Child Friendly Activities In Cornwall

Some of you may know that Matt, Elle and I live in North Cornwall, so today I’m sharing some of the things we enjoy doing here as a family. We know lots of you love to come to Cornwall on holiday and so hopefully some of these ideas and insider tips will make your next visit even more enjoyable.

Are We Nearly There Yet?

Getting here is without a doubt your first challenge. Having moved to Cornwall over two years ago, and now with a one year old and dog in tow, I’m pretty accustomed to 4-5 hour drives with plenty of stops. If you can, do the drive at nighttime. The traffic can be AWFUL arriving and leaving Cornwall at peak times and they are currently widening the A30 so it’s even worse. It’s not unusual to be in stand-still traffic for hours before you’ve even made it to Devon…which isn’t much fun with a screaming baby.

A top tip for service stations (!) Gloucester services on the M5 is amazing and on the A30 Cornwall Services has an amazing soft play area and is brand new and very clean. Ideal if you’re travelling to the very bottom of Cornwall, as you’ve still got a fair way to go. If you’re coming from London through Dorset – take lots of antibacterial hand gel – the service stations are interesting to say the least…Although having said that, Felicitys Farm Shop is a great place to stop (NOTE – they don’t have a baby change unit, but there’s lots of space and if the weather is ok, just do it outside).

If you’re coming from London or Manchester way, consider flying! Newquay airport is really accessible, they have car hire facilities on site and it can make what would be a day long trip, into a couple of hours journey. Plus it’s more exciting for toddlers and young children as they can move around. And once you’re here, you’re more than welcome to borrow my car seat for your stay if needed 😉

Fair Weather

If the weather is on your side, whatever time of year it is, the beach is the best place to be in Cornwall, just wrap up warm and make sure you’ve got layers. The weather changes here within a matter of minutes, so it’s likely that you’ll need to add and remove clothes throughout the day. There are an infinite number of beaches to explore, but these are some I feel should have a special mention either because the are really easy with kids, or because they are simply beautiful.

Fistral Beach – probably the most famous beach in the UK, there is plenty of parking, really great facilities for kids and a fab pizza restaurant and a Rick Steins fish & chips. Whether you like Rick or not, there’s no denying – they are tasty. Plus there aren’t any steps so you can get onto the beach easily with a buggy (if your buggy is ok with sand).

If steps aren’t an issue and you want to be further away from people, park for free on the other side of the beach (head to Pentire, rather than following signs to Fistral). There are rock pools galore for exploring and a cute independent cafe called Bodhi’s which is right in the cliff edge (and does amazing cake). Then head up to the Lewinnick Lodge for lunch or dinner – there’s a log fire to cosy up in front of, or if the weathers nice, a terrace with views of the Atlantic that can’t be beaten and it’s very child and dog friendly.

Porthcurno – I cannot stress enough how incredible this beach is. I know I’m one to get carried away – but this is honestly like being in the Caribbean, the water is that blue. There’s a large carpark and getting to the beach does involve a path and some steps – it’s about a 5/10 minute walk, but it wouldn’t be too tricky with a buggy and it’s just so stunning you need to see it. (And it’s around the corner from the Minack Theatre – an incredible outdoor theatre with the ocean as a backdrop).

St Agnes – Adorable little village, with cafes/ice cream and a beach that’s just there. If you’re feeling adventurous, or have older kids, you can park at Chapel Porth (which has a National Trust car park and cafe) and walk over to Trevaunance Cove in St Agnes via the coastal path. This is a gorgeous, gorgeous walk but quite steep and definitely one where you’ll want to pop your baby in a carrier (and probably make your other half carry him/her)…

Porthcurnick – Really cute beach with a legendary beach-hut-cum-shed-cafe called The Hidden Hut that hosts epic feast nights, as well as serving sandwiches and soup by day. It’s not open til March unfortunately, but if you’re here out of school holidays, you should be able to park on the road to the beach, meaning that you can take your buggy.

TOP TIPS FOR VISITING THE BEACH
– Check which beaches are owned by the National Trust – if you’re a member you’ll be able to park for free, which is handy as parking fees soon start to build up on holiday.

