Explore & Experience Nature
Plan your trip
This site is about getting outdoors - with fun, interesting, activities to try when out there.
But where should you go with time on your hands? If, like many of us, you are in the mood to explore- I recommend the following:
County council websites: Many have excellent online resources promoting places to explore in the county, info on upcoming events available through social media, and more. Meath, where I live, is an excellent example www.meath.ie. Some counties will have a separate site to promote their county - like Sligo (www.Sligo.ie) so try that also.
National Parks & Wildlife Service - Find Natural Parks & Nature Reserves to explore in Ireland.
Noticenature.ie: You will find an interactive map of national parks, nature reserves, educational centres, monuments and UNESCO sites to visit in Ireland.
Other useful resources:
DiscoverIreland.ie and FailteIreland.ie are excellent for planning trips. But remember that local knowledge is king when it comes to finding the hidden gems to explore both near and far. So, ask around your locality, or when visiting a new area, and check out shared info (like community pages) when it comes to finding the off the beaten track beauties in Ireland.
Be prepared before your big day out!
Coillte Forests - With some planning and a picnic in the bag, it is surprising how far children will walk. Check out the Coillte link for the forest walks around Ireland, plus great recreational activities on all their sites too.
Try Bushcraft (Forest School)
Bushcraft provides kids with the knowledge to build shelters, natural navigation, Leave No Trace Training, Camp Fire Cooking, Forest Archery and Tool Making and more. What's not to love! Check out the link to Irish Forest Schools Ireland where you can find a provider near you. Many early years forest schools run after school activities too, as well as camps and family days. You could also search on line for bushcraft/survival adventures and take care to use a qualified and vetted service.
Take a boat trip
Boat trips are a wonderful way to relax and see Nature from a different view. Whether around islands, down the Shannon or on lakes, a boat trip makes my day every time :-)
Go Fossil Hunting
Easkey beach in Co. Sligo is a mecca for surfers from around the world. But it's also like the Irish Jurassic park for ocean fossils. Your kids will be amazed to see the size of the creatures trapped within the rock layers. Just explore the exposed rock to the right of the pier to get started and see can you make a get away without a boot full of rock treasures thrown in by the kids!
Any trip to Enniscrone is well worth a further explore along the coast to Easkey. You can also try fossil hunting along any coast where the sea has exposed layers of rock or eroded banks along the coast. Be watchful for tides, currents and your safety in these areas.
Take a Tree Trail in Dublin
Have fun exploring one of the wonderful Tree Trails in Dublin's parks. Make sure to print out the park booklet beforehand to max the fun factor for each child, bring crayons to take tree rubbings for the booklet too. Remember the traditional picnic too!
Walking & Hiking
Ireland is a criss cross of tracks and trail waiting to be explored. Check out the link for Sports Ireland, which has an extensive list of many trails to be explored around Ireland. Another excellent resource for trails in Ireland is the All Trail website.
Walking & Hiking
Use this link to All Trails to find details of many Irish walking routes. Or try the Hiiker App- with details of 72 hikes around Ireland, it's a useful App for longer distance walking trails with older kids or friends.
Outdoor Water Park
Visit one of the inflatable water parks in Ireland to splash and laugh as a family. With life jackets for all, everyone can take park no matter what your swimming skills. Yes you may need to be hauled up onto the pontoons like a drenched baby whale- but that's all part of the frivolous fun.. or maybe that was just me :-)
Check out the many heritage parks in Ireland
at heritageireland.ie. For a fun family day out, visit The National Heritage Park in Wexford and see how our ancestors lived long ago. They also offer an extensive range of traditional craft courses which are well worth looking into. Check the link for details of this truly inspiring park.
Castlecomer Discovery Park
This park is a go to location at any time of year and is packed full of activities to interest the entire family. It's definitely on my bucket list this summer.
From Tayto Park in Meath, Fort Lucan in Dublin to Westport House Pirate Adventure park in Co. Mayo, there is an adventure waiting for you in Ireland this summer. Check out this hitlist of top Irish Theme Parks to plan your next trip
The Zoo, Dublin
On my most recent visit to our nation's Zoo, it was a delight to see animals up close and relaxed. A lot of work has been done to improve and expand many areas of the zoo for both the animals and visitors experience - both of which have been a huge success. A trip to the Zoo never fails to entertain. And now you can see cows being milked and experience our own native farm animals in a very accessible way too.
Local outdoor attractions
Every county in Ireland has small, hidden gems, where families can enjoy spending time outdoors together. I make an effort to support the local businesses and smaller, family owned, attractions too when visiting different parts of Ireland. You will often find an enjoyable, relaxing and low key experience well worth a visit. Check out your local county council site or search online for attractions nearby when visiting a new area of Ireland. See are there smaller and less busy places to visit and enjoy too.
Outdoor Adventure Centers
From abseiling, high rope courses and gorge walking to coasteering, there are many excellent outdoor adventure centers in Ireland offering all manner of thrill for the dare devils amongst your family. Check out the link for some of the best. Other include Delphi Adventure Centre in Co. Mayo, Smugglers Cove in Cork and Eclipse Ireland in Co. Kerry (which we visited last summer and really enjoyed!) If you get it into your mind to have an adventure, you are sure to find something online to suit your needs.
Sea Stack Climbing in Donegal
This is definitely way out of my comfort zone but I'm sure there will be many brave souls amongst the older members of your families that will relish this challenge. A once in a life time test for most people!
BeeWise Nature Trail - BeeWise.ie - Co. Meath
Fun filled nature trail and park created as a safe haven for bees, pollinators and other wildlife. Lots to learn about the world of bees, taste honey and enjoy many family friendly activities along the way.
Airfield Estate & Urban Farm, Dublin (just minutes from Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin.)
Airfield Farm in Dublin is a perfect day out with fun for kids and all the family, only a few minutes from Dundrum Town Centre.
Airfield farm is a working farm and is complete with an assortment of sheep, pigs, goats and chickens to name a few and their placid Jersey herd are some of the most beautiful animals you’ll ever see.
The farm at Airfield is a perfect working example of environmentally sustainable agriculture in Ireland. They encourage visitors to explore, experience farm life up close and even get hands-on, so check out the daily activities when planning your trip. www.airfield.ie
There are so many fun adventure centres to get the family outdoors, active, and pushing their boundaries in a safe environment. Many are located in spacious, natural, locations which adds to the outdoors experience. Look online for places like Navan Adventure Centre in Co. Meath, Kippure Estate in Wicklow (adventurewicklow.com), Shielbaggan Outdoor Adventure Centre in Wexford (www.shielbagganoec.com), Court Lough in Dublin (courtlough.ie/adventures), Killary Adventure Centre in Mayo (killaryadventure.com) or Letterkenny Activity Centre (lkactivitycentre.com). There are many more all across the country also.
Make sure everyone has proper footwear for walking, clothes for the weather and a drink.
Make it an adventure- It's not always about the destination, but the journey along the way.
Keep safety in mind- check tide times, time of year & darkness and weather etc.
Be prepared- check opening hours, facilities and parking before you go.
You don't have to do the entire walk, take on as much as you can manage for everyone, factoring in the return journey too!