GALWAY WITH KIDS
With the summer holidays on the horizon and the sun cream and sandals still out from the recent warm spell, we’re gearing up, once again, to reprise our roles as entertainment managers for our little, expectant adventurers. If you live in Galway or you’ve been to Galway then you know that over here in The West, we like to hedge our bets on indoor and outdoor activities for kids. We like to ensure that if the skies open – which they inevitably do – we’ll be covered, quite literally. As a result, there’s a wealth of family-friendly entertainment in close proximity to the city. Whether you’re looking for ideas for a day out or places to escape a rainy afternoon, this list has it all. From toddlers to teens, here’s 20 things to do in Galway with kids. I’ve even categorised them for you too. You’re welcome.
- Outdoor Activities
- Indoor Fun
- Soft Play
- Free Activities
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
1. Loughwell Farm Park
Whatever the weather, Loughwell Farm Park – situated a 20-minute drive outside the city in Moycullen – will keep kids entertained. Nature walks, sand pits, timber obstacle courses, go karts, zip wire, mini golf, swings, nature walks and the barrel train can all be enjoyed on a dry day. Get up close and personal with ducks, geese, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, ponies, turkeys, donkeys, goats, horses, sheep, lambs, calves, rabbits and chickens.
An indoor shed also houses a large climbing structure, a four lane wavy astra slide and their renowned vertical drop slide, while a second barn has indoor skittles lanes, ride-ons and giant Lego. www.loughwellfarmpark.ie
2. Brigit’s Garden
Brigit’s Garden, a not-for-profit organisation, is located between Moycullen and Oughterard. Its gardens and woodland trails provide the perfect place for kids to run, explore and connect with nature. A natural playground with sandpit, pond, basket swings, a climbing frame and a slide will entertain the energetic while the Fairy Forest and Celtic gardens provide a relaxing environment for a family day out. The newly relaunched cafe serves quality food and good coffee and the gift shop stocks local crafts, artisan food items, books and nature-based toys. www.brigitsgarden.ie
3. The Burren Nature Sanctuary
Located just outside the picturesque village of Kinvara, a half-hour drive from Galway city along the Wild Atlantic Way, The Burren Nature Sanctuary is another of our favourites. Explore the fairy woodland trail; enjoy the Burren’s unique geological features; meet and feed goats, rabbits and guinea pigs; have fun in the outdoor playground and indoor soft play area; browse the Avoca shop and eat in their fantastic onsite cafe which boasts a ‘no fizz – no fryer’ policy. This place has it all and we genuinely love it! www.bns.ie
4. Turoe Pet Farm
Located 4km from Exit 16 (Loughrea) on the M6, Turoe has an all-weather, buggy-friendly nature trail around the perimeter of the 14-acre farm. Kids can feed pigs, ponies, cows, donkeys, goats and sheep (animal feed is provided). Visit the aviary, cuddle rabbits in pet corner, meet Larry the Llama, Curly the Alpaca and Dundee the crocodile or make a wish in the wishing well.
5. Slieve Aughty Centre
With a craft room, a toddler playground, pony rides, donkey walks, a nature trail and an enchanted forest, Slieve Aughty Centre provides the perfect setting for a outdoorsy family day out. This eco-friendly equestrian and activity leisure centre is located a 45 minutes drive from Galway City and 15 minutes drive from Loughrea. There’s a 9 bedroom guest house on site along with eco lodges, a full service certified organic restaurant and a gift shop selling local crafts. www.slieveaughtycentre.com
6. Rusheen Bay Watersports
Less than 5km from Galway City between Salthill and Barna, Rusheen Bay Watersports offers windsurfing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding lessons. Catering for both kids and adults, RBW is open all year round. The calm waters of the enclosed bay are ideal for beginners. Pre-booking essential. www.rusheenbay.com
7. Eile Mental Activity Park
Situated 12 Kms from Galway city and on the Wild Atlantic Way, Eile Mental Activity Park in Connemara has activities for kids aged 10+ including Laser Tag, Paintball, Archery, Orienteering and Disc Golf. http://eilemental.com. If a day of adventure and some healthy competition is what you’re after, this is the spot for you. Booking essential.
