To us, Cornwall is beautiful whatever the weather... but when you've got kids in tow and ominous grey skies above, your day on the beach may be put on hold. Fear not, Cornwall isn't just sandy bays and beauty spots... we've also got a whole host of family attractions.
Don't let a bit of Cornish rain dampen your day, scrap the sun dance, pack the waterproofs and go explore, we've rounded up our top 10 family days out.
Put little inquisitive minds to the test at Hidden Valley, in North Cornwall near Launceston. Situated down a tree-lined lane, Hidden Valley is a place where puzzles and adventure unites. There are puzzle trails, a maze, a railway, a Forbidden Mansion, beautiful gardens and the miniature village of Tremuddlewick – rest assured there’s plenty to see and do. A great day out for all ages, your four legged friends are allowed too (just ensure they’re on a short fixed lead). Open every day from 10am, last entry is at 2pm.
Portreath is a compact, narrow-harboured resort between St Ives and Porthtowan. It’s also home to Base Camp, which is situated at Gwel an Mor resort.
With over 2,000 square feet of soft play, kids aged three and over can navigate three floors of ball pools and slides. For explorers aged under three, there is a self contained play area on the ground floor for gentler play.
While you’re there, take play to new heights with ‘clip’n’climb’, suitable for those aged four plus (even adults are encouraged to get involved!).There are 10 themed walls to conquer; the concept is simple – you ‘clip’ onto belay ropes and climb, under the watchful eyes on the fully trained staff! But who will get to the top first?
Sure to build up an appetite, there’s an on-site cafe, which provides free access to iPads and tablets. It is open to all 7 days a week, 9–9 pm.
Have you a young thrill-seeker on your hands? Look no further than Adrenaline Quarry near Liskeard in South East Cornwall. While the quarry may be a geological site of special scientific interest, with the lake, cliffs and woodland forming a beautiful wildlife haven, teeming with trout, migratory birds and crayfish, it’s also home some jaw-dropping attractions.
It’s best known for it’s rather impressive zip wire, an aerial runway stretching 490 metres over a flooded quarry. It’s suitable for those weighing 25kg, approximately 6 years plus.
You’ll also find Kartworld, Cornwall’s top family go karting centre for those aged 7 plus. Or perhaps you fancy defying gravity on The Giant Swing, swinging 150ft over a cliff edge (Min weight 25kg).
Or maybe you want to get into the water. Those aged 6 years plus, can get wet and wild on this inflatable playground. Expect oversized trampolines, monkey bars, slides, swings and more.
For older kids (suitable for 12 years plus), try your hand at axe throwing, much like darts… but with axes. Adrenaline Quarry is open every day from 10-5pm, unleash your adrenaline!
There’s something about being near the sea and visiting an aquarium, it feels so fitting.
And Blue Reef Aquarium is in a pretty special location as it looks out over Towan Beach in Newquay.
A highlight for little ones is sure to be the the underwater tunnel, which runs through the ocean tank at the heart of the aquarium, be sure to look above and all around as you walk through. It’s home to 40 naturally-themed habitats, going beyond the Cornish coast to the exotic seas. You’ll see freshwater turtles, pufferfish, reef sharks and much more!
There’s rarely a guide to Cornwall without a mention of the iconic Eden Project. And for good reason… described as ‘Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs’, take a trip to the world’s largest greenhouses. And what better time to visit than a drizzly day?
The Eden biomes will keep you sheltered as you appreciate the remarkable architectural vision. Families can explore the tropical heat in the rainforest biome with its rare plants, and wobbly rope bridge walkway with amazing views over the rainforest.
Then visit the more temperate climes of the Mediterranean biome to discover the heady scents and colour of the plants and enjoy the Bacchanalian sculptures. Kids will be mesmerised by the giant Infinity Blue sculpture and enjoy chasing the vapour rings as it exhales.
There’s a range of outdoor play areas for all ages too, from the Nest to the Minibeast mansion. If you’ve a baby in tow, you’ll be pleased to learn that the whole site is buggy-friendly too. It’s open every day, from 9-6pm.
Okay, so you’ll still end up pretty soaked by the end of your trip to Retallack Aqua Park but it’ll be totally worth it. Something completely different, and the perfect rainy day out for competitive families, this challenging aqua park is 7 miles outside of popular fishing village Padstow, and 13 miles from Newquay.
