Things To Do In Cornwall With Kids

Cornwall, tucked away at the southwestern tip of the country, is a decent sized county at 3,563 square km, so it’s not surprising that in a week we didn’t ‘do’ Cornwall.  Instead we explored the particular area we were staying in, Carbis Bay, and its surrounding attractions.  If you’re looking for a more exhaustive guide of things to do in Cornwall check out the official website

St Ives

We stayed in Carbis Bay (find out more about Carbis Bay here)  which is about a mile away from St Ives.  There is a really nice pram-friendly coastal path walk you can do from the Bay directly into St Ives or if you are feeling lazy you can get a train from Carbis Bay and go the one stop to St Ives.  Trains run about once an hour.  Avoid driving to St Ives as parking is a nightmare and the town centre is full of very narrow roads and nobody will thank you for adding another car to the existing traffic and pedestrians.

St Ives has a bit of everything with a big fishing tradition, lovely beaches, a very artistic ‘vibe’, lots of shops, cafes and restaurants and just general prettiness.  In the sunshine you could easily be abroad and we commented more than once that you don’t need to go abroad when you have lovely places like St Ives in the sun.

During our visits here we did a few things.  We’ll gloss over Master ATWWAH’s tantrum in the rooftop café in the Tate as it was embarrassing for us all and instead focus on the great views you get of the sea from this café and obviously the art.  Due to Master ATWWAH’s tantrum I’m a bit mortified to admit we didn’t actually look around the Tate so I can’t comment on what is on offer but I did spot leaflets about upcoming events for school holidays to entertain the kids.

On a less stressful day Master ATWWAH and Mr ATWWAH went out on a boat trip to ‘Seal Island’  We had been told that babies and prams were welcome on the boat trip but as the tide was out on the day of the trip and you had to jump in the boat from a harbour wall we decided Mini ATWWAH was going to have to sit it out.  It was a good thing as the tide had gone out even further when the boat returned and people had to wade back to the harbour from the boat.  Master ATWWAH loved it but it wouldn’t have been great with a pram.

Seal Island

The seals of Seal Island

The boat trip was a big success and pretty cheap, around £8 per person, there are a couple of operators who you can book with on the day down near the harbour.  Seals and dolphins were spotted on the trip out to Seal Island and it also ignited a desire in Master ATWWAH to become a lighthouse keeper as the boat went around one.  Apparently Master ATWWAH is going to live in a lighthouse and when I asked him if he would get lonely he simply said ‘no mummy, people on the boats would visit every day’.  Told me.

lighthouse

Master ATWWAH’s lighthouse

There is a lovely little bit of beach the other side of St Ives from the Tate which is great for paddling and you can hire deckchairs if you fancy sitting there for a great period of time.  It’s also an excellent spot for eating fish and chips although Mr ATWWAH did lose his ice cream due to a thieving seagull which amused Master ATWWAH no end.

Land’s End

If it’s your first time in Cornwall you will probably feel like you should go to Land’s End and there is nothing wrong with that but prepare to be underwhelmed.   You can only have a photo with the famous sign if you pay for the privilege and it isn’t cheap.  As it was our first family holiday with Mini ATWWAH we did pay, it was around £20.  And maybe we’re too accustomed to attractions with digital technology but it was a bit like stepping back in time giving your address details over to the person in the kiosk for the photos to be sent to you via the post.  They did arrive about two weeks later but had a touch of the school class photo to them.

As well as marvelling at the fact that you’re at Land’s End there are a few other things to do there too, some at a price.  As I work in the leisure industry I can’t be too cynical about it but it felt a bit incongruous having a 4D cinema there and an arcade.  There is a walk through attraction which is free of charge which gives you a bit of the history of Land’s End which was quite interesting.  There was a little playground which was proving popular with young kids and you can wander down the hill to a craft village, but again this felt like a bit of an excuse to sell a bit of tat.

Land's End

‘I can see the sea dad’

There were lots of families with picnics, we sadly weren’t that wise and we ended up having lunch in the pub there.  Amazing views, not so great food.  It was one of those places that knows you are unlikely to visit again.  You also have to pay £8 per car to park at Land’s End.

Geevor Tin Mine

Mr ATWWAH was determined that we would visit at least one mine on our trip to Cornwall.  In 2006 UNESCO recognised the contribution that Cornish mining had made to the world and declared the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Area a World Heritage site which included three famous mines in the county, Geevor Tin Mine is one of them.

The mine only shut in 1990 and is now a preserved site.  Admission is pretty reasonably priced with kids under 4 going free, adults are £11 and kids over 4 are £6.50 with concessions for family tickets and OAPs.

In order to fully enjoy the attraction and go on the underground tour of the mine children must be able to walk through the underground and last the whole tour which takes about 30-45 minutes.  Master ATWWAH was well up for it so I sloped off to the café with Mini ATWWAH while the other two donned their hard hats and went on the tour.  They absolutely loved it.  Master ATWWAH was full of chat when we met back at the café and wanted to tell me all about tin mining.  Mr ATWWAH told me it was actually quite claustrophobic down there and the guide warned them that rocks can fall down at any time and to be careful but Master ATWWAH was unfazed.

For those who don’t want to do the tour you can wander around the buildings on the site but I think the tour is what makes it worth the money.

National Maritime Museum, Falmouth

The National Maritime Museum is huge, spread over five floors with fifteen different galleries.  There are lots of exhibits, most of which you can touch, hands-on activities especially in the school holidays and talks/lectures for those who want to know even more.  There are some definite highlights for kids though including being able to go inside a Sea King helicopter, having their photo taken with Ben Ainslie’s Olympic boat, climbing a 100ft tower for some great views of Falmouth and going under the sea in the basement of the museum and seeing the fish in their natural habitat.

One of Master ATWWAH’s highlights was the life raft and as the museum was quiet we got to re-enact him ‘saving’ me and throwing the life rings out to me as I pretended the floor was the sea.  It was a bit like the ultimate role play but instead of using the sofa at home like we normally would we had a real life boat.

life raft

National Maritime Museum life raft

Unlike many of the museums in London you have to pay for this one but under 5’s are free and over 5’s are £8 and adults are £11.50.  You also only pay once for the whole year so if you are going to be in the area again it is fantastic value.  We visited outside the school holidays but there were programmes around from the summer holidays which showed there was tons going on.

This is only a snippet of the things to do with kids in Cornwall and it would be great to hear from you with your own suggestions so please feel free to add comments below.  We can’t wait to go back, it’s the sort of place you can imagine going to every year with the kids.

5 Comments
  1. Wow, it sounds like you fitted a lot in on your trip! I’ve only spent a day in St Ives, but I thought it was beautiful. We go to Padstow every year, but have never ventured to Lands End – everything I’ve heard tells me it’s not worth the hassle!
    For older kids in Padstow/ Newquay area I would recommend go-karting at St Eval. For little ones in that area Lappa Valley railway is a lovely day out.

    • Thanks Sarah, I’m hoping we will be going every year and exploring different parts. Great recommendations

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