Dublin with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

Dublin with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Dublin, Ireland may not have been on the top of your list for a family vacation with tweens, but the city is very family-friendly. It is filled with attractions and destinations, including museums, zoos and parks, that appeal to visitors of all ages. It may seem a bit more challenging to find family vacation ideas in Dublin, so I've put together a few simple suggestions for the perfect family day in Dublin with your tweens.

Book a Rental Car Before Leaving Home

I recommend finding an inexpensive rental car before leaving home. Websites such as Holiday Cars let you select the type of car that best fits your family. They even provide rate comparisons with other car rental companies to ensure you are receiving the best deal possible. Holiday Cars offers a four-door, family-sized compact car for less than € 45 per day. Hiring a rental car in Dublin allows you to see more of the city at one flat rate for your entire trip instead of paying daily taxi and bus fares. It also allows you the freedom to experience the little things along the way that may become your best family vacation memories of Dublin.

Find a Hotel That Offers Something for Everyone

When selecting accommodations for your family vacation in Dublin with tweens, it is important to find a place that allows you to take advantage of the attractions and entertainment in the area. There are hotels that offer packages with admissions and reservations included in the price of the room. This not only saves you time and energy, but it also saves you money.

Clontarf Castle is an award-winning hotel with a storybook setting that combines medieval romance and charm with modern day accommodations. Set on Dublin's northeast shore, only a twenty-minute drive from the airport and a ten-minute drive from the city, this hotel offers guests a convenient, yet private getaway. With most of the original castle structure remaining from a Viking invasion in 1014, tweens may find it easy to be swept up into a fairytale world. Walking trails that carve paths to the beach are the perfect place to stroll as the sea breeze soothes you. Witness the simplicity of nature in the bird aviary and nature preserve or relax and breathe in the sweet air in one of the many rose gardens. If a physical challenge is what your tweens enjoy, the gym boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool and Ireland's newest and tallest rock climbing wall.

Clontarf Castle offers family vacation packages that include a three-night stay for a family of four starting at €181.66 per night. This includes a full Irish breakfast each morning and complimentary dinners on two evenings in Clontarf's Fahrenheit Grill, regarded as one of the premier restaurants in Ireland. The young princes and princesses in the family can take part in a castle treasure hunt. There is a supervised movie night for the kids, so mom and dad can steal away for a romantic dinner. Then, take advantage of the free admission to the Dublin Zoo for four included in the package. This particular package is available for midweek stays during July and August and allows you to get the most for your money. Your tweens might just consider this one of your best family vacation ideas. Dublin is waiting, so let's consider other things to do.

Clontarf Castle Hotel
Castle Avenue
Clontarf, Dublin 3, Ireland
353 1 833 2321
Start your morning early to ensure that you get the most out of every day in Dublin. Wake up to a lovely view of the sun rising over the city and take advantage of the hotel's complimentary Irish breakfast. After the family is energized and ready to go, it's time to head to the Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park. If you've planned ahead and printed a map of the grounds, you can chart your plan of action before you even leave the hotel. The zoo's website hosts a Live Penguin Cam to give your tweens a taste of what awaits. The Dublin Zoo is just a short twenty-minute drive east of the hotel.

The zoo is home to more than 700 species of animals and tropical birds from around the world. Their focus is conservation, and there are plenty of opportunities to view baby animals in their natural habitat. Founded in 1830, this is the third oldest zoo in the world. To ensure a unique experience, the Dublin Zoo offers many ways to get involved in the protection and care of the animals, including Adopt an Animal. This program allows you to select an animal to adopt and make a monetary contribution of only €40, 80, or 135 to provide for the animal's food, health care and habitat. Since admission has been provided in your hotel package, adopting an animal is one of the best family vacation ideas for your visit to Dublin. In return, participants receive a color photo, badge and fact sheet, as well as a certificate of adoption. These are only a few of the things to do that the Dublin Zoo offers to provide unforgettable vacation memories.

Dublin Zoo
Phoenix Park
Dublin 8, Ireland
353 1 474 8900

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30AM-6PM from March-September. Hours vary the rest of the year. Please visit the website for more information.

Familiar Food vs. Traditional Food

After working up a gorilla-sized appetite at the zoo, make the short thirteen-minute trip back to the east side of town for a late lunch. Said to be "Another reliable place and one that won't break the bank" by The Irish Times, Gotham Cafe is sure to be a hit with the entire family. Customers rave about the taste of traditional Irish fare including the Roasted Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Linguine, Sausages and Mash and signature salad, all for less than €15 each. The diverse children's menu includes junior portions of entree dishes, a variety of pasta, and chicken dishes. Each of these selections is less than €8. Gotham Cafe also boasts an extensive pizza menu with eighteen signature pizzas made fresh to order. With the virtually endless assortment of make-your-own-pizza options, you can be sure to satisfy your tween's hunger.

Gotham Cafe
8 South Anne Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
353 1 679 5266

Hours: Monday-Tuesday open at 10AM (last orders at 10PM), Wednesday-Saturday open at 10AM (last orders at 11PM), Sunday open 11:30AM (last orders 10PM)

Gotham Cafe is located in one of Dublin's premier shopping areas, Gafton Street. So after your tasty lunch, gather the family for a stroll through the neighborhood and a visit the many shops and galleries found here.

For the readers in the family, Dubray Books, considered one of the leading independent booksellers in Ireland, is a must. Located just around the corner from Gotham Cafe, this three-story bookshop is stocked with independent and internationally recognized titles for all ages. Their collection for children ages 8 to 12 is so extensive that they decided to write a guidebook to aid customers as they navigate their way through the shop. And while your tweens are selecting their books, you might wish to browse their section on Irish history.

Dubray Books
36 Grafton Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
353 1 677 5568

Hours: Monday-Friday 9AM-7PM, Saturday 9AM-6PM, Sunday 11AM-6PM

Also located just one block from Gotham Cafe is Gallery 29, where you can peruse the array of vintage and antique posters that are available for purchase. The strong visual images may captivate young minds and offer histories of design, movies, Ireland and sports.

Gallery 29
29 Molesworth Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
353 1 642 5784

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-5:30PM

Don't worry about finding a place for dinner as Clontarf Castle takes care of that in the family package. When you've visited all of the Grafton Street shops, head back to the hotel for a complimentary family dinner. Fahrenheit Grill offers a diverse menu that features steak, seafood and vegetarian options made with fresh, local ingredients.

Now, spend the rest of the day enjoying your pick of wind-down activities and rest up for the adventures that tomorrow holds. Spend some time in the stylish Indigo Lounge where guests can indulge in gourmet coffees, teas and pastries or a glass of wine from their extensive wine list. Gather the kids and head outdoors together to relax and enjoy the sunset. Then, retire to your room to cuddle up in the plush four poster bed and watch a movie together on the flat-screen TV. Sweet dreams of the many things to do in Dublin will help you drift off to sleep quickly.

Whatever you decide, you'll make once-in-a-lifetime memories in this great city. You're sure to have an exciting and memorable family vacation with tweens in Dublin, Ireland.

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