Categories: things to doFamilies

Here are the best three pieces of advice we can give you about a Bank Holiday trip to Northern Ireland: plan, plan, plan. There’s loads to do for families with little kids, older kids, and teens, so here’s a wee taster.

Ideas for families heading to County Antrim

At Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail in Ballymena, the youngest explorers can use their activity books and solve clues on this charming self-guided trail - and maybe win a family holiday! Best to book online first. If after all that you still need slides and climbing frames to stretch little arms and legs, the superb 45-acre Ballymena’s People’s Park nearby will do the trick and where they can also feed the ducks. Or hit Antrim Lough Shore Park on the shores of Lough Neagh where sea-themed playgrounds, miniature railway and mini-golf await wee pirate adventurers…har-haaar!

If the weekend weather is kind, you could take the older ones to Sandy Bay and hop aboard one of the Island Warrior boat trips to Ram’s Island for an island adventure and picnic or a Carnlough Bay Boat Tour to spot dolphins and seals on the converted ship’s lifeboat ‘Curiosity’. It’s a real hoot at the World of Owls in Randalstown where you can meet fascinating birds of prey up close and personal, or saddle up the perfect pony at Sheans Horse Farm in Armoy. And there is no end of open farms to visit like Watertop Farm in Ballycastle or Kilcregggan Urban Farm in Carrickfergus for a great day out in the fresh air.

Teens can make a big splash at The Lake Kilrea, Northern Ireland’s largest water park near Coleraine with loads of inflatables, slides and fresh water lake activities but the 11-acre park is suitable for ages 6 and up. A thrill-a-minute walk on The Gobbins cliff path in Islandmagee will live long in the memory. The Insta pics alone will make them famous!

Ideas for families hitting the Causeway Coastal Route & Glens

For the wee ones, rockpooling at the Portrush Nature Reserve to spot crabs, starfish, seals and porpoises is a lovely gentle thing to do in the gorgeous sea air. But if they - or let’s face it, you - are looking for a bit more energy-zapping stuff, Larne’s Carnfunnock Country Park is the spot with its hundreds of acres of walks, trails, family fun zone and activity centre.

On this stunning coastline, a visit to Giant’s Causeway has to be made with your older ones. There is a bit of walking involved on the trails to the stones so they’ll need to be reasonably fit. But the resulting views and pics will be worth the effort. For water fanatics, try hovercrafting with the peeps at Limitless Adventure Centre in Limavady or kayak with Causeway Coast Kayaking and see the coast from a unique angle. And of course, a boat trip to Rathlin Island to see the puffins, ‘upside down’ West Light lighthouse and amazing wildlife will stay in their memory banks for a long, long time.

Ideas for families exploring Belfast

For your little explorers The Maritime Mile Treasure Trail is a fun self-guided adventure along 18 stops on the waterfront where they uncover facts and answer questions about what they see – plus a chance to win prizes online! On fine days, Belfast Zoo is always a treat as is Colin Glen with its delightful Gruffalo Story Walk where they get to meet characters from everyone’s favourite storybook on this charming walking trail.

Curious older minds gravitate to W5, a must-see interactive experience. With eight zones packed with over 250 interactive exhibits to excite and inspire, it’s a no-brainer for families with kids from 6 years old and upwards. Not far outside the city, you can take them on fun and thrilling mountain biking trails in Barnett Demense where different coloured trails will suit all abilities. Or pay a visit to Streamvale Open Farm and hold cute liitle chicks, feed the rabbits, visit the deer – or maybe take a tractor ride for the first time! If the weather is unkind, go indoor bouncing, skiing or climbing at We Are Vertigo in Newtownbreda while your teens could have a go at getting airborne by skydiving indoors at Vertigo Titanic Park in Belfast’s Titianic Quarter.

Ideas for families touring around County Armagh

For great family days out and fun for the small ones, simply head to Gosford Forest Park outside Markethill and enjoy the Little Explorers playpark for the under-5s or Squirrels Drey for the over 7s. Hop across to the hidden gem of Lurgan Park - all 259 acres of it – will keep them occupied for the day too as will the wee delights of the playground and walking trails of the Palace Demesne Public Park in Armagh.

You can’t leave the Orchard County without a trip to Slieve Gullion Forest Park where all ages are covered with The Giant’s Lair Children’s Story Trail to keep the young ones enthralled and the action-packed Adventure Playpark for the older ones. Check out the state-of-the-art play park at the People's Park in Portadown too or let Oxford Island in Craigavon spoil you with miles of walking paths, ponds, birdwatching hides and meadows.