– Out of season, lots of the beaches are dog friendly, so if your little one is nervous about dogs, make sure you check this. And there are some beaches don’t allow dogs at all, so equally you might want to check if you’re bringing your own pooch.

– Cafes & facilities on the beach can be closed during the Winter months, so it’s always worth calling ahead or checking on their Facebook page as there’s nothing worse than not being able to warm up with a hot chocolate after a brisk beach walk.

– Always have change with you for car parks, hot chocolate, ice creams…lots of places are starting to get card machines, but there are still some who don’t, or lots with a minimum card transaction fee.

– Keep a large bottle of water in the back of your car for sloshing sand off boots – not all beaches have taps or showers like they do on the Continent and I’ve found sand in the car = grumpy partner, which doesn’t make for a good day 😉 Or just be organised and have a spare pairs of shoes in the car for everyone. (In the Summer, talcum powder is amazing for getting sand off feet as it soaks up the moisture, allowing the sand to be brushed off – a top tip from the lovely Lauren at Rock My Style).

An Insiders Guide To Cornwall With Kids

Rainy Day Fun

It can pour solidly in Cornwall all day long and so you definitely need some back up plans for days out. I know lots of people shudder at the thought of soft play – but sometimes it’s an absolute requirement. Dairyland & Springfields both have excellent indoor soft play areas, for tiny ones right up to teenagers and out of school holidays, they aren’t actually that hellish. Plus if it means your little one burns off some energy so they go to bed at a reasonable time, allowing you to drink wine, that can only be a good thing! These two places have the added bonus of lovely things to do outdoors too, should the weather make a turn for the better.

Hawksfield is a complex of shops (think lovely homeware, upcycled furniture, flowers and local produce) and a great cafe called Strong Adolfo’s. It’s literally ON the A39 and so easy to get to. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some time while the weather is hideous. (This might be a good one for those on baby-moons or with tiny babies, as I’m not sure toddlers and fancy homeware shops mix…)

Days Out

I literally cannot recommend The Lost Gardens of Heligan enough – it’s essentially an expanse of jungle, farmland and kitchen gardens open for exploration. They regularly put on activities too – this half term there’s a workshop for little ones on how to attract wildlife to your garden. You can take a picnic or eat in one of the cafes (which have just been refurbished) and basically just lose yourself there for hours. I prefer it hands down to the Eden Project, which is fab, but much more structured and sometimes a bit overwhelming. Although having said that, if you’ve never been before, Eden is a great day out, and a good one if it’s drizzly.

There are lots of pretty towns and villages to explore, but one of the issues I’ve found is that narrow, winding, cobbled streets aren’t the easiest places in which to negotiate a buggy. I’d avoid Padstow and St Ives for this reason – unless you’ve got your little one tucked up in carrier. My recommendation would be Coverack – it’s absolutely tiny, there’s a lady who sells pasties from her front porch, an adorable cafe with room for four people, one gift shop brimming with childhood memories and a harbour to walk along. And that’s it. But it’s very sweet, the beach is easily accessible and it’s round the corner from Roskilly’s Farm, which is FREE to visit, and another lovely place for families.

Falmouth is also a lovely place for a mooch – much easier to get around with a pushchair, there’s a lovely book shop, The Falmouth Book Seller, with an epic children’s section, lots of art shops to buy originals and prints from upcoming artists, great cafes & bakeries (Baker Tom’s is best) and lots of boats to watch.

Where to stay

I won’t repeat things that Charlotte and Lolly have said previously – but here are links to their features on Bedruthan Steps (family friendly hotel on the North Cornish coast that has thought of everything) and St Mawes Retreats (luxury self catering on the South Coast, with all of the additional things you’ll need to keep your little one happy).

And a final recommendation from me, the apartments at Crantock Bay are in an incredible location, with free access to an indoor pool and tennis courts, and with the gorgeous Crantock beach just a stones throw away. I’ve never actually stayed there, BUT have frequented the C-Bay restaurant a few too many times with the NCT girls and can report that it’s a lovely little holiday complex. All three places are perfect for a child friendly holiday in Cornwall.

Are any of you lovely lot planning baby-moons or mini breaks to Cornwall? If you’ve got little ones, make the most of being able to travel out of the school holidays, it’s wonderfully quiet down here at the moment. And as always, please leave any recommendations or tips you’ve picked up from visits to Cornwall in the comments below – I’m always on the look out for new places to take Elle too.

