Ireland is an amazing place to visit, full of historic castles and ancient mythology combined with modern art and architecture. Most hotels are family-friendly, offering children's menus in the restaurants, fun activities and special amenities for kids. Our list of top 10 family vacation ideas in Ireland includes historic castle hotels, grand estates and modern city hotels. Many offer incredible golf, relaxing spas and pools, letting you relax and rejuvenate in a beautiful setting. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
3.Killarney Park Hotel
5.Aghadoe Heights Hotel
6.The Conrad Dublin
7.Sheen Falls Lodge
8.The Morgan Hotel
10.The Westin Dublin
10 Great Kid-Friendly Getaways in Ireland
- Dromoland Castle
- Hayfield Manor
- Killarney Park Hotel
- Castle Leslie
- Aghadoe Heights Hotel
- The Conrad Dublin
- Sheen Falls Lodge
- The Morgan Hotel
- Adare Manor
- The Westin Dublin
- Cover Photo: Dromoland Castle
Must-see on Your Family Trip to Ireland
Start your trip in Dublin before heading to one of the country estates. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Ireland.
Dublin is a lively city with a compact historic center which makes it easy to see many things in a day or two. Visit the 13th century Dublin Castle where you can tour the royal chapel and state apartments. Dublin Zoo is a favorite with families who flock here to see tigers, hippos, red pandas and other animals. This zoo is one of the oldest in the world. Admission is free at the National Gallery of Ireland where you can view contemporary Irish art as well as Renaissance and Baroque pieces. Book of Kells in Trinity College is known as one of the most beautiful books in the world, created by monks in the 8th century. Saint Patrick's Cathedral dates back to the 12th century.
The Rock of Cashel
Located in County Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is a huge historic structure where the King of Munster was converted by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD.
Giant's Causeway on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland consists of 40,000 basalt columns which were created by a volcanic eruption. Enjoy spectacular sea views as you tour this unique attraction which was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The volcanic columns have inspired the imagination of story tellers for generations and are a fun spot to visit with kids.
Built for kings over 5,000 years ago, Newgrange is an an ancient tomb and the world’s oldest solar observatory, the perfect place to learn about Celtic culture.
The Blarney Stone
The myth has it that kissing The Blarney Stone gives you the gift of eloquence and flattery. It is located at Blarney Castle which also offers beautiful gardens, perfect for a romantic stroll.
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry in southwestern Ireland is the most scenic drive in Ireland – follow the 179 km circular loop and enjoy the views.
Attraction Spotlight: Muckross House, Gardens, and Traditional Farms
The Muckross House, Gardens, and Traditional Farms, located in Kerry, Ireland, is a longstanding and historical attraction designed to be a full day, family experience. Complete with guided tours, a full-scale restaurant, and frequent events, this local attraction should not be missed.
The Muckross House was built at Henry Arthur Herbert (along with his wife, a watercolor artist named Mary Balfour)’s request, making the house the fourth successive home owned by a Herbert in a period of 200 years on the grounds. It was built between 1839 and 1843 by Scottish architect, William Burn. After passing through multiple hands, in 1932, it was gifted to the Irish government and it became the very first national park in Ireland (sitting on 11,000 acres).
Visiting the Muckross House with a guided tour is the best way to see the house and its many historical exhibits. Below are a few of the highlights.
? Scenery - First and foremost, make sure to take the time to take in the beauty of the scenery before entering the house. The stately Victorian mansion has Killarney National Park as its stunning backdrop and it sits on the shores of one of the park’s three lakes, Muckross Lake. The scenery is especially beautiful in the spring and fall due to the considerable number of trees.
? Gardens - The gardens surrounding the Muckross House are also something guests should pay special attention to during their guided tour. Originally created in 1850 in advance of a visit from Queen Victoria in 1861, the forethought put into creating the garden is obvious. After the house was purchased from the Herbert family in the early 20th century, additional gardens were added (the Stream, Rock, and Sunken Gardens).
? Furnishings - The staff at the Muckross House have paid special attention to detail when it comes to the furnishings that are found in each of the rooms. Each room has been decorated with period specific furniture and style, which shows the elegant lifestyle that the Herbert’s lived.
? Craft areas - Also located at the Muckross House are various traditional craftsman showcasing their work in the way it would have been done when the Herbert’s lived there. Visit Mucros Weavers (who spin and weave their wares on site) as well as Mucros Pottery (who showcase their crafts on an old-fashioned potter’s wheel). It is a unique way to see how those types of crafts were originally made. Guests can even purchase a small selection to take home and commemorate a visit.