For budding stargazers, Armagh Observatory & Planetarium is out of this world for indoor fun. And for some outdoor adventure, they can learn all about Cuchulainn and his warrior gang - and meet ‘Iron Age Celts’ in person - at The Navan Centre and Fort.

Ideas for families visiting County Down

With superb forest parks like Rowallane Garden there’s loads of fun to be had on the climbing wall, fireman’s pole, rope-bridge – there’s even a giant spider at ‘Animal Wood’ in Castlewellan Forest Park, and don’t forget the mind-boggling Peace Maze there too. Between Bangor and Holywood is Crawfordsburn Country Park where kids can choose between the natural play area or spotting hedgehogs, rabbits, badgers, seals and herons.

If you’re out Downpatrick way, get your gang into Delamont Country Park for adventure playground fun or a chug around on the miniature railway. Which reminds us that The Ulster Transport Museum is well worth a visit too with its collection of amazing machines including the iconic Delorean car! The fun never stops at Bangor’s Pickie Funpark which is great on sunny days with an outdoor paddling pool and big sand pit for playing, plus swan-shaped pedaloes for everyone to enjoy. Elsewhere you can just let those little and large imaginations run wild on the Narnia Trail or have a gentler time on the Fairy Glen walk at Kilbroney Park in gorgeous Rostrevor.

Ideas for families holidaying in County Londonderry

In Derry city itself, The Playtrail is one of the most fun places around with junior play park, sensory garden and an enchanting woodland fairy walk.

Stop by Creggan Country Park for a raft of watersports such as their inflatable water assault course, aqua zorbing, canoeing and kayaking, pier jumping, and raft building. Land activities are also available like an assault course, paintball and treasure hunting. White Horse Adventure and Faughanvale Stables offer pony riding and trekking while also connecting with nature, of course. A few miles south, Jungle NI is choc-a-bloc with exciting activities, like a Tarzan treetop adventure course.

For your older crew (and even yourselves) Far and Wild run bespoke urban and wild adventures such as city rollerblading and paddleboarding, or moonlight kayaking and wild hiking and biking experiences.

Ideas for families aiming for County Fermanagh

Fermanagh is lakelands heaven, so naturally there’s lot of water-based family adventures waiting for you. Take a trip on Lough Erne on the MV Kestrel waterbus or aim for Share Discovery Village which works for the inclusion of disabled and non-disabled people and the perfect spot for thrilling outdoor activities. You’ll find soft play areas for the wee ones next to Enniskillen’s Lakeland Forum while your older kids will spend the day in tunnels, slides, swings and net climbers. If that doesn’t tire them out, Cuilcagh Boardwalk & Marble Arch Caves will, and is always a memory-packed visit for everyone with its awesome subterranean caves, sinkholes and rivers, or the gorges, waterfalls and ancient woodlands above ground.

Ideas for families spending time in County Tyrone

As our largest county, Tyrone is the daddy when it comes to fun and adventure. For high energy stuff, the award-winning Todds Leap has over 20 action-packed activities including off-road driving, 500-metre zipline, freefall drop-zone…and the Big Yella slide. Kids who love mountain biking will love Davagh Forest with its fast red trails but there are family-friendly trails too - or give the short skills course a go. Or aim instead for Blessingbourne Country Estate to meet working farm animals and they can bring their bikes along too to bop along on the fun bike trails.

Make memories at An Creagán nestled in the ancient and majestic Sperrins foothills, where you can follow the river, forest and wildlife trails or dive into a day of mini-adventures, with bike hire, an adventure playground, on-site café and all you need for a family picnic by the community garden and pond. Why not step back in time at the Ulster American Folk Park where you can learn all about the brave emigrants who left for America hundreds of years ago. Meet costumed characters with stories to tell of life before mechanisation, household appliances and TV – your kids will gasp in horror – step on board a life-size ship or grab a selfie in period costume. And of course, a family picnic in the stunning woodland tranquillity of Gortin Glen Forest Park nestled nicely in the Sperrins is one of life’s simple pleasures

Like we said, loads to do for families with kids of all ages. Your only problem is which thing to do first…thankfully we don’t have to work that one out for you. But do share your experiences with us on our hashtag #MyGiantAdventure… when you figure it out!

Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail
Nature Trail
Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail

The enchanting outdoor fairy trail is the newest & most popular family attraction to come to the Ballymena/Galgorm area.

Ballymena's People’s Park
Nature and Wildlife
Ballymena's People’s Park

45-acre urban park in the heart of Ballymena with something to do for all the family - you can check out the lake full of ducks, modern playground, urban art, sports facilities, delightful flowers and onsite community initiatives.

