Friday in Barcelona

ry=400Friday, June 12th was the actual day of our 5th wedding anniversary! The whole reason we came on this trip was to celebrate our love for each other and how much our relationship has grown. Unfortunately, this was our last day in Barcelona, but we made the most of it. We started out at our favorite breakfast place and sweets shop, Escribá. Because it was a special occasion, we let our 2 year old have chocolate cake!

Before going back to the flat for our bags, we walked around some shops to see if we could find a last-minute souvenir. ry=400-1There were so many neat artisan shops we’d seen all week that had beautiful painted mosaic gifts and pottery. I found a great pair of earrings with mosaics on them, modeled after some of Guell’s work. Earrings are my favorite souvenir to bring home from my travels because they’re small, and I get to show them off periodically and tell people stories from the trip. ry=400-2We took in our last few minutes in our neighborhood, with the narrow streets and closely situated apartment buildings/storefronts. There is some beautiful architecture!

We retrieved our bags, checked out of the flat, and made our way to the Barcelona Arena in Plaça de España. There is an elevator you can ride up to the top for a gorgeous panoramic view of the city. We killed some time here and the view was definitely worth the 1euro we paid to get to the top! ry=400-6ry=400-7

ry=400-5We caught the bus from Plaça de España to the airport and checked in for our flight back home to Belfast. The boys obviously had a great trip, they both fell asleep on the 2 hour flight! We are so grateful for this time together as a family to explore the amazing city of Barcelona <3

ry=400-3

ry=400-4

 

 

Read about the rest of our trip to Barcelona too! Have you been? What was your favorite part?

Thursday in Barcelona

ry=400-5Even though it was sunny and beautiful outside, we decided to take some time indoors and check out the children’s science museum, CosmoCaixa. Only a short metro ride away, this turned out to be an excellent choice. We all had a fun time exploring the exhibits, plus the underwater ecosystem and rainforest is super cool!

Remember when we ate at BuenasMigas a few days ago? Well, we found another one and decided to eat here again! This is a great option for a cheap, delicious meal in Barcelona. ry=400-4

After catching the metro back to Las Ramblas (where our flat was located), we relaxed a bit and let our 2 year old greet people on the street from our balcony. He thought this was so hilarious! It’s the little things in life, isn’t it?ry=400

ry=400-3For our afternoon adventure, we changed into our swimsuits and caught the metro to the coast. We were headed to Ocata but spontaneously got off when we saw a nice beach. It turned out to be a great experience filled with locals; we were the only tourists. The water was a bit cold but the boys mostly like to play in the sand anyway. We soaked up some afternoon sun, listened to the waves and seagulls, watched our boys wrestle in the sand, and enjoyed some calm time on the shore. Also our baby ate a lot of sand 🙂

ry=400At this point I started getting hungry, so we walked about 3 minutes down the shore to a restaurant under a tent. I don’t think it had a name, just one of those beachfront pop-ups. We shared a grilled cheese sandwich, and tapas (of course!): chili nachos (from the “international” section), and patatas bravas (our favorite!) while our 2 year old used his imagination in a playhouse nearby. It was fun to eat at a place where the staff didn’t speak English. I love being able to use my Spanish and it’s just more fun! ry=400-1

What a great relaxing afternoon and evening <3 ry=400-2

 

 

Wednesday in Barcelona

Wednesday morning marked our 4th day spent in Barcelona. So far, we were having a fantastic time exploring, sightseeing, and trying new foods!

ry=400-6Our first stop was to revisit Escribá, the sweets shop, for breakfast. We had such a wonderful experience a couple days before, that we decided to go back for more! And it was only a couple minutes walk from our flat, so can you blame us?! Read about how much we loved it HERE.

 

ry=400-8

After breakfast we took the metro to Parc de la Ciutadella or, Citadel Park. You should definitely try to use the metro while you’re in Barcelona. It is super easy to figure out and trains come every couple of minutes, so you can get most places pretty quickly! We came here on our first day but we didn’t realize how close we were to the zoo. We entered the park from the Northwest corner and walked under the Arc de Triomf. It is huge and I highly recommend walking to the zoo this way! It’s a gorgeous walk anyway, you might as well add in the splendor of the Arc de Triomf.

