We’ve visited Cornwall with kids pretty much yearly since Florence was a baby. Being based in Cheltenham it’s a fairly easy drive down the M5 and we’ve come to get to know some of the towns and attractions fairly well – it feels like a little home from home.
We’re visiting Cornwall again in October this year and I’m already planning how to fill our days which prompted me to write this post. I wanted to share all our favourite things to do, see and eat in Cornwall with kids. Obviously you can visit the big attractions like Newquay Zoo or The Eden Project but as a large family it can cost us a small fortune (£100’s) to do a big day out when, in reality, the kids are just as happy spending a day down the beach with their bucket and spade or crabbing off the harbour wall with a portion of chips and an ice cream.
It’s a bit of a mix bag but I hope, if you’re planning a trip to Cornwall, you find something which tickles your pickle!
If you’ve been to Cornwall you’ve likely heard of Perranporth. It’s a typical beach side town with its fair share of souvenir and bucket and spade shops but there’s something about it that’s just lovely. The vibe is really relaxed, the views are stunning across the beach or from the cliffs and there’s plenty of beach for everyone. The beach and dunes are vast and, in our experience, very clean. The Watering Hole (the UK’s only bar on the beach) is a gem and a great place to stop for a drink whilst watching the kids play in the sand.
There’s easy access to toilets, refreshments and plenty of parking so not too much walking for little legs. Even on the dreariest of days there’s a good lot to do and the kids loved just being free to run around on the beach, dig and get messy. I’d recommend you pick up a pasty whilst you’re in town but if you’re after an evening meal and staying close by I can highly recommend Jaipur on St. Piran’s Road – they do a lovely curry.
The New Inn, Goonhavern
If theres a kiddy friendly pub around then we’re likely to know about it. The New Inn is only a few miles from Perranporth with ample parking and a fantastic child-friendly garden with benches and an undercover area for when it’s a little grey. In the Summer they also have a bar on the patio to save you going into the bar/restaurant for drinks which we found handy with the kids to watch over. The interior of the pub is cosy but modern – just my cup of tea. There’s an open fire and even a pool table if that’s your thing. We’ve eaten at The New Inn a couple of times and the food has always been lovely.
There are a great number of beaches in Cornwall (as if you didn’t know) and we’ve visited a fair few but one of our favourites has to be Crantock; on a good day you could be in the South of France. We visited in August and the weather was just amazing. With decent parking, refreshments on the beach and smaller streams for the children to paddle in it’s a great option. Once you’ve finished up at the beach I highly recommend you head up to The Bowgie Inn on West Pentire – the views over Crantock are stunning and there’s plenty of outdoor space for the kids to stretch their legs.
Another of our favourite beaches is Holywell Bay. The parking is reasonably close by and there are plenty of smaller streams for the kids to paddle and play in. Take a net, some inflatable toys and the kids are happy for hours. We also like to pack a small sun shelter which doubles as somewhere to change nappies, store food and drink or pop a sleepy toddler. During our visit in 2016 some of the kids on the beach were sledging down the sand dunes which looked like a lot of fun!
Pentewan Sands Holiday Park
Ok, so if you’re off to Cornwall then you’ve probably got your accommodation all sorted but I couldn’t not talk about this place – it’s billed as a 5* holiday park and I’d absolutely agree. We’d driven past the park on numerous occasions on our way to Mevagissey and I always thought how stunning it looked set down between the cliffs and right on the coast. We booked a weeks stay in a static caravan (I know, six of us in one caravan-crazy) during October half term (2017) and found that they have the best facilities for children and whats more is that the park is open to non-residents to use the facilities for a small fee.
The clubhouse, known as The Seahorse, has a fantastic soft play (albeit not really suitable for non-walkers) and the entertainment and activities run for the kids are perfect. During the afternoons they show movies or run craft sessions and by night they offer themed discos, magicians and clowns. It sounds cheesy but the kids absolutely loved it and that meant we were able to relax.
There are a couple of pools to choose from; one for more serious swimming and one which has a couple of small slides and a shallow splash pool. Again, the kids were in their element.
