Seven Unique Family Days Out to Enjoy This Winter - The Gloss Magazine

Seven Unique Family Days Out to Enjoy This Winter

Brighten up the darker winter days with some memorable days out to enjoy as a family. Emily Manning, editor of MyKidsTime, shares seven ideas that are guaranteed to keep young and old entertained …

Whether you fancy getting up close and personal with the Gruffalo, searching for fairies, or playing in the treetops, planning some unique family days out will make a difference over these winter months.

Finding somewhere that is truly child-friendly is the holy grail for parents, ideally without sacrificing something of interest for the grownups. Thankfully, Ireland has a wealth of family-friendly places to visit and attractions offering everything from history and culture to action and adventure.

One of the best things about our beautiful island is that nothing is ever too far away. It is entirely possible to venture out to try somewhere new, making the most of your day and your time together.

Don’t forget, in addition to the days out mentioned below, admission to all OPW Heritage Ireland sites is also free until the end of 2021, in support of the Government’s recovery and reopening plan. That’s more than 50 venues to choose from around the country, and a great opportunity to experience somewhere new.

Irish National Stud & Gardens
Tully, County Kildare
www.irishnationalstud.ie

Naturally, horses are sure to be top of the agenda when you visit, so don’t miss the Living Legends paddock where equine superstars including Beef or Salmon, Hurricane Fly and Rite of Passage relax in the winter sunshine. Horses are not all that’s on offer, however. Enjoy the visual spectacle of the stunning Japanese Gardens, or the peace and serenity of St Fiachra’s Gardens, before a visit to the kids’ playground to burn off some energy. There are also some very important people to search for…fairies! Explore the magical fairy trail in the woodland area, alongside the lake in St Fiachra’s garden and through the stable yards, where you might even spot some newborn foals.

National Museum of Ireland – Country Life
Turlough Park, Castlebar, County Mayo
www.museum.ie/country-life

Take a trip down memory lane as the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life brings to life the traditions of rural life in Ireland, with exhibitions depicting how people lived and worked in the towns and countryside. You can also combine a visit to the Museum with a scenic Greenway cycle. The Castlebar to Turlough Greenway means visitors can start their day with a cycle from Lough Lannagh, Castlebar and embark on a 10km mainly off-road, riverside route, all the way to the Museum.

Top tip: Borrow a Games Box from reception to see how children played in times gone by with traditional games such as Queenie-I-O, Five Slates and Donkey.

Wells House and Gardens
Ballyedmond, Gorey, County Wexford
www.wellshouse.ie

There’s no such things as a Gruffalo…or is there? While you explore the natural beauty of Wells House and Gardens, take a trip through the enchanted woodlands that include fairy trails, sculptures and a chance to see the Gruffalo and friends! Those aren’t the only creatures waiting to greet you however – the animal farm is home to a flurry of furry animals, including pygmy goats, ferrets and meerkats.

Birr Castle
Birr, County Offaly
www.birrcastle.com

You can reach for the stars in more ways than one with a visit to Birr Castle. Kids will be enthralled by Ireland’s largest tree house and play area in the extensive gardens and parklands, while all ages will enjoy the science centre which reveals the wonders of early photography, astronomy and engineering. New attractions for 2021 include the Solar Trail, where you can experience the size, distance and scale of the Solar System along the 2km route and complete a challenge sheet (available from reception); and the Red Tree Trail, which covers 65 trees of distinction along the 5km route.

Top tip: Young explorers will also enjoy the Family Quest – pick up your quest challenge sheet when you arrive and follow the clues.

Malahide Castle & Gardens
Malahide, County Dublin
www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie

With 22 acres to explore, Avoca on hand to provide refreshments, an interactive fairy trail on the West Lawn, and a vast playground to provide hours of fun, you can definitely make a day out of your visit. Older children may also enjoy a trip back in time on a guided tour of the 12th century Castle where they can hear some spooky tales and discover the fascinating history of the Talbot family, who lived there for more than 800 years. Once outside, visit the walled gardens and keep an eye out for the resident peacocks. The gardens are also home to Ireland’s only butterfly house. Head into the glasshouse and watch more than 20 species fly among the tropical plants – kids will love it!

Johnstown Castle
County Wexford
www.johnstowncastle.ie

Tractor-mad little ones will be thrilled by the Irish Agricultural Museum, within the grounds of Johnstown Castle, which displays an extensive collection of tractors, carts, ploughs, machinery and engines. You’ll also find recreated workshops of traditional trades like blacksmiths and wheelwrights, discover the Estate’s history, learn about The Great Famine, and see traditional kitchens and furniture through the ages. While you visit this spectacular gothic Castle, built in the 1170s, you can also explore the beautiful gardens, complete with lakes, statues, peacocks and other wildlife.

The Round Tower Clondalkin
Tower Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22
www.dublinsoutdoors.ie

One of only four remaining round towers in County Dublin, The Round Tower Clondalkin is perfect for history buffs young and old. The free, interactive exhibition brings the story of the 1,000-year-old Tower and the surrounding areas to life, including its Viking legacy. Nearby Corkagh Park is a wonderful place to visit with children. Attractions include sports fields, nature walks, playgrounds, pet farm, fishing lake, arboretum and a duck pond, but the real highlight is the Fairy Trail through the magical Fairy Wood.

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