attraction for families. Visitors can take a stroll through the 6 acre walled garden and surrounding woodlands which are open year round.
Strokestown House is usually open daily and visitors will get a real insight into days gone by at this Georgian Palladian mansion in which many of the original furnishings can still be seen. Please do check before you travel that the house and museum are open and what booking requirements are in place if you do wish to visit them alongside the grounds.
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Roscommon: Lough Key Forest Park
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 and Activity Park, offers hours of entertainment for all the family.
This Halloween mid-term break families can enjoy The Lough Key Trivia Trail! Simply purchase your trivia pack from the info booth and get everything you need to decipher the clues and complete the trail. Along the way, look out for the Hallowedding scene at Rockingham church where a spooky couple take their vows!
If that wasn’t enough there are miles of biking trails and orienteering courses, tree trails and an amazing tree top canopy walk. You can pick up a map for the walking trails and discover the wishing chair, fairy bridge, ice house, fishing temple and Rockingham Church around the grounds or bring your own bikes along to cycle the trails or try out the Boyle Cycleway.
Visitors can also enjoy the Lough Key Experience, climb the Moylurg Tower and enter the underground tunnels! ZipIt is also open to book.
So wrap up warm and head along for some outdoor fun.
During the Halloween mid-term break Rockingham Church, The Servants Tunnels and other areas will be decorated in Lough-Spookey style! And the Lakeside Food Truck will be decorated too and will be serving tasty Halloween treats alongside traditional snacks.
Some of the usual activities at Lough Key, such as Boda Borg, the adventure playground, jeep safari and bike rental are not currently be open, in line with government guidelines.
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Sligo: Queen Maeve’s Grave
A 300m limestone hill sits in Knocknarea, Sligo and it’s believed that Queen Maeve, a figure from Irish mythology is buried inside. As the story goes, the fiery Irish queen Medb was felled by a piece of cheese flung from an expert’s sling.
Although it features all the classic makings of a tomb, for now we don’t know if she lies inside or not as it remains of one the largest unexplored monuments in Ireland.
You can climb the hill of Knocknarea and get breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside including Ben Bulben, Slieve League and other famous Irish landmarks.
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Tipperary: Cahir Castle & Swiss Cottage
Your little King Arthur or Princess Guinevere will love the medieval splendour of Cahir Castle. One of Ireland’s biggest castles, it rises up from an island in the middle of the River Suir and was used as a location for the film Excalibur.
Get the kids to count the cannons scattered around the grounds, see the working portcullis which would have been lowered to protect the castle when it was under attack and try their best to shift the sword from the rock.
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Waterford: Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens
Learn about the life of Lafcadio Hearn through Victorian, American, Greek and Japanese gardens in Tramore. Children have their very own discovery trail with secret pathways through the woodlands with fairytales and folklore along the way.
Make sure to visit in December to see The Enchanted Garden during the Winter Light Festival.
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Westmeath: Belvedere House, Gardens and Park
An excellent day out with a difference, Belvedere House Gardens & Park situated on the shores of Lough Ennell within Ireland’s Ancient East, offers something for young and old. Open daily, all year round, visitors can enjoy 10km of safe and serene walks, a Victorian Walled Garden, Fairy Garden, Narnia Trail, 4 children’s areas and a 30m zip line, lake and numerous follies including Ireland’s largest; ‘The Jealous Wall’. There is also a Gift Shop, picnic areas and licensed café.
This Halloween mid-term Belvedere House are running a Children’s Halloween colouring competition! Download and print their fun Halloween-themed poster and colour it in. Return by email including Name, Address and Contact Details and Name and Age of child to [email protected]. (NB due to current Covid 19 restrictions they cannot provide / accept physical copies of the page).
