As the summer holidays stretch ahead of us, parents will be looking for ways to keep kids entertained and at this time, the focus is on outdoor activities – here, we choose something fun to do in each of the 32 counties.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey, we start with something for older teenagers: the new Line of Duty Tour! Starting at the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast, with lunch in the Grand Cafe´ before you head off to some of the show's most popular locations, including the Hickies Bookies robbery; the AC-12 headquarters; Brentiss Prison and the site of the famous crash when Steve Arnott was transporting Jimmy Lakewell. Back at The Observatory bar at Grand Central, have an AC12 cocktail or Wee Donkey mocktail.

In addition to being a world-class scientific establishment, the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium offers (amongst other things) a family-friendly Astropark, a Human Orrery, a Cosmic Café, an augmented reality moonwalk, and a Dome, soon to host the music of Pink Floyd or U2.

Pretend you are Willie Wonka and make chocolate at the Chocolate Garden in Tullow. Their chocolate workshops, which are due to start back on July 7, are fun, interactive and educational. Kids can try samples, see how different chocolate products are made and make and decorate a chocolate figure to take home. They also have a free Play Area with a slide tower, Wendy House and sandpit, and a covered outdoor picnic area.

Did you know Ireland had two Burrens? The one in County Clare of course, but in West Cavan (just off the N16 between Sligo and Enniskillen) there is Cavan Burren Park, with over 10 km of walking trails, a wonderful visitor centre and panoramic views. In the lee of Cuilcagh Mountain, the landscape here dates back to the Carboniferous period. And it’s only a short hop to the Shannon Pot and the Marble Arch Caves (see Fermanagh).

Based out of Carrigaholt, Dolphin Watch is a family run business for over 25 years, welcoming people back on their boats this summer. A dolphin watching excursion takes about 2-3 hours and you not only experience these friendly mammals up close but also take in the spectacular cliffs sculpted by the Atlantic waves, marine wildlife such as grey seals, peregrine falcons and fascinating historic landmarks rich in maritime folklore.

Known as the 'Irish Alcatraz’ on account of its penal past, Spike Island is a 15-minute ferry ride from Cobh (well worth a visit in its own right). It is crammed with over 1,300 years of history. Apart from being an island prison, it has also been a fortress and a monastery. Monks, Vikings, pirates, smugglers, convicts and more are all part of the colourful past retold in museums and exhibitions, while you explores the prison cells and tunnels.

Walk the Walls. Derry may have one of Europe's youngest populations, but it’s heart is wrapped in 17th-Century stone. Nearly a mile circuit, Derry City Walls hug the city and provide a wonderful stroll around the old centre. The ramparts are studded with seven gates and one of Europe’s greatest collections of cannons including Roaring Meg. Learn more about the city's fascinating history at the Tower Museum.

A visit to wild and wonderful Donegal is not complete without a hike (gentle or challenging – you can decide) up Sliabh Liag, a raw, elemental and stunning cliffside walk with views over Donegal and Sligo. Start on the gentle slope from the visitor centre and stop for good coffee and excellent lobster roll before you decide on the summit. A challenging ascent but worth it!

The name is evocative and the place delivers: Silent Valley Mountain Park is a wonderful gateway to the Mourne Mountains. You can hike the range’s high point, Slieve Donard (accessible and signposted from Newcastle) but for something less strenuous for all ages and abilities, stick to the Park. Note that car parking is limited and it's first come, first served.

People travel to Dublin in pursuit of cultural, historical, outdoor and family activities. As it turns out, they’ll find all of these in the Phoenix Park. Rich in history ranging from Viking graveyards to British monuments, Dublin’s most beautiful green space is also home to 350 species of plants, 72 species of birds, over 400 fallow deer, the Zoo, an erudite president and two lovable Burmese mountain dogs.

The first time I visited the Marble Arch Caves I wasn’t expecting much, but was surprised by a subterranean wonderland so big that boats are needed to navigate its various chambers and crannies. The stunning formations are lit and the guides tell the geography and geology of what you are seeing.

