For an island that's relatively small, you would be surprised at the number of hidden gems and unique experiences that are just waiting for you to discover them. And many are a mere stone's throw away from Dublin, making for a super convenient yet wonderfully exciting few days away from the city.
One of those areas is Mid & East Antrim, which is just over two hours in the car from Dublin. Shaped by the elemental forces of the land and sea, this area is truly a place of its own. Between the beautifully rugged coast, rich heritage and everything in between, it really makes for a somewhat surprisingly fun adventure on the Emerald Isle.
Here are ten reasons to visit Mid & East Antrim this year.
Adventures on the water
I think we have all found a new appreciation for nature in the past year, especially the sea. From relaxed dips to more adrenaline-inducing thrills, Mid & East Antrim has a few water-based activities to tick off your list, such as Islandmagee SUP and WaveRides Paddleboarding.
Get a true taste of tradition and culture with a behind-the-scenes look at a brewery and or studio. Hillstown Brewery offers tours that allow you to tour their unique 150-acre farmland and brewery. Meanwhile, you can also get a glance at Audrey Kyle's stunning art studio.
Get your walking boots on in this beautiful corner of the island. It's a well-known fact that walking is the best way to get to know a place, and by taking on some of the most stunning walking routes in Mid & Antrim, you're sure to fall in love with the place. Some stunning things to see when walking include Glenoe Waterfall, Straidkilly Nature Reserve and Ballygally Beach, to name a few.
No holiday is complete without at least ONE ice cream. But in this area, you'll probably want to get one before, during and after each activity. With spots such as The Rinkha, Mauds, The Milk Parlour, McGroggans in Ballymena, you are spoiled for choice!
An important part of any trip is the food offerings. Mid & East Antrim has an abundance of that, and then some. From delectable sweet treats from McKee’s Home Bakery to colonial-style diner grub from PaPa Brown's Grill, your tummy will be rumbling at the choice of eats in this area.
Ballygally Ghost Room
A hotel stay but make it spooky. The Castle dates back to 1625 and is the only 17th Century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today. Known for being haunted by a friendly ghost, brave guests can visit the ‘ghost room’. You never know, you may end up having a chat with someone on the other side...
Besides, the hotel is simply stunning, regardless of whatever paranormal beings may reside.
The opportunity to get crafty
Learning something new is always fun. Whether it's stone masonry at Carved at the Castle, jewellery making at Gobbin's Crafts or decorating ceramics with Natasha Swan, there are plenty of opportunities to get crafty n this corner of Ireland.
Don't fret if you have never tried horse riding before. It's never too late to hop on the saddle and experience this blissful activity. That is what is on offer from Glenview Farm Equine Learning Centre, situated in an area of tranquil natural beauty. They cater for individuals, families and small groups as well as children, teenagers and adults and have classes for all levels.
After the year or so we have all had, a bit of peace and relaxation is always on the cards. Luckily, Mid & East Antrim has an abundance of lovely gardens that make for a lovely relaxed day out, such as Kilcoan Gardens, Glenarm Castle Walled Garden and Carnfunnock Country Park.
As you visit the rugged and sweeping coast of Mid & East Antrim, you can expect to stumble across some lovely scenic beaches that make for a stunning day out, such as Browns Bay Beach and Ballygally Beach.
And that is just a taste!
For more information on planning your visit to Mid & East Antrim, go to https://shapedbyseaandstone.com/staycation and find your stay.
Brought to you by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council.