The summer holidays are nearly here. Yay! No school run for six whole weeks. But how do you keep the kids entertained for that long? Below you’ll find my guide to six amazing family-friendly places in Cornwall your kids will love to visit.
Cornwall is a fantastic place. There is so much to see and do. So many wonderful places to visit. Whether you’re looking for fabulous sandy beaches and epic surf, rugged coastal paths or hidden woodland walks there is quite literally something for everyone.
We are so lucky to have all this awesomeness on our doorstep. And yet, we very often visit the same places time and time again quite simply because our kids love going to them.
Life is so much easier when kids are happy.
I have a few must-haves on my mummy-list of places I like to visit too. Simple things that reduce my stress levels. Things that make my life easier.
So I’ve put together a short list of places I love to take GinGin and Roo. Places in Cornwall that they love too.
1. The Eden Project
Because it’s brilliant at Eden. There is always something happening. This place is designed specifically to be an awesome day out for families. It has all of my mummy-list must haves:
- plenty of easy parking
- lots of toilets
- pushchair / wheelchair friendly access
- free water fountains
- lots of places to buy food – including cake and ice-cream!
- loads of picnic areas
- space to run around
- friendly and approachable staff
- soft play areas for tiny kiddies
- educational activities for kids that are actually fun!
- a focus on sustainability
The admission cost is fairly pricey for a one-off visit. But, your admission gives you year-long entry to Eden. So, if you’re planning to come to Cornwall on holiday more than once in a year, then actually it’s a good buy.
You could spend the whole day at Eden and still not see everything. So plan to arrive early.
It’s well worth going round both biomes. Be warned, though, the tropical biome is exactly that: tropical. It gets very hot in there, especially as you head further in. I mean, it’s not unbearable, but just make sure you’re wearing layers and keep lots of fluids handy for yourself and your little ones to sip on.
See if you can spot the lizards who live in the tropical biome!
Be sure to explore all of the outdoors. The temptation with Eden is to head to the biomes and the Core building and rush by everything else.
If you do that, though, you’ll be missing out on so much. So try to plan your day so you can spend as much time outside as inside, especially if it’s a nice day.
Eden is one of those places that you’ll want to keep going back to. Whenever I ask GinGin where she’d like to go, she nearly always says Eden! She absolutely loves it. So does Roo.
That’s why it has to come at the top of my list of amazing places in Cornwall your kids will love to visit during the school holidays.
2. Porfell Wildlife Park and Animal Sanctuary
Porfell is brilliant if you want to take your kids to see some animals, but aren’t too keen on zoos.
It’s one of those places that you have to know about to know it’s a good place to go, because it’s not very well advertised and it doesn’t appear in the popular tourist information booklets.
And, because of that, it’s never over-crowded. There’s plenty to see and do, and it’s perfect for families with smaller children.
GinGin and Roo are 6 and nearly 2. We went again back in February and even little Roo managed to walk round the whole place without getting over-tired. We still had the pushchair as well, though, so there’s no problem getting around with a buggy in tow.
All of the animals at Porfell are rescue animals. Porfell is their sanctuary. And there are some surprising animals that you might not expect to see, like a racoon and a Chinese Water Dragon!
The animals are intrigued by the visitors and so you can see most of them fairly close up. It truly is a wonderful experience for kids.
The thing I would say is that there are areas of the wildlife park that look a little run-down, because most of the revenue goes into looking after the animals. The play area, for example, doesn’t have a lot to do for very small children.
However, you don’t go to a wildlife park to play on a swing.
I don’t think sat nav is particularly accurate either. But Porfell is very clearly signposted from the main road (A390) so just follow the brown information signs.
There is a little tea shop, which serves light snacks and sandwiches but, to be honest, we’ve only ever taken a picnic. There are lots of lovely picnic spots to enjoy.
And, if you’re ever going to get a good photo of a peacock, it will be at Porfell!
Porfell Wildlife Park and Animal Sanctuary is definitely worthy of a spot on my list of amazing places in Cornwall your kids will love to visit this summer.
3. Pinetum Gardens
Pinetum Gardens is another one of those hidden gems that you might never hear about. In fact, I don’t know why I’m telling you about it. It’s a place I should really keep secret!
Tucked away in the heart of Cornwall – literally just down the road from Eden – this is a wonderful place to spend the day with your family.
When you first enter the gardens you might be a little underwhelmed. Don’t let those first impressions mislead you. It is a fabulous place with so much to see, and acres of space to let your little ones run wild.
It’s probably a good idea to take wellies with you, just in case. Some of Pinetum has hard paths, but some of it is a little more wild. More natural. It’s absolutely fine for pushchairs, but the grassy areas might be wet underfoot.
One of the things I love most about Pinetum is just how peaceful it is. Even with families running around, there’s plenty of space to find your own little zen area.
Both GinGin and Roo love it at Pinetum. Whether they’re looking for fairy houses, or hiding in amongst the pine trees, or spotting dragonflies down by the pond, they absolutely love it.