8. Galway Atlantaquaria, National Aquarium of Ireland
Overlooking the Atlantic in Salthill, Ireland’s largest aquarium is home to over 170 species of fish. Over two floors you can expect to encounter all kinds of aquatic life ranging from the largest and only captive white skate in Ireland to baby starfish. Join in at a feeding time and hold spider craps and starfish at the touch pool. Check out the 60 foot Fin Whale Skeleton, the largest skeleton on display in Ireland and explore the model submarine. http://www.nationalaquarium.ie
10. Jump Lanes
Relatively new to Galway, Jump Lanes does exactly what it says on the tin and lots more besides. As well as ten trampoline lanes, you’ll also find an ice-rink, two human-sized soccer pool tables, regular pool tables and table tennis. Strict over 5s policy. Booking advised. Toddler session available on Saturday mornings. http://www.galway.jumplanes.com
11. Pure Skill
For the sports enthusiasts, Pure Skill in as indoor sports’ arena offering an interactive sports room and a sports’ circuit with a wide selection of games including Gaelic football, soccer, hurling, rugby, tennis, cricket, baseball, basketball and golf. Using fully automated technology in it’s weatherproof facility, the activities on offer are suitable for adults and kids over 8. It’s located next door to Monkey Business soft play in Knocknacarra. Booking essential. http://www.pureskill.ie
12. The Planet
Located within walking distance of the city in the Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road, The Planet offers ten pin bowling (bumpers and lighter balls are available for little ones), LaserQuest, a soft play area, arcade games and pool all under one roof. http://www.planetgalway.ie
Soft Day? Soft Play.
13. Monkey Business
Located on the west side of the city in Knocknacarra, this large activity centre caters for toddlers and older kids with climbing frames, ball pools, basketball/soccer area, slides, a bouncy castle, a reading corner, giant Lego and a toddler zone.
Situated over Dunnes in Briarhill on the East of the city, Kidsplace is perfect for younger kids, in particular the under 7s. It’s smaller than the others but its toddler area is the best in town.
15. Treasure Island
This pirate-themed play centre is Galway’s newest kids’ activity centre and caters for toddler to pre-teens. You’ll find it in Doughiska on the East side of the city, around the corner from Kidsplace. Facilities include several slides, climbing frames, ball pools, a practice football pitch and a racing car track. http://tikz.ie
16. Busy Bees
Situated in Oranmore (a ten-minute drive from the city) Busy Bees features a large soft play structure, a toddler zone, a practice soccer pitch, a roller disco and Teddy Mountain – a teddy bear stuffing workshop. http://busybeesgalway.com/
BACK TO BASICS: FREE AND FABULOUS
Story time in Galway City Library on St Augustine Street takes place on Friday mornings at 11.15 featuring stories, songs and toys for younger children. Children’s Story time takes place in Westside Library every Friday from 3.00-3.45pm. Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, a Galway institution and one of Ireland’s best loved independent book stores hosts Story time on Saturday mornings at 11am.
19. Explore Barna Woods
Kids love Barna Woods. Accessible from the main Barna road, this small wooded area provides nature’s own playground with trees to climb and pathways to explore. It gets muddy. Bring wellies! At the end of the woods, follow the cycle path through Cappagh Park. Bring a football or a hurl to play in the pitches or enjoy Cappagh playground, complete with zip-wire, climbing frames and one of the largest playground slides around. The playground and pitches are accessible from Cappagh Road with ample parking at the community centre. Parking is limited on the Barna Road side.
20. Renville Park
Renville Park is situated about 20 minutes outside of the city outside the village of Oranmore. It’s a little off the beaten track but well worth the trip. With spectacular views of Galway Bay, the paved walkways – perfect for buggies, bike and scooters – will bring you through a wooded area to an old castle ruin, a large playground and a walled garden. Picnic tables, BBQ areas, nearby toilets and a coffee/ice-cream van in high season make it a great place to spend an afternoon outdoors.