Cornwall has recently been voted the most family friendly holiday destination in the world thanks to its world class beaches and huge variety of child friendly things to do. Add in a fantastic range of baby and toddler friendly accommodation and you have all the ingredients for a memorable family holiday.
Here are some ideas about fun things to do in Cornwall with toddlers. If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Cornwall, check out this guide to ‘27 Baby and Toddler Friendly Places to stay in Cornwall‘
Things To Do With Toddlers In Cornwall
1. Have A Day At The Beach
There are so many baby and toddler friendly beaches in Cornwall. One of the best is Porthcurno beach in West Cornwall which has a stream that flows down one side which is great for toddlers to paddle in. Dogs are banned, and the internationally renowned Minack Theatre is on the top of the cliffs.
Kennack Sands near the village of Kuggar on the Lizard peninsula is another great family friendly beach. There is plenty of sand to run around on, a little stream running down to the sea and loads of rock pools to explore.
We had a great afternoon digging at Polkerris Beach near St Austell. This is a sheltered harbour beach with a café, parking nearby and close to the recommended Sams On The Beach restaurant.
2. Go Rock Pooling
Grab a fishing net and see if your little one can find crabs, prawns and anemone in the rock pools.
Great places for rock pooling include Castle Beach around Falmouth, Port Isaac Beach (think Doc Martin) and Kennack Sands on The Lizard Peninsula.
Trevarnon Bay at Padstow is also good as huge rock pools are revealed at low tide – plus you can combine it with a visit to the National Lobster Hatchery and fish and chips at Rick Stein’s restaurant.
3. Visit The Eden Project
The Eden Project is a world class attraction which boasts the largest indoor rainforest in the world. Toddlers will love exploring the shortcuts, hideaways, waterfalls and sandpits inside the biospheres. They will also love taking a tree top walk on the Rainforest Canopy Walkway and going on a ride on the land train pulled by a tractor. There are also plenty of special events for children throughout the year including den building in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
4. Eat Ice Cream!
Cornwall is known for its ice cream. Try hedgehog ice cream (yes, you read it right!) at the famous Chapel Porth Café in St Agnes or visit the Roskilly’s Farm in St Keverne to take a look around the farm before sampling some of their famous ice cream
5. Visit Animals
Visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in the Helford Estuary and learn about how injured seals are cared for and meet the seals and sea lions who live there permanently. Other popular animal attractions are the Screech Owl Sanctuary and Tamar Valley Donkey Park (see below)
6. Go on a Train
Take a train ride on the Lappa Valley Railway in Newquay. There are 3 separate mini railways within a leisure park with other activities such as woodland walks, a play area and a boating lake included in the price of your ticket. The Bodmin and Wenford Railway is another popular steam railway where you can take a leisurely 13 mile train journey around the beautiful Cornish countryside.
7. Go swimming at Waterworld, Newquay
Children will love splashing about in the Tropical Fun Pool with its water flumes, cannons and tippers. There is also a water play hut, erupting volcano and snake fountain – a great choice for rainy days!
8. Visit The National Maritme Museum
We had a great day out at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth. There are 15 galleries and exhibitions situated in an impressive building overlooking Falmouth Harbour. My 3 year old son loved sitting in a Sea King helicopter (and ‘driving’ it!) and clambering all over a life raft. They have a great programme of additional seasonal activities throughout the year too, as well as Ben Ainslie’s winning yacht from the 2012 Olympics.
9. Visit The Geevor Tin Mine In Penzance
The Geevor Tin Mine includes a museum, underground tour and visitor centre on the cliffs of Penwith. Escape the rain and see what is was like to be a Miner and visit the underground mine. Lots of things for children to touch and a café and shop too.
10. Visit The Blue Reef Aquarium In Newquay
Perfect for a rainy day, children can enjoy close encounters with sharks, seahorses, pufferfish and jellyfish. There is an underwater tunnel, feeding demonstrations and rock pool encounters on a weekend!
11 Go To Dairyland
Dairyland is an adventure park near Newquay with slides, a nature trail, tractor rides and pony rides. Toddlers will love milking the cows and feeding the animals, and babies will love seeing all the animals which live there. There is also an indoor play area in case it rains, a milking parlour tour and a farm museum to keep everyone busy.
12. Go To The Tamar Valley Donkey Park
‘Visit Cornwall’s Happiest Donkeys’ at the Tamar Valley Donkey Park on the border between Devon and Cornwall. As well as happy donkeys, there are goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits and guinea pigs to pet and feed. There is also a café, Donkey Bazaar selling donkey gifts and an indoor playbarn.