Closing date is November 6th and the winner will get a fabulous 4 Visit Family Pass to Belvedere House Gardens & Park + Family Lunch Voucher (Value €50) for CaToCa Fine Foods & Giftware
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Wexford: Johnstown Castle
Johnstown Castle is a spectacular gothic Castle in Wexford and offers an amazing day out for all ages. It was built in the 1170’s and was first occupied by the Esmondes, a Norman family. In 1692, John Grogan acquired the castle and his descendantes owned it up until 1945 when it was presented as a gift to the nation. It is now run by The Irish Heritage Trust, Teagasc and the Irish Agricultural Museum who have worked together to open a new visitor experience which include castle tours.
The Castle is surrounded by beautiful ornamental gardens designed by Daniel Robertson, they offer walks by not one but three lakes, gothic statues, peacocks and other wildlife and a Victorian Walled Garden to discover.
The Irish Agricultural Museum is housed within the ground of Johnstown Castle and displays one fo the most comprehensive collections showcasing farming and rural life in Ireland with everything from tractors to kitchens!
As with all venues that have an indoor element, do check opening hours and booking requirements before you travel.
This Halloween mid-term you can take a self guided Halloween Outdoor Trail. See if you can spot Lady Sophia and some of her ghostly friends while you are on your tour. Last entry is 4.30pm.
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Wicklow: Powerscourt Estate
Powerscourt Estate, just 20km south of Dublin, offers a fantastic day out for families with a choice of attractions to visit. Experience one of the best views in Ireland at Powerscourt Gardens, featuring ornate Italian and Japanese Gardens. Then enjoy:
- Woodland and river walks
- Visiting the highest waterfall in Ireland
- Having fun in the children’s playground
- Meeting Giant Redwoods which grow up to 80m high
- Climbing the Pepper Pot Tower
- Take a picnic or enjoy food and drinks at the Avoca Terrace Café
Open daily 9:30am-5:30pm. Tickets for the Gardens can be booked online, Waterfall tickets can be purchased on arrival.
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Fun Places To Visit For a Family Day Out in Northern Ireland
Antrim, Dunluce Castle
The ruins of Dunluce Castle lie on the cliffs of north County Antrim and are only accessible by bridge. Legends say the castle was once haunted by banshees and in 1639 the castle kitchens, along with the kitchen staff fell into the sea during a storm. Dunluce Castle was the family home of the McDonnell clan and it still belongs to them today.
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Armagh: Slieve Gullion
The Giant’s Lair Story Trail at Slieve Gullion Forest Park near Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, 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.
Derry: Portstewart Diversity Park
The Portstewart Diversity Park located in the grounds of Flowerfield Arts Centre has a specially designed sensory play park with wheelchair swing, bucket swing seat and sunken trampoline. Children of all ages and abilities will enjoy a family day out here.
Down: Silent Valley Mountain Park
Silent Valley Mountain Park is a real back to nature experience with walks and hikes for all ages and abilities. These are colour coded and can accessed from the car park. Many will bring you to the Ben Crum Reservoirs with the stunning mountains as a backdrop. Along the way you may meet some friendly mountain sheep and be sure to bring along a £1 coin feed the ducks! There are toilets and a café at the site, which is open year round.
Enniskillen Castle, built almost 600 years ago, beside the River Erne, stands guard over one of the few passes into Ulster, and so has had a strategic role to play in history.
It has a 17th century Watergate with twin turrets and a museum in the Castle Keep. The Visitor Centre at the Castle boasts interactive quizzes, exhibits, movies, stories, and is free to visit.
You can also visit the Enniskillen Castle Museums, there are 2 museums at the Castle:
- Fermanagh County Museum, where you can find out about the history of Fermanagh, the county’s traditional rural life, local crafts and the celebrated pottery at Belleek
- The Inniskillings Museum, which tells the story of the town of Enniskillen’s two regiments, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.
Tyrone: Ulster American Folk Park
The Ulster American Folk Park, just outside Omagh, is an outdoor museum which tells the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Follow the emigrant trail, meeting an array of costumed characters on your way, 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.
Have your say! Are there other fun family day out ideas that you enjoy and want to share with us? Please tell us about them in the comments box below.