Categories: Family FunThings To Do

They say the best things in life are free! Making precious family memories does not have to break the bank. Here are a few perfect spots to enjoy a stroll, paddle or a picnic in Ards and North Down.

Beach days

With 115 miles of beautiful coastline, this summer is the time to discover our Seaside award-winning beaches – Groomsport, Millisle, Ballywalter and Cloughey. Enjoy a paddle or a brisk water's edge walk Find out more about our beaches

Handstands on the beach

Crawfordsburn Country Park

This idyillic spot provides a multi-use landscape - a sandy beach where you can build sandcastles and a shoreline to dip your toes into, grassy space for picnic pleasure and a woodland forest for your little explorers. Look out for little creatures dotted around the trails, from the troll to the hare, plus there is a geo-park for the little one's to explore and the waterfall makes for a great photo. An on site cafe makes this Crawfordsburn Country Park the ideal location for a day out with the kids. Find out more

Killynether Country Park and Scrabo Hill, Newtownards

Take the incline up to Scrabo Tower for 360 degree views - it's picture perfect! Then, let the kids explore the leafy Country Park to burn some of that energy off. Find out more [Image courtesy of Scrabo Golf Club]

Scrabo Tower at sunset

Nugent’s Wood, Portaferry

This picturesque woodland walk follows some of the shoreline from Portaferry town round toward the other side of Exploris Aquarium. Renowned for it's pretty bluebells, it's a lovely walk. Spot the boats on the Lough and of course the Strangford Ferry. Find out more

Nugent's Wood carved feature and bluebells

North Down Coastal Path

This 16 mile stretch of shoreline path from Holywood to Groomsport allows you to choose a short stroll or a long dander. Either way, the view of Belfast Lough and it's shores are beautiful. Play 'I spy' along the way - you are sure to see the Stena Line Ferry on it's route to and fro Scotland, boats of all sizes, from dingys to cruise ships, as well as our resident seals and Guillemot birds.

Why not park at Bangor seafront, join the walk on the Promenade, stopping at Pickie Funpark along the way for some free fun in the playground. Continue on to Skippingstone Beach, a hub for sea-swimmers, and explore the rockpools. Extend your walk round to Brompton Bay, where you are sure to find brave souls plunging the cold waters and cooling off in the summer heat.

The path continues towards Stricklands Glen, Carnalea, Helen's Bay, Crawfordsburn and ends in Holywood.

For those keen walkers who want to add miles, train stops in Carnalea, Helen's Bay and Holywood can always return you Bangor Bound, or vice versa, if double the mileage becomes too much! Find out more

Pickie Funpark with Bangor Marina in forefront

Ward Park, Bangor

This beautiful park is just a short stroll from the centre of Bangor. It is a hive for all sorts of activity - from people playing tennis, to bowls on the green. Follow the duckpond, feeding the ducks along the way perhaps, towards the aviary and the play park. Why not nip into Bangor Carnegie Library while you are there for some summer reading? Take a picnic, relax and let the kids have a runaround the open grassy area surrounded by colourful flora and fauna.

Saturdays sees the weekly Parkrun event and on summer Sunday afternoons, Music in the Park at the Bandstand attracts many. Find out more

Ward Park Bandstand

North Down Museum, Bangor

Not far from Ward Park, and again, within easy access of the city centre and Bangor Bus and Rail Station, is North Down Museum. This small museum is packed with fascinating displays and exhibitions including a lifesize Monks Hut, a mini cinema and a Viking room that the kids are sure to love. Grab a free Explorers Pack from reception and take to the woods of Castle Park for mini beast hunting and all sorts. Find out more

Explorer Pack details available from North Down Museum

Bangor Castle Walled Garden

Stroll through Castle Park towards Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Centre and you will find this little gem, Bangor Castle Walled Garden. Enjoy the colours, the happy vibe this place exudes and catch up with friends and family chatting on the grass beside the bandstand, the spot for many weddings and events such as the outdoor theatre and Open House Festival concerts. Find out more

Bangor Castle Walled Garden

Kiltonga Nature Reserve, Newtownards

The duckpond is the central feature of this short flat walk. Look out for the 'locks of love' along the way and the statue of the goose taking flight from the water. Find out more

The Commons and Harbour, Donaghadee and the Moat

Take in a bit of history and an amazing view at the Donaghadee Moat and Camera Obscura; enjoy the harbour playground, the iconic lighthouse and the open space of  the Commons, overlooking Belfast Lough.

Birds eye view of Donaghadee

Two wheeled adventures

Why not bring the bikes to let the kids burn off a bit of energy at the new Pump park in Killinchy? Or follow the Comber Greenaway, a seven mile, traffic free section of the National Cycle Network. The cycle path starts in Belfast and finishes in Comber, providing views of Stormont Estate and Scrabo Tower along the way.

A family on bikes travelling the Comber Greenway

Play Park Tours

How many play parks can you visit in a day? List of borough play parks

National Trust's 50 Things to do before you're 11 and 3/4 activity list

Find out more

The Portaferry Heritage Trail

This is one for all the family - Learn about Portaferry's rich history. There is a Kid’s Explorer Pack for the mini explorers amongst the group with fun facts and challenges to complete as you go! Find out more

These are just a few ideas for days out in Ards and North Down, check out our Things to do section for even more inspiration.

Be sure to always check opening times of the attraction you plan to visit before travelling.

Looking for more info? Contact the Visitor Information Centres where our trained advisors can help guide you on accommodation, attractions, and all the great things to do in this water’s edge borough. 

For information on our public transport system, routes and timetables, visit