Right next door to the Botanic Gardens, the rejuvenated Ulster Museum, with its spacious light-filled atrium and polished steel is a big hit with visitors. The museum's forte is the history and prehistory of Ireland using exhibitions to colorfully trace the rise of Belfast's crafts, trade, and industry, and offering a reflective photographic archive of the Troubles. In addition, the museum has a large natural history section, with famed skeleton of the extinct Irish giant deer, and a trove of jewelry and gold ornaments recovered from the Spanish Armada vessel Girona, which sank off the Antrim coast in 1588. Take time to seek out the Girona's stunning gold salamander studded with rubies and still dazzling after 400 years in the Atlantic. The museum includes a first-rate collection of 19th- and 20th-century art from Europe, Britain, and America. The art, history, and nature discovery zones are jam-packed with hands-on activities for children. Kids also enjoy the Peter the Polar Bear exhibit, and the famed Egyptian mummy, Takabuti. There's an innovative 360-degree light-and-sound immersive experience, museum shop, café, and restaurant. Sunday morning is the quietest time to visit so get in early before the crowds, and take a picnic to the Gardens next door.
Stranmillis Rd., Belfast, Co. Down, BT9 5AB, Northern Ireland