All of these ideas are going to be centred around Belfast and the East side of Northern Ireland, due to my ignorance of what lies in Fermanagh and Derry! So if you live in that area or are planning a trip near Belfast hopefully this will provide you with a few ideas.
The Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens
If you’re lucky enough to find a parking space within walking distance (!) this is a great place to go with kids. They have an art room, a nature room and a room of antique toys. The cafe is good for a parental coffee reward and the gift shop for window shopping. The gardens are right outside and have a palm house, tropical ravine (it’s closed at the moment for restoration) and I always liked playing on the bandstand and the rose garden as a kid. Note: the museum is closed on Mondays. Entry is free.
Seapark in Holywood
I still don’t understand why Holywood is pronounced Hollywood but it has a well-placed playground with a sea view anyway. The grassy expanse is good for picnics in better weather and you can walk along the seafront after letting your kids play. The playground was recently redone so there is lots to do.
Greyabbey village and the Abbey
Greybbey is great for kids. My kids call it “the rocks” because they like to climb on the ruins. There is something about letting them do this that feels a bit sacrilegious, but at least they’re enjoying themselves. There is a herb garden to walk around and smell the scents with your children, teaching them names of herbs. Morbid as it may be, my kids like exploring the neighbouring graveyard too. You can follow it with a look in the antique shops if you’re feeling brave around breakables and you can an ice-cream from the shop/coffee or treats in Alchemy or one of the other cafes. (Or have a picnic if your kids are particularly wound-up that day.)
If you’re lacking funds, the ferry might be preferable to the aquarium in Portaferry (fun as it is.) I took my kids to both and the ferry was much more popular with them. It was £2 return for all of us on foot. You can leave the car on one side, go for a walk or get fish and chips and sit at the harbour. It’s a novelty for the kids and a day out that won’t put you into your overdraft.
Hope these ideas were useful. I will follow this post with others as part of a Northern Ireland series of things to do with kids 🙂