When visiting Traditional Farms, guests should be prepared to feel like they are stepping back into 1930s Ireland. There are three separate “working” farms - one small, one medium, and one large - with a variety of produce, machinery, and animals (including poultry). Visit the homes that these farmers inhabited when working the farm, which have been furnished with historical accuracy. Also make sure to check out the Carpenter’s Workshop, the Blacksmith’s Forge, and the Laborer’s Cottage. There is an online and printable map of the area for visitors to check out ahead of time as well, to make sure they are seeing every important part of the farm.
Another unique building at the Traditional Farms is the schoolhouse, which was built in 1910. It has been divided into two rooms, as teachers often taught specific subjects in one or the other. The students were required to bring sod with them for the fire, and the restrooms were segregated by gender.
For the children, there is a small petting zoo and bouncy castle. There is also a small park area here, with slides and swings.
There are special events held nearly every week at both the house and the farm. The website contains a full, interactive calendar listing all of the events, including date, time, and cost.
In April, guests can come to the grounds and help celebrate Biddy’s Day. This free afternoon is full of music and dance in celebration of St. Brigid’s Day while also helping to support The Kerry Parents and Friends Association charity. Complete with a traditional Brideog (corn dolly), guests can also learn how to make Biddy Hats and St. Bridget’s Crosses from an on-staff craftsman.
The Research Library portion of the house will also frequently put on educational talks that relate to local history. Recently, the library staff held a program that detailed the history of the women in Ireland winning the right to vote, and Irish feminism in general. Often these talks are held in two parts, and mainly put on at the Garden Restaurant free of charge.
There are also frequent musical concerts and plays held on the grounds of the house and farm. Many of them feature traditional Irish music or religious folklore plays that have something to do with the history of the local area or sometimes even the former occupants themselves. Recent concerts have been put on by Sean Keane, Brian Kennedy, and Frankie Gavin.
One final series of events that are held on the grounds are frequent “camps” that are put on specifically for children. One of those events is the Kerry Cultural Festival, which hosts a full week series of interactive and hands on activities for children (from third to sixth grade). The camps and workshops are meant to introduce children to culture and history on their level, while also letting them leave with a handmade craft they made themselves to breed interest in history as well as their own creativity.
Located in the Traditional Farms area is a small play area (Woodland), where guests can bring a picnic lunch and use one of the sheltered areas to take a break from the sun and eat. Guests can also head to the Garden Restaurant for a relaxing meal. The restaurant seats 170 people and serves a hot buffet as well as a variety of Irish dishes for both meat eaters and vegans alike. Light snacks are also available, as well as dessert options like cheesecake and banoffee pie. Catering is available. It is strongly urged that large groups make reservations ahead of their visit to ensure prompt service.
Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms, The National Park, Killarney, Co Kerry, Ireland, Phone: +353-06-46-67-01-44
Hotel Spotlight: Castle Leslie in Ireland
The Lodge houses 29 guest rooms and the spa. It is situated close to the Equestrian Centre. Complimentary WiFi is available in all public areas and bedrooms at the Lodge. Book one of the superior bedrooms which have balconies overlooking the Equestrian Centre's courtyards.
Village cottages offer four- and five-bedroom layouts which are perfect for family reunions and groups. The cottages have sliding sash windows and nine-foot ceilings. The cottages can accommodated up to 10 guests and have spacious living areas with an open fire, TV, DVD, stereo music player and complimentary WiFi. The open-plan modern kitchen is fantastic for preparing a great family meal and hosting a party.
Dining at Castle Leslie is a treat for the senses. Enjoy daily-baked breads and scones, homemade preserves, and dishes prepared using fresh locally-sourced ingredients. Executive Chef Andrew Bradley put a modern twist on the centuries-old family recipes. Celebrate a special occasion with a candlelit dinner at the award-winning Snaffles restaurant, have traditional Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room and visit Conor's Bar to relax with a drink.
The estate can host wedding parties of up to 260 guests. Plan a grand wedding at the historic Castle, a more casual ceremony at the Lodge or a large wedding in the Pavilion which overlooks Glaslough Lake.
Travel Tips & Best Time to Go
The estate is open year round. While each season has its charms, visit during the warmer season to take riding lessons, go fishing and explore the grounds. Holidays at the Castle are especially magical, perfect for a multi-generational family reunion. If you are looking for a romantic spot to propose, get in touch with the hotel concierge who can help you pick the perfect spot to pop the question.
The hotel offers many great packages with rates starting at 125 Euro per person including dinner.