Things to do in Cornwall for families
Destination & countries, Europe, Travel Types, Travelling with kids, United Kingdom

Things To Do In Cornwall For Families | Road Trip Itinerary, Map, Tips & Family Holidays

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Cornwall is a magical place to visit and is considered to be one of the most beautiful parts of England. It offers stunning sandy beaches, sanctuaries, wildlife, and lots of nature anywhere you look. It is suitable for all types of travelers and travel styles. Surely, there is a huge amount of things to do in Cornwall for families. In our case, we have decided to take a road trip to Cornwall from London camping with a two-year-old toddler for a week, which proved to be our best decision by far.

Cornwall is not a city, it is a county on England’s rugged southwestern tip forming an area of 3,563 km². This is why one weekend is probably going to be a bit tight to enjoy Cornwall’s beauty. You will be amazed by a variety of things to do in Cornwall with toddlers.

We had one full week of Cornwall family camping and it was just right for us to know the place, however, two weeks would be preferable if you would like to allocate some more time to the beach, surf, different water sports, cycling, and some kids activities in Cornwall.

Best time to visit Cornwall

May to October is the time to go.

Summer is the best for beach activities. It is sunny and the water is perfect for a swim.

We went in the third week of September and were lucky to catch lots of sunny days and swim in the ocean. However, it was already the end of the season, so nights were cold, and days were quite windy.

If you are planning family breaks to Cornwall in October or the beginning of May, you may not be able to enjoy swimming that much. The water will be too cold.

How to get there?

By car

Since there are a lot of things to do in Cornwall with kids, many travelers prefer to drive there, simply because it is quite a distance to go from one place to another. It is about 450-480 km away from London to reach the northern part of Cornwall, and almost 520 km to reach the southern part of it. Get prepared to spend a minimum of five hours in the car. We have spent seven hours including traffic, and we decided to make an absolutely random stop in between in a beautiful town called Clevedon.

If you travel from London, choose your route wisely. I highly recommend going through Bristol and use M4 and M5. You will enjoy driving all the way on a highway. While A303 that we tried on our way back driving at night is a rather narrow and curvy road with one lane on each side. That was quite an experience personally for me.

By train

Trains from London to Cornwall leave from Paddington station every two hours and provide a lot of comforts, including gorgeous views on your way. The journey takes around five hours and will bring you to the heart of Cornwall, Truro station. The cost of the ride starts from £65.00 per person.

By plane

This option is available too and will cost you more than £100 for a one-way ride.

Exeter Airport is the main international airport serving Devon and Cornwall, but you will need to rent a car and drive almost two hours to get to Cornwall.

If you fly from London just for a few days, the best option is to take a flight from Heathrow Airport directly to Newquay Cornwall Airport. It is Cornwall’s main airport and is very handy as a gateway to Cornwall. You are able to catch the flight to Newquay from Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Southend.

Also, this airport provides a frequent link to the magical Isles of Scilly.

Best Family Holidays in Cornwall

There are lots of accommodation options, including cheap family holidays in Cornwall.

Places to stay in Cornwall by budget

Since it is such a massive coastline, we recommend staying in various places. Please check out today’s best deals to plan your accommodation.

We have stayed at truly one of the most amazing places along our way, such a woodland retreat, cottage house, campsite, and a countryside bungalow – you choose! Such a variety of family holidays in Cornwall made our journey to Cornwall with kids unforgettable.

Below we have prepared a few fantastic suggestions for your family breaks in Cornwall starting from £70 a day. Depending on where you wish to stay, we are sharing our best advice for four main locations along the entire Cornwall.

If you wish to stay and enjoy Tintagel Castle and the area nearby, including Bedruthan Steps, the Mill House is a very nice option. It was a former corn mill and serves a portion of amazingly delicious food.

If you are about to cycle around Bodmin and visit Lanhydrock House, this Apartment “Boleyn House” is the best choice due to the location and price.

