When planning a family trip, your priority would be choosing places that are easily explorable while having enough interesting things for everyone to do.
We suggest booking tickets to Cornwall this summer and bonding as a family over its many historic places and scenic mountain terrains. And if you have young kids, it promises to be an even more exciting trip, given they can encounter ponies, mermaids and giants during the tour.
No, we aren’t kidding, and you can read the rest of our guide to find out. Perhaps, a view from King Arthur’s castle might interest you?
Best Places To Go In Cornwall For Families
A. Outdoor Activities
Sightseeing with kids can be tough, but if there’s one place you can enjoy as a whole family, it’s Cornwall. We know kids become cranky if they have to walk too much or miss their lunchtime, so we have picked several family-friendly attractions in this guide.
Let’s start with outdoor activities, as they are the most fun, before we highlight some indoor attractions towards the end of the guide.
i) Activities With Animals
1. Blue Reef Aquarium
There are few better ways to tour Cornwall with kids than a trip to Blue Reef aquarium. 40 different underwater habitats are dotted across this man-made marine environment, with sharks, turtles and even a giant Pacific octopus greeting visitors.
You can spend quality family time enjoying the animals in their natural habitat and even encourage the kids to feed them. Best of all is the ocean tunnel that houses rare animals, like loggerhead turtles, reef sharks and puffer fish, so ask the kids to keep a close eye out.
We like the setting of this picturesque aquarium, situated right on the seafront. It offers tourists the chance to sit by the beach and watch the waves lap up on the shore without hindering their view of ocean life.
If possible, visit Blue Reef on a rainy day – the stormy weather and aquatic life will take your breath away.
2. Newquay Zoo
Do zoos win awards? Newquay zoo in Cornwall certainly did for its abundance of animal life, providing a refuge to over 1,000 exotic creatures that range from tiny bugs to rare big cats.
Visit this place during the school holidays, and we are sure the armadillos and zebras will capture your child’s imagination. And to entertain kids further, explore the Secret Garden while passing through the ever-changing habitat of this artificial forest.
From the jungles of Asia to the tropical rainforests, the beauty of this zoo will leave your kids wide-eyed. Spanning 13 acres, Newquay zoo is perfect for exploring Cornwall with kids or toddlers.
3. Cornish Seal Sanctuary
Compared to other wildlife parks and family attractions, Cornish seal sanctuary is better known for rescuing seals and sea lions. Moreover, it makes concerted efforts to save penguins and otters while having farm animals, such as ponies, sheep and goats, for kids to interact with.
Take your time and enjoy the…
- Talks on various wildlife species
- Children’s play area
- Feeding times
- Quiz trail
If you have a knack for the natural world, knowing this sanctuary rehabilitates more than 70 grey seal pups every year will certainly warm your heart. You are even allowed to bring dogs to explore the wonders of this wildlife centre.
4. Paradise Park
We have spoken about big cats and sea lions, so here’s something for bird lovers. Get your binoculars out and stroll through Paradise Park to see how many of the 130 species of birds you can spot.
There are Cornish choughs, toucans and even flamingoes spread out across this pristine park. You might even catch a glimpse of the elusive red panda if you are lucky. But parents who don’t want to plan a hectic trip can relax at the penguin feeding show and encourage their kids to mingle with the farm animals.
Moreover, take a ride on the Jungle Express to explore some of the grounds and gardens within the park. Kids will especially enjoy the indoor play area, with toddler zone soft play areas and a jungle-themed barn. So, buy a day ticket for sightseeing and interacting with the animals.
5. Monkey Sanctuary
One of the prime tourist attractions in Cornwall is the monkey sanctuary that lets you view several species of primates up close. Let the kids have fun in the wild play area amidst butterflies, birds, and other creatures while you try to spot the monkeys swinging across the branches.
ii) Theme Parks
1. Camel Creek Adventure Park
This adventure playground has it all – outdoor and indoor attractions, 5D theatre, multiple animals and various kids’ activities and rides. When you have children of different age groups, you can take the little ones to the carousel while older kids can enjoy the thrill of riding a rollercoaster.
