So you’re planning a family trip to Cornwall! A great choice for family holidays in the UK. Today we’re sharing 25 fun things to do in Cornwall with kids. However, all of these things are just as great without kids. This post is sponsored by Classic Cottages and includes some luxury accommodation options!
Cornwall is famous for its quaint seaside villages, golden sand beaches, turquoise waters and rugged coastline. It’s a popular spot for British holidaymakers, but if you’re like me, planning a family trip to Cornwall can be a bit overwhelming. There’s so much to do in Cornwall, so many beaches to visit and so many restaurants to eat at
One of my favorite things about visiting Cornwall with kids is that everything revolves around the beach and the outdoors. My kids are very happy when they are outdoors and are generally very easy going. They will run wild and use up all their energy while exploring and playing, but you don’t have to worry about keeping them quiet!
It also makes vacationing easier and safer during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it easy to practice social distancing and spend less time indoors.
Planning your family holiday to Cornwall
Here are some top tips for your holiday to Cornwall
- The best way to visit Cornwall is by car. You can also use public transportation to get around, but your options will be limited. Taxis are also an option, and there are many local taxi services, but you’ll have more freedom and flexibility with your own car.
- Cornwall is best during the summer, but it can be very crowded.
- It is especially crowded during school holidays. My advice? There will always be people there, so accept that! If you have small children who are early risers, embrace that and get up and leave before 9am. Honestly, there’s a huge difference between arriving at the beach at 9am and arriving at noon, so get to wherever you are early to beat the crowds!
- Expect it to rain! Cornwall often has wonderful sunny weather, but if you’re planning on rain, you’ll be so much happier when the sun hits you.
- Pack a giant beach bag and an insulated backpack picnic basket. If you’re going to the beach with kids, there’s a lot to carry, so make your time at the beach a little easier by bringing a big bag and always pack snacks in an insulated picnic backpack.
- The National Trust has many places to visit and parking is often free for National Trust members. It’s not worth joining the National Trust just to get free parking, but if you’re thinking about joining anyway, it might be worth joining now. Join us before your trip to Cornwall and put a sticker in your post offering free parking.
- Book your accommodation as soon as possible. Even if it means booking him 12-18 months in advance. The good thing is that reservations fill up quickly! Check out Cornish Holiday Cottages for a local holiday cottage agency based in Mawnan Smith with a focus on the Falmouth and Helford River areas of South Cornwall. We have several properties with stunning ocean views!
Where to stay in Cornwall
When staying in Cornwall with kids, I think I’d choose a self-catering cottage as close to the sea as possible. Classic Cottages has many unique and charming cottages, all in great locations. Here are four of my favorites…
Dreamcatcher Cottage in Marazion
This modern, spacious and airy cottage sleeps up to 5 people (+ 1 cot) and is located on the outskirts of Marazion. The highlight of this stunning space is the floor-to-ceiling windows and south-facing balcony overlooking St. Michael’s Mount. The iconic tidal islands and beautiful coastline create the most stunning backdrop as you sit in the sun and enjoy a refreshing glass of wine, or snuggle up next to the wood burner for a cozy evening.
Ship House near St Ives
This big house is truly my dream home! A stunning cottage with traditional features and cozy charm, yet modern elegance, perfect for family gatherings. It sleeps 8 people (+ 2 cots) and has a large enclosed garden, perfect for summer barbecues and letting the kids get lost in their own magical world.
Another large home perfect for family gatherings, The Newstead sleeps 8 people (+ 2 cots) and is perfect if you have older children. We have all the state-of-the-art amenities teenagers are looking for, including a cinema room and outdoor sauna, as well as superfast broadband and Sonos speakers!
Antigua in Polscaso
If you’re looking for sea views, this cottage is for you. Located in Porthcurso, overlooking Gerrans Bay, this stylish cottage sleeps up to 7 people (including a cot) and has a beautiful patio and grassy area with swaying palm trees, perfect for a summer barbecue!
