With experts stating that the childhood years between three and eight years of age is when parental influence is at its strongest, Discover NI has developed a list of the top activities, attractions and places to stay to maximise precious family time.
Lesley-Ann O’Donnell from Tourism NI said: “All parents understand the significance of spending time together as a family but choosing what to do during this time is also important to capture children’s imagination and explore what Northern Ireland has to offer.”
From building triumphant sandcastles in Portrush to traversing bewildering caves in Fermanagh, there is a wealth of attractions for children to explore and enjoy in Northern Ireland.
1. Pet animals at Streamvale Open Farm
Located in Dundonald, Streamvale Open Farm provides children with the opportunity to see a range of animals in ‘Pets’ Corner’, cuddle the pups, baby rabbits and chicks and bottle feed the goats and lambs. If you want to spend a night nearby, the family-friendly 4* La Mon Hotel & Country Club is situated just a ten minute drive away.
2. Follow fairies and dragons at The Giant’s Lair, Slieve Gullion
The Giant’s Lair is a woodland walk featuring a trail of intertwined fairy houses and arts features creating a childhood land with dragons, giants and fairies. The Adventure Playpark is located nearby and includes a specially designed toddler’s area as well as adventure and play equipment.
3. Monkey around at Jungle NI
Nestled in enchanting woodland among the rolling Sperrin Mountains, Jungle NI offers a range of adventures for children and adults alike. Younger children can enjoy the Gruffalo trail while children over one metre can be harnessed and monkey around in safety on the playground high ropes. Jungle NI also offers the opportunity to nestle from the wilds and camp in style by staying in funky glamping pods.
4. Have a ‘Zooper’ day out at Belfast Zoo
As one of NI’s oldest and most popular attractions the zoo provides a fun day out for all. Your monkeys can swing by the new reptile and amphibian house, waddle over to the penguins and other favourites at feeding time and pick up a special ‘zoovenir’. After a long day of getting up close and personal with animals, the whole family can relax at the nearby 4* Clayton Hotel.
5. Get a diver’s view of marine life at Exploris Aquarium
Entertain and educate your children at the same time with a trip to Portaferry’s Exploris Aquarium. Here they can learn about many species via the unique touch-tank talks and create new memories at the seaside rock pools in the Kids Zone. After a fun-filled aquatic day, why not take the Strangford ferry and spend a night glamping at Castle Ward in one of the family pods which accommodates two adults and three children.
6. Glide along an underground river at The Marble Arch Caves
The Marble Arch Caves are one of Europe’s finest showcaves, offering the chance to see fascinating, natural underworld of rivers, winding passages and lofty chambers. The tours are suitable for people of all ages and children in particular love gliding along an underground river in the electrically powered boats.
7. Climb trees at Gortin Glen Forest Park
Gortin Glen Forest Park is located six miles outside of Omagh and offers the opportunity climb a variety of trees, mountain bike and canoe on the lakes. You can pack a picnic or make use of the barbecuing facilities on site to fuel your next adventure in the brand new play sculpture. For those who wish to explore the local area over a couple of days you can pack a tent and set up camp in the park.
8. Create masterful sandcastles at East Strand Beach, Portrush
The East Strand beach is around 2.5 miles long so there is plenty of sand available to create everything from masterful sandcastles to exquisite sand sculptures. Your littles ones can have a blast splashing in the water and you can join them (if you’re brave enough!). After a fun day of frolicking on the beach, you can take a 5 minute drive to Morelli’s which offers some delicious Italian ice cream.
The early childhood years are so formative, but with such a range of fun family experiences, activities and events in Northern Ireland, parents can be inspired to make the most of this valuable family time.
To book your fun family break in Northern Ireland, visit discovernorthernireland.com.