13. Newquay Zoo
Just outside Newquay is the award winning Newquay Zoo. Some families have commented that it is smaller than they expected, but there are still over 130 creatures at the zoo including a tropical house full of creepy crawlies, red pandas, lemurs, penguins and big cats. There is also a children’s activity trail, a play area and a dragon’s maze. Regular animal feeding and feeder talks take place throughout the day.
14. Screech Owl Sanctuary
Have a hoot at the Screech Owl Sanctuary where your little ones can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of sick owls, feed and stroke tame owls and watch Falconry displays. There are also other animals such as emus, Shetland ponies and meerkats at the sanctuary as well as a café and play area.
15. Feadon Farm Wildlife Centre
Situated in Portreath, this wildlife centre has some fantastic activities for young children and adults. Take part in a woodland safari to meet local wildlife, meet rescued foxes Todd and Meadow, feed reindeer, go rockpooling and go on a night walk looking for owls, badgers and foxes. There are luxury holiday cottages onsite too if you fancy spending a little longer at Feadon Farm.
16. Woodland Walks
Head out into the woods at the spectacular Cardingham Woods near Bodmin. There are 4 circular trails including a 3km buggy friendly walk as well as plenty of areas for picnics and new for 2014 – a Gruffalo Trail!
The useful Walks with Buggies website gives plenty of ideas about buggy friendly walks in Cornwall
17 Go Cycling
Cycling is a great way to see Cornwall and so easy to do with babies and toddlers. The Camel Trail is an 18 mile largely traffic free surfaced trail which runs between Wenford Bridge, Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow, Bike hire is available at Padstow, Wadebridge or Bodmin and you hire tag-alongs and trailers too.
There is also 10k of cycle trails at Lanhydrock National Trust property. There are a variety of cycle trails for all abilities, bike hire and also a new children’s playground.
18 Trebah Gardens
Trebah Gardens is a sub-tropical garden with a spectacular coastal backdrop, and is one of the most family friendly gardens in Cornwall. Under 5’s can explore Fort Stuart (for cowboys and cowgirls) which includes a slide and rocking horses in a secure area on sand. There are also adventure trails for children to follow including Mr Frog’s Wildlife Trail where children can try and find Mr Frogs friends!!
19 Wheal Martyn
Wheal Martyn is a china clay museum and country park near St Austell. My boys loved seeing Cornwall’s largest working water wheel, wandering through the woodland and walking up to take in the view of the massive pit and the diggers and trucks working below us. The café serves a pretty good piece of cake too. The walk up to the pit is a bit tricky with a pushchair so it’s probably best to take a baby carrier.
20. Boat Trip on the Fowey River
Join Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad and spend the day ‘messing about on boats’ along the Fowey River, which claims to be the inspiration behind The Wind in the Willows. Take the Bodinnick car ferry and explore Polruan across the water from Fowey or take the ferry to Mevagissy and explore the harbour and the tiny, free Aquarium on the harbour side.
21. Visit Padstow
Have a wander round the harbour, throw a baited line over the harbour wall and see if you can catch any crabs (remember to put them back) or visit the beaches at St George’s Well or Harbour Cove. With the money you’ve saved you can splash out on fish and chips from Rick Stein’s restaurant or a Cornish pasty from Stein’s Deli in town. For a couple of pounds you can visit the National Lobster Hatchery in the centre of town or catch a ferry to The Rock beach across the Camel Estuary.
22. A Day At St Ives
Spend a day playing on the sandy beach in the picturesque seaside town of St Ives. Watch the boats come in and out of the harbour and explore the narrow cobbled streets in the town. Bring a picnic and your buckets and spades and you can easily spend the day here for little more the cost of an ice cream.
We had a fantastic morning exploring Boscastle in North Cornwall. I remember when it got flooded in 2004 and it was fascinating to see the pictures of the floods and the line where the water level got to in the Tourist Information Centre. We wandered along the river towards the harbour and took a left hand path up to a slate platform and looked out to see. We were lucky enough to see a Blowhole thumping and snorting sea water out across the harbour which my 3 year old was fascinated by. The Blowhole is active about an hour either side of low tide. There is a nice tea room at the Tourist Information office run by the National Trust.
24. Roskilly’s Ice Cream Farm
Roskilly’s Farm near St Keverne is free and you can watch cows being milked, go on a buggy friendly walk around the meadow and feed the dogs. You can also watch (and sample!) the ice cream, yoghurt and fudge being made on the farm. Of course, there is an ice cream shop where you can buy some ice cream to do a proper taste test!
25. Heartlands Cornwall
Heartlands is Cornwall’s first cultural playground and covers 19 acres. There is a botanical garden as well as climb on sculptures, a giant adventure park, art and crafts studios and an engine house. There is also a café onsite.