We had a fun few hours at the zoo and it ended up being our 2 year old’s favorite portion of the whole trip! Read about our experience here.

ry=400-1After our exciting morning visiting zoo animals, we ended up a bit farther North to check out the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. But first we went to a nearby restaurant to fill our bellies. All this walking got us consuming a lot more food! We went to Tossa, recommended on trip advisor as a family friendly restaurant. I wouldn’t say that it was super family friendly necessarily (no high chairs) but the staff were kind enough! We enjoyed a tapas selection of little sausages in cider, patatas bravas, meatballs, and a baked potato with roquefort cheese. We also used our onya carrier as a high chair!

ry=400-2The Sagrada Familia Cathedral is one of those “must-see” sights when you visit Barcelona. Our boys don’t do particularly well in places where they’re expected to be silent and I was nervous about going inside and disturbing everyone. They’re joyous little noisemakers after all! When we got there, we found a queue out the door that would’ve taken a few hours to wait in. So, the decision was made for me: We’ll just admire it from the outside! This was the perfect choice. We gazed up high into the sky at the towering cathedral meanwhile enjoying all-fruit popsicles from a shop across the street. I’m sure the inside is gorgeous, but I also feel like we had a great experience walking around the entire thing and catching it from every angle.ry=400-5ry=400-3

On our way home, we passed through La Boquería market again. It’s just so fun to explore! This time we got more fruit and some fresh goat cheese for a snack later that night.ry=400-7

Again, we wouldn’t have been able to survive this day without our Onya baby carrier or our toddler Tula!

Check out all our posts about Barcelona!

Barcelona Zoo

For some reason, my family loves to visit zoos when we travel. It’s always neat to see different animals and learn about them, especially conservation efforts for those endangered. Our 2 year old loves experiencing various zoos and wildlife centers! When we were researching family-friendly activities in Barcelona, the zoo kept coming up so we decided to try it out. Tickets were cheaper online, so we purchased them the night before. The next morning, the zoo employee was able to scan the barcodes on my phone. Easy peasy! And we saved a few euro.

ry=400 Situated in the gorgeous scenery of Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona Zoo showcases a variety of animals among beautiful flowers and walking paths. If you enter Citadel Park from the Northwest Corner, you’ll get to pass under the massive Arc de Triomf on your walk to the zoo, definitely worth seeing!

We thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours spent walking around the zoo! We saw so many animals, chimpanzees, giraffes, elephants, flamingos, komodo dragons, giant tortoises, peacocks, and many many others.

ry=400-2ry=400-5ry=400-4There were several highlights of our zoo day. The first was the dolphin show. I waited in line with the baby while my husband wandered around some more with our toddler. There are benches and plenty of places to roam! The line moved super fast and we were soon shuffled in; and we got a great seat! Our 2 year old absolutely LOVED this show and was old enough to understand the trainer/dolphin “jokes”. He thought the tricks were impressive and there were many audible gasps and exclamations! The show was free, and just long enough for everyone to stay attentive throughout.

ry=400-8One of our other favorites was letting our son ride a miniature pony. He loves horses and has recently been showing off his bravery, so this was the perfect opportunity to have what he calls a “big boy treat”. It cost around 4euro but it was definitely worth it! He got to choose which pony to ride and my husband was given the task of walking the loop with him. Such great fun! Weeks later, he still talks about “his” horse named Magic.

ry=400-6Another cool thing about the Barcelona Zoo is the farm animal area. It’s set up a bit like a petting zoo and houses cows, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, mice, and guinea pigs, etc. In this area is also a great little playground! There was hardly anyone else there so we had the run of the place.

