Heading to Cork on a family break and at finding yourself at a loss to keep the family entertained? Whether you’re a Corkonian yourself or just visiting there’s no shortage of family-fun to be had in the Rebel County. Here are our top things to do in Cork for families:
1. Blackrock Castle Observatory
Known as ‘the Space for Science’, Blackrock Castle Observatory is home to exciting, educational, interactive exhibits and activities that are based around the wonderful world of science. Visitors will learn about the universe, life on earth and life in space as well as taking a tour of the castle itself and hearing about its rich history. During the summer months children can attend the hugely popular Space Camp at the observatory.
Open Saturdays and Sundays only from 10am to 4pm. Pre-booking is essential while government restrictions are in place.
2. Perks Entertainment Centre
Perks brings a world of entertainment to Youghal, County Cork. Here you can enjoy laser tag, bowling, soft play, arcade games and lots more. There’s free parking, no admission costs and over 70,000 square foot of indoor entertainment suitable for all ages. Head to Perks for some family fun – whatever the weather!
3. The Donkey Sanctuary
Some 130 donkeys live at The Donkey Sanctuary – a charity-run centre that cares for neglected and abused donkeys from all over Europe. Since its opening in 1987 the sanctuary has looked after over 5,500 donkeys. Visitors are welcomed to the sanctuary to visit these kind creatures and enjoy one of the many scenic walking routes on the land. The centre opens daily and entry is free with a donation.
The Donkey Sanctuary have decided to close its doors to the public for the time being. More information and updates are available on their website.
4. Toy Soldier Factory
The Toy Soldier Factory in Macroom is home to the world’s largest Battle of Waterloo exhibit that comprises of over 15,000 hand cast figures. There’s also an impressive Lord of the Rings model collection and workshops where you can cast and paint your very own model to take home. You can also learn how to pour metal into spin casting machines with their interactive tour.
5. Blarney Castle and Gardens
What visit to Cork is complete without a trip to Blarney Castle? Home to the famous Blarney Stone which is said to give the gift of the gab, the castle also has beautiful gardens, enchanted woodlands, a cafe and a host of mythical attractions like the wishing steps and the witch’s stone. Full of mystery and wonder, no two visits to Blarney Castle are the same.
6. Fota Wildlife Park
Fota Wildlife Park is home to over one hundred animals from all over the world. The park’s mission is to provide animals with the highest standard of care and quality of life and so they play a vital part in the global conservation of species such as Sumatran tigers, Asiatic lions and African rhinos. The park has a daily schedule of feeding demos and wildlife talks where you can learn about the animals and the work done at the park.
Pre-booking is essential while Covid 19 restrictions are in place.
7. West Cork Model Railway Village
Step back in time and see life as it was in the 1940’s at Ireland’s only Model Village. The West Cork towns and Railway Line are portrayed in delightful miniature. The models and figurines are handmade on site. Enjoy a trip through the award winning town of Clonakilty aboard the Road Train. Try out the Remote Control Boats. Facilities include indoor & outdoor play areas, Café & Gift Shop in an authentic train carriage.
The Road Train will not be running until further notice due to public health guidelines.
8. Ballyhass Lakes Adventure Centre
Ballyhass Lakes is in no shortage of family friendly activities. Guests can enjoy zip lining, wakeboarding, kayaking, high ropes, low ropes, cliff climbing, raft building and a range of other thrilling activities. There is also a large inflatable water park that covers 40 metres of the local lake where kids can jump, slide and climb to their heart’s content. The kids are guaranteed to sleep well after an action-packed day at Ballyhass Lakes.
9. Leisure World Churchfields
Leisure World have three locations in Cork. Their Churchfields location has a 25-metre pool, a toddler pool and a fun children’s pool with a play zone. Kids will love their giant water slide and astro turf pitches while adults can enjoy a fully equipped gym and sauna / steam room. Leisure World welcomes one-time visitors as well as members.
10. The Farm Grenagh
The Farm Grenagh has welcomed over 100,000 visitors since it opening in 2012. The Farm spans over 40 acres and replicates what life was like in rural Ireland with its traditional farming methods and 1960’s styled village. There’s also a Tractor Ted Little Farm for younger visitors that is home to a fully motorised Tractor Ted. The Haystack Restaurant at The Farm serves everything from a traditional roast to a light sandwich. There really is something for everyone at The Farm Grenagh.
11. City Shopping
If it’s shopping you want then Clayton Hotel Cork City is your ideal base with Opera Lane, Merchant’s Quay Shopping Centre, Oliver Plunkett Street, and Patrick’s Street just minutes walking from Clayton Hotel Cork City.
Our top picks are JD Sports and Lifestyle Sports for the teens, while Smyths Toys on Maylor Street or to the emporium Pinocchio’s Toy Shop on Paul Street provides a beautiful collection of carefully curated wooden and educational toys for children of all ages. Mahon Point Shopping Centre is a 10-minute drive from the hotel with over 50 shops, a food court, and an Omniplex cinema.
Food is one of Cork’s famous attractions and a visit to Cork’s English Market is a must, be sure to take a picture at O’Connell’s Fish Stall where Young Offenders was filmed! This 18th century covered market is a foodies paradise! Visitors have a large selection of stalls to choose from with traders selling organic and locally produced food.
12. City Sights
Visit Shandon Bells and see the view of Cork city from the top – you can even try out bell ringing while you are there. There is also the Butter Museum close by where you can explore the history of butter making.
Take a walk down the marina towards Pairc ui Chaoimh (GAA stadium) and enjoy the atmosphere by the River Lee; popping into the Marina Market on your way or go to Fitzgerald’s Park and enjoy the wonderful gardens, museum, and a playground for kids. Nearby you can check also out the famous “Shakey Bridge”.
Within a 10-minute walk of the hotel, you also have The Gate Cinema on North Main Street or Leisureplex Bowling on MacCurtain Street.
13. Family Day Trip – East Cork
Fota Wildlife Park is a must-visit attraction, just 20 minutes from the hotel boasting 100 acres of parkland it is one of the leading tourism, wildlife, and conservation attractions in Ireland.
Cobh is only another 10 minutes further from Fota Wildlife Park where you can visit the Titanic Experience which is a fun interactive experience for the whole family.
Spike Island is another fantastic place to take a day trip and was named the top European tourist attraction at the 2017 World Travel Awards.
14. Family Day Trip – West Cork
Heading West you can visit Blarney Castle just 20 minutes away! Explore the beautiful gardens and if you are feeling adventurous climb the tower to kiss the Blarney stone. You have Blarney Woollen Mills also on your doorstep for some shopping or a snack.
Travel South West to Kinsale; only 40 minutes away and the picturesque gourmet capital is a delight for all the family to walk around, enjoy an ice cream on Sundays or stop for an alfresco lunch at the Catch of The Day food truck.
Take a trip on the “Spirit of Kinsale” and discover the history of the area by water, visit Charlesfort which has breath-taking views of Kinsale harbour. And to complete your visit there is the Kinsale Ghost Tours; a spooky and fun experience.
Family holidays are our specialty at Clayton Hotel Cork City. With spacious, modern family rooms, kids swimming pool, and our Krafty Kids kiddie club, you and your little ones are sure to have a wonderful time with us in Cork. Discover our range of special offers on family stay packages and get ready for a most memorable trip to Cork.