The name Portumna means the landing place of the oak tree. Portumna Forest Park was acquired in 1948 and covers almost 450 hectares. There is an old abbey within the Park which dates back to the 15th Century. The nearby castle has been restored by the OPW, and was the seat of the Earl of Clanrickarde. Keep the family busy with four walking trails, two mountain bike trails and a family cycling loop.

Kerry has many splendid beaches but Derrynane in Caherdaniel is the jewel in The Kingdom’s crown. Many years back after a morning hiking the Kerry Way I stopped by here, visited the old home of the Liberator, Daniel O’Connell (Derrynane House is now a museum) and took off my boots for a paddle in the Atlantic. Derrynane House nestles amid an oak wood, part of the 300 acres of Derrynane National Historic Park which is free to the public (there is currently restricted access to the house) and has many hiking trails.

With 130km of dedicated walking and cycling route, the Royal Canal Greenway stretches from Maynooth in County Kildare through Meath, Westmeath and Longford. Founder of newly launched Royal Canal Bike Hire, David Butterly, believes our new greenway is among the best, with a great variety of accommodation, restaurants and pubs along the way. The Royal Canal Bike Hire hub is next to the train station.

Dominated by a spectacular castle, Kilkenny's medieval past is right in your face, but so are its past inhabitants...if you dare to look! Kilkenny Ghost Tours’ family-friendly tour takes you through a warren of streets dating from the 13th Century. You'll hear myths and mysteries, sprinkled with ghosts, ghouls and murders. Tours start most evenings at 7.45pm.

Taking advantage of this scenic part of the Slieve Bloom, the Glenbarrow Eco Walk shows visitors the beautiful local environment while they enjoy an invigorating hike. Wear the right footwear as you take in ten designated stops, including waterfalls on the Barrow and a view of neighbouring Co Offaly’s Volcano.

Ideal for families with young children, Fowley’s Falls in Rossinver has a short, accessible trail that traverses the falls and rivers allowing walkers to take in some of the very best views and marvel at the local wildlife. The picnic tables at one end of the trail are a perfect spot to sit back and relax for a while, which means this hidden gem is more than worth a visit, particularly on warm, sunny afternoons.

Ballyhoura Forest Park. If you want to get out of historic Limerick city, then head to Ballyhoura Forest Park, with enough activities to fill a day or weekend trip. On the border of counties Limerick, Tipperary and Cork, it includes Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Park, two looped walking trails, two orienteering courses and a 2km nature trail. Want a bit of fun on the water? Head to the nearby Ballyhass Lake Adventure Centre.

A Norman welcome awaits you in Granard at Knights and Conquests, an exhibition that now includes a Norman Adventure Tour. Step back in time and find out if you were a Gael or a Norman. Summon your inner warrior and get up close and personal with Norman weaponry and armour.

A new staycation stop in the smallest county, Sea Louth is a scenic seafood trail, covering the 70km stretch of coast from Drogheda to Omeath, with stunning scenery and the finest local seafood along the way. Sample Carlingford oysters; Dunany crab, caught fresh daily using traditional crab pot methods; lobsters and langoustines caught in Dundalk Bay and razor clams, seasoned with Oriel sea salt; and the freshest fish and chips in Clogherhead.

Westport House sits in 400 acres of lush green beauty, with a looped walk, the West Gardens and forest trails. There is no charge to enjoy the grounds and gardens, as the owners, the Hughes family, have opened the gates to one and all. For paid attractions you can visit the stunning house itself and the Pirate Adventure Park.

Based in the historic town of Trim, Boyne Valley Activities was set up to give people a chance to see this beautiful river in a whole new way – from on board a kayak. The trip takes you past an abundance of flora and fauna as well as medieval castles. All trips are on ‘sit on top’ kayaks which mean there is no experience necessary to get on the water.

