As one of the biggest cities and counties in Ireland, Cork has more to offer families than most. The city is easily accessible by car, train, bus or even plane, making it easy to plan a few days away with the family. From fun activities, interesting attractions and real-life adventures, we’ve collected the best options for a brilliant family day out in Cork:
Fota Wildlife Park is a must-see for any visitors to Cork. The original house, Fota House, was a two-story hunting lodge that was used as a base for fishing and shooting before becoming a permanent residence in the 19th century.
The estate was eventually sold to University College Cork following the death of Mrs Dorothy Elizabeth Bell, the last of the estate’s owners and it’s now managed by the Irish Heritage Trust, while the 100-acre gardens and arboretum are under the joint care of the Trust and Office of Public Works (OPW).
The gardens are home to thousands of animals and plants, both native and exotic so you can spend the day exploring and learning about the animals onsite, from the lions to the kangaroos.
Throughout the year, Fota Wildlife Park also offers activity days for children so take a look at the schedule when you are planning your visit.
The West Cork Model Railway Village appeals to both young and old alike. Exploring the old railways of the 1930s-1950s and the towns that sprung up around them as miniature models before taking the road train through Clonakilty to see the life-size versions up close is truly captivating and enjoyable for the whole family.
With spectacular views of Clonakilty Bay, it’s also the perfect place to break for lunch and enjoy the scenery alongside a cup of tea and a delicious homemade scone.
A former prison turned museum, Cork City Gaol is a history buffs dream. The tour offers the experience of what it was like to be a 19th-century prisoner and you can still see some original graffiti on the walls.
Interestingly, the building also used to house Cork’s first radio station. After ceasing operations as a prison in 1923, Radio Eireann took over the building in 1927 to broadcast Cork’s first radio station, 6CK, form the main building. It remained a broadcasting house until the 1950s before falling into disrepair before reopening as a visitor attraction in 1993.
Just outside the city centre, Blackrock Castle Observatory gives you and your family the chance to explore outer space. The astronomy centre hosts a number of exhibits throughout the year, as well as a “tour of the universe” and the opportunity to beam your own message toward a nearby star using its radio telescope.
There are a number of special events on here throughout the year and you can also host children’s birthday parties at the observatory as well.
For an active day out, head to LeisureWorld in Churchfield. Churchfield offers three swimming pools, including a 25-metre pool, a children’s pool and a toddler pool with a play zone, and a large water slide. There’s also a gym with sauna and steam room facilities onsite for parents.
One of the swimming pools is dedicated to learners so no matter what level the children are at, there will be a pool they can enjoy. If you are interested in organising lessons, there are a number of options available so just check out the LeisureWorld website for more information.
When all else fails or you’ve run out of ideas, grab a picnic basket and head to Fitzgerald’s Park in the city centre for an old-fashioned family day out. Featuring the locally loved “shaky” bridges, a great playground for kids and beautifully landscaped gardens, Fitzgerald’s Park offers the perfect backdrop to a fun-filled day in the city.
If you need to take shelter indoors, the Cork Public Museum is also in the park and can be accessed free of charge. Here you can learn all about the local history of the city.
• Kids Club and activities
• Outdoor Playground
• Children’s menu at our family-friendly restaurant
Create magical memories on your family holiday at Clayton Silver Springs.