Find Outdoor & Indoor Family Activities In Kilkenny
If you are on the lookout for the ideal family staycation destination that has something to suit everyone, put Kilkenny at the top of your list. You will not be short of family activities, whether it is indoor or outdoor! It doesn’t matter if you’re travelling with little tikes or teenagers, the Marble County is chock-full of family-friendly attractions and activities. Outdoor excursions, animal encounters, rainy day activities, educational and cultural fun – Kilkenny has all bases covered for family holidays.
Castlecomer Discovery Park
For families who love a fun day in the great outdoors, Castlecomer Discovery Park is the ideal place. The 80-acre activity park features a wide range of exciting activities for all ages. For the younger children, there’s a playground, an elf and fairy village, a giant bouncing net and a junior woodland adventure course. Paddle a canoe out onto the lake, explore the walking trails and zoom along the treetops on Ireland’s longest zipline over water! The park is also home to the coal mining museum and a craft yard showcasing wonderful local artists.
Kiltorcan Raceway is one of Ireland’s top karting circuits and makes for an adrenaline-filled day out for families. Karting sessions are suitable for kids aged 5 and up. You can be guaranteed that your little ones will be safe on the track with safety briefings ahead of dedicated family sessions. Pop on your helmets and zip around the kilometre-long track and who knows, you may even end up on the podium!
Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum
If you’re looking for a more relaxed family day out, stroll around Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum located in the stunning village of Inistioge. Explore the beautiful grounds of Woodstock and the little ones can have fun at the on-site playground. They also have a Woodstock Explorer Pack with the history of the gardens and facts about the flora and fauna to be seen around them. Rest your feet and refuel afterwards with tea and cake at the tea rooms.
Kilfane Glen & Waterfall
Discover one of the most magical hidden gems in Kilkenny at Kilfane Glen. The lush 15-acre glen is truly like something right out of a fairytale with ancient bridges, thatched cottage, flower meadows and the breathtaking waterfall at the heart of it all. It is a great spot for families to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy family holiday to breathe in the fresh air.
K Bowl Kilkenny
Kids and adults alike are sure to enjoy a day at K Bowl Kilkenny. With everything from bowling, hurricane karts and an arcade packed with games, it is the ideal way to spend a day when the weather is less than ideal! It’s conveniently located at MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, so why not make a day of it with a spot of shopping and fun combined?
The Playstation is a family entertainment centre with a soft play zone suitable for kids up to the age of 11. There is a dedicated play area for toddlers, as well as an indoor go-kart track. Parents can keep an eye on their little ones having fun while taking a weight off at the coffee shop stock with hot drinks and snacks.
The River Nore runs through the heart of Kilkenny city and you can sail along it on a boat tour with BoatTrips.ie or pedal (yes, pedal!) downriver yourself on the cool Hydrobikes. Explore the city from a different viewpoint along the river with Riverbend Adventures who run kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding tours. The River Barrow also winds through the countryside of Kilkenny and Go With The Flow, Paddle Your Own Canoe and Pure Adventure all provide water experiences like kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding in the gorgeous town of Graiguenamanagh. If you prefer a swim, The Watershed has a number of heated indoor swimming pools including a 25m pool, a learner pool and a paddle area with play features suitable for toddlers.
The National Reptile Zoo
Get to know some of the world’s rarest and most unusual animals at Ireland’s only reptile zoo! Situated in Kilkenny City, The National Reptile Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of these amazing creatures and their habitats. The zoo has over 50 exhibits big and small and there are hourly animal encounter sessions with their knowledgeable team where you can get up close to the snakes, geckos, turtles and more while you learn all about them.
Nore Valley Park
Meet furry friends big and small at Nore Valley Park Open Farm and even get the opportunity to feed some of the animals! Once you’ve become acquainted with all of the farm animals, try your hand at crazy golf, race each other on go-karts and take a tractor ride around the farm. Planning a family break with a difference? There is a campsite with wooden cabins and pitches for mobile homes and tents on-site with additional facilities to keep kids entertained during their stay.
Welcome…to Jurassic Newpark! Step back in time and be mesmerised by the life-sized animatronic dinosaurs at Newpark Hotel. Watch them graze and hear the roar of the mighty T-Rex. When you’ve met all of the prehistoric animals, pay a visit to their pet farm full of fluffy animals like llamas and emus. Extend your adventure with a wander along the fairy trails, playground and tree-top walk all on the grounds of the hotel.
