The lockdown seemed to go on forever and now the actual summer holidays are upon us, everyone’s after ideas for days out. Here are our top tips, come rain or shine, for each county.
Sunshine: On a sunny day, Carnfunnock Country Park, near Larne, is an excellent place for a family day out. With its adventure playground, family fun zone, nine-hole golf course, walled garden, walking trails, geocaching, hedge maze and café, there’s something for everyone. Combine it with a drive along the spectacular Causeway Coast road.
Showers: Medieval Carrickfergus Castle offers grandeur on a rainy day with 800 years of history to uncover. Attractions include the keep, banqueting hall and the collection of cannons that once formed part of the defences.
Sunshine: Lough Neagh Discovery Centre is popular for a day connecting with nature. There are play and picnic areas, a cafe and enough wildlife and scenery to keep everyone entertained.
Showers: Navan Fort was the ancient capital and seat of the Kings of Ulster; the adjacent Navan Centre brings its rich history to life. The centre’s exhibition area reveals artefacts, weaponry and the myths and legends of the era.
Sunshine: From North Down to Newry, there’s golden sand galore. Head for Newcastle and the delights of Tyrella Beachfor a stunning walk, Tollymore Forest Park for more outdoor fun and finish it off with ice-creams on the promenade with the fabulous Mournes for a backdrop.
Showers: Exploris Aquarium, Portaferry, is open and hard to beat for a wet day out with the kids with its touch tanks, bountiful sealife, seals and otters.
Sunshine: If you can resist the beautiful beaches, the tranquil Roe Valley Country Park on the outskirts of Limavady makes for a decent day with its woodland walks and riverside views, museum and countryside centre and tea room.
Showers: The multi award winning Tower Museum is within Derry’s historic walls and is home to two permanent exhibitions, The Story of Derry and An Armada Shipwreck - La Trinidad Valencera. Both exhibitions use a range of display and interactive techniques to present their stories. Go to the top of the museum for panoramic views of the cityand river Foyle.
Sunshine: Pack your bike and cycle a section of the Kingfisher Trail around the luscious Crom Estate. The route covers mixed surfaces as you pass the old castle and a thousand year old yew tree, and onto Inisherk Island. The grounds, toilets and tearoom have reopened. Check with the National Trust for further details.
Showers: Enniskillen Castle is almost 600 years old and has a riveting history. It’s been redeveloped and is worth a browse, not least for its new galleries. The phased reopening saw the ‘Take 5 Tours’ and ‘Bubble Tours’ launch on July 13.
Sunshine: Gortin Glen Forest Park is an entry point to the Sperrins and an awesome sight on a sunny day. Follow one of the marked trails or better still, bring your canoes and get onto the lake. Head to An Creagán afterwards for a relaxing dip into arts, crafts, culture and natural beauty.
Showers: The Ulster American Folk Park is a popular spot with its living history and stories around Irish emigration to America. Apart from a life-sized ship, there’s a blacksmith’s, old schoolhouse and more.