Newquay is one of the top locations in Cornwall, the Quies is perfect for the family holidays with wonderful sea views, spacious terrace, and excellent breakfast.

There are so many options in the south of Cornwall. Cheap family holidays in Cornwall, including holiday homes, cottages, caravan parks – you name it! Lots of tourists explore areas of St. Ives, Marazion where the famous St. Michael’s Mount is located, including Men-an-Tol and Minack Theatre. Here are just a few that are absolutely worth a visit:

  • Jowders Cottage – close to St. Michael’s Mount and offers a patio.
  • Cobblestone Cottage – the whole house with a private garden with a close drive to Falmouth, St. Ives, and St. Michael’s Mount.
  • Valley View – it was always our dream to stay in such a retreat holiday home with a garden and absolutely no people around us. Due to the location, this home has easy and fast access to all the cities nearby.
  • Wheal Rodney Holiday Park – this our favorite park in entire England, it offers everything from pitches to small cottages with full laundry service and water-heated swimming pool for babies, toddlers, and kids.

Finally, if your family breaks to Cornwall include staying in the very south exploring Kynance Cove in Helston, you should go for Kuggar House apartment that offers a garden with barbecue and lots of hiking nearby or nice B&B option, such as Tregaddra Farm that lies in the heart of the Lizard Peninsula Heritage Coast.

Things To Do in Cornwall For Families

Below is the family itinerary we have personally designed. It goes all along the coast and covers major and minor sights, including things to do in Cornwall with family, fun activities for adventurous travelers, and seniors.

Numbers represent the days of our trip. Some of the days below the yellow mark contain more suggestions of places that sadly we didn’t have time to visit but surely plan to do so next time.

1. Clevedon

So, as the ride was too long for a toddler and in general for all of us, we decided to get off the highway and stop at a random town nearby. My husband has chosen an absolutely gorgeous little town called Clevedon that is located on the coast.

We have stopped right in the center, had a picnic, and visited the Clevedon Pier – England’s only Grade one listed pier, with Victorian Pagoda. Opened in 1869. Walking through the pier, you will see lots of metallic plates with different signs on them coming from different people. Either it is made in memory of someone, or celebrating an anniversary, or has a nerve-racking question: “Will you marry me?”. We have seen the same in Eden Project and other places in Cornwall, so this service must be top-rated in the area.

The town has to offer some nice cafes, shops, and playgrounds for kids too. The parking is free for the first two hours, so this time is more than enough to stretch your bones and move further.

By the time we reached the first campsite Compton Park, it started to get late, so we rushed into building our home, make dinner and watch the sunset. This place is number one for the sunrise/sunset views, as it is located upon the hills where you can see all the town and vast fields. It has amazing bathroom facilities, restaurants in case if you didn’t have time to eat, hot water, and a spacious playground for kids which we used the whole morning the next day.

If you happen to arrive in Cornwall during lunchtime, we strongly recommend starting your journey from the Porfell Wildlife Park & Sanctuary. It has more than 250 species, such as meerkats, zebras, monkeys, lemurs, reptiles and so much more. It is also a farm and sanctuary, so everyone is welcome to feed, stroke, and play with animals. You can also be a keeper for a day or adopt one little friend at your choice.

Cornwall is full of wildlife parks, gardens, and sanctuaries for all types of animals including birds and sealife. This is definitely one of the best things to do with children in Cornwall.

2. Bedruthan Steps

As the beginning of the trip is usually taken slow, our morning flew by. We have left our amazing campsite by 11ish and headed straight to one of the most famous places called Bedruthan Steps. It is a stretch of coastline located on the north Cornish coast between Padstow and Newquay.

The entrance is free while the parking will cost you a few pounds. It is a nice walk up on the hill and down the steps to the coast. Realistically, you will need an hour or two for a walk, excluding time spent in a café or souvenir shop.