Best of all, it’s possible to spend a day out at camel creek despite rain showers, thanks to the soft play zones. But you can’t visit this theme park in winter, so check with the concerned authorities before pre-booking the tickets.
2. Dairyland Farm World
What do you call a farmland, a mini museum and an adventure park rolled into one? Dairyland Farm World! This place even has a walking trail that runs across the theme park, with multiple interesting activities along the way, including tractor rides, milking cows and learning about Cornish history.
It’s the perfect tourist spot when you have small kids who can explore the wonders of the park by…
- Riding ponies
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Following a wildlife trail
- Cuddling guinea pigs
- Interacting with meerkats
- Playing in the bug zone
- Learning about history at the Cornish Life Museum
There are several indoor activities as well, so parents can relax on a rainy day while kids play to their heart’s content.
3. Flambards Theme Park
If you’re up for a heartstopping experience at one of Europe’s fastest rides, head to Falmbard’s theme park. While it won’t be ideal for smaller kids, adults will experience the adrenaline pumping through their veins when riding at 70 kmph.
But youngsters need not feel disheartened because there are less-scary roller coasters, play zones and indoor activities to keep them engaged. The most interesting among the various activities is a Victorian village with over 50 shops selling sweets and toys.
You will also find a butcher and milliner’s store with more than 52,000 original merchandise. While another popular place is a life-sized London street replica that allows people to explore Britain during the Blitz and realise the horrors of bombing during World War II.
Added to that are more indoor and outdoor play areas, a Western mine train ride, a dinosaur spotting expedition and a log flume.
iii) Family-Friendly Places
1. Eden Project
Here’s a general knowledge question you can ask at a quiz contest – where is the world’s largest indoor rainforest? The answer is St. Austell in Cornwall, home to the Eden Project.
When you visit the site, multiple futuristic domed biomes will come into view well before the car pulls into the vicinity. These domes have within them a flourishing global garden, interactive exhibits, plants from across the world and another sensory garden.
It’s the perfect getaway for families, thanks to the artwork, play areas and several landscapes, including Mediterranean and tropical settings. Moreover, Eden Project has extra hands-on activities during the school holidays to interest growing minds.
2. Pirate’s Quest
The name Pirate’s Quest is quite intriguing, and the place doesn’t disappoint either, as you can travel back 300 years when Pirates ruled the seas. A normal tour lasts one hour, enough to encounter mermaids, buccaneers, smugglers and learn about Cornwall in the 18th century.
Kids will love the immersive experience, so give them a treasure map and let them explore the place to track down the hidden treasure. There are certain restrictions, but you can hit a few balls at the new crazy golf course, interspersed with 12 holes taking you across the streets of ancient Cornwall.
Families can also wander through the caves, pose for pictures in the stocks and try to spot local legends.
iv) Heritage Sites And Castles
1. Tintagel Castle
The clifftop ruins of Tintagel Castle are famous for being the birthplace of King Arthur. We don’t know for sure, so visit this place and tell us if the legends in this rugged and cinematic setting are true.
With Merlin’s Cave in the vicinity, a trip to Tintagel should be on your bucket list, provided your kids are willing to climb the many vertical steps. There’s even a bridge which adds to the magic of this fairytale-like setting and features sculptures of past and future kings.
To engage your kids, take them to the exhibition that traces the history and key figures linked to this mythic castle.
2. Pendennis Castle
When you are in the mood to travel, ride down to the outskirts of Falmouth and visit the majestic Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII. The castle was built to protect against enemy attack, but now it’s a popular tourist spot you can explore with the whole family.
Like the Victorian village earlier at Flambards theme park, you will find World War I and Victorian exhibits at this place. Tourists love exploring the old buildings and spend some time soaking in the magnificent view from the top of the Tudor.
If you plan right, you might be rewarded with sights of guns being fired and Tudor replicas used to protect the coast.
3. Geevor Tin Mine
Your kids are bound to have seen mines on television, so take them on a tour of Cornwall’s mining history. Geevor Tin Mine in Penzance is one of the largest mines in the area, complete with an underground tour while offering tourists the chance to search for minerals.
