When funds are tight, you could just stay at home ? or you could find cheap and inventive ways to enjoy yourselves on a family trip. You can?t get any cheaper than free, so if you?re looking for some budget-friendly ways to occupy the children next time you?re in Dublin, read on:

Botanic Gardens

It?s hard to believe you?re just minutes from the city centre when you visit the stunning Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. If the weather is fine, take a picnic and appreciate the beautifully restored, award-winning glasshouses, while the smaller people make the most of their freedom in the extensive grounds. Roam the rock garden, rose garden, pond area, and arboretum, where more than 15,000 plant species make this a real urban oasis.

The National Botanic Gardens open every day except Christmas Day, and there are free guided tours on Sundays from 12.00 to 14.30.

Botanic Gardens ? Glasnevin, Dublin

The National Museum of Ireland

Museums have lost their traditional image as musty, serious places with nothing of interest for children. The National Museum on Kildare St. is a great place to bring history alive for younger folk, with entertaining exhibitions on everything from the Vikings to Ancient Egypt and prehistoric Ireland to bog bodies. Tours and events geared toward families include the My Museum Programme, which promotes interaction and exploration for all the family, as well as hands-on events involving storytelling, drama, art or demonstrations, and guided tours.

Irish Museum of Modern Art ? Explore for Families

Another museum that children will love is the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Its family programme, Explorer, encourages children and adults to discover art works and art making on Sunday afternoons from 2pm to 6pm January to May and October to December. Projects are targeted at children aged 4 to 10, with numbers limited to 35 participants. Contact the information desk frontofhouse@imma.ie for further details.

Natural History Museum

Affectionately known as the Dead Zoo, the Natural History Museum has been fascinating children since it was opened by renowned Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone in 1857. With giant elk and whale skeletons, rainbow-coloured butterfly collections, and hundreds of other animal exhibits, the Natural History Museum is an amazing world for all the family. Look out for special family and children?s events based on specific aspects of the animal world.

Irish Elk Skeleton at the Natural History Museum

Dublin Bus Hop On Hop Off Tour

There?s nothing quite like trundling along in an open-top bus, even if you?re not a kid. Dublin Bus operates a flexible tour that allows you to join and leave as often as you like over the course of two days. It covers all the main Dublin attractions, from Dublin Zoo to Trinity College, and the entertaining guides give you a native?s insights on the city. Best of all, every paying adult can bring two children under 14 years free.

Free Fun in the Park

The Phoenix Park is not just the biggest urban park in Europe, it is also a massive playground where kids can roam as free as the resident herds of fallow deer. Find out more about the park and its wildlife at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre. This bright and airy space has free art materials and runs free workshops for children aged 5-plus on nature, art, and history every Sunday from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Visit on Saturday to snap up free tickets to see Aras an Uachtarain, home of the President of Ireland. There?s a great playground beside the Visitor Centre, and the adjacent Ashford Castle is well worth a visit.

Aoife O?Carroll is a staff writer for Nova Car Hire, a convenient website for arranging car rental in 26,000 locations worldwide, including Dublin car hire.

Botanic Gardens image credit
Irish Elk Skeleton image credit

Source: http://gotireland.com/2012/10/23/free-family-fun-in-dublin/

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