Are you planning a family holiday in Cornwall? If so, great idea: there are so many fabulous things to do in Cornwall with kids. Of course, the seaside is the biggest draw (and there are lots of world-class beaches near The Cornwall). However, there’s also a wide choice of family-friendly attractions to visit.
Here’s our pick of the best things to do in Cornwall with the kids.
The famous Eden Project is just up the road from The Cornwall. It has the best programme of activities for kids of all ages, as well as plenty to engage them in the biomes and gardens. Travelling with a teen? They may warm to the idea of visiting a garden when you mention the Hangloose zip wire and giant swing…
This is another one of our excellent local attractions. Heligan has over 200 acres to explore, including nature trails, woodland walks and a fantastic adventure playground. Younger children will love the Heligan farm, while older, bolder kids will want to try the long rope bridge in the Jungle area.
You’ll find this fascinating place in postcard-perfect Charlestown. The Shipwreck Treasure Museum was recently acquired by Sir Tim Smit’s team (of Eden and Heligan fame) and has undergone renovation. The result is a lively and engaging collection, which features over 8,000 artefacts from 150 wrecks and some truly immersive exhibitions.
A zoo is the perfect family day out. Newquay Zoo is home to over 130 species, including lions, meerkats and all sorts of monkeys. Highlights include Lemur Island and of course, the penguin feeding. It’s brilliantly set up for a family trip, with lots of places to find food, picnic areas, and a couple of great playgrounds.
This fascinating aquarium is the perfect introduction to who lives in Cornwall’s waters, as well as some more exotic species (don’t miss the Ocean Tunnel). It’s in the centre of Newquay, just off Towan Beach. It gets very busy on a rainy day, so book ahead or come here when it’s sunny!
Head west to Hayle’s Paradise Park, a real locals’ favourite family destination. It began as a parrot sanctuary, and is still involved with parrot conservation. You can meet the parrots as well as all sorts of other birds and mammals. Bonus: it has a large indoor play area, suitable for toddlers to teens.
Catch the boat from Marazion to this dramatic tidal island. Explore the old harbour and village (ideally with an ice cream) before heading up the steep slope to the medieval castle. In terms of making memories, what could possibly be a better family day out in Cornwall? (Make sure you book ahead)
Penzance’s Art Deco lido is a wonderful place for a swim. As well as the large, sea-fed main pool, there’s a shallow area for littlies, and a special geothermal pool for those who prefer a warmer dip. Older kids are allowed to bring inflatables into the main pool. Try to fit in a trip to the poolside cafe while you’re here.
Fancy giving surfing a go? There are plenty of great surf schools in Cornwall, including in surfing spots like Newquay and St Ives. You can also try SUP, sailing, kayaking, coasteering… A family holiday in Cornwall is a great opportunity to try an exciting new activity together.
Take a ride on the narrow-gauge railway through the valley, followed by a chilled-out trip across the boating pool on a swan pedalo. If it’s raining, head to The Engine Shed, a new indoor play area (where parents can relax with a coffee while their offspring play: just what’s needed). Lappa valley is just a short drive from Newquay.
Dairyland is another family attraction near Newquay. There are lots of cute animals to meet, and Dairyland offers pony rides. Other attractions include trampolines, tractor rides and go-karts. Dairyland has a choice of places to eat plus picnic areas.
Probably Cornwall’s most famous theme park, Helston’s Flambards is crammed full of entertainment for kids. There are rides such as Sky-Force and the log flume, a Western train ride, play areas and its much-loved resconstructed streets. Look put for school holiday activities and the summer fireworks displays.
Sticking with theme parks, Wadebridge’s Camel Creek is another great family day out. There are rides suitable for a wide range of ages, often with Cornish themes (look out for pirates and sea monsters). The indoor play areas are much-appreciated on rainy days, while younger children will love meeting the pets and horses at Camel Creek.
Pretty Porthcurno was once the centre of global communications, home to the arrival of the first undersea telegraph cable (1870) and later an important wartime communications hub. The old buildings now house this fascinating museum, which brings a very technical subject to life brilliantly. It’s full of family-friendly activities, and is right next to one of Cirnwall’s best beaches.
This modern museum in Falmouth tells the story of how the sea and small boats have shaped the lives of Cornish people. The displays are wonderfully family friendly, and look out for special exhibitions (recent example: sea monsters). Go down the steps into the Tidal Zone, where at High Tide, you can watch the harbour fish through the underwater windows.
Stay in Falmouth for a while, and head up to Pendennis Castle on the headland. Henry VIII built this castle to defend Falmouth harbour, and the Tudor keep is very well preserved. The best thing about this English Heritage-managed castle is its events programme: try and catch a reenactment while you’re here.
This is another English Heritage site, and it’s not one for the faint-hearted (or vertiginous). In legend, King Arthur was born in this dramatic coastal castle, while Merlin sheltered in his cave beneath the cliffs. Cross the incredible footbridge that leads from the headland to site of the castle, and explore the medieval ruins.
Fast forward a few centuries, and visit an equally impressive but very different historic property. Lanhydrock House is managed by the National Trust, and as well as the manor, there’s acres of sweeping parkland to explore including woodland trails. You can hire a bike on site, and pedal off along the pathways.
If your family enjoys cycling, try The Camel Trail. The multi-use pathway runs for 18 miles between Wenfordbridge and Padstow. Because it mainly follows the route of an old railway, it’s largely flat and easy to cycle along, making it a great trail for younger and rookie cyclists. If you want to shorten the ride to 12 miles, start (or end) at Bodmin instead of Wenfordbridge.
On a busy sunny day in Cornwall, you can find a bit of (relative )peace by going inland. This beautiful, tranquil woodland near Bodmin has a choice of multi-use pathways, from gentle, toddler-friendly walks to off-road biking for serious cyclists. There’s also a lovely cafe…
Does a family holiday in Cornwall sound good to you? Take a look at our selection of family rooms here at The Cornwall, or book into one of our self-catering lodges. If you want to know more about bringing the kids to The Cornwall, please drop us a line.