The gardens at Fota House are truly a hidden gem here in Cork and one of my favourite family fun activities in Cork. They are beautifully preserved (cared for by the OPW) and offer adventure, escape and tranquillity around almost every corner. There are many walkways and trails to discover and you could spend hours lost in amongst the trees, languishing in the open areas or exploring the formal and Victorian walled gardens. All of this is free and there is only a charge of €3 for the car park.
Family Fun Activities in Cork
However, should you wish to add a bit more fun to your day you can buy one of their trail packs for €4 each. They have two to suit both young and older children. We had great fun following the map as children always love map reading and leading the way. While our three were running along, working out which way to go at each juncture, stopping to find little titbits and clues as per the instructions, Craig and I wandered along at our own pace, chatting and enjoying the surroundings. Pure Bliss!!!
We stopped on route at the giant’s chairs for a picnic before continuing along the trail and discovering the Victorian walled gardens, the shed with old tools and the formal gardens. The children were extremely curious and enjoyed the few hours we spent wandering along. I really do think it was the nature trail and activity pack that added that element of structure and fun to our afternoon.
We spent the next hour rolling down the grass hills, playing ball and generally chilling out in the open area just behind the house. As family fun activities in Cork go this one got big thumbs up from me and I am looking forward to trying out their house tour as I believe they have one geared towards children coming shortly!
Trabolgan Day Passes
Lucky for us we live only a half an hour from Trabolgan and so we can make regular day trips with the kids. Trabolgan was one of my own favourite spots as a kid and I love to watch the kid’s excitement when we head down there now. Trabolgan day passes are great value as you get a full day of fun so get down early and plan it out beforehand!
Trabolgan Holiday Village is located on over 140 acres of woodland beside the sea, 30 mins from Cork city and operates as a holiday camp or day visitor attraction.
Family Things to Do at Trabolgan
We normally start at the playground so kids can have a run around and I a coffee. One word of advice take a good look at the activities timetable for the day at this stage as there may be shows that you want to see and some of the activities have specific time slots. I prefer to organise our swimming around the shows as the kids will be starving after swimming and you can get lunch into them while watching a show.
There is a glass roof over the main outdoor area and the main stage is under this so if you get a fine day like we did last week it is was perfect to sit outside and relax while actually enjoying a picnic while being entertained.
Our next port of call is normally the swimming pool and with the waves and slide we normally pass away an hour or two here. The water was actually quite warm last week and I was pleasantly surprised with the renovations in this area. There is new flooring running throughout the changing area and a new seated area for those who wishing to sit this one out.
After our picnics we head back to the playground for a walk out towards the water area. However, last week I stumbled across the duck pond which has been developed into a nature area. It is a gorgeous spot to sit with a prompt board to encourage children to search the surroundings for little titbits of nature. I am glad to see Trabolgan making use of their gorgeous natural setting more.
The sports centre houses a jungle gym (admission included in the day pass) and a coffee shop for more hours of fun and it is here you can buy tickets to any of the TAS activities. You can also use your day pass for these instead of the swimming pool but to be honest we would not do these everytime as there is so much without having to include them.
Places to Eat in Trabolgan
At this stage we would head back down for another show as they are normally getting quite tired. A great way to end the day is Sally O’Hara’s Restaurant in the main square so I don’t have to cook when we get home and I know they will be starving after going all day so they will eat a belly full. Along with the main menu a carvery is available which is brilliant for the kids. There is a family special at the moment of €45 for two adults and two kids. I have never been disappointed with the food here and they have excellent coeliac choices. The staff are extremely friendly and always so accommodating.
Other dining options are Costa Coffee for a quick snack or Big Als@Casey’s Fast Food so there is something for everyone!
I am delighted with the renovations they are doing every year but I hope they might add new shower cubicles some time soon as I am not too fond with the open showers!
At the moment the Trabolgan day passes are €12 per person/ €50 for a family pass which is outstanding value as you can have one of the main activities which are swimming, crazy golf, birds of prey, TAS (Trabolgan Adventure Sports). Follow Trabolgan on facebook and keep an eye on their website as there are always doing offers on Trabolgan day passes. Click here for more.
What the Kids Said about Trabolgan
“Next time we go we are staying so we can do more stuff”
For all budding fairies looking for exciting and creative fairy activities in Cork, Loulou’s World in Cobh offers an enchanting and playful afternoon of fun! We could not wait to be invited to a party so in true fairy princess style we ( my sister and friends) book a fairy party for no special reason for six children to while away a summer’s afternoon talking fairys and doing art and crafts.
Loulou’s World is as amazing as you can imagine and will capture the children’s imagination instantly as you enter through a retail fairy shop and down into hidden back room like a fairy adventure before discovering a colourful room full of glitter and sparkles!!
