•Take little animal lovers to bond with a baby giraffe and a baby gorilla at one of the oldest zoos in the world
•Rent bikes or a segway to visit each and every one of the 400 animals
•Have your cake and eat it too in a Victorian era tea parlor
In the lovely leafy surroundings of Phoenix Park, a short bus ride from the city center, Dublin Zoo is home to more than 400 animals (including a Rothschild giraffe and Asian lion cub which were born in the last year). First opened in 1831, this is one of the oldest zoos in the world, but in recent years it has had a complete revamp and now covers 70 acres of parkland, gardens, lakes, and natural habitats for all those creatures. Visit its information-packed website to get a lay of the land and to buy your tickets before you arrive so you can skip the queues. It’s also worth planning your visit around the daily talks and feeding times (also on the website), so you and your little animal lovers will get to chat with the chimps, encounter an elephant, and see the sea lion splash. Afterward, take the kids for tea and cake or some crowd-pleasing coconut and white-chocolate cookies at Phoenix Park Tea Rooms, housed in a black-and-white Victorian building nearby. There’s a large terrace shaded by trees for sunny days, and a walled kitchen garden next door. Next hop on the Phoenix Park Choo Choo road train (it doesn’t run all year round, so check beforehand on phoenixpark.ie) to spot real-life Bambis among the herds of wild deer. Alternatively, rent bikes inside the main entrance and explore the park under your own steam. Any teenagers in tow might prefer to take a Segway tour and zoom around the sights. After all the daytime activity, a good bedtime story for younger kids is A Dublin Fairytale by illustrator Nicola Colton (stocked in the Irish Design Shop on Drury Street). This beautifully drawn book follows a little girl called Fiona who travels through the city to get to her grandma’s house and meets a gang of colorful characters along the way, including a clever fox and a fire-breathing dragon.
Dublin Zoo is on the edge of Phoenix Park, in the west of the city. You’ll also find the Phoenix Park Tea rooms there, and Phoenix Park Bike rental. The Phoenix Park Segway tour area is nearby. The Irish Design Shop is on Drury Street in the center of the city.
DUBLIN ZOO: Phoenix Park; +353-(0)1-474-8900; dublinzoo.ie
PHOENIX PARK TEA ROOMS: Phoenix Park; phoenixpark.ie/visitorinformation/cafetearoomsicecreamkiosks
PHOENIX PARK BIKES: phoenixparkbikes.com
SEGWAY TOUR: phoenixpark.ie/visitorinformation/segwaytours
IRISH DESIGN SHOP: 41 Drury St.; +353-(0)1-679-8871; irishdesignshop.com