Two must-see attractions for traveling in Dublin with kids are the Dublin Zoo and the so-called “Dead Zoo.” Our order of events was entirely dictated by the forecast which called for perfect park weather on Day 2 and rain on Day 3. Thus we did the live zoo before the dead zoo. We definitely made the right call but if you have a choice, consider reversing these for reasons which will become apparent.
Getting to the Dublin Zoo by public transport from the City Centre involves taking the 46A bus to its terminus at the southeastern edge of Phoenix park and walking for about 15 minutes to the entrance of the zoo. If you don’t have a good map of the park, stick to the road because there’s little signage within the park. Actually, there’s little signage anywhere and we found ourselves following other travelers with short people and hoping for the best.
The Dublin Zoo is shockingly expensive (44.5 euro) to a family from DC where many attractions, including our zoo, are free. But if you couple this activity with the Dead Zoo, which is free, then the hit to your travel budget for two days of fun isn’t too bad.
And it’s a lovely zoo. Is it just me or is the whole thing not laid out in the shape of a giraffe head and neck?
The highlight for me was getting up close and personal with the tiger prowling in front of the viewing window so closely we could have reached out and touched it.
The highlight for the girls was the multitude of playgrounds we encountered in the Zoo and Phoenix Park. (Maybe I should start a Playgrounds of the World with Kids blog since that’s what “adventuring” seems to mean these days. Patience, mama.)
Phoenix Park itself is gorgeous so do orient yourself and stroll back to the bus stop this way.
Between the bus rides, miles of walking, playground hopping, and bird chasing, this is an all-day affair. One suggestion: Don’t allow yourself to become hostage to the zoo’s greasy lunch offerings, which included the omnipresent chicken nuggets and french fries. Even the “veggie wrap” was a fried potatoey patty smothered in mayonnaise. The less said, the better.
On Day 3 our good weather fortune finally expired. It rained heavily in the morning and we had to go out in it to get to the Museum of Natural History, also known as the Dead Zoo. It’s been dubbed so because of the extensive collection of taxidermy. It boasts quite an impressive collection of stuffed giraffes, elephants, and tigers along with a giant whale skeleton hung from the ceiling. The first floor is dedicated to native Irish fauna with the second floor showcasing mammals from around the world. Upper floors were off limits but, really, how many cases of dead things does one really need to look at in a day? (Answer when it’s pouring rain outside: As many as you can and then some.) Don’t get me wrong, the kids absolutely loved this place but, having gone to the Dublin Zoo the day before, we found ourselves saying, “Hey, we saw a live one of that yesterday,” a lot. The dead ones lost a little of their luster because of it.
Since it was still raining we headed around the corner to the (also free) archaeology museum. Not so kid-friendly, I enjoyed it for the Viking history exhibit, with miniature model boat and lots of axe heads, swords and spears. Lunch in the cafe was surprisingly upscale food with lots of cold vegetable salads and tarts. Not quite ready to give up we headed to Dublin Castle and walked around outside for awhile. The only way inside was a guided tour and they were booked up for the next few hours. There was a very cool set of sand sculptures in the center that were some kind of paean to Irish science.
Someday I’ll start a Quantum Mechanics Landmarks of the World with Kids blog.
A leisurely stroll back through Temple Bar with a stop off for hot chocolates and coffees.
An attempt to stop in a Spar for provisions for a simple in-room dinner were aborted due to incorrigible behavior by the girls. We ended up getting a pizza from La Pizza (imagine that) and eating in the room. Not our best. day. evar. in Ireland.