Planning a trip to Dublin in the future? At first the city does not seem to be particularly kid-friendly, but there are plenty of fun activities for the young, and young at heart!
Natural History Museum: Free, near Merrion Square
This museum is affectionately called the “dead zoo”. It has a huge collection of taxidermy animals from all over the world. Most of the animals are in the large gallery upstairs. Just park your stroller in the entryway (with all the other strollers) and climb the stairs to the second floor. It also has clean bathrooms and changing tables, and since the museum is free, there is nothing stopping you from going in just to use the bathroom.
One of the five Georgian Squares in Dublin. Great place for a picnic. It has a brand new playground, the ‘Giant’s Garden’, based on Oscar Wilde’s short story, “The Selfless Giant”. There are also beautiful planters of flowers and plants from around Ireland all over the square. The tulips in the late spring are AMAZING! On Sundays, there is an art show around the perimeter of the square. On Thursdays during the summer, there is a lunchtime market.
National Archaeology Museum: Free, on Kildare Street.
This is a great museum with lots of interesting stuff to look at. My kids love this museum – there is a Viking boat, mummified remains of people found in bogs, and lots of interesting items from the prehistoric through medieval periods.
St. Stephen’s Green
Another excellent example of the Dublin Georgian Squares. It is in the centre of town, making it a convenient midday picnic stop. The fabulous playground has spaces for little and big kids, and a weatherproof surface, so you can go there even if it recently rained. There are ducks and swans to feed as well.
St Patrick’s Cathedral is an amazing church to tour. You have to pay for admission, but it’s free for kids. Among other things, you can learn about the Irish phrase to “chance your arm”. Fun Fact: The Catholic Cathedral in Dublin is called the St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral. “Pro”, as in, provisional. Apparently the Catholics are still hoping the Anglicans will return St. Patrick’s to them at some point! There is a beautiful small park next to the church with a new playground, and on the weekends, there is almost always an ice cream vendor in the park.
For families with older kids and teenagers:
In addition to the above activities, these sights are great for older kids.
Trinity College is definitely on the “must see” list for any Dublin trip. The Book of Kells is a wonderful exhibit. You can take the walking tour of Trinity College, which includes your admission to the book of Kells. Kids are free. (You can just buy your ticket to see the book, but I think the tour is worth the extra cost.) The tour is a bunch of walking, then standing and listening. It’s a great tour – but little kids will tire of it quickly. Older kids will love The Old Library at the end of the Book of Kells exhibit. It looks like it was taken straight out of a Harry Potter movie. Even if you skip the tour and the Book of Kells, the campus is still open for you to walk around if you wish.
Worth a stroll. You can walk from the corner of Trinity College to St. Stephen’s Green on Grafton Street. There are usually plenty of street performers and musicians. There is also a mediocre McDonalds and Burger King, in case you have tired of pub grub.
Dublinia is an interactive museum about Viking and Medieval Ireland. Dublinia is lot of fun for kids, especially those ages 7-12. I recommend buying the combo ticket for Dublinia and Christchurch Cathedral, which is attached via an enclosed bridge. (See photo above!)
This is pricey, but a great tour of what makes Guinness the iconic beer (and brand) it is today. The tour includes admission to an enclosed, rooftop bar (serving Guinness and non-alcoholic beverages) with 360-degree views of Dublin. A great stop for older kids or teenagers. Adults can even learn how to pour their own pint at the tap.