Although the castle that once stood at the centre of Rossmore Forest Park, 3km outside Monaghan town, is now gone, there is still plenty to attract visitors to the park. Seek out the ‘Hidden Glen’ or take the Castle Trail through the historical area of the park, such as the castle ruins, the walled garden, a fish hatchery and a 500m yew walk. The Lakes Trail takes the walker to various lakes and water and there is also a nature trail, suitable for wheelchair users.

Located 16km outside Tullamore, Lough Boora Discovery Park is a free admission park, home to a collection of massive outdoor sculptures, and a sanctuary to many species of birds and fish. Rent bikes at the Visitor’s Pavilion and take in the 22km of nature-trails, including the recently opened Fairy Avenue. Watch out for fast-moving hares and stop at one of the bird-hides for a glimpse of the feathered inhabitant s. As well as the three off-road cycle routes, there are five off-road walking routes (3.3km to 15,8km) and four angling lakes suitable for all abilities.

Centred around a beautiful lake, Lough Key Forest and Activity Park in Boyle is one of the country’s best-known amenities. The self-guided Lough Key tour explores the estate’s history, taking you through 19th-Century servants’ tunnels, up the Moylurg Tower and along a 300m-long Tree Canopy Walk. Grab a coffee or ice-cream from the Lakeside Café, stroll the trails, hire a bike, strap in for a Zipit Forest Adventure (; fees apply) or hit the lake. There’s also a caravan and camping site should you want to make a longer stay.

Nestled in the green hills of Portinch in south Sligo, Ireland's largest sanctuary for raptors and owls is the Irish Raptor Research Centre / Eagles Flying. With more than 27 hectares of mature parklands near Ballymote, it is home to more than 100 eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and vultures. Bird shows are at 11am and 3pm every day and there is a ‘touch-zoo’ where you can pet goats, lambs, donkeys and many other small animals.

On the old road to Cork, the Rock of Cashel dominates the descent into the Golden Vale, a cluster of medieval buildings perched on an outcrop of limestone. Originally the seat of the kings of Munster, Brian Boru was crowned High King here in 978 and made it his capital. Currently there is limited access (exterior only) so if you want to visit Cormac’s chapel wait until restrictions ease. Free admission.

The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh takes visitors on a journey from a thatched Ulster cottage to an American frontier log cabin, via a full scale emigrant sailing ship. It’s a fascinating story of three centuries of Irish emigration, brought to life by costumed guides using traditional craft techniques.

Much praise has been heaped on the delights of the Waterford Greenway, and rightly so. The 46km route which you can cycle, walk or segway, runs from Waterford City to the picturesque town of Dungarvan, hugging the coastline and taking in the magnificent Mount Congreve Gardens and the Waterford & Suir Valley Railway. There are many opportunities for pit stops, not least the halfway point of Kilmacthomas, before you reach the sea at Dungarvan.

Dating from the 12th Century, Athlone Castle Visitor Centre is situated in the heart of the Midlands, on the west bank of the Shannon. Its exhibition spaces tell the story of the castle, Athlone town, its people and the surrounding area. Unlike many ancient sites, Athlone Castle encourages kids to interact with what they find in its rooms, making it a truly engaging experience. Plus, there is plenty of buzz around this riverside town after your visit to the Castle.

The visit of Barack Obama gave us a motorway plaza in County Offaly. John F Kennedy’s visit gave us the JFK Memorial Park just outside New Ross, some 623 acres dedicated to the US President whose great grandfather was born in the local village of Dunganstown. The arboretum contains 4,500 trees and shrubs arranged in 200 forest plots grouped by continent. There is also a playground, a lake and a museum while Slieve Coillte offers panoramic views over the park and the six surrounding counties. Free admission.

There is no shortage of things to do in The Garden of Ireland, but we’ve plumped for Tinahely Farm, where there are donkeys, ponies, pot-bellied pigs and goats to pet and feed. There’s also a farm shop offering artisan fare and hand-crafted gifts; a restaurant with fresh Irish produce, and an activity centre complete with go-kart racing, a giant chess set and a large indoor beach.