A Little Guide to Dublin (with a toddler in tow)
It’s hard to believe we landed in Dublin a month ago. We flew overnight and after dropping off our bags and grabbing a bite to eat at an amazing coffee shop and cafe - went straight to the mothership that is Guinness. Dublin was the first stop on our mini tour of the East and Southern coast (posts about our other stops are coming too) and it was a delightful introduction. Shout out to our taxi driver for setting such a pleasant and friendly tone right off the bat.
Where Did We Stay
We stayed at the Ashling Hotel and I’d 150% stay here again. I’ll start with the customer service and a cute story about Atti. In the lobby of this hotel there are these sheep. Three slightly smaller then life size sheep and my daughter was obsessed with them. Well one of the managers took notice and on the second day of our stay, took it upon himself to come and introduce us and gift Atti a mini version of these sheep to take home. His name was Anthony, he also made sure to introduce himself to my mother-in-law, was beyond attentive for the rest of our stay. We also stayed here on our last night in Ireland and he made a point to come check on our group as we were settling into our rooms. The breakfast here is also top-notch. You can (and should) get the traditional Irish breakfast, but the buffet has plenty of other options as well. In the bar area, the menu is also solid. I’d highly recommend their rendition of the toastie and they served some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
Where Did We Eat
Groundstate Coffee was our very first meal in Dublin and it was impressive. Kind of wishing I had made a point to take one of their yoga classes too. I ordered what they called the Weekend Toast. It was a fully loaded with miso roasted sweet potato, broccoli, house-made pumpkin seed pesto and sriracha. I added an egg on the side for a little extra protein power and it satisfied all of my flavor dreams. Between the super nourishing meal and the killer coffee, I kind of forgot I was running on about 30 minutes or airplane sleep.
That night when dinner time rolled around we ventured down the block from our hotel. We popped in and out of a few pubs but luckily decided to climb the flight of stairs just inside the entrance of Ryan’s of Parkgate Street that led to an F.X. Buckley Steakhouse. We were treated to a dinner much better then any of us had hoped for. Some of us opted for the Beef & Guinness Pie, my husband ordered the Chicken Supreme and I couldn’t resist a Rib Eye. I’m sad thinking about how far away this restaurant is. The waitstaff was wonderful and took quite a liking to Atti, especially after we taught her to say whiskey.
The next day we needed a bite to eat before our tour of at Jameson Factory. We used our well-practiced Google Map skills to find Fish Shop on Benburb Street. A very nondescript restaurant close to our hotel that served some simple but seriously delicious. Fish and chips was the specialty. Everyone ordered it and every plate was clean when we left. The wine list was great and our server was happy to chat and offered some great recommendations for our stop in Kinsale where he was from.
We also visited the Boxty House in the Temple Bar area. I didn’t think we’d had enough Irish potatoes yet and this seemed like a cool way to try them. The traditional boxty is an Irish potato pancake that’s made with a mixture of mashed and grated potatoes. Making it part pancake and part hash brown. The chef at this restaurant reinvented the boxty pancake - making it thinner and lighter and it can be wrapped around all sorts of fillings.
We also had a very nice meal at L. Mulligan Grocer. Atti took down the cheese plate from the dessert menu, I went with the lamb tomahawk and Rob went with the pork collar. It’s located in the Stoneybatter neighborhood which I’d recommend a stroll through. We drove through it again on our last day in Ireland and it seemed like there was a lot going on.
We also made sure to stop at Murphy’s Ice Cream. I really wanted to try the Dingle Sea Salt flavor after seeing the ice cream mentioned on Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix.
Things We Did
Our hotel was an easy walk from Phoenix Park. We made multiple trips to this beautiful urban park. There were lots of ducks and a pair of swans had just had babies which we went to see a few times. The playground was up to Atti’s standards as well (meaning there was one.) Phoenix Park is also home to the Dublin Zoo. It was one of the best zoo experiences we’d ever had. I think it helped we were there when it opened as it seemed to be breakfast time for all of the animals. We saw orangutans, sea lions, tiger cubs, giraffes and more. Atti was I heaven. We were only there for the morning, but we could have easily spend the entire day there. There were little playground areas everywhere and plenty of dining options throughout.
We hit the Guinness Storehouse on our first day. It is an experience. I think it would have been slightly less overwhelming if we didn’t go on a Saturday or if we didn’t have to worry so much about a sleeping babe. That being said, I think it’s one of those things you have to do.
Rob and I enjoyed the Jameson tour a bit more. It was a little bit more intimate, the duration was perfect and it was a little less hectic. It probably didn’t hurt that my mother-in-law had booked the rest of us an additional tasting and offered to entertain Atti while we imbibed.
One day we took a tour of Trinity College and got to see the Book of Kells. Our tour was a little broken up by a disinterested toddler but we still got to see the Molly Malone statue and Dublin Castle.
On our last night in Dublin a few of us went to the Celtic Nights show at the Arlington Hotel. The taxi driver who brought us in from the airport had recommended it. I really wanted to see some Irish dancing in while Ireland but didn’t need anything like Riverdance. This show was delightful. More of a night of live music with some Irish dance, it was incredibly entertaining, the perfect amount of educational and the performers were top notch. I’d totally go again if given the chance.
Other Places We Grabbed A Drink
We couldn’t resist the call of Temple Bar. Yes many call it a tourist trap, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. My brother-in-law, who inspired this whole adventure, had a list of bars he was trying to get to in Dublin. Quite a few were in Temple Bar and we were happy to help him check a few off including The Stag’s Head, Grogans and O’Neil’s. We did also visit The Brazen Head. It’s Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to 1198! There was no way we weren’t going to check it out. It’s worth grabbing a drink here.
Nancy Hands was right down the street from our hotel and provided a great traditional Irish pub experience.
Take cabs - there were these signs everywhere to download some app that was supposed to help you call the cab. The app sucked and we never had an issue flagging down a cab or asking the hotel to call one for us.
We were given a lot of kind/preferential treatment for having a small child and a stroller. Atti slept through our entire visit to Guinness, including our trip to the very popular Gravity Bar on the top floor. When we were trying to leave, there was a serious line for the elevator but the bulk of the folks in line were younger/very able bodied. There was an employee with a cart also waiting to take the elevator and when it arrived he used his cart to block the other people to make sure our stroller and the elderly people waiting were given first dibs. We really appreciated it. Had it just been Rob & I or heck, if Atti had been awake we totally would have taken the stairs/escalator.
We could have easily filled more days in the city so here’s hoping that fate will bring us back to Dublin one day.