The best family-friendly days out in Cork
Cork is a holiday destination with something to offer every traveller. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, sophisticated dining, fascinating history, relaxing natural getaways, Ireland’s second city can cater to all tastes and ages.
For those looking for a fun-packed family trip, there’s more than enough to see and do to keep the whole family happy.
Here are just a few of the great family-friendly days out on offer in and around Cork.
West Cork Model Railway Museum
Ireland’s only model railway promises ‘a treat for all ages’. Located in Clonakilty (approximately 40 minutes from Cork City), The West Cork Model Railway Village is a lovingly rendered, handmade model of the old West Cork Railway Line. Depicting the Cork of the 1940s, the exhibit features fully working trains and detailed miniature towns.
After marvelling at these minute wonders, kids can enjoy a more hands-on experience, steering remote control boats, manning mini diggers and blowing off steam in the colourful outdoor play area.
The Village Cafe serves a selection of drinks, cakes and snacks and, with beautiful views of Clonakilty Bay, provides a perfect lunch spot.
Fota Wildlife park
Fota wildlife park is made up of 100 acres of carefully designed, specialised habitats for the thousands of plant and animal species in the park’s care.
Fota is the perfect day out for animal lovers. You can see exotic and native species including, lemurs, flamingos, lions, tigers, red squirrels, zebras, penguins, rhinoceros, ostrich, red pandas, gibbon, meerkats, and many, many more. The park aims to provide the best possible care for their animals, in appropriate habitats designed to promote biodiversity and encourage natural behaviour. With their breeding programmes, they aim to conserve and protect hundreds of species of animal and plant life for the future.
Visitors should be aware that a number of attractions (including the playpark and train) are currently closed at time of writing to Covid-restrictions, and that pre-booking is required.
Blackrock Castle Observatory
Just on the outskirts of Cork sits Blackrock Castle Observatory. Housed in a 16th-century castle on the bank of the River Lee, Blackrock offers the opportunity to explore outer space (without ever leaving the city).
Ireland’s only full-time planetarium, the observatory is home to ‘Cosmos at the Castle’, an award-winning, interactive astronomy exhibition showcasing recent scientific discoveries.
Visitors can catch daily shows at the planetarium, take a guided tour with one of the observatory’s knowledgeable guides, transmit their own message into space via radio telescope at the ‘Pan Galactic Station’ and have a go at saving the planet in the game ‘Chase to Save the Earth’.
Cork City Gaol
Fans of Horrible Histories are sure to be entertained by the grisly history of Cork City Gaol. This interactive museum, housed Cork’s imposing, castle-like former prison, invites visitors young and old to journey back to 19th century Cork to experience life both inside and outside prison walls.
This interactive museum features lifelike wax figures and audio visual installations, and tells the stories of the daily lives of prisoners and staff including the rules, rituals and punishments inflicted upon those imprisoned there.
Zipit Forest Adventures
Get in touch with your wild side with a family treetop adventure. Zipit Farran Park is located within the beautiful Farran Forest Park, a 45 hectare forest of the southern shore of Inniscarra lake, Country Cork (approximately 20 minutes from Cork City).
Zipit’s aerial courses include zip lines, cargo nets, swinging logs, and rope bridges. Real thrill-seekers can take on some of the more advanced courses, but don’t worry, there are plenty of tamer options to choose from if this isn’t your idea of fun, and the park instructors will ensure you are safely harnessed and will help you find the most appropriate courses for your group.
The park also features a wildlife enclosure (home to red and fallow deer), duck bond, ecology centre, picnic area and children’s playground.
(Please note - suitable for children aged 7+)
Blarney Castle & Gardens
Don’t forget to come and visit us here at Blarney Castle, the perfect family day out.
Blarney Castle is a unique place filled with magic, myth and mystery, which will enchant visitors of all ages. Visitors are free to roam over 60 acres of stunning parkland and explore the fantastic words of our themed gardens. Young imaginations will be fired up by the ancient Wishing Steps, the Jungle, the magical Fairy Glade, the Witches’ Kitchen, the Druid Stone and, of course, our infamous Poison Garden.
No trip to Blarney Castle is complete without a visit to the castle itself, where you can learn the fascinating history of this medieval fortress. Here, visitors can climb the battlements, lean backwards and kiss the mythical Blarney Stone. Legend has it that the Blarney Stone bestows the gift of eloquence upon those who kiss it (certainly something to tell your friends about back at school!).
After a busy day exploring everything Blarney has to offer, respite it offered at The Stable Yard cafe, just a short walk from the castle, offers a wide selection of beautiful cakes, fresh scones and other tasty treats.
The castle is open year-round and is free to children under 8.
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