I may biased but I do believe Cork is an amazing county in so many ways. While earning a reputation as Ireland’s food capital it can satisfy the needs of almost any visitor with its abundance of activities and attractions to explore. As Corkconians we decided to make a little staycation in our home county and see it with tourist eyes. Here is our 24 hours in Cork for Families.
Family Friendly Accommodation
We stayed in The Cork International Hotel as it is the perfect base to explore the city and county. Located right next to Cork Airport, only a 10 minutes’ drive from Cork City Centre and 20 minutes from top Cork attractions such as Fota Wildlife Park and Blarney Castle. It is also at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way and is the nearest Cork City hotel to Kinsale.
I could only describe the décor as funky yet contempory. The family rooms are huge and very clean. They have excellent family facilities with the playroom, games area and Cinema Room. However, the pièce de résistance of this hotel was their very helpful team of staff. Even before you arrive their family concierge team made contact with us to see if we needed any advice or help with planning our trip. As a family they made us feel very welcome and could not do enough for us during our stay.
In the reception area there is a convenient little shop for all the little bits and pieces you may forget to pack and some treats too. With the current climate, I felt very safe, as many new procedures were in place to accommodate the social distancing and sanitizing measures.
Family Friendly Activities
The first port of call that I can recommend is Charles Fort which is only a 15 mins drive from The Cork International Hotel. It’s the finest surviving example of a ‘star fort’ in Ireland and there is plenty of scope for climbing and exploring. The guides dotted throughout the fort as always very happy to chat about the fort and at a child’s level. There are some stunning views of Kinsale harbour from the fort itself and juts outside is the perfect spot for a picnic.
The Scilly Walk from Charles Fort along the coast to Summercove and on to Kinsale Harbour has incredible sea views towards the Old Head of Kinsale. It is very suitable for even smaller children and is the perfect trek for a fine day. Once in Kinsale make sure you walk around and explore this gorgeous town as it really is picturesque and will even capture the imagination of the children. While walking up to Desmond Castle, the kids discovered the Giant’s Cottage and Mansion House which gave them a little giggle. There are plenty of ice-cream shops and crepe makers for a little treat and there is a large size playground and park overlooking the harbour.
Finally, the well-loved Dock Beach is only a five minutes’ drive from Kinsale town and is the perfect sandy beach for kids with views of sea views of Charles fort and you could while away many hours watching the boats go by.
Another great family day out is Fota Wildlife Park which is only a 20 minutes’ drive from the Cork International Hotel and the historic town of Cobh is only about 5 minutes further with The Titanic Museum and Spike Island tours, two popular family attractions.
If you are looking for free family days out you are also spoilt for choice with Ballincollig Regional Park (15 mins drive) which is home to many football pitches, basketball courts, one of the largest playgrounds in Cork not to mention the fairy trail. Also, only a ten minute drive away is Fitzgerald’s Park which also has a fabulous playground, Skate Park and the Cork Museum. Make sure to bring their scooters with you for the skate park.
If you are looking for some indoor fun Airtastic, Blackrock Castle, Cork Goal and Chuckies playcentre are only a short drive away. In ten minutes you will be in Cork city centre and it is quite easy to navigate your way around. However, Mahon Point Shopping Centre is less than ten minutes away and can offer free parking, crèche facilities, food court and a large cinema.
Where to Eat
We dined in The New Yorker at The Cork International Hotel and were really pleased with the choices for children. The Tiger Prawns were excellent and it was a lovely relaxed atmosphere for families.
In Kinsale, The Lemon Leaf Café and Jim Edwards are great for kids and both offer outdoor dining which I love as the kids can get up and move around while waiting for their meals or after while we steal a few moments to chat. They both offer a wide variety of gluten free options.
In Cork city I can recommend Scoozies, Luigi Malone’s and Uncle Pete’s as brilliant options for both families and gluten free restaurants.
There is no swimming pool in the Cork International Hotel however, as there is so much to do on the doorstep, I really did not notice. To be honest I welcomed the break from all the organisation of the pool trips and would be worried using it in the current climate. The Cinema offered the perfect outlet for us when we wanted some downtime in the hotel and when it rained.
The games area and playroom on the first floor are well laid out with seating in between so I would recommend bringing a book so you can order a coffee or something stronger and snatch a quite half hour in the day. Finally, make sure to treat yourself and the kids to pancakes and waffles at breakfast by ordering from the restaurant staff in the mornings.
What the kids said about The Cork International Hotel
The beds were so comfy and the best thing was the foosball table and Charles fort.
Cork for Families