Kildare, while a stone’s throw away from Dublin, is a shamefully under-explored place. In this county filled with both towns and countryside, you’ll experience the hustle and bustle of Dublin without the thick crowd of camera-wielding tourists.
With restaurants, museums, pubs, fashionable bars and plenty of trail walks and heritage sites, it’s a county in which you can soak up the culture and nightlife without any Viking Splash tours or people in leprechaun outfits.
Take your date or your family out to explore our top 5 picks of the best places in Kildare that are hidden from the typical tourist crowd, but still essential for anyone and everyone to explore.
5. Castletown House, Celbridge
Castletown House, 40 minutes from Dublin by bus, is a hotspot for locals but a secret among tourists. With the beauty and wildlife of Phoenix Park (minus the deer) but without the crowds, a trip to Castletown House is the perfect day out for any nature-lover.
The main house sits in acres of forests and fields and can be reached by a stunning walk along the River Liffey. Students can take a discounted tour of the house and hear its many ghost stories, and the open space is great for kids.
When you’re finished exploring the house and walking around the gorgeous grounds, you can walk along Main Street in Celbridge, Arthur Guinness’s birthplace, and stop for lunch or a coffee in one of the many trendy cafés or pubs.
Whether you’re coming here for a date or a family day out, take a picnic to enjoy in one of the many great secret spots.
Address: Castletown, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland
4. Style Icon Museum, Newbridge
All you pop-culture fans, this one is for you. This little-known museum, located in the Newbridge Silverware shop, is home to the fashion collections, accessories and artefacts of some of the most famous style icons of modern times such as Audrey Hepburn, The Beatles and Marilyn Monroe.
This museum is kept on the down-low, so you’ll never have to fight your way to the front of a crowd to get a look at any of the artefacts (as is often the case in the more popular Dublin-based museums).
This year has seen the opening of the ‘Growing Up Kurt Cobain’ exhibition which displays personal artefacts that belonged to Cobain such as his car, his clothing and his art. Tickets are €7 for adults, €5 for students and seniors, and free for kids.
After you’ve soaked up enough culture, Newbridge’s Whitewater Shopping Centre is just around the corner and offers nearly a hundred places to eat or shop.
3. Lullymore Heritage Park, Rathangan
Lullymore, while being an excellent place for a day out with the kids, might be the best resource in the country for educating both adults and kids about biodiversity and environmental sustainability.
And if that’s not your thing, there’s a vast range of things for kids to enjoy such as a petting farm, numerous play areas, and a road train while the parents unwind with a coffee at the café.
At the farther end of Kildare, this park is a bit of a trek outside of Dublin which keeps it a quiet but well-preserved spot of Irish history and culture.
There are special deals offered to families and children under 2 enter free.
2. Moat Theatre, Naas
The Moat Theatre is a 200-seater auditorium just by Naas town hall. With a show or event on almost every night, there is something for everyone in this small-town theatre, be it a musical, play or concert.
Unlike the Bord Gáis or any of the other famous theatre spaces in Dublin, this small venue offers a far more intimate experience where you can enjoy the excitement of a world-famous theatre in a more informal and cosy atmosphere.
As well as performances, there’s an exhibition space in the café where the work of local artists is displayed. While some of the shows charge for tickets, many are free entry, so the theatre is an ideal date night for a couple on a budget.
1. Judge Roy Beans, Newbridge
This bar and restaurant are the Holy Grail of Newbridge dining. Offering the same exciting atmosphere as some of the most famous pubs in the country, this bar is renowned among Newbridge locals.
The menu offers a movie deal that includes a free ticket to any movie at a local Odeon cinema. Also on offer is a steak challenge: eat JRB’s steak, fries and coleslaw in one sitting and it’s free! With a selection of craft beers and cocktails, this restaurant is the perfect way to round up any day out around Kildare. Sit back, relax and feel like a local in this cult-favourite bar.
So grab your kids, friends, date or dog and start exploring Kildare like a local!