September is a tide’s season in Cornwall. Bedruthan Steps coastline experiences 3 to 4 low and high tides a day. The one we have seen happened at around 3 – 4 pm. It is incredible how in no time the water covers the beach, this is why lifeguards are always there to control the tourists. We were explained that once you are locked up, the only option you have is to call for the emergency helicopter that comes to rescue you within 7.5 minutes.

Why do tides happen? We asked about that too!

It is all dictated by the gravitational pulls between the earth, moon, and sun, but the moon influences the tide the most. The moon’s gravitational pull on the earth is strong enough to tug the oceans into the bulge. If no other forces were at play, shores would experience one high tide a day as the earth rotated on its axis and coasts ran into the oceans’ bulge facing the moon.

While we were out exploring, our son was at the café with his grandmother warming up with hot tea and late lunch. Important to note that everything in Cornwall shuts down by 5 pm, while cafes located at the majority of sightseeing spots stop serving food at 3 pm sharp. After that time, you have got the only option of pastries, coffee, and maybe an apple.

If you have got a bit more time in the morning, it is highly recommended to start the day with Tintagel Castle located an hour away from Bedruthan Steps. The castle is situated up north, this is why it would be better to start your journey from the top and go down the south all the way later on.

3. Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle is a medieval fortification located on the peninsula of Tintagel Island. One enormously long bridge is attached to both sides that mark the entrance to the castle. Experience is not for the faint of heart. The views speak for themselves that make this place so popular among the tourists. This is definitely one of the greatest family things to do in Cornwall.

4. Camel Trail in Bodmin

Another amazing activity that you can fill your day with is Camel Trail in Bodmin. For the ones who love cycling, this is the place to be. Such a shame we had very limited time and couldn’t try it out, however, if it is the case for you too, know that there are so many cycle trails all over Cornwall. You can try one later.

Camel Trail is 18 miles long (~28 km) that provides access to the beautiful Cornish countryside along a disused railway line between Wenfordbridge, Bodmin, Wadebridge, and Padstow. Funny fact that the name has nothing to do with the animal, it comes from the Cornish language for ‘the crooked one’, a reference to its winding course. The special toddler seats are provided too! Enjoy the ride!

5. Eden Project & Padstow

Eden Project

Since our second campsite was located between Padstow and Newquay, we figured out it took as only half an hour to get to Bodmin and Bodelva which was amazing as we decided to stay at the campsite for three days and explore the northern part of Cornwall.

The third day was planned for the Eden Project in Bodelva – one the of most amazing indoor things to do in Cornwall. The place that has been built out of nowhere. The whole idea was designed around saving and preserving our plants. The place that now has incredibly massive Biomes was a vast field of emptiness.

Today the Eden Project is an educational charity that offers the largest rainforest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions, and stories about insects, bacteria, the human body, and saving the planet. You will find two large Biomes with different plants, trees, and flowers from South Tropical and Mediterranean climates. At 1 pm there is a storytime for kids too. Every Biome has a café or food court.

Note: The Mediterranean Biome has the kid’s friendliest menu with a choice of pasta. 

One thing I liked is that you are free to choose where the money goes when you pay for the ticket. It could be either commercial or charity account, in case of the second option you contribute to support the park fully.

Apart from the Biomes, you can walk through the gardens where all kinds of veggies, greens, and fruit are grown to serve fresh on the table. You can also choose your unforgettable adventure and try out England’s longest and fastest zip wire, covering 660 m and traveling at speeds of up to 60mph (almost 97 kmh). Oh, my wow! Or take an aerial trekking course (one of the most amazing aerial trekking is in Latvia), go as high as you dare on Britain’s first 360 swings, take a leap of faith 10 m over a cliff edge and there is more.


Being absolutely knocked off by the beauty and range of activities of Eden Project, we still decided to visit Padstow town where we met the most delicious and authentic Cornish pastries for the first time.