Loulou herself was enchanting with all the characteristic of a true fairy and she entertained the children from the moment they arrived. We spent the afternoon making many fairy crafts and she had patience and enthusiasm in abundance. Even Thomas (the only boy fairy in tow) had as much fun as the girls. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon so don’t wait for a party why not gather a group of friends, bring some takeaway coffee as you will enjoy it just as much and book in a group. For a group of six we were charged €15 per child and they came away with fairy doors, washing lines and much more! It is a great place for parties and Loulou does not just offer fairy activities in Cork but also does Jewellery workshops for adults and children so why not discover your creative side or this could make a fun party for an older children or young teenager!
Fun at Ardmore Open Farm
While Ardmore in Co. Waterford is not only a gorgeous part of the world it is also home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the sunny South East, a fabulous playground just off the beach, a picturesque village with a delicious gourmet fish shop that would give any five star restaurant a run for their money and best of all Ardmore Open Farm with breathtaking views in all directions looking out across not one but three bays! So if you are looking for things to do with the kids in Waterford make sure you include here!
Once we dragged ourselves away from the views and venture inside we were greeted by a very impressive jungle gym and family restaurant with plenty of homemade options for all the family. Here we were welcomed by a very helpful team of staff ready to fill us in on all that was going on that day. Outside we discovered quaint wooden play areas which suited their setting perfectly before embarking on our walk around the park. Now this is no traditional Irish farm as I am certain you would not find half of these animals in the zoo never mind the farm and so it is only fitting that Ardmore Open Farm is now know as Farm and Mini Zoo.
We encountered Racoons, Porcupines, Parrots, Owls, Kookaburra, Emu, Alpaca and much more as well as the usual farm animals of horses, ponies, sheep, cows and more unusually a highland cow! If all that was not enough there were plenty of pit spots for a little play along the way including karting, a maze and my favourite a pitich! Yes you heard me right, a pitch, with picnic benches all around perfectly positioned to take in the views and great zip wire alongside. I imagined that on my return I would be bringing a picnic and meeting a few friends here on a bright sunny day as I am sure we would have peace and quite to catch up while the kids are well entertained and getting plenty of exercise.
Once you are finished the walk around the farm itself you then enter into an indoor section which is perfect if the weather turns and offers plenty more fun with indoor electric karts, diggers, more animals and best of all a petting area for small animals. There are scheduled petting times and make sure you check these before you start on your journey as it is well worth fitting it into your day. All the children had plenty of time to pet and hold various animals including hens, lizards rabbits and snakes while there were many more small animals to study and enjoy.
Ardmore Open Farm and Mini Zoo is a great day out for all but I would recommend that you wrap up as it can be quite a chilly spot being so high up and so close to the sea! We visited in January and still enjoyed it immensely. Make sure you include enough time to take a spin into the village for a walkabout as it is a beautiful quaint fishing village with lots to do and should certainly be on your list of Things to do with the kids in Waterford!!
Things to do with the kids in Clare – Aillwee Caves
No trip to Co. Clare can be complete without going to see Ireland’s premier show cave, The Aillwee Caves. The caves are renowned as one of the top things to do with the kids in Clare and it is easy to see why. When planning a visit to the caves, be sure to put aside a full day as there is much more than a cave to see here. Your journey starts at the main entrance with the Birds of Prey Centre where you can view a large number of birds and have an in-depth audio guide explaining all about our birds, their conservation and the myths and legends surrounding these magnificent birds in Ireland before enjoying a fantastic birds of prey show. This was a most entertaining show for us as well as the kids and was on for at least a half an hour. The auditorium is a lovely size and the show was quite interactive. After the we went back in to look at the birds armed with the knowledge we had received.
From here we went into the woodlands surrounding the caves to try out some Archery which was only €10.00 for 15 bows and includes a one to one tutorial. The kids loved this part as even though we have tried our hand at archery before, the setting here was magical and it felt like you were really hunting in the woods. The woodlands is also the setting for the popular guided bush craft walks which are only €5 per person but need to be booked in advance. We did not have time for this walk but it sounded fascinating and something I am sure the kids would have enjoyed immensely.
At the entrance to the archery and bush craft walks there is a beautiful stone building housing the farm shop stocking local food and drink produce as well as the world famous Burren Gold Cheese. You cannot walk past here without picking up some tasting delights!!
Now from this point you can drive up the hill to the caves carpark but if it is anyway fine I would suggest walk up the walking trail and enjoy a picnic along the way. You will be up in 15 mins or take your time so you can appreciate your surroundings as there are regular tours of the caves so you wont miss out. If you have not brought a picnic there is a delicious cafe at once you into in the caves centre. Be prepared as you will need to walk through the gift store to get to the tour and there was plenty to spend our money on. We were prepared here and gave them a budget of €5 from their pocket money for here before we went in and you will be glad to know there was plenty for that.