Fern x

P.S. Images of Mabel at the beach at St Mawes and Elle at lots of the places mentioned in this post 🙂

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Fern lives by the sea with her baby girl Elle, her partner Matt and their little dog Drake. They spend most of their time at the beach, and if you see one of them, usually the other three aren’t far behind.

28 Comments. Leave new

This is so helpful, we will be going on a week long break at the start of September with my other halfs family with our soon to be new addition who will be three months,along with another newborn and a two year old! Thank you!

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I’m 27 weeks pregnant and can’t stop thinking about holidays at the moment, the thought of flying anywhere pre or post birth makes me shudder but the idea of packing up the car and heading out on a road trip actually excites me! I’ve recently been daydreaming of a uk break whilst perusing the absolutely gorgeous (but way way over my budget) places on the http://www.uniquehomestays.com website. There are some stunning ones in Cornwall which got me thinking of Cornwall for a babymoon or a maternity leave break. I went once as a child and remember the stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, clotted cream tea, ice creams and maybe a bit of rain! So thank you for all the tips-I just need to persuade my husband to actually book some time off work and it might actually happen!

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Ahhh Sophie we had an amazing mini break in a Unique Home Stays property for Matt’s 30th birthday…so amazing in fact that it made us decide we wanted to move here, that and both of our childhood memories of Cornwall. It was expensive, but such a lovely treat and ended up being a life-changing weekend for us, as dramatic as it sounds. Good luck with the husband nagging 😉

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This is SO informative!! We struggled to locate child friendly stuff last year (via Google), in terms of things such as soft play so this is great and I can’t wait to visit again at some point this year 🙂 it’s such a beautiful part of the world X

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Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw
12th February 2016 1:52 pm

I agree Becks – TOP post Fern and definitely one I’ll be bookmarking for future use xx

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Thanks girlies x

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We want to go in September once the schools are back but struggling to find somewhere not eye wateringly expensive to stay (other recommendations welcome). We weren’t sure whether to do a night or two in North Cornwall and then head on or stay in one place for the week (tips welcome).
We thought about an air b n b actually if anyone has stayed in any?

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We were also thinking of travelling down on the Friday night, staying near Longleat, doing the safari park on the Saturday and then driving on Saturday night. Anyone done anything like this?

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Longleat is great Rebecca. My favourite safari park by far. We stayed at a fab hotel called the Bath Arms right by it. Completely eclectic but great and there were other kiddies there. xxx

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Someone on Mumsnet recommended the travelodge as its only £30 a night per room. Get me some of THAT action.
Also, TOP TIP, but if you use £2.50 of Clubcard vouchers, you only have to pay £15 entry instead of £30 for Longleat.

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Totally stealing this idea! Sounds brilliant.

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We stayed here last year… https://airbnb.com/rooms/6719423?s=8&user_id=20525946&ref_device_id=90aba88862b74e7894cfa78c1d9295428f4a1a5b

Host was really lovely and place was too. It’s sort of in the middle of everywhere, about 20 minutes drive to most beaches and host charges per room needed rather than the standard 250 per night shown on the listing x

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Breaking up the journey is definitely a good idea Rebecca. I know self catering is often easier with little ones, but lots of the hotels do great offers once the kids are back at school.

And I know it might be a little bit off-the-wall, but when we were house hunting down here and trying to keep costs down, we used to stay in a Caravan here http://www.parkdeanholidays.co.uk/cornwall-holidays/newquay/newquay-holiday-park.htm The bathrooms and kitchens are basically like being in an actual house (although you don’t have a bath) and they are actually pretty cosy.

Driving round Cornwall is not too bad out of season, it takes around an hour to get to most places, so I don’t think you necessarily need to split your time. (So we live in Newquay and can get to Truro in 30mins, Falmouth in 45, Penzance in 1hour) x

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What an amazing post – so useful to have recommendations from someone who lives there and knows the REAL best places to go 🙂 I have a little boy who is 14 months so all the places sound great for him. I am booking my trip to Cornwall now!

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I’m anticipating spending a fair few holidays in Cornwall over the next few years – we love it and it’s ideal if you have young children! This is such a great informative post, thank you – I had no idea those services had a soft play, amazing!