There is a cafe here too, but it seemed a bit pricy to me. Bring your own food or just eat before/after your visit to save some money! But it’s good to know it’s there in case you have people in your family like mine, who get “hangry” when we have low blood sugar 😉

On our walk back through to the entrance, I spotted a welcome sight. A room for breastfeeding moms! Thanks to my Onya carrier, I don’t ever have to stop what I’m doing to sit down and nurse my baby, BUT for moms that need a few minutes rest or are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, this room is a great option. It was wonderful to see! I stepped inside to check it out and there was a sink, a comfy chair, a microwave, magazines, and a changing table. Way to go, Barcelona Zoo! Thanks for making nursing mamas feel comfortable.

ry=400-7

Day Trip to Rathlin Island

ry=400-2At some point we realized that all of the kids would be off school here in a couple weeks and everything would start getting super busy. We’d talked about visiting Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island for a while and so we made an impromptu trip to go see what we could find.

The ferry to Rathlin Island leaves from Ballycastle, a nice town on the North coast. You can find timetables on this website. We arrived just in time to catch the next departure and got seats on the roof for our 25 minute journey. Our 2 year old enjoyed the view and waved “bye bye” to Northern Ireland as we sailed away. The baby, on the other hand, must’ve been trying to compete with the wind and waves because he sure was making his voice heard! ry=400-1

Once we landed, we decided to pop in and get some food at McCuaig’s Bar. Arriving a bit before the lunch rush, we had most of the place to ourselves! Any feelings of awkwardness from bringing our children into a pub (totally normal around here) were quickly dispelled by looking at the pub’s only other customers at the time, another family with two young kids 🙂 Our fish and chips were delicious by the way! I should note that there is an ATM inside just in case you need cash.

ry=400This is when we stumbled on a nice playground and let our 2 year old run off some steam. Swings, a see-saw, slides, etc made him really happy! There’s even a few picnic tables inside the enclosure so you can bring/eat your own food.

After getting some wiggles out at the playground, we hopped aboard the Puffin Bus for a trip up to the sea bird viewpoint. It was maybe a 20 minute journey and the driver stopped along the way to point out interesting “fun facts”, like the hill that is said to be a viking burial site! Rathlin Island is supposedly the first place in the whole of Ireland where Vikings settled.

ry=400-5We entered the viewpoint through a Visitor’s Centre (they had water and biscuits available, too!) and took some photos of the gorgeous view we saw!

You know that bird poop smell? That’s what filled our noses over here. BUT, it didn’t take away from the stunning panoramic coastline views!! There were binoculars available for use and a kind employee offered a child’s pair to our toddler. He was absolutely thrilled and LOVED “taking pictures” of the birds. All the black and white dots on these rocks show the vast variety of seabirds that the island receives every year. We learned about puffins, fulmars (in the albatross family), guillemots, kittiwakes, and razorbills. I’ve never been super interested in birds but it was fascinating to see so many and ask questions of the knowledgeable staff members. ry=400-6

Instead of taking the bus, there were several groups of people who chose to hike or cycle up to the viewpoint. If we’d had the foresight, we would’ve checked with the bicycle rental company to see if they offered bike trailers for children. Next time we visit I hope we can walk one of the 8 hikes and/or cycle too.

ry=400-7

“Look, mommy! I can see a puffin with my binoculars!”

 

ry=400-10

We caught the Puffin Bus back to our starting point and admired the coastline for a while longer. We didn’t see them, but supposedly you can watch seals splashing in the sea during the summer!

ry=400-3We had a wonderful day trip to Rathlin Island and it would be fun to go back! We even saw accommodation; I think this would make a great overnight trip.

After riding the ferry back to Ballycastle, you can round out your day with a Maud’s Ice Cream and more playground time (both within walking distance of the ferry car park!)

ry=400-8 Have you been? What did you think?!

Tuesday in Barcelona

Tuesday in Barcelona brought more adventure for our family. We made breakfast in our flat from food we had purchased at La Boquería the day before. Then we started our journey toward the Montserrat Monastery. 11406383_3509396332269_1837135984225481299_oThe day before, we stumbled on a tourism office where we asked about visiting the monastery. Located an hour and a half outside of Barcelona, we weren’t sure of the best way to get there but they were very helpful. We bought combo tickets for the metro, train, and cable car, as well as lunch vouchers and entrance into the museum. (You can also just purchase each ticket as you need it, it’s not necessary to buy the whole package at once.) The train ride was beautiful, and the cable car ride up the mountain was absolutely breathtaking! Our 2 year old loved being so high up in the sky.