You can take a picnic to enjoy in the grounds, or there’s a wonderful courtyard cafe that serves tasty hot and cold food.
There are plenty of adventures to be had at Pinetum, which is why I’ve included it in my list of amazing places your kids will love in Cornwall this summer.
4. Blue Reef Aquarium
If you’ve not been to Cornwall before, then I should probably let you know that it does rain here from time to time.
Yep, even sunny Cornwall gets drenched with the wet stuff.
You might not be bothered about rain. Or getting wet. You might think it adds to the adventure. And that’s fine. Head to the beach in your wellies and look for creatures in the rock pools. That’s fun too. And free!
For those of you who don’t like the rain, however, there are also some wonderful indoor places in Cornwall to take the kids.
Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay is a brilliant, family-friendly place to go.
Where else in Cornwall can you watch an octopus eat a crab! And where else in Cornwall can you sit beneath the water and look up to see the happy, smiley face of a ray gliding over you?
If your kids are Disney aficionados then they’ll be delighted to see real life Nemos! And Dories! You’ll basically be a hero.
Sadly, you can’t exit the aquarium without being directed through the gift shop. Well played Blue Reef! But the shop also leads through to the cafe, so the promise of a slush-puppy might speed up the agonising game we like to call “put that down!”
We have two very clear favourite animals who live at Blue Reef: one is the puffer fish; the other is the loggerhead turtle. Amazing creatures!
I’d love to hear which are your favourites if you do ever visit the aquarium! Just let me know in the comments below.
So Blue Reef Aquarium made it onto my list of amazing places in Cornwall your kids will love to visit during the school holidays.
5. St Michael’s Mount
If you’re heading further west in Cornwall then I definitely recommend a trip over to St Michael’s Mount. My mum and dad took us here when my sister and me were kids. It’s one of those places that stays with you and I have nothing but happy memories of this place.
The house and gardens are managed by the National Trust, so you’ll need membership to get in. It’s definitely worth it!
But, even if you don’t want to go in the house, going over to the mount is still one of those things your kids will love to do.
You can walk over to the Mount at low tide. There’s a fabulous cobbled causeway that leads from the beach at Marazion all the way over to St Michael’s Mount.
You definitely need to check the tide times, though, before you start out. The sea comes in quickly when the tide is on its way in.
At high tide you’ll need to take the boat across. What a brilliant adventure for the kids! Just imagine all the piratey-tales they can make up and act out. Talk about fuelling their imagination.
There are two other big wins for this Cornish gem: Marazion beach is enormous and there’s loads and loads of rock pools to explore; plus there is a fantastic park with plenty of things for big kids and small kids to play on. Win-win!
I just had to include St Michael’s Mount in my list of amazing places in Cornwall your kids will love to visit this summer. It’s just such an awesome place!
6. The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Okay, so I just had to include Heligan in my list. Remember how I said we practically live at the Eden Project? Well, then, that makes Heligan our second home.
Nearly everyone I know loves Heligan. It’s one of those places in Cornwall that you can go to again and again and it never gets boring. There is something there for everyone.
Although there are some parts of Heligan that are tricky to access with a pushchair / wheelchair, it’s not impossible. Just be aware that there are very steep paths down in to the Jungle. And that means there are very steep paths coming back up too!
Nevertheless, you can have a wonderful day at Heligan without going near the steep bits if you don’t want to. I’ve usually got Roo in the pushchair and so avoid the Jungle, but we can still happily spend the day at there without feeling that we’re missing out.
It’s amazing to visit round about Easter time, because that’s when it’s lambing season. Yes, you can see teeny-tiny new born lambs! And piglets! I don’t know any kid ever who doesn’t look at a lamb and say “aww! It’s so cute!”
Heligan, like Eden, is designed for a family day out. They regularly have fun activities and adventure trails to keep your kids entertained.
There’s very often crafts to enjoy, things to make and build, as well as challenges to spot, hear, feel, smell different things found in nature. So your kids are learning all about the natural world around them while they’re having fun.
The main cafe at the entrance to Heligan gets busy. Very busy. So be warned. We usually take a picnic, and there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy a packed lunch.
I do recommend the flapjacks though. And GinGin and Roo can vouch for the ice-cream!
My absolute favourite bit of Heligan has to be the bird hide. The birds know this is a safe area for them to visit and find food, so you can frequently see nuthatches and woodpeckers, as well as the more usual small birds you’d find in your garden. We’ve never been lucky enough to see the owls, but we were treated to a buzzard perched just a few feet away from us earlier this year.
For that alone, I have to include The Lost Gardens of Heligan in my list of amazing places in Cornwall your kids will love to visit in the school holidays.
You might know that I love plants. I really love succulents in particular. So, as an added bonus, I thought I’d point you to another must-go place to visit in Cornwall. You can read about it here and here 🙂
Which places would you add?
So there you have my list of amazing places in Cornwall to take the kids. There are so many that I’ll probably have to write another handful of articles like this. But where have I missed that you would definitely add to this list? Let me know in the comments below 🙂