50 places in Cornwall to take your kids before they grow up

We love our Cornish adventures. There’s something about this beautiful county that conjures up timeless images of ice creams by the beach, rockpooling, running through wild gardens and the Cornish sun forever shining. There’s a timeless quality to Cornwall that calls us back time and time again and we have a bucket list as long as our arms and legs of fun activities to enjoy there. So here are our 50 places in Cornwall to take your kids (and ours!). How many have you got to? Print out our free printable at the bottom of the page to keep track of your own Cornish travels.

1.National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth – This is such an inspiring place to take kids of all ages with boats filling the main hall from Ben Ainslie’s gold-medal winning one from the 2012 Olympics to those that did so in the 1930s. There are fascinating stories and artifacts everywhere. The National Maritime Museum  Cornwall also has other exhibitions on through the year so it is jam-packed with interesting sights and you only need to visit once to get an annual membership.


National Maritime Museum Cornwall - copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

2. Take a trip to Land’s End – there’s something awe-inspiring about being at the very end of the British mainland at Land’s End, a craggy coastline filled with legend and mystery. The area is known for its wildlife and wonderful coastal scenery but there are also events on here including a visitor’s centre.

3. The Courtroom Experience – This is one primarily for older children but a really fun activity. Find out the facts of a real murder trial that took place in the Shire Hall, act in the role as a jury member, listen to all of the evidence and then deliver your verdict – guilty or not guilty. You also get to visit the holding cells below the court. Definitely a unique experience.

4. Lanhydrock – There are a number of National Trust properties in Cornwall but our favourite has to be Lanhydrock, in fact it’s our favourite National Trust houses anywhere. Lanhydrock is the most evocative setting and with over 50 rooms open to the public it’s strangely bewitching. You can walk through the children’s nursery, sit in the school room and wander through the servant’s kitchens, all of which feel as if the occupants have just briefly left the room. We love it here and come back year after year.


Lanhydrock - copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

5. The Lost Gardens of Heligan – If you want to get lost in a world of adventure and wildlife then the Lost Gardens of Heligan are for you. Near St Austell lies this wonderful land to be discovered including the most beautiful sculptures, amazing rope bridges to cross and wildlife to spot.


6. Cotehele ia another great Cornish National Trust property. This Medieval house tells the story of the Cotehele family who lived here for 600 years and has some fantastic grounds to run around as well as the house itself to explore. Kids will love the mill which has baking demonstrations as well as showing how the mill works. There are regular exhibitions on here as well as a restaurant and tea room making it a really full family day out.


7. Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre – Charlestown in one of my favourite little Cornish fishing villages. It’s somewhere I’ve been visiting for the last twenty years and I love it as much for its sunny days watching the local children jumping off the harbour wall into the sea as I do in the winter when the waves crash against the rocks. It’s evocative and picturesque and it’s easy to see why Poldark film here. The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre is a great place to find out about smuggling, shipwrecks and a history of seafaring in this area.


Charlestown, Cornwall - copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

Charlestown, Cornwall

8. Pencarrow sits at the foot of a valley between Bodmin and Wadebridge and is a family home that has been in the same family, the Molesworths, since the 1500s. The house itself is great to explore but on a sunny day in particular the gardens are absolutely beautiful and wonderful to run around and enjoy. With an iron Age hill fort, sunken Italian Garden with a quatrefoil fountain, ice house, palm house, ancient Cornish cross and a grotto, which is believed to have been a secret meeting place this is a great place to take in that beautiful Cornish air.


9. Dairy Land – this is a really fun and unique attraction near Newquay which when you visit once gives you a week’s free return. There are plenty of animals to meet and even have a go at feeding and there are lots of indoor play areas if the weather takes a turn – a great day out in Cornwall to take your kids .


10. Wheal Martyn is the UK’s only china clay museum and country park and is a seriously fun day out for all the family. There are over 26 acres of woodland walks, nature trails, Cornwall’s largest waterwheel, Victorian clay works and a brilliant children’s play area with mini tractors to ride, swings and rope bridges to cross.


