Surfing in County Antrim
Think having an action-packed family adventure has to break the bank? Think again.
Here are ten ideas for budget-friendly family activities across Northern Ireland.
1.Dive in to the Causeway Coast’s beaches
Rent a body board and hit the beach in Portstewart or Portrush. Prices start from just £5 for two hours from Long Line or Troggs Surf School, where wetsuits can be rented. Downhill Beach is part of an 11km stretch of sand and surf offering a wealth of water sports and scenic walks for the perfect family day out.
No trip to the seaside would be complete without some fish and chips and an ice cream. Check out Morelli’s on Portstewart promenade, makers of award winning ice cream since 1911 – delish.
2.Have a forest adventure
Head to the foothills of the Mourne Mountains, where Tollymore Forest Park has a range of outdoor activities sure to keep the kids engaged. Hop over the famous stepping stones, cross ancient bridges or have a blast at the Big Deer play area featuring a giant timber fallow deer, castle turret, folly tower and hollow tree.
The seaside town of Newcastle is a 10-minute drive away. Walk the promenade or skim stones on the beach before enjoying dinner in one of the many great value bars or restaurants. Check out the Anchor Bar where kids eat free.
3.Just keep swimming…
If the kids are Finding Nemo fans, they will love the Riverwatch Aquarium in County Londonderry.
Here they can watch fish swim about the tanks and learn about local wildlife. Riverwatch has lobster, crabs, starfish, coalfish, salmon and lots of other unusual marine fish and crustaceans. And it is completely free to visit.
4.Canoeing on the edge of the city
Spend a morning or afternoon at Shaw’s Bridge in South Belfast where Mobile Team Adventure offer family-friendly open canoeing sessions on Saturdays (9-11am, 2-4pm) from just £6 per person.
There is no need to pre-book, no experience is necessary and all equipment is provided – so it’s guaranteed to be a hassle-free adventure.
5.A magical living storybook
Visit the amazing Giant’s Lair and Adventure Playgound in the beautiful Slieve Gullion Forest Park in County Armagh. Explore the magical living storybook brought to life through a trail of intertwined fairy houses and arts features.
At the end there’s a huge play park with specially designed toddler’s area and excellent adventure play equipment.
6.Water sports at Fermanagh Lakelands
Have a fun day on the water at Castle Archdale Marina in Fermanagh, where wet suits and buoyancy aids are provided.
Enjoy the thrill of the bouncing flip and water slide trampoline at £8 for 30 minutes. Or hire a kayak for £13 an hour to explore the lovely Lough Erne and its islands.
Afterwards visit Tickety Moo dairy farm for some mouth-watering ice cream. For £2 per adults and £1 per child, you can watch the Jersey cows being ‘milked’ by robots at 4.30pm each day.
7. Travel to the American frontier
Follow the emigrants trail at the Ulster American Folk Park, from the thatched cottages of Ulster to boarding a full-scale emigrant ship to the American frontier.
Meet an array of characters on the way with traditional crafts to show, tales to tell and food to share.
Family tickets start at £19.
8.Ride through the forest
Let your imagination run wild as you wind your way through paths and over gentle inclines at Barnett Demesne Mountain Bike Trails. Or whizz along the flat towpath beside the River Lagan – perfect for the novice cyclist.
Having worked up an appetite, grab a slice of pizza from Piccolo Mondo, a classic Citroen van with a wood-fired pizza oven in nearby Minnowburn car park every weekend.
You could even climb the steps to the Giant’s Ring and have pizza with a view.
9.Bangor Pickie Fun Park
Take the kids to the Pickie Park, in the County Down town of Bangor. Go for a paddle with swans in the lagoon (£4.50 per swan), or ride on the Pickie Puffer train (£1.50 per child).
Afterwards , ice cream is a must.
10.Make like Mowgli in The Jungle
Take on wibbly-wobbly bridges, swinging cargo nets and a tree house at the Mowgli treetop adventure course, at The Jungle NI in Magherafelt.
The playground is a set of daring high ropes designed for children over 1 metre tall, who will be harnessed so they can monkey around in safety. From £10 per child.