Family Holiday in Kenmare: What to do and where to eat with kids

For our 2020 summer holidays our trip to Croatia was cancelled due to Covid 19 and we had the opportunity to choose an Irish destination.

We’ve h0lidayed in Ireland many times over the years, in Connemara, West Cork, Clare, Galway and Killarney. We’d said when we were in Killarney in 2017 that we wanted to get back to Kerry so we chose Kenmare as our family holiday for 2020.

Why Kenmare?

We love travelling all around Ireland and honestly weren’t fussy but when I started checking availability and saw a vacancy for a house in Kenmare for the week we wanted to go I was delighted. We’ve holidayed in Tralee and Killarney before but had only passed through Kenmare, so  there was lots of exploring to do.

Where we stayed in Kenmare 

We rented a 4 bedroomed self catering house from, and used the discount code for savings. The house, in Sunnyhill was a semi-detached four bed in a cul-de-sac only a couple of minutes walk from the local Supervalu (with adjoining playground) and an easy walk to the town centre.

If you’d prefer hotel accommodation or self-catering in the grounds of a hotel the Kenmare Bay Hotel comes highly recommended by families.

Family Activities when holidaying in Kenmare

We spent a lot of time before we travelled deciding what activities we wanted to fit in to our week in Kenmare. Here’s what we did and how we got on:

  • Wander around the town – Kenmare is such a pretty town and there are lots of lovely shops and cafes, a walk down to the bridge and over to the pier and a coffee on the way back is a perfect morning.


  • Eat ice-cream – Well, Kenmare ice-cream will have noticed a drop in business when we went home, we ate there at least once a day while on holidays


  • Beach – Despite being on the coast sandy beaches are quite a drive. After an aborted visit to Derrynane because it was too busy we spent a lovely afternoon Carrolls Cove, but it’s a good hour from Kenmare
  • Kayaking with Star Outdoors – this was a first for us- a family kayaking trip out to their inflatable waterpark in the bay. Our older kids (then11 and 9) loved it, our 7 year old was terrified starting out. The younger two shared kayaks with us, the older one went by himself, wetsuits and lifejackets were provided. Book by phone a few days in advance.

  • Kenmare Farmers Market– Wednesdays in the square, a lovely atmosphere and a chance to chat to local producers
  • A Hike at Gleninchaquin – worst roads imaginable brought us to a fabulous spot for a hike. My heart was in my mouth on the roads down to it, but it was well worth it.

  • Ring of Beara – We drove down to the Ring of Beara as far as Skibbereen, it’s incredibly scenic.


  • Ewe Experience – this was a highlight, a sculpture garden with an eco theme and lots of food for thought.

  • Garnish Island – this was on my list of things I wasn’t going home without doing and it really didn’t disappoint. We bought our tickets at the Blue Pool and headed out with a small picnic (there’s a tearoom on the island) We saw seals and eagles and wandered around the gardens.


  • Killarney – All the touristy fun is there just over half an hour’s drive away. Our favourites are Torc Waterfall and Muckross House and Gardens. See our post on Killarney for more.

Where we ate:

  • The Boathouse at Dromquinna – fabulous, feels posh but isn’t. Reserve in advance.
  • The Sailors – excellent seafood in a pub with a very scenic location,  make sure to book ahead.
  • O’Donnabhains – The kids’ favourite. They asked to come back a second night. Good pub grub, fast service and pleasant staff. No need to book before 8pm we were told but check in with them.
  • Boka – generous portions of delicious food but no children’s menu and little accommodation for them when we asked so I wouldn’t go back with kids
  • The Strawberry Cottage Pancake House – we visited on the way home and absolutely loved it, it was very busy but they don’t take bookings, Lots of people just waited for tables in their cars. We arrived before opening time one morning to secure a table and were delighted that we had.

Other things you might like to know: 

  • There’s a small playground outside Supervalu, our crew got a lot of fun out of it
  • The town is well served with supermarkets – Supervalu, Aldi and Lidl are all in town
  • Keep an eye on for upcoming events in the area, we happened on outdoor music one night
  • Kerry is a huge county and driving times are massive eg Kenmare to Dingle takes an hour and a half, Kenmare to Tralee an hour, so don’t try to do too much
  • Despite being on the coast there are no beaches close to Kenmare, you can swim at Templenoe pier but if you’re looking for a beach day be prepared to travel

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