11539258_3509483054437_7951664123699721357_oOnce at the top, we explored all around this monastic city. We saw the basilica and took pictures of stunning panoramas. Being up high in the mountains gave me a sense of peace and we SO enjoyed admiring God’s beautiful creation.  11537918_3509485134489_4748210015018689511_o11392893_3509484014461_2575753407304696057_o

 

 

Our 2 year old found a cat that he followed around, and we finally got someone to take a family photo for us! “Selfies” are great, but my arms must not be long enough because our baby rarely gets featured.

11406220_3509485974510_8497107613794780997_o 11427290_3509486494523_8088943706497006833_o

11402902_3509402492423_4255289500344323577_o

11402514_3509480374370_8086405537318161851_o

We had purchased tickets to the self-serve restaurant and enjoyed a huge meal there. It was a big cafeteria type place but the food actually tasted pretty good! And we enjoyed a beautiful mountain view while we ate; a nice setting always improves things doesn’t it?!

11415581_3509486814531_2906173950148920460_o11411642_3509480894383_5943587542442775678_o

Another neat thing we loved was the street of food vendors! There were several people selling fig cakes, nuts, various infused herbal honeys, fruit, almond and hazelnut cookies (biscuits if you’re reading from the UK), and THE BEST sheep/goat/cow cheese you’ve ever tasted! These people make the cheese themselves and they are all different. The vendors are happy to offer you pieces of each kind to sample. Our 2 year old loved this (and so did we)! We realized later that we probably could’ve gone without our huge meal in the cafeteria, and instead just enjoyed a meal of cheese, nuts, and fruit! Of course we bought some to take home 🙂

11221305_3509484414471_4955177375500297351_oSupposedly there is a boy’s choir that sings in the basilica every day at noon, but we arrived right at noon and must have missed it. Before heading back down we got some gelato so we could enjoy the view just a little while longer.

This made such a wonderful day trip! Visiting the monastery was my favorite part of our trip and I’m so glad we made the effort to catch all the different transportation from Barcelona to Montserrat. 11053268_3509395892258_2337244627388278642_oAs a side note, there is a rule on the trains/metro that people should give up their seats for parents with small children and the elderly. The train was so packed on the way home and no one offered to give me their seat. I was okay just standing because my 8 month old likes to move around anyway, but an elderly gentleman eventually offered me his seat. I thought this was so kind and it opened the door for me to have a lovely conversation with him and his 4 friends. They joked about how they had decided that the youngest among them would give me his seat, and they were completely enamored with our blonde boys! Speaking Spanish to these guys was a highlight of my visit!

11411923_3509496654777_3512938180592776513_oEven after a long day, we decided to venture out again for dinner. We ended up at an adorable outdoor restaurant called El Jardí. This place has a lovely garden with paths that occupied our 2 year old while we enjoyed tapas for dinner! 11393327_3509496214766_1351906999960376541_o

 

We got plates of assorted cheeses and meats, pan con tomate, and patatas bravas (potatoes covered in a spicy mayo-type sauce, our new favorite food item!). Our oldest son had a milkshake and our youngest son munched on meat/cheese in his chair.

11393299_3509497134789_706542546661277941_o

 

One of the main reasons we purchased this specific baby carrier (the Onya) was because it could transform into a seat! El Jardí was the first place where we tried it out and it was so brilliant. Our baby loved it, and we were hands free to enjoy our meal together. After all, this was our anniversary trip!

Read about our Sunday and Monday in Barcelona, and stay tuned for Wednesday in Barcelona too!