11. Eden Project – No Cornish bucket list would be complete without The Eden Project in it. We love our trips to Eden, from our very first visit in the first year it opened to the various trips back over the years, watching it grow. They have lots of seasonal activities, particularly around Halloween and Christmas but the summer really is a wonderful time to stroll through the grounds and see everything in bloom. The Eden Project holds a special place in our hearts and we love supporting it. Read about our trip to the Eden Project in winter here.


Eden Project - Copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

12. Bodmin & Wenford Railway – We love an opportunity to climb on board a real steam train and at Bodmin & Wenford’s you pay once and can travel all day. This is a great opportunity to see some of the countryside from on board and kids of all ages love the chance to step back in time. Another great place in Cornwall to take your kids.


13. Tintagel Castle – Explore the legend of King Arthur at the spectacular Tintagel Castle. Kid will love running through the ruins and the tales brought to life by all the events taking place throughout the year. This has to be one of our favourite castles in the UK, it’s just so evocative.


14. Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay – Perfect for a rainy day the Blue Reef aquarium can transport you from the Cornish waters to tropical ones in a couple of hours. They have turtles, jellyfish and a fantastic underwater tunnel from where you can spot sharks amongst many other sea creatures. This is also a great rainy day activity in Cornwall to take your kids to.


15. Telegraph Museum Porthcurno – The Telegraph Museum in Porthcurno is somewhere to find out how Cornwall shaped the world in terms of communication. From 1870 this location sent and delivered messages all over the world using underwater cables. At the museum you can follow your own trail, perfect for kids and you can also find out about Morse Code. Adventurous children will love to climb down into the tunnels from the Second World War.


16. The Minack Theatre in Porthcurno really is a very special place. Sit and enjoy an open air performance, and there are plenty especially for children or have some cake in the cafe and enjoy the fantastic views. This is a really special, one-off place in Cornwall to take your kids.


17. Rockpooling around the Cornish coastline – Cornish beaches are beautiful and one of our favourite activities is to go rockpooling and one of our best spots is the beaches around Mevagissey. Kids can spend the longest time with a net and bucket searching for crabs and shrimp and there’s something about Cornish beaches that are just unlike any others across the world, we love them.

Porthpean Beach - Rockpooling beaches near Mevagissey - copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

Rockpooling at Porthpean Beach

18. Cornish Seal Sanctuary – this is Europe’s leading seal rescue centre and is in Gweek, Helston.  You can discover more about the rescued seals and their stories, see behind the scenes at the seal hospital and visit the Cornish Coast Experience to find out more about what lives amongst the rocks in this wonderful county.


19. Trerice – we have a real soft spot for this National Trust House near Newquay where you can get to try out Tudor games such as ‘kayling’ in the gardens, try on Tudor armour and explore this beautiful house. One of our first trips to Cornwall with our oldest when he was a baby was to Trerice and it’s a great place to return to.


20. St Michael’s Mount – Kids will delight in crossing the causeway either on foot or by boat as the tide comes in and once on the National Trust-run St Michael’s Mount there’s so much to see. Run around the castle and find about the history of the island through villagers own stories. St Michael’s Mount is a really evocative place to visit and a great place in Cornwall to take your kids.


21. The National Lobster Hatchery is marine conservation and education charity and while helping save the lobsters is also a great day out. You can see the young lobsters who are getting ready to be released alongside some of the giant lobsters that live here full-time. You can also sign up for special meet the experts experiences. A really fun, different trip out.


22. Jamaica Inn – I grew up listening to Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier on cassette during car journeys and although it’s more than a little touristy I love taking my children to the actual place where it’s set. Jamaica Inn stands out on the moors and as well as going inside and imagining horse hooves clattering their way to the front door on the cobblestones at the front we love trips out around the moorland here which feels perfectly bleak and full of tales of smugglers long gone.

Jamaica Inn, Cornwall - copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

Jamaica Inn

23. Flambard’s has lots of rides and also plenty of indoor fun for rainy days. They have some brilliant attractions including a Dinosaur Express train where you can look out for prehistoric creatures, a wonderful ‘Britain in the Blitz’ area to learn about life under the threat of bombs in the Second World War, roller coasters and a Victorian village, amongst many others. Flambard’s is near Helston.