Padstow is a town, civil parish, and fishing port on the north coast of Cornwall. It has really nice and cozy little houses, shops and narrow streets. It reminded my husband a lot of his own hometown in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

6. Lanhydrock House at Bodmin & Cycling

Day four was marked by a trip to the Lanhydrock House. Originally, we were planning to visit Tintagel Castle but were talked into this activity by one lady selling souvenirs in the shop at Bedruthan Steps. Although it was a very random decision, we were happy we made it, as we had an opportunity to combine all activities in one day and ultimately please all members of our group:

  • Grandmother (a senior) – to visit a castle;
  • Mom & Dad (adults) – to cycle in the forest with the bits of extreme;
  • Son (22-months-old toddler) – to enjoy himself at the playground.

Sounds like a great day packed with a variety of things to do in Cornwall for families, doesn’t it?

Lanhydrock House is the late Victorian country house that was destroyed after a devastating fire in 1881 and refurbished in high-Victorian style later on. It has lots of rooms where you can easily spend more than two hours. The most impressive thing for me was the number of rooms serving for kitchen purposes, including room for cooking meat and poultry, storing frozen food and fish, preparing general food, baking bread, making diary and creams, making cakes, storing fruit and vegetables. Never ever I have seen anything like that. Kids’ rooms with a special tiny kitchen were my son’s favorites too.

The area where Lanhydrock House located is massive. There is the garden, one little café next to the House and a big restaurant with mains and a spacious playground near the parking spot.

Note: It takes time to walk around, but keep in mind that food is served until 3 pm here too, so plan well, especially if you travel with kids. Picnic is warmly welcomed too!

While our grandmother and son were left out at the playground enjoying their lunch, we rushed to an hour-and-a-half-biking tour. There are tours for the whole day too, but honestly, it was more than enough for the beginners like us, and trails were rather short comparing to the Camel Trail. We had an unforgettable experience, including some extreme trails sliding all the way down in the forest. It definitely left us with the feeling to get bikes for ourselves.

That day we have decided to have an early check-in the tent, dedicate some time to cooking home food and get a long hot shower.

7. Newquay & St. Ives


This was one of the most amazing days out in Newquay exploring the coasts and sandy beaches of Cornwall. We have decided to visit a king of all beaches in England – Newquay and then move down to St. Ives which was a whole lot of the experience too.

Newquay is a town on the north coast of Cornwall. It is very near to Padstow and is known for its gorgeous sandy beaches which are rare in England. But Newquay is not only all about the beaches, it is one of the main surfing points due to strong waves coming from the Atlantic Ocean. Being a paradise for surfers of all levels, hundreds of tourists and locals gather at Fistral and Watergate Bay beaches to surf and enjoy different water sports. Also, Newquay is known for its zoo where you can see loads of lions, wildebeest, and sloths.

Honestly, it was my first time seeing the excitement on my husband’s face. Knowing how picky he is with the beaches, he said that Newquay made him feel as he was back in Central America on one of those beaches of Costa Rica. Wait! What?

The watercolor, the views, and the waves made our day indeed!

St. Ives

We didn’t manage to surf this time, instead, we had time to explore more of the south coast of Cornwall in St. Ives. A receptionist from one of the campsites we stayed in recommended to drive all the way to the town called St. Erth, park the car at the main train station and take a 10-minute train to St. Ives.

This was the correct decision indeed if you want to avoid high parking costs in St. Ives. We have paid a total of £8 for three adults and a toddler, including parking space and train tickets. The train was so comfy and coastal views were fabulous that we preferred a much longer ride.

If in Newquay my son and I just tried the water running around, in St. Ives we persuaded our grandma to go for a real swim in the ocean. The water temperature was still decent even though it was the third week of September.