Monday in Barcelona

After enjoying a night of rest, our first stop on Monday morning was La Boquería Market, just a five minute walk from our flat. 11011110_3509441653402_6463765469983615020_oThis place is HUGE and full of every type of food you could ever want! We enjoyed the fresh fruit juices and smoothies, dried fruit and nuts, freshly caught seafood of all kinds, meat vendors and butchers with every cut of meat (heads and everything!), eggs, breads, chocolates, artisan cheeses, and fresh fruit & vegetables.

10866189_3509442213416_7559007862306958661_oThere are even a few tapas bars inside that will serve you freshly cooked food at bar-type seating. They seemed busy but we didn’t try it with our boys. We enjoyed a cup of fresh coconut and bought a kilo of cherries for 3euro! Nowhere I’ve ever lived has had such affordable cherries, so we devoured these.11406535_3509442053412_1441439492679131623_o 11402269_3509441893408_6134677354243478795_o

After a fun time exploring the market and sampling some goodies, we decided to sit down for a “real” breakfast at a place called Escribá. Turns out, this place is also a sweets shop and it became our favorite breakfast place! I had a lovely café con leche, our 2 year old had peach juice, and my husband (the coffee hater) ordered raspberry hot chocolate. We were surprised when he was served a mug of melted chocolate! It was absolutely delicious and came unsweetened; that’s real chocolate folks! He was given a packet of sugar to mix in and he did end up stirring in a bit of it. This was so yummy, and the main reason we came back twice more during our stay. For food I ordered a spinach and goat cheese quiche and the boys shared ensaimadas, a traditional Spanish breakfast pastry which is like a croissant made with brioche bread… I’ll just say I’m pretty sure God serves these in heaven 😉

10869797_3509442493423_8198244545919667750_o 11393693_3509442973435_4921978299425943423_o

Stomachs full, we headed back to our flat to change into our swimsuits. Supposedly, Barceloneta Beach was within walking distance and we decided to give it a go. The weather was perfectly sunny (upper 20sC, low 80sF) and the beach was gorgeous! It was quite touristy and very crowded, we had to walk down a ways to find a place for our towels and I didn’t see any locals there.11406476_3509444333469_8423814723627102902_o With my kiddos, I like to sit right where the waves wash up over your feet but this area was covered in rocks that were actually quite painful to walk on. The sand is up on the shore a bit, so the water and sand don’t meet each other. We enjoyed ourselves looking for sea glass but it wasn’t quite the beach we had expected. If you’re just looking for a spot to lie in the sun that is near the city, this would be a nice place to visit.  10012091_3509452773680_1486065642639570369_o

On our walk back toward the city, we found a cheap and delicious place for a to-go lunch, BuenasMigas. 10003600_3509528655577_3316680050219139758_oThis restaurant serves focaccia which is similar to pizza, but it is rectangular and doesn’t have sauce. You can choose a variety of toppings and get it to go, which was perfect for us at this moment.  Both of our boys had fallen asleep while we wore them in their carriers! Playing at the beach obviously wore them out! 11357160_3509453093688_8461033028813933378_oBuenasMigas also serves freshly pressed juices. We got apple & basil and it was delicious! My brie/bacon focaccia was a good choice and so was my husband’s, tomato and goat cheese. The total for our meal here was 14 euro, very affordable!

After a quiet and relaxing walk home past the marina (both boys slept on us the whole way), we changed our clothes again and headed out to Parc Guell to see some Gaudí architecture.

11357224_3509393452197_4185240165584354689_oThis was when we figured out how to use the Metro we’d heard so much about. Barcelona has great public transportation and there is even a metro app (Barcelona Metro Map for iPhone) which was really handy. From the metro stop, we climbed a very steep hill to arrive at Parc Guell. I was impressed with our efforts because we were both carrying the extra weight of our children! Once it got too steep to climb, they had installed escalators to finally get to the top.  11078162_3509468214066_5969360625862725302_oThis was a huge outdoor area where you can take various hikes/walks to see Gaudí architecture. Our 2 year old loved running around and exploring this place! There were gorgeous views from the top and I’m so glad we came in the late afternoon when the sun had a bit of cloud cover; the weather was perfect. After wandering around a bit, we ended up paying the entrance fee to see the most famous Gaudí pieces (most of the park is free except for these) such as “El Drac”. Hosea was on the search for the “big lizard” and was excited to finally find it! 11539070_3509470134114_3045482771265951311_o 11402654_3509474134214_5398298887293102313_o 11537451_3509472414171_66248143703519989_o

