Kids Activities Near Me – Belfast. Part 1
Things to do in Northern Ireland with the Kids.
Whether it’s for their birthday party, a family get together or you just have a free weekend, there’s always fun things to do in Northern Ireland with your children.
I get around child-centric activities and venues more often than the average parent and here I share my experiences, both good and bad, in an effort to help those of us enslaved to the whims of our tiny overlords to make better informed decisions.
With a little research I’ve learnt that ‘Kids Activities Near Me’ is one of the most searched for terms in Northern Ireland, from a parents perspective I sumise that indicates a) There’s not enough out there for children to do or b) There’s too much choice or c) Parents have bad memories and/or a lack of imagination. I fall into the c. category as I’m often too burnt out to focus on what to do with my own children when I get a bit of free time. Finding activities near me is rarely a problem as I travel the province performing in some wonderful locations at fantastic events and see the best the north has to offer. Unfortunately it would be inappropriate to drag my children around with me.
Now, being where Northern Ireland is situated, under a large grey cloud more often than not and frequently covered in wet stuff falling from said cloud, things to do can sometimes be limited. Now if we all lived active lifestyles and slept in the open air we’d be glad to get inside for a bit but often the opposite is true and the objective is frequently to GET OUT and GET SOME EXERCISE. I typed that in bold to reflect the emphasis that our consciousness places on this and that we are haunted by it on a daily basis, especially at the dead of night when ‘Bad Parent Anxiety’ creeps in.
Next is the issue of budget. Of course, if money was no object we could send the kids into hyperspace for the afternoon while we sat in the cafe and read the news on our smart phones but that could get pricey, especially if they want to do it twice, they’ve brought their mates along or they’ve bust something in the space shuttle en route. I’m going to assume you still want to keep your shirt on and still have change for a cup of tea at work come Monday.
So, where can you go where you can stay dry(ish), not spend a small fortune and everyone is at least fleetingly happy? Is there such a place? Yes! Yes, there is and I will reveal all shortly. But before I get into the nitty gritty and start naming names, I am in no way affiliated with any business mentioned and all opinions are my own, which are directly informed by the opinions of my partner and our children (In fact, I no longer have any of my own opinions). OK, let’s kick things off…
When I think of kids activities near me I imediately think TV!, quickly followed by PARK! Parks are great or at least the concept is. They’re like libraries, you might never use one but you know it’s right to have them. However, the reality on the ground can be a bit sketchy. Broken glass, obscene graffiti and burnt out bins are just some of the reasons I don’t use my own back garden but sadly the same can often be found at your nearest playground. When this is the case and if you have access to a car then you should make your way to the nearest country park, this is a fancy park situated far enough away from marauding teenagers who might choose to destroy it overnight.
The newer ‘adventure playgrounds’ (a creation I first became aware of in the 70’s but never actually experienced) often have various covered areas where it’s possible to shelter during a terrifying storm while pretending to make a game of it (all the while wondering if this stainless steel tree-house is actually a massive lightening conductor).
If this isn’t your cup of tea then I suggest this next hidden gem just on the outskirts of south east Belfast as a more attractive kids activity, Cregagh Glen. The entrance can be found just off the Upper Knockbreda Road directly opposite the top of the Cregagh Road, this beautiful, but occasionally steep path leads onto the Manse Road and then continues beyond this revealing spectacular views across Belfast. It’s a relatively short walk at 1 and a half miles but is best suited to the older, more agile child (and parent) that’s up for a bit of challenge! Have you tackled this or perhaps you have your own hidden gem to share with us? Please leave a comment below and let me know.
Let’s face it, you have to go there anyway, so kill two birds with one stone and bring the kids along. It’s warm and dry and there’s security to protect you from the children if things get out of hand. Supermarket’s nowadays, especially in small towns, have become the new community centres where you get to catch up with old friends, nibble things off cocktail sticks while appearing to genuinely consider buying it in bulk and wear your best clothes with full hair and make-up (woman) or just a vest (men, summer). Until now, the problem is that children want in on this sweet gig too, seriously curtailing your plans to hang around the stationary section fondling new pens and crisp white ring-bound pads. However, with a little creativity the supermarket can become a great day out for all the family and all for the cost of a cup of tea.
The first step is to set up your home office in the supermarket cafe, if possible bag the small setee area and spread all your stuff across the nearby seats to ‘mark’ your territory. If you don’t actually have any ‘stuff’ just pre pack a few carrier bags with scrunched up newspaper, enough for each seat around you, and place strategically. Once you’ve got the store’s wifi password and you’ve ordered your coffee (This need be your only purchase all day as long as you take micro sips and eek it out over a few hours), you’re all set to play the beloved ‘Pirate Game’!
Basically you give the children a glittering chariot (aka a shopping trolley) and a ‘treasure map’ that looks remarkably like a shopping list, you send them off to plunder the aisles as you sit in the cafe and relax with a magazine that your considering to purchase from the magazine rack. PRO TIP: Be sure to pay attention to any instore announcements, carefull to listen out for any mention of your child’s name or any surge in aisle clean-up requests.