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How to have a fun-filled family break in Carlow
Jump back in time at Huntington Castle and Gardens.
With easy access to the great outdoors, a rich rural history and astonishingly vibrant gardens, a break in Carlow delights the whole family. Older kids love getting to grips with white water exploits while little ones have the time of their lives making and sampling their very own chocolate.

Read on for more to explore on a family break in the Dolmen County.

Explore beautiful nature in Carlow

Go With The Flow River Adventures

Get out on the water with Go With The Flow River Adventures’ massive fleet of Canadian canoes and river surfers for hire. Be wowed by their breathtaking trails, voyage on an eco-safari or get adventurous with older kids with white-water exploits on the River Barrow and the River Nore. You could easily keep the kids entertained for a day on the river, the only problem will be convincing the kids to come back to shore.

Huntington Castle and Gardens 

Bedroom and four poster bed in Huntington Castle, County Carlow
Venture into the historic Huntington Castle and Gardens.

Jump back in time at Huntington Castle and Gardens, a half hour spin away towards Bunclody. Venture into the historic garrison and along its Yew Tree Walk and Lime Tree Avenue where water features will impress the little ones. A tour of the castle is perfect for older children with inquisitive minds – as they explore galleries full of art, and an Egyptian Temple for the goddess Isis in its basement.

Outside, the kids will love the woodland adventure playground, with swings, slides, balance beams and more to keep them entertained. Don’t leave without meeting Boris and Hamlet, the potbellied pigs at the farm areas. 

Time your visit right and you might catch one of the special events they host each year, like a Golden Nugget treasure hunt during Easter and a spooky tour of the castle during Halloween. 

Rathwood Forest 

Take a 20-minute drive north and visit Rathwood. The Rathwood Forest Walks are very easy trails, well-maintained and suitable for family walkers of all ages and abilities. Feed the ducks at the lake or take a stroll in peaceful surroundings. Have the kids keep an eye out for local wildlife – try to spot deer, rabbits, pheasants and even mink along your walk.

Treat your children

The Chocolate Garden of Ireland

The kids are in for a treat just a minute away from Rathwood, at The Chocolate Garden of Ireland. A veritable chocolate wonderland, kids delight in a hands-on, authentic experience at a pre-booked workshop, where they make their own chocolate – and they get to keep the mould to hone their skills at home. You certainly won’t go hungry with regular demonstrations and tastings – treat yourselves. 

To add to the family fun, Rathwood Events is the perfect spot to bring your little ones to enjoy festive events like the Easter train, Teddy Bears Picnic and festive Santa train. There’s also a variety of engaging and fun classes throughout the year like Messy Play, Mini Gardener and Cookie Baking classes.

Discover Carlow's culture and heritage

Brownshill Dolmen

Two people exploring Brownshill Dolmen In County Carlow
See the impressive and ancient Brownshill Dolmen.

Experience the mysterious and the majestic at Brownshill Dolmen, 20 minutes out the road from the Chocolate Garden. The impressive megalithic tomb is said to have the largest capstone in Europe - it weighs a massive 103 tonnes. If that seems huge to you, imagine your kids’ awe at the dolmen, which is estimated to be between 4,900 to 5,500 years old. Surrounded by quiet meadows, explore our prehistoric past just outside Carlow town.

Delta Sensory Gardens

Recharge those batteries at the oasis of peace and tranquillity, the Delta Sensory Gardens on the outskirts of Carlow Town. Built in a series of interconnected gardens in the Strawhall Estate, visitors explore the harmony of formal and informal landscapes focusing in on multi-sensory experiences. With a changing cast of flowers and fauna in the gardens each season, and splashing fountains to enjoy, let the kids relax and discover their inner calm.

Learn all about local history at Carlow Military Museum

Head a few minutes around the corner to the County Carlow Military Museum which calls a late 19th-century church home. Open on Sunday afternoons, it displays artefacts from the late 18th-century right up until the present day. Discover the engrossing history of the Irish Army, Local Reserve Defence Forces, Carlow Militia and learn about the Carlow soldiers that served in armies across the world in this treasure-trove of rich local stories.

If you have time in Carlow…

Oak Park Forest Park

Less than 10 minutes away, Oak Park Forest Park’s colour-coded walkways are perfect for families of all ages and abilities, whether you’ve got an hour or an afternoon to wile away on your visit to Carlow. Let the kids run free at the grassy open spaces as you enjoy the lakeside views before strolling through the mixed-species woodland with its vast collection of flora, for a fun nature walk. Ducks are known to wander from the lake into the woods, and you may spot the wild game birds on the islands.

Connect with breathtaking nature, get in touch with our prehistoric history and even discover your inner chocolatier on a short break with the family to Carlow. Check out our Carlow destination page and give the kids a family holiday that they’ll never forget.

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