After our walk/escalator ride down the hill, and metro ride back to the city center, we finished off our day with more tapas and paella in the Plaça Reial. Our baby charmed the women at the table next to us and we were glad for them to keep him entertained during dinner! It was another beautiful day.

Stay tuned for Tuesday in Barcelona! You can read about our Sunday in Barcelona too.

Sunday in Barcelona

We just had the great blessing of being able to travel to Barcelona for the week. My husband, two young boys, and I had such a wonderful time exploring this fascinating city! I want to document our daily adventures here in hopes of remembering all the fun things we saw and recommending activities for other families traveling there with small children.

11537957_3509382971935_2495650037582778780_oOur flight landed in Barcelona around 10:30am so we had the whole day to explore! First we set off to locate our flat that we found on airbnb.com. It was in Las Ramblas area, a great location just a few minutes from La Boquería market and tons of restaurants. First things first, I have to mention that the BEST IDEA I EVER HAD was purchasing a toddler carrier so that my husband could wear our 2 year old. I wore our 8 month old and we were able to navigate the streets/metro/trains/buses with so much ease! I highly recommend using carriers over strollers or buggies if you have wee ones. The boys were able to observe their surroundings without feeling overwhelmed and “out there” in a foreign city, they napped on us and we were able to continue exploring during the day, and we weren’t ever worried about them running off!

After dropping off our bags, we had lunch at Ambos Mundos in Plaça Reial and our favorite was the seafood paella! The servers were very kind here and this was the only restaurant that offered us a highchair for our baby. Feeling rejuvenated, we set off for the Picasso Museum but, because it was after 3pm on a Sunday (and therefore FREE), the queue was super long and we didn’t feel like waiting. We decided to just walk and explore the side streets. We passed by several neat artisan pottery shops and gelato places (try the coffee flavor!). We ended up at the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella and rented a rowboat at the lake before enjoying a walk to admire the flowers. Our 2 year old loved the boat and even attempted to help us row.

885614_3509435653252_6312604095000030135_o1397089_3509441293393_8328578298597622728_o

At dinner we visited a different place in Plaça Reial called Cañón. All of the seating is outside and so fun when street performers come around! We were treated to a group of guys doing capoeira, Brazilian martial arts. The boys loved this! We sampled various tapas and I fell in love with “buñuelos de bacalao”. It was a fried cod cake type thing and reminded me of a savory donut, yum!

11411817_3509387092038_6165130931906191110_o

Stay tuned for my next post, Monday in Barcelona!

Easter Tuesday at Castlewellan Forest Park

It’s still “Easter week” here in Northern Ireland and that means many people are off work and school! This has been fun for us because we’ve been able to spend more quality time with friends. Yesterday we joined a convoy of cars driving to Castlewellan Forest Park in Castlewellan. Driving from Larne, it took us about an hour and a half to get there. It was an absolutely gorgeous day so we had a beautiful drive! We journeyed through Belfast to get there but also traveled on beautiful country roads. We saw green hills, mountains and sheep, and passed by lovely cottages.

10384230_3397149686173_8978817461336280608_n 10923285_3397157366365_171043134425549571_n

Once we parked (£5 per car), we walked down the hill and folded out our blankets on the huge stretch of green. We were right next to the lake and in view of the castle too. Such a gorgeous setting in the Mourne mountains! We were able to get one of the scattered picnic tables but we had blankets for the ground too. We didn’t go inside the castle but apparently you can stay there overnight in their dorm-like rooms. Various conferences and retreats are hosted there.