Surf the perfect wave whatever the weather on Cornwall’s only FlowRider. With safe and easy to ride waves, it’s the perfect set to learn to surf in safe surroundings without braving the sea on a rainy day. Suitable for those aged eight years and older (those aged between eight and 12 must be supervised by an adult), the instructors are on hand to have you riding the waves in no time at all. Open from 12-7pm.
Or how about an inflatable assault course? The Aqua Park at Retallack features separate inflated islands, giant trampoline, ‘stepping stone’ climbing obstacles, tough balance beams and lots more. The race is on with a ‘total wipeout’ style set up. Children must be aged six years plus, and those aged between six and 12 must be supervised by an adult. Open from 12-7pm.
New for 2021, is an inflatable volleyball court. On the watersports lake, this court will have you and your opponents bouncing, slipping, and sliding as you battle it out. Open from 11-5pm, suitable for kids aged six plus (under 12s must have an adult with them).
And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also SUP and wakeboarding to try your hand at too.
For a great day out with sky-high thrilling rides, soft play, dinosaurs and fossils, Flambards is an amazing place for all the family to visit. It’s a theme park, but one with a difference, unusually combining thrill-seeking with ‘memory lane’ indoor areas, meaning you’ll be well covered if the heavens open.
You can also step back in time in a life-sized Victorian village and experience Britain in the Blitz at Flambards, so there is something to interest the whole family and all age groups.
For history buffs, the Victorian village is a revelation; it even smells Victorian. Lifesize, with some figures originating at Madame Tussauds, it has over 50 realistically recreated shops from confectioners to a barbershop, plus plenty of artefacts.
Winning awards for its authentic display, it’s hard to believe that there are over 52,000 examples of vintage packaging here. There is a mystery trail for the kids to complete, too, as they experience life above and below stairs in Victorian Britain.
The award-winning National Maritime Museum in Falmouth is the perfect place to spend a few hours away from the rain. A place to enrich our understanding of the sea, and Cornwall, what better place to educate the kids while visiting this wonderful county? With 15 galleries over five floors to discover, the whole family will enjoy exploring the influence of the sea on history and culture
Kids will love the Monsters of the Deep exhibition, as they plunge down to the dark murky depths of the ocean, hunting for monsters that lurk beneath. There’s also pirate-themed play area for small children, and plenty of child-friendly events that run throughout the year. Open every day from 10-5pm.
Animal lovers rejoice, Newquay Zoo is the perfect place to go when the weather isn’t playing ball. With dozens of different animals to see – in fact it’s home to over 130 species of some of the world’s most rare and endangered animals – across 13 acres, there’s plenty to see and do. There is also a play area, a Tarzan Trail and a maze to explore. Open 10-5pm every day.
While you might not fancy a long soggy bike ride in the rain, this may be the perfect time to experience life on two wheels in a somewhat speedier capacity. Suitable for those aged 7 years plus, segways are still a hugely popular activity for families.
If you’re a first timer, book yourself in for a Segway Skills at Segway Bude, in the north of Cornwall. You’ll be in safe hands with the instructors, and by using the dedicated segway skills track you can learn in a safe environment. You’ll also see some fantastic views as you experience the thrill of a segway. Or enroll in the Scenic Tour, which will be just as pretty in the drizzle, there are over 100 acres to explore, with rolling fields, valleys, woodland, off road tracks, lakes and ponds as well as spectacular views over Bude. Bear in mind that this activity is not suitable for huge downpours, but if its just a light shower it’s a great way to spend an hour.
May is a great time of year to visit Cornwall, whether it’s your first time or as a returning visitor. As the temperatures rise with highs of 20 degrees, summer is just around the corner, and there’s plenty to see and do in Cornwall during the May school holidays. As well as some pretty spectacular places to stay, although we are a little biased…
As we all get used to the change in season, where we are greeted with more daylight, brighter days and more enviable calendars, there’s no bigger springtime celebration than Easter. We round up our top ten favourite family Easter events across Cornwall happening this year.
Cornwall's at-home food scene just got a lot more exciting, as it welcomes back Ana Marie, a half Cornish, half Filipina chef and owner of Ana's Kusina. Cornish Secrets' editor Rebecca Moore witnesses the chef in action and finds out how her two heritages collide in her latest cooking venture...