Best things to do in Cornwall with kids
In this list of things to do in Cornwall with kids, we’ve tried to include activities that both kids and adults will enjoy. Children may love playhouses.. but do parents really want to spend their mornings there? We’ve also selected some Cornish-specific activities. Yes, there are petting zoos and water parks in Cornwall too, but there are petting zoos and water parks all over the world, so save those for when you can’t be surrounded by such stunning scenery. These are some of the best things to do in Cornwall with kids that are unique to Cornwall.
- go to the sea! (clearly!)
We know this is one of the most obvious things to do in Cornwall, but don’t feel the need to plan a million activities for your family holiday in Cornwall!
The last time we went there with the kids we didn’t do much, but we had a great time exploring different beaches each day. I posted on Instagram my top beach hacks for visiting the beach with young children.
- eden project
You can’t visit Cornwall without visiting the iconic Eden Project, a global movement promoting global environmental harmony. It all started here in Cornwall, when an old Chinese clay mine was transformed into a ‘living theater of plants and people’. The gardens are stunning and host live performances, art exhibitions, storytelling, theater, parkour, and carnival performances!
- hangloose adventures
When visiting The Eden Project, be sure to check out Hanruth Adventures, an adrenaline activity company based at The Eden Project. This is perfect if you have older kids or teenagers, and you can choose from activities like the Eden Project’s zip wire, aerial trekking, giant swings, BASE jumping, and jumping on a giant airbag!
- Explore St. Michael’s Mount
This low-tidal island is one of Cornwall’s most photographed locations. This unique small island is home to an ancient castle with a rich history. Visitors are also welcome to explore castles, subtropical gardens, churches, villages, and harbours.
- pendennis castle
Pendennis Castle, near Falmouth, is a magnificent fortress built by Henry VIII. Even if the castle doesn’t wow you, the sea views definitely will.
- Walk part of the South West Coast Path
At 630 miles, the South West Coast Path is the longest marked footpath in England. Of course, you may not want to walk all the coastal paths with kids, so check out the website to find walks suitable for your family. You can find walks based on your location and walking ability.
- eat cornish pasty
Have you ever visited Cornwall if you haven’t had Cornish pasties? Pack a few in your hiking bag as they’re great energy to keep those little legs going!
- Eating fish and chips by the seaside
If you’re looking for a delicious fish and chip recommendation, we highly recommend Rick Stein’s in Padstow. Padstow is a very pretty fishing village and this iconic restaurant is a firm favorite. Cornwall is full of great fish and chip shops. For the best fish and chips in Cornwall, check out this post from Classic Cottages.
- Toast marshmallows on the beach while watching the sunset
There’s nothing my kids love more than spending an evening at the beach when the days are cool and the beach is quiet. Watch the sunset, start a fire to roast marshmallows, and stargaze (remember to safely extinguish fires with water and remove fire debris from the beach).
If you’re looking for a great sunset spot, check out Treanon Bay!
- Snorkel at Kynance Cove
If your kids are old enough for snorkelling, one of the best things to do with them in Cornwall is to take them to the stunning Kynance Cove, where crystal clear turquoise waters await. It’s a great spot for snorkeling and has a lot to offer!
- Visit Lizard Point
Lizard Point is the southernmost tip of mainland Britain, a beautiful peninsula with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. This is the location of Kynance Cove, so spend some time exploring the peninsula during your stay.
- Visit the Roseland Peninsula
If you haven’t experienced the peninsula yet, be sure to visit the Roseland Peninsula. Located in southern Cornwall, this area is part of Cornwall’s Areas of Outstanding Beauty and it’s easy to see why!
- Lunch at a hidden hut
If you’re looking for a special lunch spot during your trip to the Roseland Peninsula, check out The Hidden Hut. This outdoor beach kitchen is located on the coastal path near Portoscato and serves the best seafood in a beautiful and relaxing setting.
- Land’s End – an epic experience
Land’s End is one of the most famous landmarks in the UK and you have to take a photo next to the famous sign. Please note that advance reservations are required for parking!