24. Lappa Valley Steam Railway – steam railways are just so timeless so it is perfect that there are a couple of them in Cornwall. Lappa Valley’s steam Railway has lots of fun with a play fort, pirate ship and crazy golf as well as a trip on the railway itself. Another great day out in Cornwall to take your kids to.


25. Newquay Zoo – There are over a thousand animals in Newquay’s Zoo which is also a leading conservation charity. There are keeper talks throughout the day and you can watch animals being fed at set times too.


26. Geevor Tin Mine – Tin mining is such an intrinsic part of Cornwall’s history, to see it first-hand is to understand a little more about this county. At Geevor Tin Mine, one of the last mines to work in the area, you can go deep underground into this 18th century mine and then get interactive in the museum. Kids will love the chance to pan for their own gold and gems.


27 Kayak around Frenchman’s Creek – there’s something about seeing this part of the Cornwall from the water and Frenchman’s Creek in particular is a wonderful area to explore by boat. We took kayaks out with Koru Kayaking who were brilliant, pointing out wildlife we came across and making it a really fun adventure for our kids.


Koru Kayaking - Copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

28. Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm – I know, it doesn’t sound particularly family friendly but Healeys really is! There are farm animals to visit, fun tractor rides to be had and cream teas for everyone (with lashing of Cornish cream). Of course for the grown ups there are also tastings, a chance to find out how the cider is made and lots of opportunities to take home your own barrel of the golden stuff too. What’s not to love?!


29. The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro is a great place to spend some time, particularly since kids go free and adults tickets last for a whole year. There is plenty here to keep both children and adults entertained and they have some brilliant exhibitions that regularly change, so lots to return for too.


30. Pirate Quest in Newquay is perfect for taking a swashbuckling voyage through Cornwall’s pirate past. This is a really interactive experience which will take you right into the heart of this bloodthirsty part of the region’s history and kids and adults alike will love it.


31. Cornish Birds of Prey is a wonderful place for children to learn about these gorgeous creatures. It has the largest collection of bids of prey in Cornwall and some great kids play areas. With experience days, nature walks and flying displays it’s a fun trip out.


32. Pendennis Castle – we love this Tudor Cornish castle, standing high over Falmouth and filled with dark brooding. It’s a great place to run around the grounds and see the secret alleyways and cannons pointing out to sea, protecting this rocky bit of land.


33. Whale watching from Falmouth. There are a number of boats operating out of Falmouth and a perfect opportunity to see some of the wonderful wildlife around. Check the guidelines as some are for children over 6 and others over 10 but they are a great chance to see whales, dolphins and basking sharks amongst others.

34. Trebah Gardens is one of our favourite gardens in Cornwall and a lovely trip out for all members of the family. There is a wonderful playground and beautiful gardens that wind their way down to the sweetest little beach with crystal clear water, perfect for paddling and a spot of ice cream eating. You can read our review of Trebah gardens here and see the photo below for the crazy huge rhubarb that they have there.


Trebah Gardens, Cornwall - Copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

35. Just outside of Launceston, Tamar Otter Sanctuary is positively teaming with animals including chipmunks, giant rabbits, Scottish wildcats and of course, otters. Put aside a day to visit as there’s much to see and it’s a lovely space that kids will love.


36. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is probably somewhere best suited to older children and teenagers and is absolutely fascinating. Set in the lovely village of Boscastle this museum contains the world’s largest collection of items relating to witchcraft and the occult. It’s a bit graphic in places but an intriguing look into this often dark period of history.


37. Camel Creek Adventure Park near Wadebridge is fun for kids of all ages. They have visiting exhibitions from characters such as Peppa Pig and Teenage Ninja and it has everything from thrill rides to hundreds of animals. It has over 35 acres of outside play areas and also 40,000 square feet of indoor play if the weather should turn.


38. Screech Owl & Wildlife Park contains the largest collection of owls in the southwest. Visit this wildlife park on Goss Moor for fun talks, animal encounters, flying displays and feeding sessions. As well as owls there are ponies, raccoons and alpacas amongst others.


39. Tanglewood Wild Gardens is a wonderful place to get back to nature. Definitely different to the usual manicured, more formal gardens this is somewhere to really get back to basics, look around for the wild life that lives naturally here and sit and enjoy a picnic and family time.


