Following last year’s summer holiday at home in Ireland, I wrote a list of the 11 best days out we’d had. This year we revisited some of those places and visited a few more. I didn’t get round to posting this before the mid-term breaks, but these places aren’t going anywehre. They still be around come Christmas, Easter and next year’s summer holidays.
So, here’s a look at our 2016 family favourite days out in Ireland for little or no money.
1. Ballycroy National Park, Ballycroy, Co. Mayo
Most years we go to Mulranny in Co. Mayo for a week. Back in 2014 we drove from there over to the visitors’ centre at Ballycroy National Park and we really enjoyed it. The small exhibition is ideal for children, with plenty of interactive stations, films, audio information and space to move around.
Unlike many natural and social history exhibitions, this one is bright and open and easy to navigate. The centre hold regular kids clubs during the school holidays and has an education cnetre for groups. Above the exhibition is a nice cafe (although the cake is quite pricey) with great views of the blanket bog national park and the Nephon Beg mountain range. The national park has a series of walks and hikes of various lengths, including a loop walk which takes 20 to 30 minutes with small children and can be done with a buggy.
I recommend joining their mailing list to find out what is going to be on while you are in the area. You can find out more about this great resource here:
2. The Beach
Whatever the weather, there is always something to do at the beach. We are big beach fans, as you might know from this post. Building sandcastles, paddling, swimming, racing on the long stretches of sand, flying kites, fishing, looking for crabs, collecting shells, writing your name in the sand, running down sand dunes, and picnicing (inside the car or outside) are some of the things we like to do at the beach. As long as you have the right clothing, you are bound to have at least a little fun without spending much money, if any.
There are fantastic playgrounds all over the country now. On our last few visits to Ireland we visited the playgrounds at Laytown, Malahide Castle, Cabinteely Park, Newbridge House, Marlay Park and Slieve Gullion Forest Park. Ardgillan Park near Balbriggan is supposed to have a brilliant playground now too. I used love going there as a child but I hear it is a lot better now. Some of the nation’s favourite playgrounds are listed here.
4. Newbridge House & Farm, Donabate, Co. Dublin
Newbridge House and Farm is a regular spot for us to visit since my dad works nearby. We sometimes meet him here for lunch at the cafe then take a walk, visit the playground or pay in to see the farm animals.
With a picnic area, free parking, a large green space to play and run on and an adventure playground, there is plenty to do here on a good day. Our most recent visit was on a very mixed day, weather-wise, but we still had a great time thanks to rain coats.
There is a fee for entry to the house itself and to the farm . We payed €11 last summer for myself and the three boys to go to the farm. You can access the cafe without paying in to the farm. The food is homey and reasonably priced, but the seating is a little cramped. Best to leave buggies out in the corridor.
Find directions, opening hours and prices here:
5. A Walk In The Countryside
Nowhere in Ireland is far from some beautiful scenery, animals in fields, big skies or broad trees. Going for a walk costs nothing and you don’t have to go far from home to do it. Granted not all roads are safe for walking on, especially with children, but suitable stretches can be found. Ask around you locality and you are bound to hear of some great walks.
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are honest and my own. Any links provided are done so to help you find more details on places my family and I like to visit. I have not been asked to mention any of the places named in this post nor have I been given compensation of any form for any part of this post.