The tour itself was approx 30 mins and was well geared towards the small ones without being too boring for adults, bringing us through the beautiful caverns – over bridged chasms, under weird formations and alongside the thunderous waterfall as well as the frozen waterfall and past the now extinct brown bears bones. It was very safe and not at all steep, we had two kids and a three month old baby in tow in a sling.
We were all tired at this stage but if you have the time and energy you can walk to the top of the mountain which the cave lies under or even try out a Hawk Walk. There really is plenty to do and a must see for families visiting the Clare or Galway area. We got excellent value for our money and if you bring a picnic you will need to spend very little while here. Our car journey back through the Burren brought us past the most stunning vista of this unique and rocky landscape and even a neolithic tomb stone but our crew were almost to exhausted to take this in after their jam packed day!
A Stroll in Glenichaquin Park
Now while we only came across Gleninchaquin Park by chance it was a fantastic gem to discover. Located about 15 minutes from Kenmare, Gleninchaquin Park is a privately owned farm situated on 1300 acres of Ireland’s most beautiful landscape.
I cannot believe that someone gets to call this home. You arrive at a small carpark to be greeted by the owners who will give you a brief introduction to the area and advise you on the various walkways that have been meticulously carved out to offer the most authentic countryside ramble and all against an amazing backdrop of mountains and waterfalls.
The walkways will bring you through open fields with sheep to keep you company, over styes, through magical forestry, across gorgeously carved bridges, passing abandoned ruins, up the mountain and quite close to many of the waterfalls including the largest one it is famous for.
It is well worth your while to make a day of this and bring a picnic as there is an abundance of the most amazing picnic spots to choose from. The children thoroughly enjoyed running through little streams, over stepping stones and the little footbridges that were delicately placed making for a most enchanting natural playground.
Best of all it is very safe for families and offers routes for all levels of walkers to enjoy. If the walkways are not enough you will certainly be mesmerised by the beauty of the park.
On a beautiful summers day in South Kerry we took to the gorgeous picturesque beach of Ballinskelligs for an afternoon of sand, sea and fun! Not only does the beach have very good facilities but there is a quaint little coffee shop and Skellig Watersports have a beach hut where you can try out some water fun activities.
We rented a duo kayak as the bay of Ballinskelligs is the perfect place for kayaking being very sheltered and surrounded by gorgeous scenery to enjoy, not to mention the many nooks and crannies you can explore. Craig, Saoirse and Thomas all shared the one kayak which was ideal as they all had a chance to use the oars without being exhausted. The kayaks were only €20 an hour to rent even the duos which take up to three which I thought was very reasonable for the fun you get out of it!
There is a rich variety of sea life to see in Ballinskelligs bay including schools of bottlenose and common dolphins as well as grey seals which are often seen basking on the harbour rocks but unfortunately we did not come across any while we were there.
Skellig Watersports have two types of kayaks available to rent – singles and duos (these can take up to 3 people). All the kayaks are ‘sit on top’ boats which means complete beginners can easily master them. They also offer surfing, paddle boarding and windsurfing. I thought this was the perfect activity/facility to have available at a beach and a fantastic combination for those family days out in South Kerry!
The Gruffalo’s Child-Cork Opera House
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child is one story that has captured the imaginations of boys and girls across the world. It is such a clever yet simple story and was beautifully portrayed in The Tall Stories production at The Cork Opera House today.
The set and costumes which were simple yet so well designed along with the light but fun script created the perfect example of children’s theatre. The fun loving story had hints of scariness but it was just right for the young audience with plenty of music and dancing also. What I loved the most was that it was not drawn out and therefore was not too long or two short to retain the attention of its young audience.
The interesting characters captivated the young audience brilliantly and as I looked around almost at the end of the performance there was not the usual chaos that can be experienced at shows like this.
I must say I enjoyed the afternoon as much as the kids and will be looking out for more of Tall Stories productions in the future but for now I must settle down to read our battered but loved copy of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child to three happy sleepy children for the thousandth time!
The Gruffalo said that no gruffalo should……….
Titanic Quarter & W5 Discovery Centre
On our second day in Belfast we made our way to the Titanic Quarter, which is home to The Titanic Museum and W5. Now over the last few years it was impossible to miss all the hype around the Titanic Museum and it will not disappoint so if you are looking for things to do with the kids in Belfast this should be top of the list.
