I often recommend Killarney and County Kerry for a first time Ireland family vacation simply because there is so very much to do there.
The bustling tourist town of Killarney is filled with shops to cater to your every souvenir desire, while the pubs and restaurants will keep you well fed. Venturing out of town yields a spectacular national park, castle, and spectacular manor house. Further afield, the county’s scenic peninsulas offer some of Ireland’s most dramatic drives and scenic coasts.
Where to Find Family Fun in County Kerry
In the article 10 Fun Family Outings in County Kerry I share some of our favourite sights and activities around ‘The Kingdom’. From the most famous dolphin in Ireland to the country’s best ice cream, you’ll see why I consider County Kerry to be one of the best places to begin an Ireland family vacation.
House & Gardens and Traditional Farms
Located on the outskirts of Killarney, Muckross House and Gardens is the perfect example of Victorian Ireland. In fact, Queen Victoria once stayed here. Tours of the house are available and the gardens are open to wander. The traditional farms shows Ireland as it was in the 1930s and 40s, when electricity wasn’t common and horsepower actually meant “horse” power.
Dingle’s most famous resident is a bottle nose dolphin! After taking refuge in Dingle Bay over 30 years ago, Fungie made the bay his home, playing with the fishing and sightseeing boats. A one hour boat tour guarantees a sighting – or you don’t pay. After your time out with Fungie, pay a visit to Ocean world Aquarium to see other marine life – and a fabulous Polar Penguin Exhibition.
A popular stop along the N561, Inch Strand is 3 miles of lovely, sandy beach. Protected by Dingle Bay, this stretch of sand is a beautiful place to search for sea shells. You’ll also find this beach is a great place to try a few water sports like kayaking, surfing, and windsurfing.
7. Jaunting Cart to Ross Castle
It may be the touristy thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun. You’ll find the carts gathered at Kenmare Place, just at the edge of Killarney National Park. Your Jarvey will regale you with tales of Ireland and County Kerry as he drives you through the park, past a herd of rare Kerry Cows, and on to Ross Castle – one of the last Irish Castles to fall to Cromwell – where he will wait while you take a tour and then take you back to Killarney.
Kennedy’s Pet Farm
Just 5 minutes from Killarney, this fun farm has friendly animals of all sorts for you to pet and feed. Large play areas, both indoors and outside, make this a fun family activity no matter the weather.
5. Kerry Bog Village
Take a self-guided tour into 18th and 19th century Ireland. Located in a vast bog land on the Ring of Kerry, visitors will learn about the bog, its wildlife, and how turf was extracted, dried, and used as fuel. You will also learn the sometimes shocking truths about the Great Famine and see a herd of extremely rare Kerry Bog Ponies.
An underground wonderland filled with stalactites and stalagmites, Crag Cave is a great adventure when the weather above ground isn’t cooperating. You’ll also find indoor and outdoor play areas – great if the family is split on entering a large hole in the earth.
3. Killarney Falconry
Take a ‘hawk walk’ with an experienced falconer and learn about birds of prey and the sport of falconry. A hands-on experience, you will be able to handle and fly a hawk under the instruction of your personal falconer. Note: reservations are required, so plan ahead for this excursion.
2. Slea Head Drive
This scenic drive takes you along the farthest western edge of Ireland on the Dingle Peninsula. Discover Ireland’s dinosaurs at the Celtic & Prehistoric Museum, explore Dun Beg Iron Age Fort and tiny bee hive huts lived in by hermit monks. Learn about the Blasket Islands, and examine the Gallarus Oratory which was built without mortar but is waterproof. Finish your explorations with Murphy’s Ice Cream – possibly the best ice cream you’ll ever taste – back in Dingle.
1. Ring of Kerry
Possibly Ireland’s most well-known scenic drive, the Iveragh Peninsula is filled with history, scenery, and plenty of stories. Stand and take in a view that Queen Victoria saw at the Ladies View. Decipher the writing on a Ogham Stone. Stand in a stone circle. Explore Kerry wildlife at the Blue Pool Nature Preserve. You can fill a day – or two- with activities on the Ring of Kerry.
With all these options, it’s easy to see why County Kerry should be part of your family’s Ireland Vacation itinerary.