Are you looking for ideas of fun places to take the kids for either a day out or family walk? Getting outside for some fresh air and activity, wherever you go, is good for both body and mind. Here are some fun family-friendly outdoor places in Ireland, where fresh air and pink cheeks are guaranteed!
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Although our weather can be, well let’s just say ‘changeable’, we’re fortunate to have tons of amazing outdoor places in Ireland to visit. From gigantic prehistoric dolmens and waterfalls to forest parks and beaches, when you think what’s on our doorstep in our beautiful country, it’s just fabulous!
We’ve picked out a few favourite spots to get active and outdoors with the kids. We hope you enjoy planning some days out and family walks.
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Family-Friendly Outdoor Places in Leinster
Brownshill Dolmen, Carlow
The Brownshill Dolmen is a magnificent capstone made of granite, apparently one of the heaviest in Europe. An enormous slab sits on two portal stones which flank a door stone. Its date of construction has been estimated at around 5,000 years ago and experts believe religious rites were performed at the site.
It’s located on Hacketstown Road not far from Carlow town. The walk from the small car park (free) is surrounded by fields and is a pleasant walk. Kids will enjoy exploring in and around the Dolmen.
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Stephenstown Pond Nature Park, Louth
Stephenstown Pond in Knockbridge, Dundalk is a lovely nature park with lots to do with the whole family. There are walks by the lake and through the woods, a large playground and many areas for picnics.
There’s a pond with ducks and they also have a kids nature quiz where they can learn about the wildlife in the park. Car park (€2 on exit) and café on site.
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Clara Bog, Offaly
Clara Bog is perhaps the best remaining example of midland raised bog in Western Europe. It has been said that you can experience 10,000 years of history in the ten square miles that accommodate Clara Bog.
Clara Bog Visitor Centre & Nature Reserve boardwalk, which meanders through Clara Bog Nature Reserve, is located a two minute drive from the Clara Bog Visitor Centre. The boardwalk is a 1km looped walk on Clara Bog.
Admission to the boardwalk and Clara Bog Visitor Centre. It’s recommended to wear sturdy footwear for the boardwalk.
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Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park, Westmeath
The Amenity & Heritage Park at Dún na Sí is a fantastic place for kids! They can meet the ancient Irish warrior Lugh who with his magic spear, stands guard over Dún na Sí. Then enjoy ambling through the parklands and a wetland reserve, discovering art installations throughout the park.
You’ll find a children’s playground next to the café which serves coffee and lunch.
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The Tinahely Railway Walk, Wicklow
The Old Railway Walk in Tinahely is a safe, quiet spot to take the family for a lovely day out. The walk stretches 2.7km in length and traverses a section of the Woodenbridge to Shillelagh Railway Line which was closed in 1964.
Each season along the walk is beautiful in its own right, from bluebells in spring to blackberries and crab apples in the autumn.
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Family-Friendly Outdoor Places in Munster
The Flaggy Shore, Clare
The Flaggy Shore, Clare has a fabulous coastal family walk. Head to New Quay, just off the N67 Kinvara/Ballyvaughan road where you can walk with the wild Atlantic ocean to one side and the limestone rocks of the Burren to the other.
The looped walk brings you from New Quay to Finavarra Point and is suitable for all members of the family. You can choose to walk along the beach or stroll along the quiet road. Be sure to visit the well preserved Martello tower at Finavarra Point and check out the rocks to see if you can find any fossils.
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Gougane Barra National Park, Cork
Gougane Barra National Park is a super option for a family day out in Cork and is a beautiful destination in any season. There are walking and cycling trails and if the weather is nice, there is also a picnic area.
There are six different walking trails to suit all levels of fitness. There’s also a looped 3km scenic drive with spectacular views of the deep valley and its walled sides.
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Fenor Bog, Waterford
Designated as Waterford’s first national nature reserve in 2004, Fenor Bog is rich in flora and fauna and is the unique habitat of many rare plants, birds and butterflies.
A raised walkway through the bog and picnic area makes it a great place for a day out and a picnic.
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Family-Friendly Outdoor Places in Connacht
Coole Park, Galway
Coole Park is a fabulous place to take kids and one of our favourite outdoor places in Ireland. There are multiple walks in the woods, and other fun features kids will love, such as:
- deer to spot in a special walled area near the visitor centre
- a walled garden for picnics with its own sundial laid out that you can stand on (if lucky enough to get some sun!) to tell the time
- the famous Autograph Tree where Yeats and other famous writers, playwrights and poets carved their initials
You will also find a visitor centre where you can Hunt The Thimble and see some of the interesting items from Lady Gregory’s life and family as well as a café and toilets in the park.
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Strokestown Park, Roscommon
Strokestown Park in Roscommon is one of our favourite outdoor places in Ireland. It has fabulous parklands to run about and fly a kite in, as well as lovely gardens with Victorian rose garden, and woodlands to explore. They run regular family events too, so check before you visit.
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Hazelwood Demesne, Sligo
The Hazelwood Demesne around the shores of Lough Gill in Sligo offers a variety of family friendly walks. These are particularly pretty in autumn, when you get a variety of reds, oranges and yellows on the trees.
There are several different walks, including the ‘Sculpture Tour’ where you will find wooden sculptures from Irish and international artists running alongside the track.
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Family-Friendly Outdoor Places in Ulster
Slieve Gullion, Armagh
Slieve Gullion near Newry always gets a few recommendations when we ask our parents for their favourite days out. The Forest Park is a great free day out with a massive adventure playground, amazing fairy trail walk, Giant’s Lair story trail, woodland walks and walled garden to explore. There’s a courtyard with coffee shop.
Erica’s Fairy Forest, Cavan
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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Ards Forest Park, Donegal
On the coast with lots of facilities for families, Ards Forest Park is one of Ireland’s finest forest parks and one of the most scenic outdoor places in Ireland.
At the Park you can enjoy many forest walks, a car park and a children’s play area. There are numerous viewing points on the walks and trails with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
The remains of four ringforts are to be seen in the park as well as a number of megalithic tombs – legend has it that these were the beds of Diarmuid and Grainne during their flight from Fionn Mac Cumhaill!
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Rossmore Forest Park, Monaghan
Rossmore Forest Park near Monaghan Town has several forest walks, a Nature Trail and a Yew walk. It has a car park, picnic sites, forest and lakeside walks, nature trails and viewing points. €5 per car on Saturdays and Sundays.
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