Starting at Woodford Dolmen Hotel
While staying with us you can explore our own 10 acres of land or venture to the close Carlow town.
Our Fairy Garden
What’s more magical than fairies?
Ireland is long since known for fairy tales and we’re very lucky at the Woodford Dolmen to be the chosen home of King Oran, Queen Tianna and their daughter Orla with the Magical Fairy clan.
Having a King and Queen stay with us was a huge responsibility, luckily, we’re used to giving our guests the red-carpet treatment and we were well prepared. Quickly the fairies made their home in our gardens and christened it ‘An Draoicht Glen’. The fairies have since built their homes among the trees and hedges.
When staying with us you’ll see how they have all decorated their beautiful homes, but don’t expect to see the fairies themselves! They’re notorious night owls, though it’s not unheard of for some lucky children have spotted them coming in for the night on an early morning walk.
Keeping everyone entertained
We are very happy to cater to families at our Carlow Hotel. You and your family are free to explore the ground and take in some beautiful sites. Due to our easily accessible location, there are plenty of close by activities for all of the family to enjoy.
Castlecomer Discovery Park
Only 30 minutes’ drive, Castlecomer offers a day of adventures. Facilities include walking trails, boating, and fishing on the lake, high-ropes and other adrenaline-inducing activities, a fascinating multi-media coal mining museum, craft workshops, Elf & Fairy village, and café.
Big Blue Barn
Big Blue Barn adventure play centre is 10 minutes’ drive, just the other side of Carlow town centre and fantastic fun for kids aged 0 – 12 years. The enormous play area is across 4 floors with rope bridges, ball pools and slides – including a 7m spiral slide! While your little ones are running around having a brilliant time, take time out and relax in their café.
One of our favourite places to visit, Chocolate Garden is adjacent to Rathwood for a great day out. Learn all about cocoa, chocolate making and have a go at being a chocolatier yourself! The Chocolate Workshops are very popular and we recommend booking in advance.
Chocolate Garden also has a play area, trim trail, Wendy house and sandpit for kids to play in while you relax over a coffee.
Visual Centre for Contemporary Art & Theatre
As well as welcoming many children’s and family-friendly performances, especially during the school holidays, VISUAL’s Parent and Toddler classes are mornings of fun, art and play with your little ones. Tea and coffee is provided.
Spend a few hours exploring then pickup a kids activity sheets at reception, packed with facts about the artists, interesting questions to think about and space to sketch ideas.
Uniquely combining retail and leisure, there is plenty to keep everyone entertained. Take a trip through the woods on the Rathwood Express Train. Venture into the maze, when you’ve safely found your way out discover the playgrounds swings and slides. Rathdown also has a Deer Park and magical walks through the forest.
See animals including deer, pot-bellied pigs, ponies, donkeys, ducks, sheep and cows in the Pet Farm. Make friends with rabbits, hamsters, bearded dragons and snakes (if you’re feeling brave) in the Petting Zoo.
The Outdoor Activity Centre includes swings, slides, roundabout, and trampolines galore. Play in the sandpit, a round of crazy golf, tackle the obstacle course or hold the fort. Ride a donkey or take to the racetracks. The Barrel Train rides across the fields are always a firm favourite. With separate soft play areas for toddlers up to 3 years and kids age 4 – 11, the Indoor Area is packed full of slides, chutes, climbing frames, and ball pools.
Graiguecullen Swimming Pool
Open to the public all year round, facilities include a 25m swimming pool, toddler pool and viewing area for parents. For adults, there is also a sauna, steam room, and a coffee dock.
Always a popular choice!
The IMC Cinema Carlow has free parking, Kids Club and special midweek offers, perfect for relaxing rainy days.
Saturday Story Time
Every Saturday at 11 am Carlow Central Library hosts a storytelling session for children up to 6 years. Perfect for your little ones who are up early.
Ireland’s Ancient East
Ireland’s Hidden Gem
Right on our doorstep
The Carlow Garden Trail
The Treasures of Carlow
It should come as no surprise to hear that Carlow is a treasure trove of wonderful gardens. Follow the Carlow Garden Trail, a collection of 16 gardening attractions featuring old gardens lovingly restored and maintained or smaller gardens that are maturing beautifully over time.
Award-winning garden centres and forest parks complement the joy of a visit on the Carlow Garden Trail.
Highlights of Carlow Gardens
- Altamont Gardens
- Arboretum Inspirational Gardens & Centre
- Delta Sensory Gardens & Centre
- Ducketts Grove Walled Gardens
- Herb Gardens at Kilgraney House
The Carlow Garden Trail can be driven in one day but we recommend you book one of our special offers and give yourself the time to enjoy the remarkable beauty at a more leisurely pace. The trail can be joined at any gardening attraction and then you just follow the easily identifiable signposts.
The Carlow Garden Festival
Every year during August bank holiday
The festival is a fabulous experience for budding and experienced gardeners or simply nature lovers to get practical advice, hints and tips from some of Ireland’s most respected gardening professionals.