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Top 5 Destinations for Family Days Out

The holidays are looming, and as much as the kids are looking forward to not being at school, they’ll also be asking you to provide them with some entertainment!

In the interest of keeping your kids from being bored without breaking the bank, here are five family days out that will leave you with some change in your pocket, and a happily tired out brood.

The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim

 Tour guide Eleanor Killough calls the Giant’s Causeway ‘an epic 60-million-year-old legacy to lava. Over 40,000 basalt columns. Interlocked.’

Either that, or it was built by local giant Finn McCool, to travel to Scotland and fight the giant Benandonner. Tour guides offer both sides of the story and let visitors make up their own minds....

There’s the causeway itself, as well as a 5-mile clifftop hike linking the Causeway with the ruins of Dunseverick Castle.,  And why not stop by the newly-built visitors’ centre complete with café and local crafts.

Tickets start at £9 for adults, and children under five get in free. The Giant’s Causeway is one of the best affordable days out in Northern Ireland, and a great choice for a kids’ day out.

Gobbins Cliff Path, County Antrim

Gobbins Cliff Path is a dramatic coastal walk that runs along the Gobbins cliffs, where Islandmagee meets the Irish sea 32km north of Belfast. The pathway is a mixture of clifftop hiking and newly-built steel tunnels, perfect for days out with the kids.

The majority of the path is closed until June this year for maintenance, but the spectacular views are worth planning ahead for. The path is 2km end to end, and you’re exposed to the weather the whole time, so there are restrictions on clothing and footwear and you’ll have to wear a hard hat (don’t worry, these are provided!).

It’s one of the most exciting cheap days out NI has to offer, so if your kids love to get outside and see something amazing, this might be the day trip for you.

Castlewallen Forest Park and Peace Maze, County Down

This 3-acre maze was designed and planted by local children, and its 3.5km of paths twist and turn around over 6000 yew trees. Get to the middle and you can celebrate by clanging the most frequently-rung bell in Ireland.

There’s a range of forest trails in the Castle Park, including scenic walking trails, 27km of mountain biking trails, and Nature Play that’s perfect for kids. Next to the maze is Animal Wood, designed to delight children aged 4 to 11 with woodland animals, rope walks, fireman’s poles, a climbing wall and slides.

The best part? You only need to pay for parking: £5 for a car, £2.50 for a motorbike, or £13 for a minibus. That makes Castlewallen one of the lowest-priced days out with kids around.

M&D’s, Scotland

Scotland’s biggest theme park needs no introduction. Take the ferry across to Scotland and follow the A77 to the home of one of Britain’s best days out for families.

There’s a gigantic soft play area, over 20 kids-only rides, and variations on fairground classics like rollercoasters (Runaway Mine Train, anyone?) and white water rides.

But you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy M&D’s. There’s Amazonia, the only indoor tropical rainforest in Scotland, a wide range of restaurants, and more sedate rides suitable for younger children. Throw in glow in the dark bowling, and what more could you ask for?

The Jungle, Derry/Londonderry

The Jungle is an adventure playground for all ages, located outside Moneymore near Lough Neagh. There’s abseiling, archery, zorbing, climbing, quad biking and more.

Some activities are aimed at adults, like clay pigeon shooting, while others are designed especially for the kids. There are challenging group activities like raft building, perfect for days out with the family, as well as rocket building courses for kids.

At £145 for a family of 5, a three-hour Adults Treetop session doesn’t quite sound like it belongs in a list of cheap family days out. But an afternoon’s archery for a family of five, for example, comes in at only £65. And The Jungle offers Family Fun Days out on selected Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays throughout summer and early autumn, so there’s fun to be had throughout summer and beyond.

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