Kilkenny Cycling Tours
Spend a morning or afternoon cycling with Kilkenny Cycling Tours to visit some of the main tourist attractions and some hidden gems on two wheels. The route follows the river bank cycle paths along the River Nore and backstreets, so there’s no need to worry about traffic. They offer a variety of cycling tours, but families will love the medieval treasure hunt tour complete with treasure maps, clues and certificates for participants!
Shenanigans Walking Tours
Love learning, having a laugh and a spot of magic? Then, you’ll love Shenanigans Walking Tours! Join Nevin for a walking tour to hear the quirkier stories from Kilkenny city’s vibrant history with some activities and magic tricks thrown in as well. You can also download the Shenanigans Puzzle Tour on your mobile phone to take part in the interactive, self-guided tour experience with plenty of fun facts along the way.
Kilkenny Famine Experience
Visit Kilkenny Union Workhouse, adjacent to Kilkenny Train Station, now beautifully restored as MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre to start the Kilkenny Famine Experience. This free, self-guided audio visual tour tells the poignant stories of those in the workhouse during The Great Famine. Immerse yourself in the history and learn about an important side of Kilkenny’s story.
Hurling is the world’s fastest sport on grass and one of Ireland’s national sports. County Kilkenny’s hurling team is one of the most decorated teams in Ireland, so it is no surprise that you can learn a few skills during your trip! With a number of hurling experiences provided by The Kilkenny Way, Hurling Tours Ireland and Malzard’s Pub, pick up a hurl and sliotar to try your hand at hurling.
ATTRACTIONS, ART & CULTURE
Pick up a paintbrush and get creative with DiDi at Art It workshop sessions for children. Little ones can try all types of mediums from painting a canvas to creating decorations to bring home with them. Located next to MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, you can drop the kids off for a walk-in session for up to 2 hours while parents enjoy a spot of shopping.
Introduce kids to the world of theatre with Barnstorm Theatre’s child-friendly productions. The theatre company put on a number of family-friendly shows throughout the year. Another great way to spend a rainy day!
Home to an impressive collection of visual art, Butler Gallery is a contemporary art gallery on the bank of the River Nore. The gallery offers a wide variety of interactive activities for children including art programmes, play space and activity guides. Make sure to keep an eye on their exhibitions and classes as there’s always something for families – maybe even exhibitions and classes from Kilkenny’s multi Oscar-nominated animation studio Cartoon Saloon!
Kilkenny Castle is one of Ireland’s most iconic historic sites and has been a focal point of the city for over 800 years. Take a guided tour of the 13th century castle and be sure to stop by the stunning 19th century rose garden. With 50 acres of parkland in front of the castle to roam including a public playground, kids will feel like royals for the day! Parents and kids alike will be in awe of Ireland’s Tourist Attraction of the Year 2022.
St. Canice’s Cathedral & Round Tower
Did you know that there are only 2 round towers in Ireland that you can climb the steps of and the round tower at St. Canice’s Cathedral is one of them! The cathedral itself is a 13th century Anglo Norman Gothic structure, while the round tower dates back to the 9th century. From the top of the 121 steps, you’ll be treated to the best panoramic views of Kilkenny city. Knowledgeable tour guides are also on hand to tell you the fascinating history of the cathedral.
Medieval Mile Museum
Kilkenny is home to Ireland’s Medieval Mile – a mile-long stretch in the city that is bursting at the seams with medieval history at every turn. The Medieval Mile Museum is the centrepoint of it all on the site of St. Mary’s church and cemetery, and is open 7 days a week. Marvel at medieval treasures at your own pace with the self-guided audio tour or be told the stories behind the displays with a guided tour.
Rothe House & Gardens
Wander along Ireland’s Medieval Mile and you’ll find the beautiful Rothe House and Gardens. Also offering both guided and self-guided tours, discover the rooms, cobbled courtyard and restored walled garden in this magical 16th century merchant’s townhouse. It is home to a museum showcasing artefacts found across Kilkenny including art and costume collections. Beware though, you may encounter the plague doctor on your visit…
Please check the individual businesses websites linked above for information on opening hours, booking, contact information and minimum age requirements.
Make the most of your visit to Kilkenny. There are plenty of family-friendly festivals and events that take place throughout the year across the county, as well as a wide choice of accommodation and dining options that cater to families. It is the ultimate family destination, so pack your bags and come experience it for yourself!