If the thought of enduring the airport struggle and packing your little ones onto a plane has you dreading your summer break, why not pack up the car and plan a road trip to remember instead?
Ireland is home to some incredible family friendly hideaways just waiting to welcome you and the gang. From fairy tale castles to sprawling estates with every activity under the sun on offer, booking into one of the following resorts will have you thinking “Lanzarote who?” – with or without the sunshine.
Kelly’s Resort and Spa
The south east is famous for more than just sunshine and beautiful Rosslare is home to one of Ireland’s family friendly gems – Kelly’s Resort and Spa. Mere steps from the beach, you won’t need to venture outside of the resort for your stay, Kelly’s well and truly has it all. With a dedicated kid’s dining room followed by a disco, you can luxuriate over dinner together knowing they’re having a ball every evening.
Add this to the state of the art aqua club, their own Pirate ship playground and the Pirates Kids Club with activities like drama and dressing up, arts and crafts and movie nights and you have a guaranteed winner of a family getaway. The best part? The whole gang can enjoy a little friendly rivalry by splitting into teams for a tournament at the on-site, palm tree-lined Crazy Golf course – guaranteed happy family holiday memories.
Glenlo Abbey, Co. Galway
If you think five star means stuffy, Glenlo Abbey will dispel this misconception the second you arrive. This historic gem goes the extra mile, so expect a Tee-pee tent in your bedroom spacious family bedroom, fully equipped for the little ones with their own adventure pack including a torch, adventure book and a cuddly toy.
If you can drag them away from their little outpost, head downstairs to collect your tickets at reception to board our Pullman Restaurant for dinner on an enchanting and authentic train that evening – Thomas the Tank has nothing on Glenlo Abbey! The in-house Abbey Movie Theatre shows a kid’s film every evening, so you can get some one on one time yourselves. With milk and cookies delivered to your bedroom each evening for the ultimate kiddie night cap, you’ll never hear the dreaded “I’m bored” while they’re curled up watching a selection of in-house DVDs.
Mount Falcon Estate
Fancy having the run of a lush 100 acre estate? Mount Falcon Estate, just outside Ballina, offers comfy self-catering lodges which you can have all to yourself – ideal for big families as each lodge sleeps six. The kids will love feeding the ducks on the estate’s beautiful private Lake, exploring the grounds to do some wild-life watching and embrace their inner explorer or cycling around 4km of woodland trails.
Guests can also avail of the hotel’s leisure centre which includes a kiddie’s pool so there is plenty to wear your little angels out. Mount Falcon also makes a perfect base to explore the wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way, so you can plan a day trip to Achill Island or Downpatrick Head too.
Dromoland Castle, Co. Clare
If you have an aspirant Disney Princess on your hands (or if you have such tendencies yourself!) there is nowhere more magical than Dromoland Castle for your big family break. Guaranteed to make every member of the family feel like royalty, immersing yourselves in the historical former residence of High King Brian Boru’s ancestors surely counts as a history lesson too.
Recently named the No. 1 Hotel for Families in Europe by Family Vacation Critic, an online publication by travel specialist The Independent Traveler, a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Dromoland is ultimate holiday goals. Let the kids loose on the estate, from archery to horse riding and plenty in between, meaning they’ll be totally worn out when it is time for them to pop on a junior robe and enjoy cookies and milk before bed.
Mount Juliet Hotel, Co.Kilkenny
Let your favourite little people embrace their inner Lord or Lady by spoiling the whole family to a trip to Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny. This regal retreat is home to a Kid’s Evening Camp they will never want to leave, with fun-filled activities perfect for making new friends – scrumptious kid’s high tea, board games evenings, equestrian riding club, pro golf lessons and even a ‘Mount Juliet’s Got Talent’ competition!
Michelin starred chef Ken Harker has also designed a bespoke menu for younger guests, to ensure their dining experience at Mount Juliet is just as memorable as yours. Go on, book into Lady Helen Restaurant safe in the knowledge that the kids will be having too much fun to miss you for the evening.
The Brehon, Co.Kerry
If you’re treating the family to a trip to The Kingdom, The Brehon in stunning Killarney is a safe bet for a holiday to remember. Although ideally located within walking distance of the town and the fantastic National Park, Muckross House and Gardens and Torc Waterfall, The Brehon is a destination in itself.
You’ll have trouble getting the kids to leave once they discover the Brehon Fairy Trail, home to 14 fairies in their own custom built fairy village on the front lawn. You may just manage to coax them back inside to sample Kid’s Afternoon Tea, designed especially for them and packed with all their favourites like cookie monster cookies, cake pops, jelly and ice-cream shots and rocky road. Finally, residents enjoy free access to the Captain Jack Show in the neighbouring INEC, a pirate show packed with laughs and the leisure and kids clubs in the Gleneagle Hotel next door.
The Limerick Strand
Just a two hour drive from Dublin, Limerick is packed with activities for the whole crew and the Limerick Strand is the perfect base for a family trip to the Treaty City. Overlooking the River Shannon, this central four star hotel has devised the perfect family package to make the most of Limerick’s attractions.
Their two night package “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King Package” includes accommodation in a generously sized family room, full breakfast on both mornings and even better, kids eat free with a complimentary kiddies main course with every adults main course in the well-respected River Restaurant, so you can sample Chef Tom Flavin’s delicious menu. Along with access to Energize Health club, with a 20 metre pool and a dedicated kids pool as well as a free Family Day Pass to King John’s Castle, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Fota Island Resort, Co.Cork
For little animal lovers, there is no better destination than beautiful Fota Island Resort, which offers a family package with complimentary tickets to Cork’s famous Fota Wildlife Park. Located on a beautiful private island, you can get lost wandering around this sanctuary, which is home to a variety of species including cheetahs, tigers and rhinos, so a wild time is guaranteed!
After a fun-filled day at the park, you can put your feet up in the luxurious surroundings of this five star resort, get into your robe and slippers and unwind. Fota Island offers a summer kids club for children aged 4 to 12 with a packed schedule of activities and extensive leisure centre facilities, so you can make the most of the celebrated Spa or golf course.
Parknasilla Resort, Co.Kerry
If you love the feeling of pulling up to your hotel, abandoning the car and not having to leave the grounds for the whole holiday, Parknasilla Resort in Sneem, Co.Kerry is your dream family getaway. The only problem may be finding time to fit in everything on offer at this luxurious spot on the Wild Atlantic Way.
From PJ’s Nature Trail, a guided adventure through the forest searching for clues to find the Parknasilla treasure, to kids baking classes to a family fishing day taking off from the hotel’s own pier, your little ones will have a hectic schedule packed with wonderful ways to spend their days. For younger guests in double digits, kayaking, zip-lining, horse riding and archery on the grounds will ensure there’s never a dull moment.
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