Family holidays to Cornwall

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July and August’s big, sandy beaches are just as much of a playground in autumn and winter.

High temperatures aren’t necessary to explore dozens of castles or rampage along cliff tops.

Kids will delve into tin mines, run around wild gardens and listen to hair raising smugglers tales whatever the weather.

When it is sunny, just add water for surfing, sailing and swimming.

So why keep the south of England’s most exciting county for summer holidays when kids will love it anyway, any time?

Why go on holiday in Cornwall

  • Coastal area

    Cornwall has almost 500km of coastline and is as far south as you can go in the UK.

  • Beaches

    Over 300 beaches from huge sandy bays to historic smugglers’ coves.

  • Scenic walking trails

    More than 200 coast and countryside walking trails are well marked right across the county.

  • Accommodations

    From five-star caravan parks to country house hotels, hundreds of places to stay in Cornwall are family-friendly, kid-friendly and, often, pet-friendly too.

  • Beautiful gardens

    There are over 40 incredible gardens to visit including the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

  • Polperro

    Polperro on north east Cornwall’s Heritage Coast is one of the top 15 prettiest towns in England.

  • Surfing

    North Cornwall has two of the UK’s best surfing beaches: Fistral Beach in Newquay and Polzeath Beach.

Where to go and stay in Cornwall

North West Coast

The dramatic north coast of Cornwall is almost 60km long and where you’ll find the UK’s best surfing and lively surf towns like Newquay. Visit Padstow for famous seafood restaurants and the start of the stunning Camel Cycle Trail. And always leave at least a day for kids to get wild and over-excited clambering round magnificent, clifftop Tintagel Castle.

  • Bude, UK’s Best Coast Resort 2015, is on Cornwall’s north coast.
  • Good for spectacular cliff top walks – even in winter.
  • 18th century fishing village, Port Isaac, regularly stars in TV dramas.
  • Five kilometre long Perranporth Beach is one of the county’s best loved for huge sands, sea arches and water sports.
  • This is the area for 5-star Cornwall from holiday villages in Newquay to self-catering cottages in Polperro, seaside apartments in Bude and beachfront villas in Watergate Bay.
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South Cornwall

With its cute harbour towns and fishing villages, lush countryside and enormous, sunny bays, South Cornwall is beachy, historic, outdoorsy and focused on family holidays. There’s plenty of cliff and crag drama on the coast here but balanced by gentle rivers for sailing and sweet little coves for picnics, tropical gardens, iconic castles to visit and many of Cornwall’s best known sights.

  • Catch the scenic train to lovely St. Ives for Porthmeor Beach, the Barbara Hepworth Museum, Tate St. Ives and the town itself – Cornwall’s most visited.
  • Walk across the causeway to St. Michael’s Mount between The Lizard and Land’s End on Cornwall’s south coast.
  • Go surf Falmouth’s famous waves, pick up dinner at Rick Stein’s Fish & Chip Shop and stroll round the world’s third largest, natural deep-water harbour.
  • Head for The Lizard and take selfies of you and the kids standing on the most southerly point in the UK.
  • Whether you want to stay right on the sands, cosy up in a cute harbour town, have the freedom of holiday parks or explore the gorgeous countryside from a traditional farmhouse, family self-catering is outstanding in South Cornwall.
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North East Coast

Not even slightly less beautiful than elsewhere in the county, with just as many big, sandy beaches and some of the most charming 18th century harbour towns in England, the north east is still the quieter side of Cornwall. The Roseland Heritage Coast and Polperro Heritage Coast are both here and fantastic for walking and exploring. And the Lost Gardens of Heligan alone are testament to a gentle, sheltered micro-climate which also makes this area one of the safest for swimming.

  • Discover Megavissey with its narrow little streets, extraordinary twin harbour and fairy tale lights on a summer evening.
  • Spend a day on the National Trust’s Porthcurnick Beach: the sands are wonderful and there’s plenty of rock pooling adventure to be had.
  • Mawes Castle is the best preserved fortress of the string built round the Cornish coast by Henry VIII in the 16th century.
  • The Tavern and Summer beaches on either side of St. Mawes are the best swimming beaches in Cornwall.
  • This is a good stretch of coast for camping and caravan parks, seaside self-catering and traditional country cottages.
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What do and see with kids in Cornwall

  • The Eden Project, St. Austell

    Rainforests and much more captured in huge, revolutionary biomes. Cornwall’s top family attraction. Eden Project

  • Retallack Aqua Park, Padstow

    Cornwall’s first inflatable aqua park with everything from human boomerangs to floating trampolines. Retallack Aqua Park

  • Tintagel Castle, Tintagel

    Immense ruined Tintagel has links to Arthurian legend and thrilling cliff-voyaging staircases for bold kids. Tintagel Castle

  • Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro

    The low-down on ancient Cornish history, chilling smugglers tales and the story of the real (almost) days of Poldark. Royal Cornwall Museum

  • St. Michael’s Mount, Marazion

    Step out into the sea and walk towards a medieval village towered over by a castle and one of the most enchanting experiences on the Cornish coast. St. Michael’s Mount

  • Minack Theatre, Porthcurno Bay

    Go during summer to see an evening performance at the amazing open air theatre overlooking the sea. Minack Theatre

  • Paradise Park and Jungle Barn, Hayle

    From impressive owls to exotic birds, red pandas, otters and animals kids can pet, this farm zoo and garden is exciting, even on dull days. Paradise Park

  • Poldark Mine, Helston

    The only complete tin mine left in Cornwall where kids can go underground and tour the tunnels. Poldark Mine

  • Holywell Bay Fun Park, Newquay

    Splash, spin, slide and ride around this popular family park and you only pay for what you play on. Holywell Bay

  • Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway, Bodmin

    Cornwall’s last steam trains run for 20km through the county’s prettiest scenery all summer long. Bodmin & Wenford

Educational value for kids

  • Tate St. Ives is just one of dozens of art galleries across Cornwall – look out for kid’s events and activity programmes during the school holidays.
  • Ives School of Painting takes advantage of the town’s excellent artistic credentials and wonderful scenery to offer short courses for children and adults throughout the year.
  • There are over 15 major castles in Cornwall tracing the history of this strategic county from the 12th century, they’re fascinating and great fun too.
  • Go hiking on Bodmin Moor and visit Kit Hill Country Park – over 400 acres of heathland and all the wildlife, plants and birds that go with it.
  • From the relatively recent Beast of Bodmin to smugglers stories from Jamaica Inn and ancient Cornish folk tales, keep an eye open for local lore on your travels around Cornwall – easy way to get young kids interested in the history behind their holiday.
  • Visit the enchanting Scilly Isles for a day or two – ferries run regularly from Penzance to St. Mary’s Harbour and the crossing is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  • Visit the Lizard Lighthouse and Heritage Centre, the views are astonishing and the 260 year old history is pretty good too.

Getting about with kids in Cornwall

Most families drive to Cornwall and get around by car. The roads are good almost everywhere but, in July and August, the main roads into the county can be very busy. Leave plenty of time to get where you’re going and stock up on water and snacks for the journey. There are good bus services throughout Cornwall and most towns have bike-hire if you want to explore the network of well-marked local cycle paths and routes.

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