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30 things to do in Cornwall with kids

When you are looking for a family holiday destination you need to be sure that there is plenty to keep you – but most importantly, the kids – entertained. While you can soak up the sun, admire the landscape and the slower pace of life that Cornwall offers, your children may be looking for something a little more stimulating.

Britain’s southernmost county has a plethora of pulls and charms ranging from award-winning attractions to beautiful countryside and coastlines. To help you ensure that your whole family is happy and entertained, we have listed 30 things to do for kids during your stay at a Cornwall holiday park.

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Cornwall is one of the most popular destinations among people looking for a staycation and as such, has bountiful attractions for you and your little ones to get stuck into.

The Monkey Sanctuary

Starting life as the Monkey Sanctuary in 1964, the charity has transformed into Wild Futures, a centre that offers refuge to monkeys rescued from the pet trade. The whole family can enjoy a day at the Monkey Sanctuary as you tour the enclosures of the 36 rescued monkeys and learn about these incredible animals from the expert carers. Let your own little monkeys tire themselves out in the play areas and after a walk through the tranquil Wildlife Gardens, before refuelling at the Treetop Café.

Newquay Zoo

Newquay Zoo allows you to journey through the wildlife kingdom, from the African Savanna to the Tropical House and brings you face-to-face with more than 130 species of rare and magnificent animals. Your kids will be able to witness African lions, red pandas, Hoffmann’s sloths and many more while knowing that you are helping to aid in the conservation of these animals.

The Eden Project

A former disused china clay pit east of St Austell, The Eden Project has transformed into the winner of the best UK Leisure Attraction for a record-breaking fifth time in a row in 2015 at the British Travel Awards, and has quickly become one of the country’s most popular attractions and most iconic sights. The Eden Project has been dubbed as the Eighth Wonder of the World, with its staggering biomes – the largest geodesic conservatories in the world – housing tropical gardens and environments.
Explore the world’s largest captive rainforest with magical waterfalls and dense jungles, sample some of the finest locally sourced food in the restaurants and cafes, walk around the quaint gardens and even try ice skating and zip lining.

The National Seal Sanctuary

Seals are one of the finest sights around our seas and coasts. With numerous populations of grey seals in the wild you won’t be hard pressed to see them in Cornwall, but if you want to get up close to them, pay a visit to the National Seal Sanctuary.

With a picturesque backdrop of the Helford River, the 40 acre sanctuary is a dedicated site for the rehabilitation of seals and other marine mammals. You and your kids can enjoy the playful nature of the otters and penguins, while meeting the seal and sea lion population and learning about their rescues and stories.

Dairyland

Blessed with rolling green hills, there are a number of farm-based attractions in Cornwall. But Dairyland, outside of Newquay, really manages to entertain every family member.

A great all-weather day out for the whole family to enjoy, Dairyland is much more than any farm you have been to. While you can milk and feed the animals, ride on ponies and tractors, there is also The Bull Pen – a massive indoor play area – to dive into. Tours of the museum and milking parlours, slides, rides, playgrounds, hayrides and mazes are all sure to keep the kids happy.

We spoke to Dairyland about the farm, attractions and the family-fun waiting to be had:

“Dairyland Farmworld offers an ‘udderly’ amazing, action-packed day for all the family, where you can enjoy 7 days for the price of 1! Meet the animals, explore the beautiful nature trails, try your hand at bottle feeding and enjoy the ‘Bull Pen’ indoor play centre. There are lots of rides and activities and even a fascinating Moo-seum to keep everyone entertained!”

“With all the wonders of a working farm, you can get up close to the animals with daily milking sessions, pat-a-pet and pony rides, explore the nature trail and enjoy the outside play park with trampolines, mini diggers, junior JCB’s and SO much more! There’s no need to worry about the British weather with The Bull Pen – a HUGE undercover fun frenzy with giant drop slides, designated soft-play area, ball pools, astra slides, tumble tower and snack bar. Farmtastic fun for all the family!”

Raze the Roof

For kids seeking a colourful, action-packed day out, then then look no further than Raze the Roof. This is everything that your children will be looking for in a fun day out. Amusements and lie around every corner of this crazy cacophony of colour.

Join in with the Laser Storm in the Black Paw Laser Tag Centre, as you sneak, run and fire your way around the 1500 sq. ft. arena through swirling fog and music. Or sit back, relax and let them tire themselves out as you enjoy a tea and a bite to eat in the café.