Antrim Lough Shore Park
Public Park
Antrim Lough Shore Park

Situated on the shores of Lough Neagh, the Lough Shore Park in Antrim is a popular destination for visitors and residents at all times of the year. It is an area steeped in history and natural beauty with many attractions and activities to enjoy.

Island Warrior (Boat Trips to Ram's Island)
Sightseeing
Image shows a walkway and various types of boats in a marina

The Island Warrior is a licensed passenger boat that takes visitors to Ram's Island.

Carnlough Bay Boat Tours
Boat Tours
Historical Carnlough Harbour

Memorable, invigorating boat trip in this area of outstanding natural beauty. Passengers have the chance to spot an array of marine life including dolphins, seals, porpoises and various seabirds.

World of Owls
Nature and Wildlife
World of Owls

World of Owls, Owls, Eagles, Hawks, Falcons & Vultures: Groups, schools, parties, seminars, corporate and team-building days are catered for. Outreach visits and various courses are available on request. Light refreshments on site.

Sheans Horse Farm
Land Adventure
Sheans Horse Farm

Whether you’re a total beginner or a confident rider, experience the freedom, fun and buzz of horse riding at Sheans Horse Riding and Heritage Centre. Located close to the village of Armoy, adjacent to the Glens of Antrim on the Antrim Coast.

Watertop Farm
Camping & Caravan Site
Caravan pitches

Watertop is a family farm in the Glens of Antrim offering Caravan and Camping facilities in a peaceful, scenic location

Kilcreggan Urban Farm & Garden Centre
Open Farm
Kilcreggan Urban Farm & Garden Centre

LOur Urban Farm and Garden Centre at Kilcreggan Homes is a free popular attraction to local families and visitors. Visitors can handle and feed a variety of animals, enjoy our picnic areas, explore the bug hut and play area and relax in our café.

The Lake Kilrea
Water Sports
The Lake Kilrea

The Lake Kilrea is an Outdoor Adventure & Water Park, offering a wide range of family friendly activities.

The Gobbins
Visitor Centres & Museums
The Gobbins

On the thrilling Gobbins Experience, nature isn’t content to just sit back and be admired. It completely engulfs you: from the all-enveloping Irish Sea winds and the dolphins dancing off the coastline.

Portrush Nature Reserve
Nature and Wildlife
Portrush Nature Reserve

Portrush reserve hides a tale of heated debate around the origin of rocks. It was also seen as the battleground of two schools who had different views and debated on the formation of basalt when geology was being developed as a science 200 years ago.

Carnfunnock Country Park
Public Park
Carnfunnock Country Park

Packed full of fun family activities and attractions, Carnfunnock Country Park offers over 191 hectares of mixed woodland, colourful gardens, way-marked walks and spectacular coastline, with panoramic views of the Antrim Coast and North Channel.

Giant's Causeway
The National Trust
The basalt stones at the giants causeway stretch into the sea

Follow in the footsteps of giants at Northern Ireland's iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basalt columns of the Causeway landscape were left by volcanic eruptions 60 million years ago. All visitors are encouraged to book Visitor Experience tickets online in advance of arrival onsite.

Limitless Adventure Centre
Motor Sports and Karting
Limitless Adventure Centre

Limitless Adventure Centre is the only Hovercrafting Centre in Northern Ireland as well as home to Powerturn Off Road Buggies , Archery, Laserclay Shooting, Lasertag and Football Golf.

Causeway Coast Kayaking
Canoeing & Kayaking
Causeway Coast Kayaking

Fully guided tours and experiences of the Causeway Coast by kayak, including twilight/moonlight paddles and a Game of Thrones ® location tour. All beginner friendly.

Rathlin Island
Nature and Wildlife
Rathlin Island

Amidst the rugged landscape of this isolated island, you can let your mind wander and discover a tranquility and beauty that is so unexpected.

RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre
Visitor Centres & Museums
RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre

Just six miles off County Antrim's north coast with must see views of Northern Ireland's largest seabird colony and a chance to explore Rathlin's unique 'upside down' lighthouse part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland Trail.

Belfast Zoo
Zoo / Aquarium
Belfast Zoo

Belfast Zoological Gardens is located in North Belfast on the slopes of Cave Hill. This unique location provides unrivalled views across Belfast Lough. The 55 acre site is home to more than 130 species.

Colin Glen
Forest Parks
Black Bull Run, Ireland's First Alpine Coaster. Colin Glen, Mountain Entrance.

Colin Glen is Ireland’s leading adventure park - a land of storytelling and a state of the art sports park with world class attractions. From Alpine coasteering to laser tag, golfing to the Gruffalo Trail, Colin Glen has adventure for everyone.