Be sure to check out Land’s End attractions including the Grand Experience, a family-friendly interactive experience featuring popular characters such as Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit, and Morph.
- Visit St Nectan’s Glen
This is a beautiful woodland walk near Tintagel that leads to an enchanting waterfall. Ancient forests are magical and little minds can go wild imagining fairies and piskies (local fairies!) hiding behind mossy rocks and trees.
- Visit Tintagel Castle
Tintagel Castle looks like a dramatic setting from The Lord of the Rings. Perched high on the rugged cliffs of North Cornwall, cross an iconic footbridge to the island where a medieval gateway awaits.
- Visit Pedong Vounder Beach
Pedon Vonder Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area (and that’s saying something!) Be careful as it’s not the easiest beach to access and you should visit at low tide when there is more white sand there is. It is accessible. The path is steep and rocky, so visiting with young children is not recommended. Small children will probably need to be held. You won’t be able to see the beach at high tide, so you don’t want to be found out!
- Bugle Valley Steam Railway
If you have a railway enthusiast in Klang, you can’t miss the Bugle Valley Steam Railway. Ride a nostalgic steam train to the Bugle Valley. The 35 acres of woodland here are packed with activities for kids, including adventure play, soft play, a boating lake and mini golf.
This is definitely one of the iconic things to do in Cornwall with kids, but it’s a very kid-friendly activity so we wouldn’t recommend going with young kids.
- Try a paddle board
Paddleboarding is my favorite family activity and there are so many places in Cornwall to try it out. You can also rent a paddleboard and play in the water, or join a guide for a deeper experience. If you have small children, rent a larger board (and life jackets and wetsuits) so they can sit in front of the board. If you’re new to paddleboarding and are worried about kids getting on the board, we recommend kneeling on the board. My 4 year old regularly sits on my board and I just straddle it and paddle slowly.
- Visit St Ives (but get there early!)
If you’re staying in St Ives, be sure to take a day to explore this beautiful town. It’s really amazing! It gets very busy so we recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid the crowds. If you’re spending a day in St Ives, book a boat trip to Seal Island. This island is located 5.5 miles off the coast, so it’s a quick boat trip and a great wildlife experience all in one!
- Catch a show at Minack Theater
The famous outdoor theater is the setting for what is sure to be one of the most spectacular shows in all of Britain. The theater is perched on a cliff above the Atlantic Ocean, with balconies and seating carved into the rock. We love that there are performances for the whole family and the kids are often invited to sit on the floor at the front for the best views!
- Take a day trip to the Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly are stunning islands and you can take day trips by ferry, helicopter or seaplane while in Cornwall. The subtropical archipelago feels millions of miles away from mainland Britain. Most people arrive at St. Mary’s Island, from where you can take high-speed boats to other islands.
Read more: My travel blog from the Isles of Scilly
- Lost Gardens of Heligan
This amazing 200 acre garden near Mevagissey was overgrown and truly lost during the First World War. The gardens have been rediscovered and restored to their former glory and are now a paradise for nature lovers big and small!
- surfing newquay
Cornwall is the surfing capital of the UK and Newquay is one of the most popular spots. The famous Fistral Beach is a hotspot, but there are surf schools all over Cornwall. You can rent a board or take lessons. Many surfing schools offer family lessons so you can all learn together.
- go fishing on a boat
Cornwall is a great place for a fishing trip. It’s a great way to spend a morning out on the water and casting a rod for dinner. Boat tours are available in most towns, but can be more than just a day’s worth of experiences, including picnics, fishing, wildlife viewing, tours of the area, and more. The captain will return to land and show you how to cook the fish you caught. Rick Stein has a catch and cook course and Penzance has a highly acclaimed ‘hook and cook’ experience, with activities for parents and children.
There you have it, 25 fun things to do in Cornwall with kids. If there’s anything else you’d like to add to the list, please leave your suggestions in the comments below!