Tamar valley Donkey Park

Why not visit Cornwall’s happiest donkeys at the Tamar Valley Donkey Park? The donkey park has been rescuing and nurturing donkeys and other animals, like their goats, sheep, pigs and guinea pigs, for a number of years offering them a safe and happy environment to live.

Winners of the Best Group of Working Donkeys in the southwest from 2004 to 2007, the whole family can enjoy the animals, indoor play area and café. The dog friendly park will let your children get hands on with the animals and even groom the donkeys in what is sure to be a memorable day out.

Pirate’s QUEST

Immerse yourself in a swashbuckling, walk-through experience that takes you back through the history of Cornwall’s smuggling past and infamous pirates at Pirate’s Quest. You and your crew mates will discover the fascinating legends of the Cornish coast, with stories of mermaids, Bolster the giant and their pirates.

Combining brilliant theatrical performances, special effects, 360 degree sets all in an authentic and engaging setting, set sail for Pirate’s Quest in Newquay for a totally unique day out.

The Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay

Discover the wonders of life beneath the waves while staying dry at the Blue Reef Aquarium. Overlooking the Atlantic sea and perched on Towan beach in Newquay, the aquarium leads you on a visually spectacular underwater safari.

Over 40 displays cover the waters around Cornwall’s coast and more tropical climates, offering encounters with numerous marine species from the tranquil seahorse to the fierce piranha. Venture through a 250,000 litre ocean tank with the underwater tunnel presenting a 180 degree view of the exhibit, or visit the Blue Reef Nursery and see baby marine animals develop.

Cornish Market World

One for the food lovers, as more than 60 traders and vendors descend upon South Cornwall for Cornish Market World.

Do you have a child with an irrepressible sweet tooth? Try the delicious baked goods and cakes on offer, or head to the many other fresh produce stalls. Can’t wait to get back home before you try the food? Head outside and try some bites from local Cornish food vans, who sell everything from doughnuts to carveries.

With all of the best local Cornish produce on offer, you will be spoilt for choice when looking for something to have for dinner back at your Cornwall holiday park.

Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary

There’s no shortage of animal attractions in Cornwall, and Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary is among the finest in the county.

The award-winning wildlife sanctuary will give you and the kids the chance to see a stunning range of over 140 species of birds, a fun farm with animals and the huge JungleBarn indoor play centre to blow off some steam.

Screech Owl Sanctuary

Raising awareness of owl conservation, the Screech Owl Sanctuary showcases an array of birds and some animals through hands-on encounters and displays. With owls from the skies of Britain, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and New Zealand, your kids will also have the chance of seeing the resident kookaburras, meerkats, alpacas, emus and many more.

Cornwall aviation Heritage Centre

Sharing the skies with the beautiful birds at the owl sanctuary are some of the attractions at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre, just outside of Newquay.

Don’t mistake the centre for a place to simply walk around and admire the machines, the friendly staff are on hand to tell you everything you need to know. Your little ones even have the chance to tour the planes themselves, as they sit in the pilot’s seat and imagine themselves flying 10 miles in the sky.

Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm

This one is sure to grab the attention of the grown-ups, but there is plenty to do here for the whole family. Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm is a family-run establishment set in the heart of the Cornish countryside.

The farm has won multiple awards for its cider, wines, sprits and preserves in the 30 years of having their orchard and have really made the most of their surroundings for everyone to enjoy. Thousands head to Healeys every year to not only sample their great produce, but for a family-friendly day out.

Join a guided tour around the distillery, cellars and factory, or check out the farm animals and enjoy the free-roaming peacocks as you sit down to a proper Cornish cream tea.

Holywell Bay Fun Park

Holywell Bay Fun Park is in a prime location for a full day of fun and play. Just four miles from Newquay, Holywell is one of Cornwall’s best family attractions. Buy online and save 10%, pay as you play or buy bulk star deals for the 25 rides and attractions.

With free entry, it’s only the ones playing that need to pay, meaning the whole family can come and enjoy the park as you race around the track on the go karts, find your feet in the zorbs or try the super blaster boats.

The park’s American diner offers sea views and great food to refuel, alternatively, you can relax at Woody’s next to the golf course.

Camel Creek Adventure Park

Giant play areas, hands-on animal encounters and great indoor and outdoor attractions, Camel Creek is a brilliant day out for kids of all ages.

