With over 70 Blue Flag beaches dotted around Ireland, summer is the perfect time to head for the coast. Some beautiful, family-friendly beaches to visit include Bundoran Beach in Donegal, Ballybunion and Banna Beaches in Kerry, Courtown in Wexford, Tramore in Waterford and Youghal Beach in Cork. All of these areas also have family-friendly facilities, restaurants and accommodation
Take a ferry to one of the 26 islands along the West Coast of Ireland. Whether a day-visit or a holiday, there’s a whole different world to discover – little cottages, rugged walking and cycling trails, ancient forts and monks’ cells, old lighthouses and beaches.
Animals are always a holiday highlight with kids. Take them to Dublin Zoo to meet tigers, hippos, lions, rare monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees and more. Go wild at Fota Wildlife Park, Co. Cork and come face to face with free roaming animals and birds from all parts of the world. Visit Eagles Flying in Sligo or the Birds of Prey Centre in The Burren, Co. Clare. Or visit the Reptile Village Zoo in Gowran, Co. Kilkenny, with over 120 animals from alligators to cobras and a special reptile handling zone.
Pet farms are fun places for families to visit and kids just love them. In addition to featuring typical farm animals,some have exotic animals from camels to llamas. Popular farms include Airfield in Dublin, Causey Farm in Co. Meath, Kia Ora Farm in Wexford, Glendeer Farm in Athlone, Turoe Pet Farm near Loughrea and Leahy’s Open Farm, Dungourney, Co. Cork
There are lots of opportunities to take to the water...and here are just a few. Travel on a replica Viking longship from Athlone to historic Clonmacnoise. Book a trip with Viking Splash Tours for a unique Dublin sightseeing experience by land and water Cruise Lough Corrib from Galway City on board the Corrib Princess. Take a Seafari trip from Kenmare exploring the wildlife and seal-rich paradise of sheltered Kenmare Bay or enjoy a sightseeing cruise on the spectacular Killary Fjord, Co. Mayo.
Ireland is one of the best places in Europe to go whale and dolphin watching and encountering these wonderful animals is an incredible experience. Dolphin Watch Carrigaholt, Co. Clare or Dolphin Discovery Kilrush, Co. Clare will take you on two-hour boat trips to meet Ireland’s resident bottlenose dolphin population (estimated at over one hundred). Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours, Co. Kerry, can take you on a short boat trip to see ‘Fungi’, the famous dolphin, whose antics amaze. You can take a four-hour boat tour from Baltimore with Whale Watch West Cork to seek out dolphins, seals, basking sharks, minke whales and the great fin whales – the second largest mammal on earth.
In Westport, Co. Mayo, check out wonderful Westport House & its Pirate Adventure Park with Thrills ‘n’ Chill rides, the Cannonball Run slide, Pirates Swinging Ship, Pirates Plunge flume ride and much more. When he was only a young spud, fresh out of the ground, Mr Tayto dreamt of one day opening his very own park. Well he now has in Ashbourne, Co. Meath, and it is brilliant! There are over 100 attractions at the park, including the high ropes course, The Pow Wow playground, Pet-Tayto corner, Buffalo ridge, the Potatonhontus Native American Village and more.
Visitor gardens are a great way to spend a day out. In Connemara, Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Gardens, set on a 1,000 acre estate is well worth a visit, with a 6-acre Victorian walled garden, restored Abbey rooms, a Gothic Church, woodland walks, nature trails and a tea house. Brigits Garden, Roscahill, is a unique family-friendly Celtic garden – a magical experience for all ages. Relax in the basket swings and sit on the ancient throne, explore the discovery trail, stone chamber, herb garden, crannog, willow play tunnels, ring fort and café.
For more great family-fun ideas, www.DiscoverIreland.ie/family