W5
Science Centre
W5

W5 is an award-winning science and discovery centre, located in the Odyssey complex at the gateway to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

Barnett Demesne
Walking & Hiking
Barnett Demesne

This route explores an historic estate in Lagan Valley Regional Park, taking in Malone House, meadows, woodland and along the River Lagan.

Streamvale Open Farm
Open Farm
Image shows cartons of ice-cream with a cow in a field nudging one of the cartons

Streamvale farm is nestled in the rolling hills on the edge of Belfast. The family farm has lots to offer including baby animal cuddling, lots of fantastic play areas and many live shows and demonstrations for all the family to enjoy.

We Are Vertigo
Climbing
Image shows various inflatables in the main area of We Are Vertigo

We Are Vertigo is Northern Ireland’s number one family entertainment complex, featuring the world's largest Inflatable Action Course, Indoor Ski Slopes and an Adventure centre. Located just 15 minutes from Belfast's City Centre.

Vertigo Titanic Park
Skydiving & Parachuting
Vertigo Titanic Park

Vertigo Titanic Park, located just 5 minutes from Belfast's City Centre is home to two completely unique, adrenaline-fueled activities. Indoor Skydiving and Ninja Master Course, suitable for ages 4+. It's a great day out for all ages.

Gosford Forest Park
Nature and Wildlife
Family enjoy a cycle through woodlands at Gosford Park

Gosford Forest Park comprises some 240 hectares of diverse woodland and open parkland. Enjoy facilities for all including playparks, mountain bike, horse and walking trails and a pump track.

Lurgan Park
Public Park
Lurgan Park

Lurgan Park is the second largest public park in Ireland, and is enjoyed by as many as 2000 people every day. The beautifully landscaped parkland contains a number of well maintained paths which provide excellent walking and running ground.

The Palace Demesne Public Park
Public Park
The Palace Demesne Public Park

Situated within walking distance of the City Centre, for over two hundred years the undulating parkland of the Palace Demesne has been one of the glories of Armagh.

Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Adventure Playpark and Fionn's Giant Adventure
Nature and Wildlife
Children playing around a giant book in Slieve Gullion Forest Park

Slieve Gullion is Ireland's Mountain of Mystery. The Forest Park offers walking trails, a scenic drive, an Adventure Playpark, Giant's Lair children's story trail and Courtyard with coffee shop.

Portadown People's Park
Forest Parks
Portadown People's Park

For a fun family day out in Portadown come on down to the People’s Park and discover all of the unique attractions, activities and events on offer.

Oxford Island
Nature and Wildlife
Oxford Island

Oxford Island National Nature Reserve is a peninsula created by successive lowering of Lough Neagh. Four miles of footpaths, five birdwatching hides, woodland, ponds, wildflower meadows, picnic and play areas.

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium
Observatory / Planetarium
Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is “the place for space”. Watch an amazing Full Dome Theatre show and explore the Universe. Immerse yourself in the latest scientific research in our exhibition area, and take a relaxing walk through our Astropark.

The Navan Centre and Fort
Visitor Centres & Museums
The Navan Centre and Fort

The Navan Centre, located just two miles from the Cathedral City of Armagh, interprets one of Ireland’s most important ancient monuments, Navan Fort; the ancient capital and seat of the Kings of Ulster.

Rowallane Garden
The National Trust
Rowallane Garden

This unique garden has grown from the 19th-century beginnings of the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore, their vision created a place where you can leave the world behind and immerse yourself in nature's beauty.

Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze
Forest Parks
View of Castlewellan Forest Park

Located in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, this is one of the most outstanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The beauty, vigour and perfect shape of the trees in the National Arboretum attract tree enthusiasts from around the world.

Crawfordsburn Country Park
Public Park
a photograph of waves hitting the rocks at the shore

With tranquil walks through peaceful meadows and wooded glens and a stunning waterfall, Crawfordsburn Country Park provides a relaxing natural retreat.

Delamont Country Park
Public Park
Child climbing and another on a slide in the play park, at Delamont Country Park.

Situated on the shores of Strangford Lough in an area of natural beauty, Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh offers peace, beauty and tranquillity. Facilities onsite include a magnificent adventure playground for the children to enjoy. There are also public toilets, an open area for family picnics and Steamers Coffee Shop. A 1km long miniature railway operates on a seasonal basis.