One thing that made us crazy were seagulls. You won’t find such cunning ferocious seagulls anywhere else in the world. The first local rule in St. Ives states: “Do not eat at the beach!”. Well, they should put signs over there. As this was our lunchtime, we decided to unpack and enjoy our picnic. It was far from the enjoyment as we ended up hiding food in a bag and get it out only for a quick bite. My husband and I were the ones to be attacked by these creatures sitting into our heads and shoulders trying to grab the sandwich. What a shame we didn’t take a photo of this shameful act!

St. Ives is also a gorgeous town to walk around, it is located on the hill. Honestly, I felt myself being in Italy all the time.

We managed to get to our campsite Wheal Rodney Holiday Park by 7 pm. Immediately we realized that this is where we are going to stay for the rest of our journey. By far, it was the best campsite I have been to that offers every possible service you can imagine, including washing machine, clothes dryer, microwave, game and book corner for all ages, absolute hot showers and a 32°C swimming pool.


One suggestion in case if there is some spare time is to visit a place called Men-an-Tol. This a field with four holed stones. They are quite small but given the mystery of their existence, it is believed that the one crawling through the hole increases her fertility.

8. St. Michael’s Mount at Marazion & Minack Theatre

St. Michael’s Mount

Taking slow the next morning, we decided to go for a swim first. Our son could have stayed there for the whole day but luckily, we managed to trick him into a walk picking blackberries. That walk led us directly to the St. Michael’s Mount in Marazion – the sight we were dying to see since the first day of thinking of going to Cornwall. St. Michael’s Mount lived up to our expectations. It carries the same name and is similar to Le Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France.

It has a narrow man-made causeway of granite setts that connects the island with Marazion town. The walk will take you 5-10 minutes depending on your pace, however, be aware of timing and tides. The path gets clear from water depending on a season. Also, the garden is only opened on Thursdays and Fridays from July to September. There are also special visiting hours for the castle during the low season. We recommend to always check information on their official website.

The St. Michael’s Mount belongs to the St. Aubyn family and the National Trust. The decision was made to sell it to the Trust due to its high maintenance, however, the garden is fully owned by the family and they have got a part of the castle where they reside up to these days. You actually will be stepping on their balcony as you go out to the roof for a walk.

It is quite windy there, so make sure you have got coats for you and your little ones. Also, having a picnic sounds like a good idea, not only due to the budget reasons that make an absolute sense, but also because it is quite hard to find some food especially if you are looking for it after 5 pm.

There are only a few places to eat out in Marazion, and none of them are kids friendly. Sadly, we noticed that pasta Bolognese or any type of pasta is not a typical option in the entire Cornwall. Instead, we ended up with a choice of chips and crisps for kids, which was not suitable for our 2-year-old little man. So, be prepared of making your own dishes and taking some fruit with you.

9. The Minack Theatre

The end of this beautiful day was topped up with the visit to Minack Theatre – an open-air theatre, constructed above a gully with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea. It is quite a ride there, especially if you drive at night. The roads are extremely curvy and narrow, sometimes even to fit two cars on each side, so additional care is a must (not for the locals though!).

The whole idea of the theatre was just amazing! It is considered to be one of the world’s most famous outdoor theatres. People not only come to see the performance but also to visit the theatre itself. It is pretty easy to book your ticket too; you can do it here.

We chose an Irish performance “Stones in his pocket” as we had particular dates to book for. If you come for an evening session (that’s what we did!), a great tip is to take a sleeping bag or plaid to keep you warm. Some people came prepared by bringing special foldable chairs without legs and thermos with hot tea, although three cafes work on-site serving food, hot drinks, and snacks.

10. Day of laziness or “nothing-ness”

What vacation is it without doing nothing? Finally, on day seven of our whole journey, we woke up with the idea of staying in bed, eating pasta, Cornish pasties, and swim in our favorite 32°C swimming pool.

11. Cornish Seal Sanctuary & Falmouth

We figured out that the best time for us to get back home would be late evening/night because our son would sleep during a five-six-hour drive. Also, we would have the whole Sunday to ourselves and rest well before the first day of work.

