Family days out around Dublin - Mind the Baby

Family days out around Dublin

If you’re looking for some ideas for fun family days out in and around Dublin, we’ve had a few great ones over the last few weeks. There’s nothing like a day trip, ideally with a picnic in the middle, to make you feel like you’re on holidays – rain or shine. Here’s five for you to try.

1. Greenan Maze and Farm

Just over an hour from Dublin city centre and tucked into the Wicklow countryside, Greenan Maze and Farm has a real-life hedge maze covering half an acre with walls towering 7 foot high. It is the stuff of Harry Potter and childhood dreams!

You’ll also find a solstice maze which, even without walls, is a fun challenge to crack. A gorgeous wild nature walk runs around the farm with fairy doors and little nuggets of information about the local flora and fauna displayed on wooden plaques which blend perfectly into the landscape. Farm animals, little historical farming museums, a craft shop and lovely tearooms onsite make for a varied, enjoyable afternoon. We went on a rainy Sunday and had a ball.

Greenan Maze and Farm opens on weekends in May and September, all bank holiday weekends and 7 days a week in June, July and August. Adults are €8, children over 2 are €7. Online booking is available on their website http://www.greenanmaze.com

2. Viking Splash Tour

The Viking Splash Tour has been around since 1999 believe it or not!  I’m nearly ashamed that I’ve lived in Dublin all my life and only finally took the tour over Easter. Lasting approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, the Viking Splash Tour is a tongue and cheek guided driving tour of Dublin city centre. Tour guides are salt of the earth Dubs giving their take on the sights and history of Dublin, all within the comfort of a World War II amphibious vehicle called a DUKW but pronounced DUCK. 20 minutes of the tour involves a trip into the Grand Canal basin and a tour of the docklands there, hence the “splash” in splash tour.

Kids and adults alike will get a real kick out of this. Myself and Mr Mind the Baby were laughing hysterically at the tour guide while the 5 year old flippin loved the water aspect of the tour. Tickets are pricey at €22 for adults, €17 for teenagers and €12 for 2-12 year olds but it’s definitely worth doing once! Worth noting also that children under 2 are not permitted on the tour. You’ll find more details on their website http://vikingsplash.com

3. Epic Ireland – the Irish Emigration Museum

Located in the basement vaults of the CHQ Building in the Docklands, Epic Ireland boasts 20 interactive exhibitions exploring different aspects of Ireland’s long history of emigration spanning centuries right up to today.

I am a huge fan of Dublin’s museums but there’s none quite like Epic Ireland which wows at every turn with its use of technology, modern art and interactivity to tell multiple stories. While adults and older kids will get drawn into the details of the exhibitions themselves, there’s a number of nifty little features that the smallies will really enjoy too. For example, every visitor gets a passport which has to be manually stamped at each exhibition point. Stamping duties were contracted out to the 5 year old who made it his business to ensure we were all travelling through with the correct documentation! Two hours zipped by before we knew it. I was really impressed by its focus on inclusivity and recording strides Ireland has made in terms of equality over the years. family days out around Dublin - Mind the Baby The CHQ Building itself has some lovely places to eat and relax. We combined our visit with the Viking Splash Tour for an afternoon of Dublin city sight seeing. Children under 6 have free entry into Epic Ireland, with ticket prices at €7 for under 16s and €14 for everyone else. You can buy at the door or purchase through their website http://epicchq.com

4. Dublin Zoo

Of course I’m going to say the zoo – it is amazeballs! It’s one of those places that you can repeatedly visit without getting tired of it. Recent additions have really packed a punch for visitors including Sea Lion Cove, where you can watch them swimming underwater, and the Orangutan Forest. There’s nearly always a new baby to coo over. We had the pleasure of meeting the newest addition to the elephant herd recently.

I recommend bringing a picnic because while there is plenty of catering at the Zoo, the quality is pretty poor and it’s not cheap. But the good news is there’s Costa coffee available. Also be warned that you are likely to be forced into dragging your smallies out of the playgrounds shouting things like “come look at the animals” and “there’s lots of free playgrounds at home!” Plan to spend a minimum of 3 hours and possibly the whole day at Dublin Zoo. There’s just so much to see and do. If you’re going at the weekend get there at opening time to miss the crowds and book your tickets in advance so you can skip the queue and head straight in. Good to know also is that you are not restricted to one date or time with your online tickets. They’re good for 45 days after purchase. Adult tickets are €17.50 and children over 2 will pay €13. Family tickets are also available. You’ll get more information at https://www.dublinzoo.ie/

5. Slieve Gullion Forest Park – Giant’s Lair and Adventure Playpark

Slightly further afield and a hair’s whisper across the border is Slieve Gullion Forest Park. Although it sounds miles away, it’s between a 60-90 minute drive from Dublin, depending on where you’re travelling from.

The Forest Park is a wonderful amenity with a forest adventure through the Giant’s Lair, a fairy village and, deeper in the woods, a fairy kingdom which has a really impressive treehouse. There’s also a fantastic playground with something for everyone, including a a zip-line and an ability swing. I’ve never seen a playground which facilitates wheelchair users before and I’d love to see more of this. Throw in a 10km scenic forest drive, a passage tomb and a lovely courtyard with a cafe, and you’ve a recipe for a really magical day out. There are plenty of picnic tables too, as well as chipper and ice creams vans. Just make sure you have sterling. A few insider tips for you:

  • it fills up fast on sunny days and holidays. With only 120 parking spaces you need to get there early. Once the car park is full they close the gate and a previous park n’ ride service has been discontinued. We went on a particularly wet day and had no problems with parking but remember too the playground might be wet and slippy.
  • the cafe accepts credit/debit cards with no minimum spend if you’ve no sterling to hand
  • bring a football or basketball – they’ve a court where you can play both

Entrance to Slieve Gullion is free and you can read more about it here.

What do you think?