40. Tregothnan – Anywhere that makes British tea has to be a special place! You can book experiences at Tregothnan where you can find out more about the tea growing, or you can just visit the pretty wonderful cafe and kids will love to pick up their own tea plants here to grow the leaves in the garden at home. You can read our review of our visit to Tregothnan here.



41. Built for the King in 1779 Bodmin Jail is a really interesting trip out for all the family. This is somewhere to get a glimpse back in time at some of the conditions prisoners were forced to endure. A creepy but fascinating place in Cornwall to take your kids.


42. Bude Sea Pool is a great introduction for kids to (almost) wild swimming. The pool has been open since the 1930s and is available for townspeople as well as visitors to the area and it’s a great opportunity for families to get into the sea water to swim safely.


43. Paradise Park – With over 650 birds and animals Paradise Park is a destination in itself. You can see penguins and otters being fed, watch the free flying bird show or have fun in the numerous indoor and outdoor play areas.


44. Glendurgan is a wonderful National Trust Garden but what makes it really special is the brilliant maze (first planted in 1833) at the centre and the Giant’s Stride fun rope swing. The gardens, near Falmouth, are a great, outdoors day out – there’s a lovely beach at the bottom too.


45. Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens is a relatively new attraction in Cornwall which combines gardens with contemporary art installations. There’s a really good cafe and it’s an interesting place to get kids thinking about modern art sculptures in an engaging way.


46. The Hidden Valley Discovery Park near Launceston is a nice mix of experiences from a fun maze to a train ride on the Porterswick Junction Light Railway. We love the look of the Sherlock Holmes Trail where you have to decode clues around the grounds.


47. Padstow for pasties – You can’t take a trip to Cornwall without having a pasty, they are something we always make time for, at least once over a weekend away! Our favourite pasty shop, having tried a few, is Chough’s in Padstow and visiting this lovely bakery gives a great opportunity for a wander round this beautiful Cornish fishing town. While you’re there you should try the fudge in Joly’s too!

Cornish pasty - copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

48. St Mawes Castle is one of the best-preserved of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery fortresses, and it’s also the most elaborately decorated. It’s a great place to stare out to sea and imagine the fear that would have been felt for a potential threat about to arrive from Catholic France or Spain. Full of history and a great location, this is somewhere kids will love to explore.


49. The Monkey Sanctuary at Looe is home to 36 rescued monkeys, each very much a character. There are play areas, bat zones and activity rooms but the stars of the show are most definitely the monkeys and visiting them is not only a fun day out but also one that you know is doing good and supporting these creatures that haven’t had the best start in life.


50. King Arthur’s Great Halls is a magical place in Tintagel to bring the legend of King Arthur alive. The stained glass windows are breathtakingly beautiful and kids will love the opportunity to sit on the throne.


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50 places in Cornwall to take your kids before they grow up - copyright: www.globalmousetravels.com

Print out our free printable here to keep track of your own Cornish travels (click the image below to open the printable in a new window).

50 places in Cornwall to take your kids before they grow up printable


5 Responses to "50 places in Cornwall to take your kids before they grow up"

  1. Nell (the Pigeon Pair and Me)  July 19, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    What an incredible list! I too remember Jamaica Inn from my childhood. We haven’t been to Cornwall yet with the kids – perhaps it’s time, over the next 12 months.

    • globalmouse  July 20, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Ah definitely time Nell! 🙂 It’s such a great place for kids, the beaches are beautiful and the moor really evocative. We love our trips there, my favourite are winter trips when it’s much quieter but it’s great in every season! Thank you! 🙂

  2. Kerry (Goodtrippers)  November 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Fantastic list! We had one of our best ever family holidays in Cornwall – so many great days-out, family-friendly restaurants, and simply spending time on the coast, pottering about in rockpools, those amazing views (Minack Theatre!) create some very special memories.

    • globalmouse  December 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      Thank you! And I agree, I adore Cornwall…I’m planning our next trip there at the moment, I can’t wait to get back there!

  3. Sarah Ebner (@sarahjebner)  February 1, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    We went there last summer and it’s almost unbelievable how many great things there are to do in one county! Now I’ve seen your list (not sure why I didn’t spot it earlier) we’re going to have to go back again……


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