Northern Ireland is the perfect place for a Great Day Out. This summer why not take a family day out to the beautiful County Down – it’s full of history, heritage, stunning scenery & plenty of fun activities for all the family. The ni2012 team recently took a wee trip around Down – here’s some inspiration for a great day out!
The Great Outdoors
Home to Lady Dufferin, Clandeboye Country Estate located in Bangor is a visitors paradise with stunning gardens, courtyard & outdoor activities. A great way to get the full experience of the Clandeboye Estate is by taking the garden or history tour. Enjoy the beautiful walled gardens and learn about the amazing family history of the estate. The intimate walled gardens adjoin the courtyard and house & include a Bee garden and Conservatory garden. Further afield are the woodland gardens which display a large collection of Rhododendrons and other exotic species suited to the unique mild climate of this part of County Down. The estate itself also features a wonderful art gallery, quaint church & a golf course.
Beautiful Garden Walks at Clandeboye Estate
Pickie Fun Park
No trip to Bangor is complete without stopping off at Pickie Fun Park, the perfect way to spend a summers day with the kids! Children can play in the adventure playground,enjoy the watery fun of the splash pads, enjoy a ride on the electric car track or climb aboard the Pickie Puffer for a narrow-gauge railway journey around the colourful landscape. All the family can pedal a giant Swan around the shallow waters of the lovely Lagoon, compete with each other in the new mini golf course or take a break in the cafe.
History & Heritage
County Down is famed for it’s history & heritage in particular it’s links to the patron Saint Patrick. Visitors to the County can learn all about these unique links, follow the Saint Patrick’s trail & even visit the burial place of Saint Patrick.
Saint Patrick’s Town
If you have got a few hours to spare take a wee trip to Downpatrick – a key area on the Saint Patrick’s Trail. Spend some time at the Saint Patrick Centre major multimedia exhibition and learn about Patrick’s life. A few minutes walk away you can visit the ancient Down Cathedral beside Saint Patrick’s Grave. Take a train ride on the only narrow gauge steam railway in Ireland through Saint Patrick’s Country with the Down Railway Museum to Inch Abbey where many of the legends of Patrick were written down in Medieval times. Be sure to stop off at the museum after your train ride where you can learn all about the local rail & explore the wonderful well preserved carriages from times gone by. There are also many themed family events running throughout the year.
If you would like to learn more about Saint Patrick then why not take in the full Saint Patrick’s Trail, which will take you through a host of Christian sites at Bangor, Newtownards, Downpatrick, Newry and Armagh to uncover just how strong Northern Ireland’s links are with this patron saint. The 92 mile linear driving route links 15 key sites, all identified as having some connection to his life, legacy or landscape – they are all just waiting to be explored.
Historic Inch Abbey
North Down Museum
Located around a covered courtyard at the rear of Bangor Castle, North Down Museum offers is a great place to stop off with the family to learn more about the region’s history, archaeology and wildlife. The museum features a series of exciting audio-visual displays and intriguing exhibits. Here you will see examples of archaeological finds, such as the Ballycrochan Swords, dating from 500 BC, and a 9th Century hand bell which marks the period when Bangor’s monastery was one of the most important in Christendom. If you are looking for something to do on a Sunday why not pop along to the unique cinema room in the museum which runs free movies every Sunday afternoon. There are also a range of special events, activities & temporary exhibitions running throughout the year.
And for something completely different…
Grey Point Fort
Grey Point Fort is one of the best preserved early 20th century coastal forts anywhere in the British Isles. Situated in Crawfordsburn Country Park, Grey Point Fort houses a most unusual hands-on military museum. Step back in time with a visit to the Radio & Artillery Museum housed in the fort itself. A great place to take the kids for a couple of hours, you will find a superb collection of radios & other exhibits from World War One to the present day. Admission is free, guides are also available & visitors are very much encouraged to get hands on with the exhibits in the museum – you will find plenty of fun with the hundreds of radios, army costumes, photo’s & displays.
Extensive collection of Radios & Memorabilia at Grey Point Fort
That’s only a wee taste of what County Down has got to offer, County Down is also home to the magnificent Mourne Mountains, the port town of Kilkeel, magical forest parks & the incredible Silent Valley. For more inspiration on great days out in Down head to: discovernorthernireland.com/destinationNI/coDown