Enjoy family fun activities
Journey through history at Athlone Castle, where kids can get in on the action by building their own castle, winding up (child-safe) bows and arrows, and jumping into the stocks. With plenty of interactive exhibitions telling the story of the castle and its people, kids will be enthralled by the history on display. With knowledgeable tour guides used to getting kids involved with the displays, they will be drawn in. The big problem will be getting them to leave life in the 1200s.
On the River Shannon just over the Castle walls, they can continue their historic journey and voyage like Vikings on one of Viking Tours Ireland’s replica Viking boats. Hear of the escapades back in the day on these Westmeath waters as you dress up in helmets and shields and replica swords. There’s a snack shop on the ship, or you can bring a picnic on board and enjoy on deck.
Get the adrenaline going at Baysports, an outdoor adventure centre that holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest inflatable floating waterslide in the world – sure to be a hit with the kids. Get to dizzying heights and conquer challenging climbs of the tower slides in the waterpark – there’s a junior waterpark for the younger kids. Hop in a kayak, try SUP, or get the kids rafting – wetsuits are available to hire on-site.
Athlone Equestrian Centre
Jump up on a horse at Athlone Equestrian Centre, just outside the town centre, and set off at a trot for a forest trek. Whether you’re an experienced rider or a learner, the team pay individual attention to each rider and give a considered choice of mounts for a comfortable ride. Younger kids can enjoy pony play classes if they’re not quite ready to get on horseback and take off into the countryside.
Explore natural landscapes and our rich heritage
Old Rail Trail Greenway
Go off-road and hop up on your bike to cycle along the Old Rail Trail Greenway. You can rent bikes for all the family from Buckley Cycles in Athlone or Tullamore, for the 42km cycle tracing the historic Midlands Great Western Railway. Mostly flat, the trail is suitable for all the family – fly past restored station houses and under stone arched bridges, with stops along the way for rests, refreshments and play.
Dún na Sí Heritage Park
There’s few places you can combine nature and biodiversity, the arts and education and have it all feel like play for the children, but Dún na Sí Heritage Park does just that. Stroll through planted parklands and the wetland reserve and spot the native wildlife species – a specially constructed ‘hide’ lets you watch birds on the lake without disturbing them, even with the kids.
Journey through Ireland’s ancient past from magical stone circles and legendary warriors, and experience life in a farmhouse 100 years ago. The unique Scéal An Tradisiúin exhibition teaches kids about traditional Irish song, music and dance – they can see how Irish instruments have changed from the Celts to modern times. And of course, a trip to the playground is a mandatory stop before you leave.
If you have more time in Westmeath…
Lakeside Day Boat Hire
Hop aboard your own private day hire boat from Lakeside Day Boat Hire and explore the unspoiled islands along the River Shannon and Lough Ree as you sail along the borders of Westmeath, Roscommon and Longford. No prior experience or boating license is necessary, the team will teach you the essentials to get you sailing. Take your fishing gear on board, have the kids keep their eyes peeled for riverside wildlife, or simply enjoy cruising along in this idyllic and peaceful setting.
Belvedere House Gardens
Take your kids to Narnia on the trail through magnificent woodlands and lakeshore walks at Belvedere House Gardens. Discover several follies, including Ireland’s largest, The Jealous Wall, and head inside Belvedere House itself, an 18th century hunting/fishing lodge. Kids will love the four children’s play areas and the braver among them should make a beeline for the one with lakeside swings and 30m zipline.
With everything from Irish mythical histories to Viking adventures on the cards on a family trip to Westmeath. Get more ideas on our Westmeath destination page to spur the kids’ imagination on your short break away.