Living in North Wexford we often find ourselves heading north on the N11 at the weekend to check on daytrips to County Wicklow. Wicklow is lush and green, dotted with mountains and lakes, it’s not called the Garden of Ireland for nothing. It’s also easily accessible (even easier since the most recent stretch of the M11 opened last summer) from Dublin. If you’re looking for daytrip inspiration for any time of year check it out.
1. Avondale House and Forest Park.
What’s the deal:
We love Avondale’s wooded walks all year around, there’s a wooden playground that the kids love climbing on and it’s never crowded. There are many wooded walks, and some are buggy (big wheels) friendly.
You €5 pay for the car park, exact change only. We haven’t taken a house tour, because children.
There’s a tea-room in the basement of the house, it has a slightly convent-y feel but we enjoyed soup and scones there, there are barbecues for use in the picnic area too.
On the N11 – exit Junction 17 for Rathdrum, take R752 to Rathdrum and L2149 to Avondale House and Forest Park. Avondale is 1.5miles south of Rathdrum.
2. Greenan Farm and Maze
What’s the deal?
We saw a flier for Greenan Maze a few years ago and decided to check it out. It’s a bit of a maze to get too, but worth finding. The main draw is a maze, which is quite tricky it has to be said, allow time! The nature walk leading to the magical dragonfly pond is fantastic and there is a small animal farm area on the walk too. The farm museum has lots of old machinery which the kids were fascinated by. We loved following the clues on signs around the walk to get the special word.
TIP: I’d recommend doing the walk and farm museums first and then finish at the maze and playground area where you can chill with a coffee while the kids frolic (and stuff).
Adults €8, Children €7, with bundle deals for families.
There’s a quirky tea room on site and when it’s not open the gift shop sells coffees. I recommend bringing a picnic, there are lots of picnic tables around the maze, and get yourself a cappuccino.
About 15 minutes from Rathdrum- direction here on their website.
We go in every season, and as we turn the corner I still am wowed. Glendalough is beautiful, even the kids appreciate the scenery. I find myself looking up to the mountains all around, or looking at the reflection on the lake, even in the madness of chasing small children. The walks around the upper and lower lakes are buggy friendly, the higher up walking trails less so. The kids love try to spot deer on the boardwalk between the lakes (I always chuckle at the sign about dogs “worrying” sheep).
TIP: Get here by noon in the summer, or stay home, it gets very busy.
No charge for the national park, the second car park, the one by the upper lake costs €4, the one at the visitor centre (the first one you come to) is free but nearly always full.
We always bring a picnic and often complement it with a bag of chips to share from the coffee stand in the upper lake car park
In the Wicklow Mountains, from Dublin follow signposts for Glendalough from Kilmacanogue on the N11, coming from the south we approach in a very scenic route from Arklow to Avoca and up to Rathdrum.
4. Powerscourt Waterfall
What’s the deal?
There’s something magical about waterfalls, and the one at Powerscourt certainly lives up to that, being Ireland’s highest waterfall. There’s more to the site that that, you can step across a river and wander through the woods or hang out at the very cool playground with lots and lots of high climbing and a very tall slide, drinking coffee and occasionally rescuing children.
Adults €6, Student/OAP €5.50; Child (U12) €3.50, Children (U2) Free
Family Ticket €16.00 (2 adults & up to 3 children)
The snack bar serves coffees, hotdogs and icecreams- the best bet is to bring a picnic there’s loads of space to enjoy it.
Near Enniskerry, directions on their website HERE.
5. Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens
What’s the deal?
Kilmacurragh is perfect for a short walk and explore in beautiful gardens, the house is in ruin but the grounds are immaculately kept. The lake adds a real picture-postcard quality, although the kids prefer playing hide and seek behind the trees. I’ve posted about it before- check out the post HERE.
There’s no entry charge.
Brambles Café have recently opened in the grounds, and you’ll be well fed in the Tap which is very close.
Not far from Wicklow Town on the N11, directions HERE.
6. National Sealife Centre,Bray.
What’s the deal?
Because in Ireland, every list needs a rainy day activity. We enjoyed the Aquarium in Bray a few years ago, (read all about it HERE) it’s time for a return visit.
Adults €9.50, children €7, but there are discounts and packages on their website.
The town of Bray is at your disposal, I’ve heard great things about Platform Pizza which is very close.
All the other stuff
Wicklow has a lot more to offer that we have yet to check out ourselves, like Glenroe Farm, Russborough House, Clara Lara Fun Park, so many wooded walks, Kilruddery House near Bray and Powerscourt House itself.
Where else have I forgotten? Come on, you’re dying to tell me!
If you liked this post you might also be interested in these:
Holidaying around Gorey with Kids (2015 edition)
Five things to do with kids in North Wexford
Disclosure: This post wasn’t sponsored by Wicklow County Council, Wicklow Tourism nor any of the visitor attractions mentioned. But they all owe me one now!
Very handy list, thanks! I’ve been to most of these but my girls were waaay too young when we were in Greenan to appreciate it so a return is needed. I’ve never been to Avondale though! Thanks for the tips!
Laoise was in greenan when she was 6 weeks old:) we went again last summer though and she enjoyed! Anything for me to add?
These are all great suggestions and you mentioned some of our family favourites! We are in Dublin but my husband’s family is from Wicklow so we gravitate around that area a lot. Avondale and Greenan maze are always a hit – we were there last for Halloween (it was hunted, so fun!) and can’t wait to go back now that the weather is a bit dryer
This will be a great reference next time I’m up ‘home’ thanks 🙂
Where else have I forgotten?
Love this – I’ve been mentally bookmarking it all week, dying to read. We’re always on the lookout for new places in Wicklow. I’ve heard of Greenan maze (via a leaflet) but wasn’t sure what to expect, so we’ll definitely put it on this year’s list now.
See you there!
We went to Greenane early last summer and loved the maze but the coffee shop disappointed, will bring picnic next time. Love Clara Lara. Glendalough and Powerscourt are faves. Thought Sealife in Bray was very expensive for the short time we spent there. Must visit Avondale next