1. We Are Vertigo Titanic and Newtownbreda, South Belfast
Bounce around a giant Inflatable Park, tackle the Ninja Master Course, defy gravity with an Indoor Skydive and hone your skiing skills at one of these two giant indoor activity centres in Titanic Quarter and Newtownbreda, south of Belfast city where younger kids can also get to grips with the Alpine-themed ropes course and soft play area.
NI's discovery and science centre gets its quirky name from those age-old questions 'who, what, why, when, where?'. It's a great place to explore, with age-appropriate exhibits designed to enlighten little and bigger brains. Climbit (pic) is a fantastic climbing frame taking up the main atrium and the Spacebase provides younger ones with a rocket-themed multi-sensory activity zone. Regular events ramp up the learning through fun ethos of this big indoor space at Titanic Quarter's Odyssey complex.
Ireland's first Alpine Coaster (pic) and longest zipline add to the adrenalin rush at this West Belfast adventure park. Archery, laserquest and high and low level rope walks with fan descender freefall test the mettle of wannabe Bear Grylls. While young ones will love the Gruffalo Trail that snakes deep into the forest.
Take a reservoir, fill it with inflatables and bring all the family for a fab aquatic day out. Little ducklings will enjoy the epic Puddle Park while older more savvy swimmers can try everything from wakeboarding to kayaking and open water swimming. Glamping pods and on-site eateries elevate this watery wonderland to a truly unique overnight adventure.
All creatures great and small reside at this working farm on the fringes of East Belfast. Children can get up close to bottle-feed lambs, cuddle chicks and pet pups, then watch the cows being milked and sheepdogs complete their agility course. A tractor-led trailer takes visitors uphill to feed the herd of red deer and enjoy stunning views across to Stormont Parliament Buildings. More indoor and outdoor activities keep children happy whatever the weather, and the glamping pods will elongate your verdant vacay.
Just under an hour's drive from Belfast sits this sprawling outdoor adventure centre where children can enjoy zorbing, llama treks, tree top rope walks. paintballing and lots more. And, yes, those ubiquitous glamping pods, as well as cafe and burger van, invite families to stay on-site and make the most of their high octane visit. Splash NI, a giant inflatable water-based obstacle course has also opened nearby for full on outdoor fun and japes.
Pickie's puffer train and pedalo swans have been entertaining local kids for generations, and today they've been joined by disco ducks, go-karts, crazy golf and a colourful splash park. Enjoy lunch in the cafe as you take in the views of Bangor's delightful yacht-filled marina. Find it just 30 mins east of Belfast in this Co. Down seaside town.
Head way out west to Omagh, Co Tyrone and immerse yourself in the story of the wave of emigration from these shores to the USA where Irishmen and women began new lives in the New World. This fantastic open air museum has rebuilt 18th and 19th century homesteads and workspaces from both sides of the Atlantic and connected them with a magnificent replica ship. Events and activities further animate the park which is, in our opinion, one of NI's most inspiring and educational attractions.
This hybrid attraction combines the history of NI's transport with over 100 years of local tradition. The Transport section includes trams, steam trains and the story of the Belfast-built DeLorean car of Back To The Future fame. While the Folk Museum takes that theme and transports you back through the centuries to visit a reconstructed townland complete with school, churches, bank, shops, farm, post office, cottages and many other authentic Irish buildings. Kids will love exploring both sites and discovering the past from the enthusiastic costumed living history guides.
This aquarium and seal sanctuary really makes the most of its Strangford Lough setting, with a guided trail telling the story of the shore, from the arrival of the Strangford Vikings through Smugglers Cover, Shipwrecked, and the ongoing battle with ocean pollution. Look out, too, for tropical fish, jellyfish, an octopus, otters and a Nile Crocodile. When in residence, rescued seals can be viewed before they're rehabilitated and released back into the sea. And afterwards, the kids will love the short yet sublime ferry crossing connecting Portaferry with the equally quaint Strangford village.
Gaze in awe at this impressive collection of vintage trains and railwayana then ride the historic restored track from Downpatrick to nearby Inch Abbey. High days and holidays bring bespoke trips to the tracks. Co. Antrim's Whitehead Railway Museum also provides an equally impressive glimpse of our former railway glory before cars took hold.
A dizzy mix of family friendly outdoor activities, as well as a maze shaped like Northern Ireland (yes, you read that right) are among the attractions across this sprawling parkland. Spend a day enjoying its many nooks and crannies and fantastic views across the Irish Sea. Find it 25 miles north of Belfast and 55 miles south of the Giant's Causeway along the famous Causeway Coastal Route.Other attractions for children to enjoy include Belfast Zoo, Armagh Planetarium, Castle Espie, Pirates Advenutre Golf and Dundonald Ice Bowl, Drumawhey Miniature Railway and, for older kids, Titanic Belfast.