With the midterm school break this week, entertaining the kids will be a full-time job for most parents. The good news is that many activities and buildings have reopened, so there’s plenty to do, both indoors and outdoors.
These family activities should give you a few hours of entertainment and fun.
Westport Adventure Park offers more than 20 activities, including ziplining, paintball and an obstacle course. Children over the age of seven are welcome, and the excitement and achievement generated makes this the kind of family outing that works especially well with otherwise hard-to-engage tweens and teens. Activities are priced separately.
Turoe Pet Farm, County Galway
The most common complaint about this Loughrea destination seems to be that the kids don’t want to leave.
They can pet and feed animals like bunnies, donkeys and alpacas, and there’s an artificial grass pitch, fairy trail, indoor playground, huge bouncy castle and indoor activity center with ball pits and a zip line. There is a cafe on site where you can bring a picnic. Admission for two adults and two children costs €45.
Spike Island, County Cork
Children will be fascinated by a visit to Spike Island, which at different times was a monastery and the largest prison in the world. The ten-minute ferry ride departs from Cobh and a family ticket for two adults and two children under 12 costs €53. The Titanic took 123 passengers around the city and there are various ways to explore this connection, including the Titanic Walk and The Titanic Experience Cobh (€27 for two adults and two children).
Carlingford Greenway, County Louth
Exploring the regions by bike is a great family activity, and Carlingford Greenway is a great way to explore the Cooley Peninsula. You get to see the Morne Mountains, Carlingford Lough and the town.
The On Yer Bike company is located in Carlingford Marina and hires out bikes (adults €24, children €12 for a full day), including tandems and e-bikes.
Zero Gravity Skatepark, Sligo
Zero Gravity is an indoor skate park opened by professional skateboarder Neville Dunbar in 2015. All levels and ages are welcome to practice their skills on rollerblading, BMX, skateboarding, rollerblading and scooters from €16 for a session of two time. Lessons in some activities are also available.
EPIC and Jeanie Johnson, Dublin
Dubin’s CHQ EPIC Museum is celebrating Ernest Shackleton’s birthday with an adventure-themed animated trail from February 19-27. It is included in the admission price (€42 for two adults and two children) so that anyone who wishes can go in search of clues and “save Shackleton”.
EPIC next door neighbor the famine ship Jeanie Johnston is moored on Custom House Quay. It has extended opening hours to include some weekdays this month (€31 for two adults and two children).
Cloughmor Extreme, County Down
Cloughmor Extreme offers a wide range of land and water activities, such as abseiling, archery and kayaking, and focuses on team building and confidence building. Prices start at £20 (€24) for a full day. Wide accessibility is something you don’t necessarily associate with adventure sports, but the center works with groups of people with all kinds of additional needs.
Mini-farm Kia Ora, County Wexford
Named after the Maori word for ‘a warm welcome’, this Gorey farm has an excellent selection of animals including cows, emus, alpacas and llamas. Activities include real diggers and karting. There is a cafe on site and picnics are encouraged. It is fully wheelchair accessible and tickets cost €9 per person.
Killarney Riding Centre, County Kerry
The joys of pony trekking can be experienced all over Ireland. Killarney Riding Stables offers guided rides through Killarney National Park, taking in views of Ross Island and Killarney’s lakes and mountains. Hikes can last one, two or three hours (€50, €90 and €115 respectively) and are suitable for all ages and levels of experience.
Lough Boora Discovery Park, County Offaly
If you’re looking for a hidden outdoor gem for a family day out, Lough Boora Discovery Park is a delight. It offers free walks, biking, fishing and birdwatching, and there’s even a sculpture walk where 24 works of art can be found in nature.
Birr Demesne Castle is nearby with its beautiful gardens, tree house, science center and giant telescope (€26 for a family of four).
Stretchy satin pants may be gone, but roller-skate dancing is back. For €40, two adults and two children can spin around in Munster’s only roller disco at the RollerJam in Limerick.
You can also put on your disco rollerblades at Portlaoise at the Roll’nBowl (8€ per hour), and at The Rink at D12 in Dublin’s Walkinstown. The family entry is €36.00 for two adults and two children,
Rollerjam.co.uk; Bowlingireland.com; Therink.ie
Cahir Castle, County Tipperary
Movie buffs might enjoy a trip to the 13th century Cahir Castle in Tipperary. He received the Location Award 2021 from the European Film Commissions Network for The green knight, the latest in a long line of films shot in one of Ireland’s best preserved castles. An audiovisual show explains the history of the castle and its surroundings. Family tickets cost €13.
The National Gallery in Dublin offers many ways to make art family-friendly. It offers free kid-centric tours (Sundays, 12:30 p.m.) and audio tours, but families can participate in the art challenges available on its website from the comfort of their home.
There are many mid-term art classes for children of all ages across the country. Me and the Moon run two-day nature and art courses in Muckross, Co Kerry, Russborough, Co Wicklow and Kilruddery, Co Wicklow (€45-€65).
Go skiing in Dublin
Ireland doesn’t offer many natural winter sports opportunities, but you can try skiing or snowboarding without committing to a trip abroad. Head to Kilternan on Dublin’s border with Wicklow, where the Ski Club of Ireland provides entertainment for all abilities from four years old. Lessons are €55 per adult and €40 per child.
Castlecomer Discovery Park, County Kilkenny
This 80-acre discovery park has Ireland’s longest zip line and a high ropes course for over 12s (€27), as well as a treetop walk and archery.
Younger children can try the Junior Woodland Adventure course and the Bouncing Net. The park is a non-profit social enterprise and activities are individually priced. There is also a craft yard with local artists and a café.