Revel in the expanses, excitement and unexpected encounters of Fota Wildlife Park. Whether you have a teenager usually not impressed by anything, or you’re pushing twin babies in a buggy, the park is accessible, autism friendly (AsIAm), and full of furry surprises. Get up close and personal with some of the most endangered and magnificent creatures on earth, including recent babies, like the adorable Shay Gibbon.
Pre-book and purchase a time slot and tickets in advance of your visit (members included). There’s a 10% off with entry from 9am to 9.30am and 9.30am to 10am for a full three hours. Family tickets from €45.50 for two adults and two children, fotawildlife.ie
See Also: Six unique things to do on your staycation in Cork
Leahy’s has been delighting children and adults since 1996 with their charming farm museum exhibits, animal magic (agricultural and exotic) and rip-roaring activities that now include go-karting, a drop-slide, a natural mystery maze, and its barrel train ride. Young excavators will adore the brand new Digger Park where they can work a real JCB mini-digger.
Test their courage and co-ordination on the 22ft climbing tower with a sweet stop at the chocolate factory. Famous for larks, wicked chips, and Leahy’s homemade ice-cream, it costs €10.50 per person. Under-twos free. Diggers & Crazy Golf €2 per session, leahysopenfarm.ie
One of the most extant and impressive authentic castles, once a stronghold of the mighty Butlers, Cahir Castle has been used extensively in television and movies, and little wonder with its magnificent courtyards, battlements and curtain wall. Take the tour — it’s tremendous fun, and suited to interested children and adults. €13 for a family group.
Pre-book at cahircastle.admit-one.eu. The gorgeous Castle Park Gardens divided by the Suir, leads onto the Coronation Walk and John Nash’s iconic Swiss Cottage, a rich natural slice of the Tipperary Way, discoverireland.ie
This 46km off-road bike trail covers the old railway line from Dungarvan in Co Waterford to the quays of Waterford city.
The scenery includes the breath-taking Copper Coast and Comeragh mountains. Bring your own bike and grub and you could have a completely free day out. Bike hire starts at €10 from Dungarvan including electric bikes and tow-alongs.
The Greenway has six sections covering 11 bridges, three viaducts and a curious tunnel. Plan your route including your return based on the age and fitness of your family group. There’s an interactive map available at irelandsancienteast.com
Children aged from seven years (1m tall, height restrictions throughout) and able, brave adults, can fly along 800m of zip-lines just 20 minutes from Cork city, through the beautiful Farran Forest.
This tree-top aerial trail has a minimal impact on the environment. It can be enjoyed from the 1-3m high Green Circuit, to an eye-watering 15m – 20m Red Circuit base jump, in an adrenaline-fuelled three hours of 91 challenges including rope bridges, swinging logs, cargo nets and ziplines. For younger ones and sensible seniors, there’s a playground, a duck pond and deer enclosure, ideal for breaking into the picnic basket. Gloves needed (€2 on the day), pre-booked tickets from €15 – €35 each, zipit.ie
An introduction to Killarney National Park that won’t cost you a cent, the Knockreer/Castlerosse Loop is completely flat, so ideal for youngsters and squeaky kneed elders. Some 5km long, it takes in wonderful views, historic sites and includes a children’s playground for a welcome break, killarneyguide.ie
To celebrate a special occasion look into a Falcon Walk with Killarney Falconry, All ages and abilities can be catered for with reduced rates for families and groups. Pre-booking is essential for this magical, ancient experience of a lifetime. POA, killarneyfalconry.com
For views to feed the spirit, safe cliff paths often connect to wonderful beaches at one end or the other. The Ballycotton Cliff Walk is feted for spectacular panoramas. Start at Ballycotton village and end up at Ballyandreen beach for a swim and sandwiches (10km so, allow a relaxed three hours and a pickup.)
Ardmore’s recently refurbished cliff walk will lift you into the clouds, offering views that might even include whales and dolphins. Take in the 12th-century cathedral and medieval tower on the way down. It’s 4km of uphill walking on narrow paths — best for older kids, not buggies.
The Ardmore Open Farm (a delightful licensed mini-zoo) is nearby at Ballykilmurry. €43 for 2 adults and 2 children, ardmoreopenfarm.ie
The light rail, Nature Express (Waterford Suir Valley Railway) departs Kilmeadan Station every Tuesday morning at 10am from July to September. Travelling along the banks of the Suir it arrives in Carriganore after 20 minutes. A wildlife guide will then take your family for a nature walk lasting over an hour. Return to Kilmeadan Station by train, or walk the 3km taking in part of the feted Greenaway. Adults €16, children €10. Train only €10/€5, wvsrailway.ie
If you’re still lively, trip on down to Annestown to enjoy lunch, the beach and their glorious Heritage Trail, free. Find a PDF trail guide at coppercoastgeopark.com
Supervised, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), surfing lessons and bodyboarding can be safe, inclusive fun for all the family in the right setting. Ensure you check out the price for wetsuits and life-jackets, plus the lessons, which start in the area of €10 per half hour depending on the school and time of day. The much-loved Bunmahon Surf School in Co Waterford celebrates 10 years this year, operating in chest-high water with a full changing room on offer. See: bunmahonsurfschool.com
Searching for fairies is a serious business. Terra Nova is a densely planted (private) award-winning kingdom of the little people set in the Golden Vale of Limerick. Adults will adore the horticultural adventure and fairy-themed store. €6 adults, children €5, including complimentary refreshments. Book: 089-4028591.
Follow the winged ones 13km north to the superb Lough Gur Visitor’s Centre, which guides us through 6,000 ‘years of living’ including the largest stone circle in Ireland. There are self- and fully-guided tours from €20 plus a Tree & Fairy Trail for four to 12 year olds. Entry to the Heritage Centre €5, loughgur.com