As perfect weather forecaster, my husband stated that it is going to pour quite soon (and it did!) which left us with the best decision to pack all our tents and move to our last day in Cornwall.

I really wanted to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, so I pushed towards it for the whole week. My Argentinian family doesn’t support any places where animals are kept into captivity, this is why when they heard about this place, they got quite excited. As previously mentioned, Cornwall is full of sanctuaries and charities for animals, birds, sea animals, and gardens. You are very welcome to donate towards it and adopt little creatures.

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary protects and rescues the lives of seals, sea lions, penguins, and otters. At the time we were there, we visited two baby seals at the seal hospital, some in the rehabilitation pools being prepared to be released, and some permanent residents that due to different disabilities, unfortunately, cannot survive in open waters.

In the late afternoon, we reached another famous town in the south-east of Cornwall called Falmouth where Pendennis Castle is located – a well-preserved 16th-century fortress built by Henry VIII. It protected against invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire and defended the Carrick Roads waterway at the mouth of the River Fal.

We arrived quite late there, so we decided to skip the castle, also because we have visited quite a few of them during our trip. But we highly recommend having a walk in the center of Falmouth and its pier. There are nice shops and cafes on the way. And to be honest, every town in Cornwall looks incredibly gorgeous and deserves to be seen.

Other great places to visit and things to do in Cornwall with toddlers and kids

Dairyland is an adventure park near Newquay with slides, a nature trail, tractor rides, and pony rides.

Screech Owl Sanctuary. The same as in Cornish Seal Sanctuary, your children will be able to learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of sick owls, feed and stroke tame owls and watch Falconry displays.

Feadon Farm Wildlife Centre in Portreath is an amazing way to spend your day out in Cornwall with kids. It offers a woodland safari where kids can meet the local wildlife, such as watch rescued foxes, feed reindeer, go on a night walk looking for owls and badgers.

Tips and Tricks when visiting Cornwall

1. Think about becoming a member of the National Trust. We have had visited 3-4 sights that belong to them just in Cornwall and could have paid off the annual membership price. Besides, they also cover parking charges, free guided tours, and leaflets. They also operate in Scotland, Canada, Australia, Italy, Bermuda, Malta, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, and many more. 

If you plan to visit Dorset region, it is definitely worth becoming a member of the National Trust as there are lots of places protected by them.

2. Everything closes by 5 pm in Cornwall, including food places, shops, and pharmacies. If you are visiting the site and plan to eat in one of the cafés, make sure you order before 3 pm as this is the last time to serve the food.

3. In lots of towns, you won’t find parking ticket machines, there are specially designated people who control the parking. In most of Cornwall, you will be able to park free of charge for the first 2 to 3 hours.

4. All our campsites were booked through Pitchup, see more information on camping with a toddler here.

Q&A about a family holiday in Cornwall

Is it expensive to travel to Cornwall?

The budget depends entirely on you and your appetite. Generally speaking, it is not expensive to travel to Cornwall. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Choose your accommodation wisely. There are tons of absolutely stunning places with gorgeous views and for a very reasonable price. Use campsites and pitches if you have camping gear.
  2. Food. If you travel with toddlers and kids, it is highly recommended to prepare food with you, all the places close by 3 pm and 5 pm. You can save a lot on bringing fruit, snacks, and yogurts with you. Check our Road Trip Food List.
  3. Visiting tours and local sights are not expensive, and some of them are offered free of charge.

How many days do you need to visit Cornwall?

You will need at least one week to visit all the places mentioned above, and that will be in a rush. We would strongly suggest planning ten to fourteen days to enjoy the beaches, cycling, surfing, or hiking in full.

We wish you the best time in Cornwall!

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    1. Hi Margarita! Cornwall is gorgeous and considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in England. I hope you have an amazing time there. Thank you!

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