- Fota Wildlife Park
Toddlers will love Fota Wildlife Park, located on Fota Island, near to Cobh in County Cork. The park is home to nearly 30 mammal and 50 bird species. Some of the animals roam freely with the visitors, such as the ring-tailed lemurs and wallabies, while larger animals, including the giraffe and bison, live in paddocks with minimal fencing between the kids and the animals. Fota Wildlife Park also has tigers,cheetahs, penguins, red pandas, tapirs, siamang gibbons and many other animals. The park has a snack bar selling hot food and sandwiches and there are two play grounds. there are also baby changing facilities in two locations.
- You can drive or take a train to fota which leaves from Kent Station
- The park is open Monday to Friday, 10.00am to 6pm (Sunday it opens at 10.30)
- An Adult ticket costs €15.00, children cost €9.50 and under 3’s are free. There are also family tickets available
- Petting Zoos
County Cork is full of petting zoos where toddlers can interact with and learn about animals. One of the best petting zoos in the area is Rumley’s Open Farm which is located just off the Bandon Road. Rumley’s has loads of animals ranging from farm animals such as pigs, cows and sheep to more unusual creatures such as snowy owls, meerkats and wolves. There is also a cafe and changing facilities near the entrance. There is also a playground and a soft play area for toddlers. Leahy’s Farm is located beyond Midleton and is a smaller farm but quite interactive. Kids can play with rabbits and guinea pigs. Leahy’s also has a cafe and changing facilities. The Farm, Grenagh is another great option and offers 40 acres of land with a variety of animals such as cows sheep, horses, hens, ducks, deer, puppies, pigs, birds & donkeys. Kids can travel around The Farm on a tractor and trailer or barrel train ride or hop on the pedal karts and mini tractors. The Farm also has a cafe, changing area and playground. For a fantastic day out you can visit the Waterfall Alpaca Farm (and Walk) in Drimoleague, West Cork. You can take a walk on the one mile loop and see waterfalls and local flora and fauna and of course the alpacas. There are also ducks and chickens, miniature donkeys and giant rabbits. There is a picnic area here and the farm is currently developing an animal petting area for children. Over 6’s can also take the alpacas for a walk! You will need to book a tour in advance if you want to see the animals. Contact Emma at 028 31953 for details. Tir na Si is an eco-friendly family farm located near Watergrasshill. The farm has a restaurant and a fantastic soft play area.
- Beaches in Cork
There are plenty of beaches in County Cork with soft sand and plenty of space for toddlers to run around. Myrtleville and Fountainstown are the closest beaches to Cork city although Myrtleville is better with toddlers as there’s less stones and seaweed.
Garryvoe is another great beach and is located in East Cork near to Castlemartyr. It has a playground and a shop next to it and the Garryvoe hotel is nearby where you can have lunch or change your little one. Youghal and Redbarn are other good options in East Cork and just over the Waterford border, you will find the stunning sandy beach in Ardmore town which also has a brand new playground next to it.
Kinsale is a great destination for parents with toddlers. The town has a playground and fun fare during the summer. The dock beach is a small sandy beach just across the bridge from Kinsale and if you travel a little further you will be able to visit the sandy beach at Garretstown.
If you want to head West, Coolmaine and Kilbrittain beaches are about a 40 minute drive from Cork city and are both sandy beaches. Inchydoney is a stunning, huge beach near Clonakilty in West Cork. This beach has a large hotel next to it where you can feed and change your little one and have a fantastic seafood lunch. Owenahincha Beach in Rosscarbery is a stunning blue flag beach with some shallow waters for toddlers to play in. For a list of other blue flag beaches in County Cork click here.
- Take a Walk in the Woods
There are plenty of wooded areas in County Cork where you can take your toddler for a walk. Farren Wood and Currabinny Woods are near the city (approximately 20 minutes driving) and are perfect for a walk. Farren Wood also has a deer enclosure and ducks. A visit to Rineen Woods, near Union Hall will thrill any toddler. Rineen Woods is situated just a few miles from Union Hall en route to Castletownsend. The unique part of the woods is a collection of handcrafted fairy houses located along the paths. The fairy houses are not signposted but if you start at the very beginning and work your way along the edge of the water you will see them on the right and the left of the path usually at the base of the trees. Brings along some ribbons and coins and leave some for the fairies.
- The Ewe Experience
The Ewe Experience is located near Glengarriff in West Cork and is a unique combination of nature and art in an interactive sculpture garden. Adults and older toddlers can enjoy challenging games and creative areas for a wonderful unique experience. The grounds offer views of a spectacular waterfall and the gardens are stunning. It is a perfect place for the whole family. The park is open from 10am to 6pm during the summer months and at other times of year you can visit by appointment. There are uneven paths so if your child isn’t walking yet, a sling is quite handy.
- The Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary is located in Mallow, County Cork and has over 2,400 donkeys, rescued from all parts of the country. Many donkeys have been abandoned or put in a field and given little or no attention after having worked for their owners for years. Visiting the sanctuary will allow you to contribute to a good cause and there is a picnic area, teas and coffees and changing facilities. It is open from 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.