Northern Ireland has recently been making it’s mark on the tourist map and is becoming an increasingly popular destination. With great culture, heaps of history and a stunning landscape, it’s not hard to see why. If you are travelling to the Emerald Isle with children in tow and want to make sure their cries of ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ are worthwhile, then check out these family friendly attractions that will be sure to keep the kids entertained for hours.
Just outside Derry you will find the Riverwatch Aquarium, so if your little ones love all things fishy then this free entry attraction is a must. Learn about local wildlife and see crabs, lobster, starfish and lots of other freshwater and shellfish.
Castlewellan Forest Park has enough to fill a weekend and the Arboretum is truly stunning. You can see some interesting modern sculptures as you walk around and try not to get lost in the Peace Maze, one of the world’s largest hedge mazes. There are several different walks that take in different aspects of this grand estate.
For little adrenaline junkies try a visit to Pickie Fun park in Bangor. You can enjoy a steam train, swan boat rides, electric cars and an 18-hole mini golf course. There are some lovely views over Bangor Marina and Belfast Lough and a family friendly menu in the modern café facilities. Find Luxury B&B Northern Ireland at www.ashbrook-house.co.uk
If your kids are water babies then take them to Waterworld in Portrush. This indoor attraction boasts a water playground, six water slides and cannons. They’ll be sure to make a splash here! There is also a six lane bowling alley and a beach themed photo area so make this a great rainy day stopover.
Winner of the Best Visitor Experience in 2013, Belfast Zoo is another top family attraction. There are more than 140 species of animal here and the zoo does great work with animals under threat in the wild, with many collaborative breeding programmes for threatened animals. The zoo has been in operation since 1934 and includes Asian elephants, apes, monkeys, penguins and tigers. With an educational play area, let your kids play and learn at the same time.
For those with a sweet tooth, Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory sounds yummy! Watch the whole production process and see chocolate, fudge and sweets being made. A nostalgic experience of how all things sweet and scrummy used to be produced and free samples are often provided too. A visit here would not be complete without trying the ice cream parlour and tea house. There are many flavours to choose from with Belfast Fudge being the top-seller.
Not forgetting our feathered friends, take a trip to the WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre where during the winter months, almost the whole world’s Brent Geese population resides. There are outdoor and indoor play areas, home-baked delights in the café and outside picnic area. The Secret Swamp area will really excite the little ones as it encourages outdoor play and imagination. It features secret hide-outs, toadstool glades, a treehouse, wobbly bridge, zip wire and tree swing. The adults will be getting in on the action too I’m sure!