Following a £300,000 investment, Camel Creek will be celebrating its 3rd anniversary and is sure to pull out all the stops to make it a memorable experience for each one of its visitors. More than 40 rides and 35 acres of outdoor play are on offer at the all-weather park.

Feadon Farm Wildlife Centre

It’s impossible to visit Cornwall without engaging with the natural world, and there are few better places to do this than at Feadon Farm Wildlife Centre.

At the farm you and your kids will be able to appreciate Cornwall’s beautiful woodlands and beaches, as they are bowled over by the numerous activities and incredible falconry birds and foxes.

Experiences are tailored to your child’s needs, so everyone has the chance to have a great day out. Assistant Wildlife and Conservation manager at Feadon, Kirstie Francis, spoke to us about what makes the farm and wildlife centre a brilliant day out for children.

“We have a great choice of wildlife activities on offer; including our Wildlife Experience, meet the animals, badger watch, falconry, night walks and rock pooling.”

Experiences are tailored to your child’s needs, so everyone has the chance to have a great day out. Assistant Wildlife and Conservation manager at Feadon, Kirstie Francis, spoke to us about what makes the farm and wildlife centre a brilliant day out for children.

“Our activities give our visitors an experience to get up close and personal with some amazing wildlife and learn all about our friendly residents at the farm,” said Kirstie.

“Whether that is flying our falconry birds, stroking the friendly rescued foxes, getting acquainted with snakes, feeding the reindeer or hunting for sea creatures in rock pools at nearby Portreath beach you can be assured you will have lots of fun.”

Lappa Valley

Lappa Valley is one of Cornwall’s most historic and significant settings, and the best ways to discover all of its wonders is by one of the three miniature railways.

Through sites of significant natural beauty, the trains run along a railway dating back to 1849 which previously served the mine at East Wheal Rose.

Lappa Valley itself includes canoes along the tranquil waterways, crazy golf, a maze and several scenic walks.

Go…Rock pooling

Rock pooling is a famous British seaside tradition. Clambering around the rugged coast for crabs and other marine creatures, the thrill of the hunt is sure to inspire even the adults to grab a bucket and net.

Thanks to Cornwall’s brilliant coastline you are spoilt for choice when it comes to rock pooling spots. But a special mention should go to Treyarnon Bay, where the pools are massive and abundant with life and Duckpool Beach near Bude, which is often quieter than others.

Try a treasure Trail

A treasure trail is a great activity for all ages, but is something that can be really enjoyed by a younger audience. Buy a treasure trail and go on an imaginative journey around the towns and villages of Cornwall on these self-guided walks.

Each route is easy to follow, as you crack clues and explore beautiful locations. Take them in your own time, as the trails are completely self-driven and allow you to choose between three themes: Murder Mystery, Treasure Hunt and Spy Trial.

Crabbing

Crabbing is a British pastime synonymous with seaside holidays. It is a great activity for children of all ages to take part in and is very easy to do.

All you need is a bit of bait – sardines or bacon are known to be particularly successful – attached to your line and a nice harbour wall location. Alternatively, why not visit the National Maritime Museum in Newquay during the school holidays, where they will give you the line, bait and bucket.

Kayaking

With over 290 miles of coastline and a large range of waterways, one of the best ways to discover Cornwall is by kayak. Encounter Cornwall gives you the tools to do just that, as you kayak and paddleboard your way down the Fowey Estuary.

David Johns from Encounter Cornwall spoke to us about the trips and the beautiful location:

“The kayak trips are an ideal introduction to Fowey’s sheltered tidal waters, and are suitable for both families and those new to kayaking. We also hire to experienced paddlers. Explore its creeks and backwaters on the high tide – or on the low tide venture down to view its wildlife and historic waterfronts. On both trips you will be paddling through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Marine Conservation Area teeming with wildlife that includes kingfishers, herons, egrets, cormorants, various waders and if you’re lucky a seal or dolphin.”

The Cornwall Tourism Award winner offers guided canoe trips and kayak hire along the sheltered tidal waters of the Fowey Estuary.

“Prices include all necessary equipment, leaving you free to enjoy an experience which for many is the highlight of their holiday in Cornwall. They operate throughout the year and only need a minimum of two people to run a trip.”
“With options for everyone from the complete beginner to those who want to be challenged – come and join them on the Fowey and “go with the flow”!”

Cycling along the Camel Trail

Cornwall’s beautiful landscape is waiting to be discovered with Camel Trail Cycle Hire. The Camel Trail itself is an 18 mile stretch that runs through a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), across some of the counties’ finest countryside.