The Lost Gardens of Heligan has been on my wishlist for ages but I wasn’t sure how child friendly it would be – I’m so pleased you rate it! Definitely on our list for our next visit.

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We went to Cornwall on our Babymoon last March. We stayed at the watergate bay hotel and it was amazing! It was also my 30th birthday whilst we were there and my lovely friends had treated me to a day in the spa with loads of gorgeous treatments.
Our room was overlooking watergate bay and we had a roll top bath in the window.
We were really lucky with the Weather but equally I would have been quite happy in the snug with a good book and a hot chocolate if the weather had been bad.
It is also a very child friendly hotel (although expensive) so we would love to go back with our daughter in the future.

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This is so useful – thank you.
I’m spending a week at Easter at Natural Retreats Trewhiddle, on the Roseland Peninsula near the Lost Gardens of Heligan with hubbie and almost 2 yr old daughter. We’ve been before but during a gloriously sunny summer and pre-parenthood so it’s really useful to hear about things to do a) with little ones and b) in the rain!
Hidden Hut is firmly on my list of must do things, just waiting for their Easter weekend tickets to be released. Hopefully it won’t be raining and/or freezing cold.
Thanks again, can’t wait now. Oh and having stayed there before, can highly recommend Natural Retreats x

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Love love love this post.
We’ve done Polzeath the last 2 years and this year, after requesting a tent for Xmas we are going to camp Cornwall, we can’t wait.
I find Cornwall just soothes my soul, thanks for the recommendations I was hoping the lost garden’s were as good as I have been hoping they will be our first stop this year.

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We have just got back from our baby moon in St Ives… Stayed in a wonderful cottage called Moon Shadow owned by a company called Beachspoke (check out their other Cornish and Cotswold properties!) We were out of season which meant the accom was more reasonably priced and they even had an in house spa service so treated myself to a pregnant reflexology treatment! Def going to be heading back when baby is here (6 weeks to go!!!)

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In house spa service sounds lush Nicky! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy x

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We will be taking our little one (currently still under construction) to Cornwall in September when will be around 8 weeks old. My parents go to Cornwall about 4 times a year and have kindly offered to book a bigger cottage in September so we can come too. The cottage is called Seaways in Porthcurno http://www.cornishcottageholidays.co.uk/far-west-cottages/porthcurno/seaways/ and looks gorgeous – fingers crossed for nice weather. I’m sure our little wont care what we get up to but it’s nice for us to have some ideas of things to get up to so thanks for the helpful post!

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Ahhhh how gorgeous is this?! Porthcurno is incredible – you’ll have a great time. September is usually glorious here 🙂 it’s my favourite month by far x

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This is so helpful, thank you! We’re heading to North Cornwall in March for our first holiday with our five month old baby-I’m really looking forward to it, especially now that I’ve read all of these tips! We’re staying at one of the Merlin Farm Cottages which are luxury Eco-friendly converted barns-as well as underfloor heating, designer bedding and deep baths, they also seem to come with everything you could ever need for a baby or toddler so for once we won’t have to cram our car full of baby equipment! Xx

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Aw sounds lovely – have an amazing time Nathalie x

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[…] And if you fancy checking out what Cornwall has to offer then you should definitely tune into Rock My Family today […]

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Nicola Somers
24th March 2016 9:29 am

Hi Fern,
I have made lots of notes for our holiday in the summer, I wondered if I could ask about a recommendation for an indoor pool somewhere if it is raining etc? I just thought you might know some good ones in the area? Many thanks for your help and thanks for all the suggestions 🙂 Best wishes Nicky

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Hi Nicky,
I’d recommend Sands Resort https://www.sandsresort.co.uk/, Atlantic Reach http://www.atlanticreach.co.uk/ or Retallack https://retallackresort.co.uk/holidays/family-holidays-in-cornwall/baby-friendly/ in the Newquay area 🙂
Most of the hotels here have pools too, and will allow non-guests to use the pool if they are not too busy, so it’s definitely worth checking out hotels near to where you’re staying too for a rainy day plan (Sometimes they are quieter than the family leisure centre type places too)!
Fern x

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Thank you Fern, much appreciated and have a nice Easter x

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