Ulster Transport Museum
Visitor Centres & Museums
Vintage double decker bus

Inspire inspiration at the Ulster Transport Museum by celebrating the history of invention and innovation through engineering, design, and technology

Pickie Fun Park
Adventure Park / Playground
Photo of people enjoying rides on the Giant Swans pedal boats on the blue waters of the man made pond at Pickie Funpark

Pickie Funpark is one of the top ten visitor attractions in Northern Ireland. The park provides a fun day out for all: An 18-hole mini-golf course, giant pedal swans, Pickie Puffer train, children's play area, children's electric car track and more.

Kilbroney Park
Forest Parks
Group of friends enjoying the sunshine in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor

Kilbroney Park Forest features riverside walks and an arboretum. There is a two-mile forest drive which showcases panoramic views over Carlingford Lough. There is also a Play Park with children's play area and tennis courts, an Information area and a café all on site.  Wheelchair accessible in some areas.  Dogs welcome on leads.

The Playtrail
Public Park
The Playtrail

The Playtrail is an outdoor play & educational resource that hosts an on-going programme of activities for children.

Creggan Country Park
Activity Centre
Creggan Country Park

Creggan Country Park is a not for profit watersports, outdoor pursuits and angling facility based in Derry.

White Horse Adventure
Tailor-made Tours
White Horse Adventure

Listen to stories of locals, times gone by and nature as you trek whilst taking in panoramic views of Derry, Donegal and beyond. Spend the night in the 4-star White Horse Hotel where you can relax in the hotels Leisure Club facilities.

Faughanvale Stables - Riding School, Pony Club and Trekking Centre
Equestrian
Faughanvale Stables - Riding School, Pony Club and Trekking Centre

Faughanvale Stables has a wide range of facilities including 2 indoor arenas, an outdoor arena, floodlit, fantastic hacking and a cross country course for the more advanced riders.

The Jungle NI
Activity Centre
The Jungle NI

Nestled in an enchanting woodland in the very heart of Northern Ireland, just 45 minutes from Belfast, The Jungle is the perfect location to engage with life, and put to test your sense of daring and adventure.

Far and Wild
Outdoor Activity/Pursuit Centre
Group overlooking the Peace Bridge in Derry city on the Foodie Cycle Tour

Far and Wild is the leading eco-adventure company in the North West of Ireland, bringing you activities including Moonlight Kayaking, Coasteering, and Stand Up Paddle Board tours.

Erne Tours (MV Kestrel)
Sightseeing
Erne Tours MV Kestrel

Relax and enjoy the panoramic view as your Boat Master delivers a live and entertaining commentary onboard the MV Kestrel, as you cruise along Fermanagh's waterways.

Share Discovery Village
Activity Centre
Share Discovery Village

Established in 1981, Share Discovery Village is the largest residential activity centre in Ireland and welcomes over 10,000 visitors annually.

Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark
Forest Parks
Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark

The Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the rugged mountainous uplands and the gentle rolling lowlands of Counties Fermanagh and Cavan, stretching from the northern shores of Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to the southern shores of Lough Oughter in County Cavan.

Marble Arch Caves
Guided Tour
Guided Cave Tour

The show cave will be closed from Monday 12 September to early January 2023. Guided Cave tours will not be available during the closure period. This closure is to facilitate the installation of a new cave lighting system. A range of above ground experiences and events will be running for visitors to enjoy during this period. The Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre and car park will remain open.

Todds Leap Activity Centre
Activity Centre
Todds Leap Activity Centre

Todds Leap is a Multi Award Winning Activity Centre based in Ballygawley, County Tyrone.

Davagh Forest Trails
Land Adventure
Davagh Forest Trails

Located approximately 6 miles north west of Cookstown, in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains, Davagh Forest offers gentle mountain biking and walking trails as well as an impressive 16km red trail with some rock slab drops you will never forget!

Blessingbourne Mountain Bike Trails and Pump Track
Mountain Biking Trails
Blessingbourne Mountain Bike Trails and Pump Track

The Blessingbourne Mountain Bike Trails, near Fivemiletown, lie in the heart of the Clogher Valley close to the border between counties Tyrone and Fermanagh.

An Creagán
Visitor Centres & Museums
An Creagán

Situated at the foothills of the Sperrins, An Creagán is distinctively designed to mirror the archaeological sites of the area and give you the opportunity to step back in time. It also offers a range of archaeological and environmental information.

Ulster American Folk Park
Visitor Centres & Museums
Ulster American Folk Park

Journey back in time at the Ulster American Folk Park, from the Old World of Ulster to the New World of America.

Gortin Glen Forest Park
Nature and Wildlife
Gortin Glen Forest Park

There are over 10km of walking trails, a 6km scenic drive, wildfowl enclosure and deer enclosure and a new children's playpark to enjoy and explore.