In March I brought you some tips on travel essentials. Now, well into summer, I’d like to share some destination ideas with those of you looking for a nice little family vacation within Ireland.
Though we often take our own country for granted, there may be a number of reasons why we, parents, choose to opt for a domestic holiday. Maybe you feel staying within the boundaries of your home is safer or more stress-free with your new little bundle of joy. Maybe you already ticked off that big summer holiday abroad and you’re looking for a quick little weekend getaway or you could simply be looking for a fun family day out. Whatever may be the reason, Ireland has something to offer for everyone in pursuit of quality family time. So, keep on reading our (non-exhaustive) guide to the top family destinations in Ireland and get packing.
Things to do in Dublin
Spot the deer in Phoenix Park
As Europe’s largest urban park, Phoenix park guarantees a relaxing day out with the family. Bike hire is available from Phoenix Park Bikes. For little ones not yet confident on their own wheels, carts are available to ride alongside Mammy or Daddy, pre-booking is strongly advised and you can also do this online. Alternatively, stroll by foot to explore the park with your tiny companions in a buggy. If you are lucky, you may even find the native deer roaming around. The playground will also keep your little ones occupied. If you get tired, take a break and enjoy a picnic on the vast fields or beside a beautiful lake, or there are a couple of coffee shops dotted around the park. It's also a nice idea to bring along some seeds or oats to feed the ducks, this is always a favorite activity with our kiddies.
Take a stroll in the Iveagh Gardens
In the center of Dublin, a beautiful, peaceful hidden park with plenty of space to take a walk with the kids. Explore the grounds and the stunning waterfall in the middle of the capital. Don’t forget to bring your picnic basket with some treats for the little ones.
For a day full of fun with workshops and free exploration visit the Airfield Estate. Entrance is free for young visitors under three years. But the smile on their little faces when they see the goats, pigs, donkeys and other farm animals, is priceless. Stroll around, enjoy the native woodland and wildlife of this beautiful estate.
Relaxing getaway in Ireland’s family-friendly hotels
If you are looking for something a little bit more relaxing than a city break, you may want to consider taking a staycation. Here is our recommendation of family friendly hotels:
Druids Glen Resort
This is a firm favorite of ours, and here are the reasons why...
Alongside the spacious family rooms suited for 2 adults and 2 children, there are also interconnecting rooms for bigger families, or if you want to splash out opt for a suite with its own separate living area, which is ideal for Mammy and Daddy time when the little ones go down for the night. The hotel also has a heap of extra facilities geared around families including, a 24-hour kitchenette with sterilizer, microwave, fridge, cleaning equipment for bottles, etc. There are indoor and outdoor play areas, sure to keep little ones busy and if all that isn't enough the pool is open to children during set hours for a pre-dinner splash about. There is also an extensive DVD library available for family movie night. Druids Glen is also home to a beautiful spa, ideal for pamper time for Mammy whilst Daddy can get in a few rounds on the golf course. A babysitting service is also available to ensure the kids are well looked after.
Amber Springs Hotel
This hotel in Gorey, Wexford includes many facilities for children making it an ideal family hotel. There are 30 family rooms and something for children of all age groups. Some activity zones on the property include a mini-golf course, games room, and the all times favorite, swimming pool. Although, the real winner for your little ones will most definitely be The Amber Express (the hotel’s very own train). The hotel's soft play area is sure to impress the smaller children. The family rooms include a double bed and two single beds. They are also spacious enough to accommodate a travel cot.
Kelly’s Resort Hotel & Spa
This beautiful location just across the beach at Rosslare is yet another family favorite in Co. Wexford. The hotel also offers excellent child-minding service. While children over four enjoy the Pirate Club, younger ones may be minded in the playroom for a small additional fee. The family rooms are located on the ground floor for easier access and accommodate cots for young visitors.
Clonakilty Park Hotel
If you plan to explore West Cork, there is no better place to stay than this wonderful family-friendly hotel. Great facilities for kids, excellent food deals, helpful staff, and a toddler area/creche all combine for a pleasant stay for the entire family. You can choose from one of the various rooms with the complementary addition of travel cots if required. While you stay here, visit one of the five beautiful beaches near Clonakilty.
A day with animals
Located in Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo may sound like an obvious choice. But that does not mean that your children will have any less fun than expected. Dublin Zoo is home to wild animals and endangered species. It is spread across 28 hectares making it an adventurous yet educative day for your little ones.
Sea Life, Bray
Did we find Nemo and Dory? Maybe not. But your babies will certainly enjoy discovering the other wonders of the deep sea. This aquarium is home to many fascinating creatures and one additional perk is its inside nature. Definitely a good choice for a rainy day with free admission to little visitors under three.
Tropical World, Donegal
This mini-zoo sometimes referred to as “Donegal’s hidden gem” is another great spot for the little animal lovers. Though it’s only opened seasonally, between April and September, Tropical World guarantees a fun family day out. Similar to Sea Life, a large percentage of the facility is covered and is, therefore, an excellent choice for rainy days. It also includes an indoor play area and a nice on-site café, which can be a lifesaver after a long day of fun.
Funghi The Dolphin
Dingle Harbour in Kerry is home to Funghi, one of Ireland's most renowned and loved Dolphins. First spotted back in 1983 Funghi continues to seek out human attention and loves to entertain in his natural environment. Boat trips will take your family out on the waters of Dingle where you can spot Funghi flipping, jumping and swimming through the waters, this tour was a big hit with our family.
One tip: Wrap up well the Irish sea breezes can be chilly!
Ireland is full of amazing family-friendly locations with a variety of options for those looking for shorter and longer getaways with children. This list only scrapes the surface. But I hope I was at least able to give you a little taste of the wonders the country has to offer. For more family vacation ideas in Ireland check out Michelle Davitt’s article on Mykidstime. If you have visited any of these places or have other ideas, feel free to share with your fellow parents in the comment section.
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