On the way, you will come across interactive exhibits and certain areas that were cordoned off to the public when the mines shut down. But there’s no need to be disappointed, as you can take a Virtual Reality tour to explore the mines from up close.
4. St. Michael’s Mount
If you have ever dreamed of stepping back into the past, St. Michael’s Mount is the place to be. This tiny island has it all – castles, mediaeval paths, a harbour and a picturesque village, so book one of the free guided tours to learn how people survive here.
At present, 30 locals still call this island home, and you must respect their boundaries. Take in the sights and sounds of the place while imagining life from their shoes.
The best part is the causeway which becomes accessible at low tide. Your tour guide will likely mention the legend that Giants once used the same path, so do walk the causeway or hire a speedboat to Marazion beach.
5. Lost Gardens
One of the best places to visit Cornwall with kids is the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This gorgeous landscape is ideal for gardening enthusiasts who wish to spend time amidst farmlands and woodlands, spanning over 200 acres.
The place is littered with sky-high trees, exotic plants and numerous tiny critters that have inspired a hotel in the woods – Insect Hotel. We recommend renting a couple of scooters to explore the area as much as possible.
B. Indoor Activities
1. National Maritime Museum Cornwall
A place everyone enjoys with their families is the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, voted one of the best family-friendly spots. It’s famous for depicting the boating heroes of the country through 15 art galleries and highlighting the history of Cornwall.
For first-time visitors, the museum serves as an eye-opener as it portrays the connection between the sea and the locals. And with that comes tales of Vikings, seafarers and other legends of the sea, such as the Titanic.
You can sign up the kids for a storytelling session and tours of the exhibits or head over to Tidal Zone for an unhindered view of the deep blue.
2. Royal Cornwall Museum
The Royal Cornwall Museum is a paradise for people interested in history, depicting the transformation of the place from the past into the present. You will find several items from Cornwall’s past and artefacts from around the world, including an Egyptian mummy.
Best of all, the museum is free for children under 16 and even organises multiple events for preschoolers.
3. PK Porthcurno
Many people don’t know that Porthcurno village was once the hub of communications in Britain. Telegraph cables travelled underneath the sea and connected this tiny village to major cities in England, a remarkable feat during earlier times.
Let your family be serenaded by the historical stories of this place and museum, touring the spot where telegraph cables came ashore during World War II. You can even learn about secret communication during the war, participate in various activities or dress up to entertain the kids.
C. Other Tourist Attractions
1. Land’s End
Most people who touch down at Cornwall with kids keep a day in hand just to get their picture taken at the iconic sign at Land’s End. But there’s more to this place than the steep cliffs and wide sea, thanks to technology that has introduced 4D cinema and interactive walkways.
You can stroll along the vast South-West Cornwall coastline or cycle along the nature trail that starts here.
2. Camel Trail
Camel trail is an 18-mile stretch loved by cycling enthusiasts and explorers on foot since it connects Wadebridge, Padstow and Bodmin. But even if you don’t cover the entire circuit, stroll through small portions of the trail.
Kids can easily cover the 5 miles between Wadebridge and Padstow by following the disused railway line and resting at the many villages along the way.
3. Lappa Valley Steam Railway
Lappa Valley Steam Railway is one of the best spots for toddlers and kids, as the train cuts across the conservation area to provide scenic views of the natural world. There are many things to do here, including playing crazy golf, walking the nature trail or exploring the maze.
As you can see, Cornwall is a storehouse of historic places and jaw-dropping landscapes just waiting to be explored. And when touring Cornwall with kids and your family, you’re bound to have even more fun, given the tourist-friendly places in the area.
But before packing your bags, decide whether you want to tour the place in summer or winter. Summer is primetime for tourists to arrive from across the globe, so expect to encounter crowds and make sure to pre-book hotels.
Hotels in winter are more readily available due to the off-season, but many of the tourist spots could be closed, especially around the winter holidays. However, whatever you choose, keep our guide handy so that you don’t miss any of the famous places!
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