As you follow a disused rail line, you will pass by beautiful woodland, the Camel Estuary and Bodmin, before concluding the ride in the picturesque moorland village of Blisland.

Camel Trail Cycle Hire is a family run business with a great selection of bikes ready for hire throughout the day. Popular among nature lovers, hire your mode of transport and have a leisurely ride along a route laden with beauty spots.

Take a nature workshop

Get hands-on with a nature workshop, where the classroom is the great outdoors. Educating people on the importance of the natural world, the Forest School offers sessions on how the earth works, how to make fires, explore rock pools and much more.

Discover Merlin’s cave

Cornwall is a county of many legends, with tales of giants, kings, legendary swords and giant beasts.

One of the most famous legends tied to Cornwall is King Arthur and you can discover an area which is vital to his tale. On the beach beneath Tintagel Castle you can find a giant face of the wizard Merlin next to ‘Merlin’s Cave’.

The cave passes through Tintagel Island and earns its name from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, where it is told that Merlin used this passageway to carry an infant Arthur to safety. Tintagel Castle was described as the island fortress where King Arthur was conceived thanks to Merlin’s magic.

Tree surfing

Don’t want to get wet and sandy, but still want to surf? Then why not have a go at tree surfing in a heart-thumping experience in the tree tops.

The perfect outdoor activity for any adventurous youngsters you want to keep entertained, as they work their way through a complex of ladders, zip wires, bridges and walkways. Elsewhere you can try your hand at archery, or take the leap of faith from a treetop platform.

Walking in the footsteps of giants

Explore the history and folklore surrounding Cornwall and its giants. One place stands that out as a landmark in Cornish mythology is St Michael’s Mount. Here you and your children can walk in the footsteps of giants.

The legend of Jake the Giant Killer is one of the most popular in Cornish folklore. Cormoran the giant terrorised the land as he stole cattle and made the Mount his home. Jack, from Marazion – the town that looks out at the Mount from the mainland – decided to rid the area of the beast.

On a moonlit night, he walked across the cobbled causeway and laid a trap. Luring out Cormoran with his horn, the giant ran out to grab Jack before falling into the trap. Follow Jack’s intrepid adventure and discover all that the Mount has to offer with your kids for a special day out.

Surfing

Surfing and Cornwall go hand-in-hand. It is a must try activity for anyone visiting the area, as thousands from around the UK and indeed the globe flock to its shores for some of the best waves in the country.

Kingsurf surf school is fortunate to have Mawgan Porth on its doorstep.

Peter Abell from Kingsurf was happy to tell us why you need to learn with them and why surfing is the ultimate activity for kids in Cornwall:

“Kingsurf surf school was one of the first surf schools to operate in the Newquay area and is now celebrating its 14th successful year as a B.S.A and Surfing GB approved surf school.”

“We are passionate about our sport and love to see more and more people enjoying it. We are a surf school for all levels of ability from complete beginners to advanced surf coaching. Whatever level you may be we guarantee you will leave full of enthusiasm and fresh knowledge. We are extremely lucky to have Mawgan Porth as a location for our surf school as it is one of the few beaches in Newquay that receives surf all year round!”

The pristine beach and superb surf at Mawgan Porth – the smaller brother of well-known Fistral beach – makes it one of the best places to learn in the county.

“At Kingsurf surf school we pride ourselves in our high standard of customer service and personal care, whether you are here for a day’s fun or a major change in lifestyle you can be confident of being extremely well looked after by our approachable and friendly staff.”

Eat An ice cream

The beaches are lined with ice cream trucks, shops and restaurants selling the finest local produce and everyday favourites. But when in Cornwall, try it the Cornish way. Head down to the coast and get a scoop of vanilla in a cone with a hearty dollop of clotted cream on top.

A traditional Cornish pasty

Arguably Cornwall’s most famous dish, the pasty has even warranted its very own World Championships held at the Eden Project.

Pasty making is serious business, so much so that in 2011 it was given its PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status and became a protected food, meaning that to be deemed a Cornish pasty, it must first be made in Cornwall. To qualify as a traditional Cornish pasty, it must contain beef and veg, though there is a huge array of options on offer.

There are endless things to do in Cornwall. Whether you’re an adult looking for a quiet break in the county, or a young family hoping to keep the kids interested. You are never going to be short of things to do, places to go and things to try on your holiday to Cornwall.

Image Credit: Chris Combe

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