10404507_3397157686373_6296873692242788816_n

My 2 year old loved watching the dogs run around and jump in the water, and sticking his own feet in the water too. There are a few steps down into the lake where you can sit and play in the water if you want. We saw several people kayaking in kayaks they had rented at the visitor centre. (I want to do that on our next visit!) My toddler also enjoyed flying our kite, kicking around a ball, and walking along the path to collect sticks! There’s a 1-mile trail around the lake and you can even rent bikes to cycle it. This portion is very buggy/bike-friendly!

11146312_3397149206161_8027618723206667050_n

The Peace Maze, on the other hand, is not so buggy-friendly. People did have them but it’s a gravel path and very rocky. My 2 year old rode on my husband’s shoulders and I wore the wee man in my onya carrier. The sign said that most people get through the maze in about 40 minutes but we lucked out and finished it in 25! There is a peace bell at the end that my toddler enjoyed ringing. The maze was lovely and called the “Peace Maze” because it represents the path to a peaceful future for Northern Ireland.

1456539_3397160446442_8192521469400954028_n11148461_3397145046057_5835829739125879985_n

At the end of the maze there is a nice wooden playground that was filled with kids on this busy Easter Tuesday!

11140380_3397160046432_5740512626399862389_n11150967_3397144206036_2485506190427059035_n

There are toilets and changing facilities near the car park so use those before you head down to the lake/castle area. If you get hungry or thirsty there is a cafe on site too. We definitely want to visit again if we have another free day with beautiful weather!

11150351_3397148286138_109203013098950344_n

Easter Monday at Carnfunnock Country Park

Today was what our Northern Irish friends call “Easter Monday” which basically means it’s the day after Easter and most everybody has the day off work/school. Hoping for nice weather, everyone seems to flock to outdoor venues to spend their time. With the gorgeous forecast, Carnfunnock was popular today and we thoroughly enjoyed this huge park!

154529_3395686409592_4078452918812904327_nSet right on the coast near Larne, Carnfunnock boasts over 190 hectares (over 470 acres) of gardens, trails, trees, and stunning views of the coastline. We loved walking around and looking at all the flowers. My toddler especially loved smelling them. There are many attractions for wee ones of all ages! There are remote control boats and cars, bouncy houses, crazy golf (putt putt), a train for younger ones, trampoline jumps for older kids, a huge labyrinth, and even those big inflatable balls you can get inside! All of these cost a couple pounds each.

11038799_3395598847403_7879557885269705777_n

The very best activity in my opinion is the gigantic play area, the “Adventure Playground” which is free! There are a few different playgrounds inside this area, each designed with a specific age group in mind, although all kids can climb on any of the structures. My 2 year old loved the one that looked like a ship, but was very brave and bolted to the top of the bigger one to fly down the slides! There’s even a zip line and some sort of skateboard/skiing simulator activity that looked really neat. Scattered between the play equipment were all types of spinning chairs, tire swings, balance beams, and traditional swings. We could’ve spent all day in this one area.

19803_3395601847478_1489342416289484360_n 11088191_3395600647448_8102756751294261326_n

Just a few steps away is a big grassy pitch where kids were running around playing tag, kicking soccer balls, and throwing frisbees. This is right next to the crazy golf area. There is a small shop that sells ice cream and other treats, along with a Visitor Centre that has balls, bubbles, and toy swords. They also have postcards and all sorts of baubles labeled with “Carnfunnock Country Park”. So if you’re looking for a souvenir, this is the place to be!

11102741_3395685529570_9024427582118525615_n11096533_3395685929580_8603515578252137878_n

We paid for parking today but they don’t always charge for that. There is also a coffee shop in the Visitor Centre if you need a pick me up after all the walking. We did a lot of walking, but all on paved paths of course so it is really buggy-friendly. My 2 year old did great but spent a lot of time riding on my husband’s shoulders. If you have one like we do who is still wearing nappies, I’m happy to point out that there are accessible changing stations too!

We had a wonderful visit on this beautiful day and we’ll definitely be back again. 1422524_3395601207462_5829755120638638774_n    12862_3395599847428_7643432229161630222_n