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Ballymena - Any tours at all??

Traveling to NI this fall with my mother and have many a-la-carte day tours and personally guided tours in mind. We will not have a car. We're calling Belfast our home-base (have an apartment rented already) and I have a couple of questions.

What is the quickest, most reasonably priced way to get to Ballymena from Belfast? I'm going to assume bus only from the research I've done. Second, other than a car rental, is there any way of getting around to a few 'touristy' spots? I realize it's not a large city but is there any guided tours?

My Mom has traced her family back to Ireland (she's quite a genealogy expert in her own right) and knows her grandfather was born in Ballymena. Her head would explode with excitement if I took her there. The entire trip is a surprise so I'd rather not take the bus there, get off, get back on and leave haha. Renting a car there for the day is not 100% out of the question but seriously prefer not to. I'm a new driver and she's too nervous about driving on the opposite side in an unfamiliar place.

Am I being completely unrealistic? Any ideas welcome!