Little humans like fun. Lots of it. Luckily, here in Westport, we have that in spades. Buckets and spades, if you go to the beach. But we’re not just about castles, real or sand, we’ve got lots of activities to keep your kids busy and happy. Here’s just a taste…
Seven things to do with the kids in Westport
Synonymous with Westport, the Pirate Adventure Park at Westport House is a fun-filled paradise for children. For thrills, there’s everything from the Cannonball Run slide, Pirate Queen Swinging Ship and Pirates Plunge flume ride to go-karting. For a gentler pace, families love the swan pedalo boats on the lake and the Westport House Express train ride along a miniature railway.
To keep little bellies fuelled up, head to the Galley and the Old Kitchen Cafe in the basement of Westport House (right beside real-life dungeons), or take a load off at Gracy’s Bar and Café, right beside another kid magnet – the Pirates Playground. If you’re looking for an indoor soft-play area, the Pirate’s Den has it all.
Bring the kids out horse or pony trekking for a special experience they’ll always remember.
The go!trekking! centre, based at Westport Woods Hotel & Spa, has a great range of rides to choose from – exhilarating beach treks, winding treks through the heather-clad foothills of Croagh Patrick or, for the Robin Hoods and Maid Marians out there, fast-paced forest canters.
A plethora of other stables offers trekking opportunities through all sorts of trail terrain too, including Carowholly Stables and Trekking Centre, three miles outside Westport, which offers beach rides for a range of experience levels and trail rides for experienced riders.
Clew Bay Horse Riding at Drummindoo Stud offers pony camps for children from seven years during school holidays, as well as daily trail rides for kids over 12 (accompanied).
Westport House offers 20-minute twilight pony rides for children, set in the magical surrounds of Westport House estate. They’ll truly feel like little lords and ladies of the manor.
Many of Westport top-class hotels offer kids’ clubs that occupy little hands, legs and minds while parents and guardians take some well-deserved time out!
The Panda Club at Hotel Westport, which has different groups for younger and older kids, offers indoor and outdoor activities. These include arts and crafts, painting, storytelling, swimming, treasure hunts, marshmallow tower building, disco competitions and puppet shows.
Westport Woods Hotel offers three kids’ clubs – go!toddlers!, go!kids! and go!teens! – each providing age-appropriate fun, including art, story time, swimming, kayaking, movie nights, rock climbing and surfing.
Children staying at the Castlecourt Hotel, Westport Plaza Hotel or Westport Coast Hotel are all welcome to take part in the popular The Buzz Club, which takes place daily in the Castlecourt Hotel during midterm breaks, July and August and Christmas and the New Year. Exciting activities include art classes, sports, beach trips and treasure hunts.
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St Patrick's Boys NS from Castlebar enjoyed their tour so much yesterday they came back again today with another group of lovely 1st class boys. They were so excited to see the scallops swimming in the water. @stpatricksbns #Schooltours #AchillAquarium #education schooldays.ie School TOURS
Fancy getting up close and personal with some animals? Check out Glen Keen Farm, 14 miles south of Westport Town. There, families can experience all sorts of demonstrations, from sheep herding to sheep shearing and even wool spinning!
For those happy to take a short spin, head out to Graune Pet Farm and Play Centre, just an hour from Westport. Children can meet pigs, goats, sheep, and all manner of feathery farm fowl. There’s also a cool play area and a restaurant.
If hens don’t impress the kids, why not step it up and introduce them to a magnificent hawk at Westport House’s Birds of Prey centre? Book a hawk walk along the estate’s woodland trails, and marvel as a hawk periodically flies down to land on a gloved hand.
Feeling fishy? Head up to the Achill Experience Aquarium and Visitor Centre. Sixteen tanks contain all sorts of fish and crustaceans found in waters along the Mayo coast – including wonderful rarities like a blue lobster. You’ll also be mesmerised by tropical fish from around the world. Touch tanks for the brave allow kids to stroke starfish, scallops and even sea urchins. A prickly business.
Skater boys and girls
Westport’s state-of-the-art skatepark, playground and games area lies just beside the Westport Greenway. It boasts a purpose-built skateboarding, scooter, and rollerblading area, as well as an AstroTurf pitch used for basketball, soccer, volleyball, camogie, hurling, Gaelic football and rugby.
Sit back and enjoy the views of Croagh Patrick as your little ones zoom up and down and all around, tiring themselves out. Joy. If they still have energy afterwards, you could always hop on a bike and cycle out along the Greenway to Murrisk and Croagh Patrick – and maybe even climb the mountain… You won’t hear a peep out of them after that!
Go to war
Who doesn’t like a good game of shoot-’em up? Westport Wargames offers a range of adrenaline-pumping outdoor military-style adventures.
For older teens (16+), try an action-packed day of paintballing – strategy, skill and teamwork will all be tested – as will their aim.
Kids’ Splatball is a fun adventure for kids aged from seven to 13, though bigger kids and grown-ups will also enjoy running around Westport Wargames’ game zones, learning to aim at targets and playing real paintball-style games.
Yes, you read that right, FootGolf. A blend of football and golf, FootGolf is played on a golf course – but instead of swinging golf clubs and hitting golf balls, children and adults alike fall about the place laughing while kicking a standard-size football from tee to green.
Just like with golf, each hole carries a par and the aim is to get the ball into the hole in as few shots as possible. Head to Westport Country Lodge to try out FootGolf for yourselves – competitive, skillful, addictive … and just a little bit silly.