The exhibition runs over four floors and includes many interactive sections to keep your attention as well as the children. It covers not just the Titanic’s maiden tour and tragic sinking but also Belfast of the time, the building of the Titanic (Ship Yard), the people on board, the aftermath, myths and the wreck today. While parts of it was ere it was a fascinating and the scale was almost over whelming.
For the most part the tour was self guided but at certain sections you were greeted by the team whom gave further insights. The detail was superb and they go to great lengths to convey the sheer size of the Titanic and the work that went into building it. Other interesting parts included a change to try morse code, the ship yard ride and discovering artifacts of the wreckage on the sea bed. We receive family activity sheets when we entered and this amused our two young ones as we wandered along.
You would want to allow at least 3 to four hours in the Titanic Museum alone. We were slightly rushed at the end as Saoirse and Thomas were tiring of it but we could certainly have spent another hour there as Craig and I were enjoying it immensely.
While our two at 5 and 7 may have been a bit young they did pick up parts of it quite well however, I would recommend it is more suited for children from eight years upwards. The best of all is that the café and restaurant continued the Titanic Theme in their offerings and service. A family pass here will set you back £39.00.
Next door we visited W5, which is Ireland’s award winning science and discovery centre at Odyssey. With over 250 interactive exhibits and a changing programme of events, shows and exhibitions, W5 was a great day out.
Ok so it is hard to explain this place but it spans across five floors and it is basically a place for children to discover, learn, explore and most importantly play. Best of all is you will probably need to join in also to explain and help them so you will have great fun together.
Discovery is the under 8s area, supported and contains 16 themed areas which house over 50 interactive exhibits including painting on a digital canvas in the Art Studio, play animal sounds in the Farmyard, paddle in a virtual rock pool in the the Beach and flick through digital storybooks in the castle, play shop in the Spar Store or visit the new Donnelly Group Garage where you’ can build a soft play Formula One Car or check out the brand new Fiat 500!
We had great fun here building a house and playing shop, Saoirse was the shop keeper, Thomas the assistant and I the customer. It was amazing what they were coming up with and great fun.
Go features exhibits exploring health, hygiene, genetics, geology, electric circuits, flight and forces. While Thomas and Craig built their first car Saoirse and I launched a rocket. We did not cover See as we could not fit it all in but SEE is an interactive area featuring nature and biodiversity, sustainable development and now includes Think Creative a themed area where you can be an animator and create cartoons, add sound affects to animation, try your hand at theatrical lighting, be the photo editor of a newspaper and explore the work of the professionals. Do is where you can design and build structures, bring robots to life, make patterns and play virtual sports.
We, the adults, took a break at Climit, huge multi-storey climbing structure, which is a cross between a maze and a jungle gym. The first of its kind in the UK and Ireland, Climbit is a unique, visually elegant, three dimensional sculpture specially designed for climbing. Oval platforms suspended from steel pipes and cables let visitors traverse over, under and through the amazing structure. We enjoyed a welcome cup of coffee here while the children continued to burn off their endless flow of energy.
On entry we received information of various shows talking place so we checked out one on how sound is made and it was extremely good. The children are still talking about vibrations and trying new sounds since. We also received a pass to play a game of tag laser and we all had great fun playing this.
Al in all there is so much to do you won’t get it all in. I would recommend a full day for W5 and the Odyssey is home to many food outlets and much more. We were all so exhausted at the end of the day there was no need to drag the kids out but they willing agreed it was time to go. Family tickets start from £23.80. W5 is a great place for children of all ages up as far as 13/14 and there is plenty for all ages.
Fota House Easter Egg Hunt
This year the annual Fota Easter Egg Hunt had a a Peter Rabbit and Friends theme and even the sometimes damp weather did not spoil our fun.
The grounds at Fota House are gorgeous and lend themselves perfectly to the adventures of Peter Rabbit including Mr. McGregors garden and much more…
The children had great fun enjoying the activities set up for them, following the trail and most of all running along the gorgeous landscaped gardens. They did not even notice the drizzle of rain that fell from time to time.
The trail was set it very well with plenty of sign posts to follow and fun stops on the way. There was plenty of time and space to run and explore for little excited ones! Fota House and Gardens is an excellent place to explore to pass away an afternoon, check out more by clicking here!
The team members at each stage were very friendly and interacted great with the children but that was not the end of the Fota Easter Egg Hunt as there were old time games set up for the children to enjoy while the parents sampled the delights of the market stalls in front of the house! Once the children had completed the trail and handed up their cards, they received a well deserved chocolate egg!
The egg hunt was well organised and collecting your cards was seemless so well done to Fota House and Gardens for organising such a fun activity in the great outdoors. Each ticket cost €8.50 and adults were free and you could spend a good half a day here so great value for money! Don’t forget to keep an eye out for more activities on http://fotahouse.com/