As half term approaches, this year more than ever we’re all in need of a relaxing short break!  Ards and North Down is the perfect place for family fun, all within an hour of Belfast City.

With great special offers on accommodation, attractions and experiences as well as award winning food and drink, we offer an easy escape from the usual routine. Kids will be entertained while you take the chance to wind down and make cherished memories together. 

Breathe in the sea air as you explore our stunning water’s edge walking and cycle paths enjoying wide open spaces with breathtaking scenery around Belfast and Strangford Loughs.  

Here’s just a little inspiration... 

A young boy enjoying an outing to the Ballycultra Sweet Shop in the Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra

After a morning coffee and browse around the boutiques in Holywood, head to the Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster Transport Museum in Cultra to immerse yourselves in the rich local traditions and transport innovation from the past 100 years. From here you can jump in the car, or follow the stunning 26 km North Down Coastal Path on foot or bike along shore Belfast Lough shore from Holywood via Crawfordsburn Country Park with its pristine beaches, to the seaside town of Bangor. Enjoy a seaside revival experience, stroll with an ice cream on the pier while admiring yachts at the world-class marina. At Pickie Funpark in Bangor, have a go on the iconic swans and capture that perfect Insta-story.  It’s a short hop to Donaghadee, where the restaurants and cafés serve delicious local fayre and the lighthouse stands tall in the harbour.  

A wide view of Pickie Funpark with Bangor Marina in the background

Slow down as you drive along the Ards Peninsula and take in the tranquillity of Strangford Lough, discovering charming villages and towns on the way to picturesque Portaferry. Once here, get up close with local marine species, sharks, seals and even penguins at Exploris Aquarium, Northern Ireland’s only aquarium and seal sanctuary.

A woman and little girl at Exploris Aquarium watch the marina life swim past in the huge tank

Hugging the east shore of Strangford Lough, this beautiful drive brings you to National Trust’s magical Mount Stewart. Uncover the fascinating history of this fine Irish Demesne’s recently restored 19th-century stately home. Wander through the world class gardens and stretch your legs as you discover the recently extended walking trails.

In Newtownards, take the kids on a mini adventure with a gentle climb to historic Scrabo Tower where you can pause and take in panoramic views of the lough.  After just a few minutes drive, you reach Comber, where you can savour great local tastes in artisan food shops and award winning eateries. Just outside the town, at WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre, the kids will have a ball exploring the lough shore where they can feed native and exotic birds while learning about sustainability and wetland habitats.  

A family enjoying a day out at WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Comber

Take the chance to stay a while in great accommodation ranging from cosy self-catering options and guest houses, caravanning/camping to 3, 4 and 5-star hotel and spa facilities. 

Book now at visitardsandnorthdown.com/offers 

Note – Covid-19 Safety measures, travel restrictions and pre-booking may apply, please check nidirect.gov.uk and with providers before booking and travelling Please lateral flow test prior to travelling. Offers are limited and Ts&Cs apply – check individual offers for details.  

Ulster Folk Museum
Visitor Centres & Museums
Children enjoying the autumn leaves in the museum grounds

Refresh the connection at Ulster Folk Museum, a place where traditions and heritage skills are preserved and celebrated to help shape future generations.

Crawfordsburn Country Park
Public Park
a photograph of waves hitting the rocks at the shore

With tranquil walks through peaceful meadows and wooded glens and a stunning waterfall, Crawfordsburn Country Park provides a relaxing natural retreat.

Pickie Fun Park
Adventure Park / Playground
Photo of people enjoying rides on the Giant Swans pedal boats on the blue waters of the man made pond at Pickie Funpark

Enjoy a fun day out at Pickie Fun Park. Try out the 18-hole mini-golf course, giant pedal swans, Pickie Puffer train, children's play area, children's electric car track and more.

Bangor Marina
Adventure Sports
Birds eye view of Bangor Marina

Bangor Marina is located right in the heart of Bangor city centre close to all major road, rail and air transport networks. The Marina lies at the mouth of Belfast Lough offering exceptional access to world class yacht racing waters.

Exploris Aquarium & Seal Sanctuary
Zoo / Aquarium
Penguin

Enjoy a diver's view of marine life from around the world without getting wet. A sunken galleon, friendly sharks and a snappy crocodile, a Waddle of Penguins, all star in Northern Ireland’s only aquarium and seal rehabilitation centre.

Scrabo Tower
Tower
Scrabo Tower at dusk

At the top of Scrabo Hill, overlooking Strangford Lough and the whole of North Down, is Scrabo Tower. The tower, which was built in 1857, is one of Northern Ireland’s best known landmarks and the views from the top are spectacular.

WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre
Nature and Wildlife
image of gosling family on pathway beside grass verge.

Here you'll find the largest collection of ducks, geese and swans in Northern Ireland, as well as a gallery, café, woodland walks, sensory garden, events and activities, free parking, and a picnic area.