There’s a lot packed into this green little island off the Atlantic. Indeed, you’re only a short journey from a range of family activities, whether that involves pet farms, ziplining, wakeboarding or even stepping into the past with historical sites.
All of these attractions are a short drive (or in some cases, walk) from our hotels in Ireland. We’re proud to say that our hotels are perfect for family breaks, with state-of-the-art facilities, prime locations and terrific local knowledge of fun family things to do.
Here are a few of our favourite things to do around the country, many of which are a little off the beaten track…
Secret Valley Wildlife Park
A joy for animal lovers of all ages, Secret Valley Wildlife Park hosts several local and exotic animals across its 14 acres.
There are opportunities to feed kid goats, get up close and personal with the reptiles or to meet the meerkats. There are also monkeys (from lemurs to macaques), invertebrates (from spiders to scorpions), and larger animals like lemurs and horses.
If you book in advance, you can enjoy more hands-on “experiences”, which cater to different age groups.
Turoe Pet Farm
Pet farms are among the most popular family activities in Ireland, and Turoe Pet Farm delivers cute animals and much more. Across these 14 acres, Turoe also has an “Inflatable City” and “Jungle Town”.
Your animal needs will definitely be met, as the farm has ponies, rabbits, donkeys, pigs, Scottish highland cows, cockerels, goats, ducks and (our favourite) lamas, among other furry and feathery friends.
On rainy days, your kids will enjoy Inflatable City, which ranks as one of the biggest bouncy castles in Europe; and Jungle City is a two-story activity centre, with large slides, ball pits, zip lines and more.
Craggaunowen Castle and Crannog
The best things to do in Ireland with the family often combine education with fun.
Step into the past, as Craggaunowen meticulously recreates life in Ireland 10,000 years ago. Its main attraction is the glorious Craggaunowen Castle and Fort, but it doesn’t stop there.
There are Bronze Age Celtic houses to explore (Crannogs) as well as recreations of farms from the 4th Century – including cooking demonstrations from the era. There’s even a working version of St Brendan’s boat, which many scholars say crossed the Atlantic before Columbus. Sorry, Chris!
If you’re looking for family things to do in Ireland, a public farm is a great bet.
A fully functional working farm, Grenagh brings visitors close to the agricultural experience, as they see the crops, animals and methods involved in creating Irish produce.
There’s an abundance of animals and breeds here, including horses, sheep, pigs, cattle, rabbits and dogs (and, if you’re lucky, puppies!).
“The Village” is another highlight, bringing you life household in the 1960s. Go to school, put the kettle on or make a phone-call, 60s-style!
If all this talk of food produce makes you peckish, you can grab a bite to eat in the farm’s Haystack restaurant, which serves nourishing, traditional fare.
Ballyhass Wake Park
Like water-skiing but more accessible and family-friendly, wakeboarding is one of the fastest-growing watersports in the world. Using an overhead cable, wakeboarding brings you skimming over the water’s surface, in a thrilling, fun and unique experience.
Ballyhass Wake Park in Mallow is the biggest in Ireland and is a treat for kids who want to make a splash.
Wakeboarders can control the speed at which they travel, which makes for an exciting, intuitive learning experience. Then the fun really begins, as this venue has obstacles to negotiate on the water!
The Natural History Museum
Affectionately nicknamed “the Dead Zoo”, the Natural History Museum is a marvel for visitors of any age. Over the years, it’s grown to become one of the quirkiest and fun family things to do in Dublin.
Behold hundreds of animals, recreated, stuffed or in skeleton form, across the two floors of this beautiful Georgian building.
There are giant deer skeletons, sharks, fossils and preserved insects.
If it once flew, swam, ran or crawled, there’s a good chance it’s on display in the Natural History Museum.
Ziplining in Tibradden
With four different circuits (for different age levels), ZipIt Tibradden has nearly a kilometre of zipline. Among those platforms in the trees, there are 110 activities, many of which involve ziplines.
Hook in, steel your nerves and let gravity do the rest, as you zip down through the scenic forests of South Dublin.
Dundonald International Ice Bowl
Dundonald International Ice Bowl is more than just a state-of-the-art ice rink. It’s also a family-friendly bowling alley, and an adventure area known as “Indiana Land”.
The ice rink is the largest in Ulster – offering the only Olympic size venue of its kind in the country. It also provides penguin-shaped skating aids for younger skaters, skating lessons for adults and kids (book in advance) and public sessions.
If ice-skating isn’t for you, the venue also has 30 bowling lanes. There are aids for the very young bowlers, but teens might enjoy “Xtreme bowling”, which takes place under dimmed lights, neon and with glow-in-the-dark pins.
Indiana Land, meanwhile, is a treat for under-12s, which rope bridges, a vertical slide and (thankfully!) plenty of soft mats and anti-climb netting for safety.
On a rainy day especially, this is one of the best things to do in Northern Ireland with the family.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Northern Ireland for families, and we’re especially fond of this enlightening, unusual attraction.
This free aquarium has a range of underwater creatures, both saltwater and freshwater, all indigenous to the area.
This means you’ll get a closeup view of crabs, starfish, lobster, coalfish in the lough & sea tanks; and sticklebacks, minnows, salmon in the lake, stream and pond tanks. And the stock is constantly being updated and refreshed.
Riverwatch Aquarium also provides free activity packs for kids.