There’s plenty to eat and drink on site and a large shop if needed however, we chose to self-cater in the caravan or eat off site whilst on days out.
As I mentioned earlier the park is right on the coast and has a lovely beach within a few minutes walk from your front door and there are no slopes or steps so it’s ideal for families. There’s also a swing set and slide on the beach which probably has the most picturesque view of any play park I’ve been to.
Five minutes drive from Pentewan Sands Holiday Park is the beautiful coastal town of Mevagissey. We were introduced to Mevagissey by a friend and it’s been a firm favourite with us ever since. On first appearances you might think it’s not particularly child friendly; there aren’t loads of arcades or amusements and the streets are narrow and cobbled. However, the harbour is stunning and the kids loved watching people crabbing off the harbour wall. There’s a museum which is free of charge and good for a rainy day (although it’s a little tight for pushchairs) and there’s a lovely walk along the harbour’s edge which leads out to beautiful views of the coast.
Back in the town and you’ll find your typical Cornish shops and just on the harbours edge is a lovely restaurant/cafe/bar called Sharksfin. We’ve popped in their several times now and they’re very accommodating of families. The car park isn’t too far from the town and there’s also a play park just across the road so the kids can burn off some steam.
Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm
Ok, so you might be thinking cider and kids? Trust me – go! It’s great for kids and adults alike. Since we visited in 2014 they’ve done it up a lot and the facilities are now even better. Besides seeing how the ‘cyder’ is made and being able to try and buy it you can also take a tractor ride around the orchards and see where the apples grow. The kids loved it and we also got to see a whole host of farm animals. If you do visit I’d recommend a pit stop in the cafe for some cider and a Cornish pasty. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to spend half a day and it’s something a bit different too.
Padstow to Rock
When in Cornwall with kids we always seem to end up in Padstow. It’s always heaving with people thanks to Rick Stein but I’d definitely say it’s worth a visit if you can cope with crowds. I’d recommend using the park and ride at the top of the hill (can be quite muddy in the winter) just as you come in to Padstow. It was only a few pounds for us to do a return journey down to the harbour and the kids loved a ride on a double decker bus. The bus will take you right into the heart of Padstow, near Rick Stein’s deli and fish and chip shop. It’s worth it just to avoid the in-car arguments about parking whilst the kids go crazy in the back.
When in Padstow we always grab a pasty (notice a theme here?!) from Chough’s Bakery and head for the ferry which takes passengers from Padstow to Rock. Now, there isn’t really much at Rock as you immediately get off the boat; we only tend to stop for a drink and a toilet stop and then head back to Padstow but the boat ride is fun and a good half a day is filled fairly inexpensively.
I couldn’t talk about my favourite places to visit in Cornwall with kids without mentioning St. Ives. It’s right in the South of Cornwall but it’s well worth the drive if you’re staying further North. The pretty coastal town is set on a hillside and, due to its popularity, it can be a little tricky to park. My tip would be park in either the Leisure Centre or the Rugby Club – both locations are located at the top of the hill and have payable shuttle buses which will take you down into the town and back again (of course you could walk but you’d have to be crazy to do that).
Once you’ve reached the centre of town make your way to the seafront where you’ll be able to visit the RNLI Lifeboat Station for free and, if you’re lucky, see one of the boats – they’re massive up close and the kids loved being able to walk around it. Just along from the lifeboat Station is a large row of shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s a lovely walk along the seafront and we always tend to stop on a bench for a pasty or (and!) ice cream. In the Summer, when the tide’s out, you can walk down on to the beach and the kids can paddle in the shallow water. The shopping in St. Ives is good with all the big high street names as well as lots of characterful independent shops. As I mentioned earlier, St. Ives can get very crowded so my advice would be to head down earlier in the day and avoid New Years Eve as they have a big street party style fancy dress event and the streets are swarming with revellers from fairly early on.
It goes without saying that there are many, many more things to do in Cornwall with kids but these are just some of our favourite and more budget recommendations. I have a list of new places I’d like to explore this October so no doubt I’ll need to add to this post after that trip.
Let me know in the comments below where you like to visit in Cornwall with kids or without!