10 of the best family days out in Cornwall
Looking for a family-friendly day out in Cornwall? We reveal the very best, all tried and tested by parents, including budget-friendly options plus ideas for preschoolers, active families and wildlife lovers.
Cornwall may be best known for its beautiful beaches, but there are plenty of family-friendly days out away from the coast (with a lot less sand involved!) We have tried and tested a wide range of attractions around the county, from adventure parks and wildlife sanctuaries, to museums, popular sites and gardens. We asked local parents to reveal their favourite days out with the kids, as well as the highs and lows of each one.
Cornwall is often voted the UK’s favourite summer holiday destination, so next time you find yourself in this beautiful corner with little ones, try one of these great attractions. Booking tickets in advance is often cheaper and occasionally essential. Lastly, for places to stay in Cornwall with a swimming pool too, take a look at our curated list specifically for families.
Best family days out in Cornwall - at a glance
- Best budget day out: Royal Cornwall Museum - Buy tickets
- Best for preschool-aged children: Lappa Valley - Buy tickets
- Best for children of varied ages: Springfield Fun Park - Buy tickets
- Best for wildlife: Cornish Seal Sanctuary - Buy tickets
- Best for rainy days: Eden Project - Buy tickets
- Best for thrillseekers: Flambards - Buy tickets
- Best for dog walks: Lanhydrock - Buy tickets
- Best for active families: The Camel Trail - The Camel Trail
- Best for natural beauty: Lost Gardens of Heligan - Buy tickets
- Best for animal encounters: Dairyland Farm Park - Buy tickets
1. Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
— Best budget day out
Adults from £7.50, children free | Best for children aged 5+ | All-weather attraction | Edward Street Car Park 0.2 miles | Truro station 0.5 miles
For a free day out for your kids that also works as a rainy day option, head to the Royal Cornwall Museum in central Truro. Founded in 1818, it houses over 300,000 objects and artefacts, with plenty of hands-on exhibits to capture children’s imaginations. Set forth on the free Family Trail, which depicts Cornwall’s past with stories about everything from giants to treasure. Other highlights include an unwrapped 25th Dynasty mummy, classical Greek and Roman objects and the largest specimen of liroconite mineral ever discovered. “Discovery Bags” for under-fives and “Explorer Bags” for children aged five + help youngsters explore the galleries. Autism-friendly trails, sensory backpacks and ear defenders are also available.
Pros: Excellent value, autism-friendly, wheelchair-accessible
Cons: No on-site parking, closed on Sundays and Mondays
Tickets from: Royal Cornwall Museum and Picniq
2. Lappa Valley, St Newlyn East
— Best for preschool-aged children
Family tickets from £47.50 | Best for under-10s | Best in good weather | Free onsite parking | Pre-booking essential
On the outskirts of Newquay, this 35-acre site is crammed with activities that younger children will love, from steam train journeys through lush scenery and pedalo rides on a tranquil boating lake to indoor soft play and crazy golf. It’s a good choice for children aged ten and under (older children are welcome, but asked to respect the younger visitors in the play areas). We love the new Engine Shed area – it features a multi-level soft play zone (including a separate section for toddlers) and is set right next to the cafe, so parents can enjoy a coffee while keeping an eye on their children.
Pros: Good variety of activities, great cafe right next to the indoor soft play, nearby self-catering accommodation available, wheelchairs available to borrow
Cons: Can get busy in peak season, not suitable for children aged over ten (although they are welcome), you have to pay to bring your dog
Tickets from: Lappa Valley and Picniq
3. Springfield Fun Park, St Columb Major
— Best for children of varied ages
Family tickets from £40 | Best in good weather (but there is a large indoor area) | Free onsite parking | Newquay station 8 miles
This fun park on the edge of Newquay has it all – from vintage merry-go-rounds and ghost trains to unusual resident animals, including llamas, alpacas and miniature pigs. Children of all ages will enjoy the pony and tractor rides, or gliding across the water in a boat while spotting ducklings, and kids under 80cm get in free. On rainy days, the vast barn features a vertical drop slide for older children, plus a separate zone for under-twos. We love that this is also a breastfeeding-friendly venue, and there are bottle warmers, microwaves and even spare nappies available. There’s a cafe selling sandwiches and hot food, but you can also bring your own picnic and eat outside.
Pros: Children under 80cm-high go free, wheelchair and pram accessible, separate section for younger children, breastfeeding-friendly, camping accommodation available
Cons: Gets busy in summer, no dogs allowed
Tickets from: Springfield Fun Park
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4. Cornish Seal Sanctuary, Gweek
— Best for wildlife
Family tickets from £52.20 | Best for 5+ | Best in good weather | Free onsite parking | Falmouth Town station 9 miles
This is not only a great family day out, it’s also a good cause to support. The sanctuary – which is also a charity – rescues and rehabilitates sick, injured and distressed grey seal pups from the Cornish coastline. It’s not a cheap day out, but entrance fees go towards ensuring the charity can continue to rescue as many seals as possible. Young children will love getting up close to the seals, penguins and sea lions in three underwater viewing areas, while older children will enjoy a range of activities, such as joining the keepers on the breakfast rounds. The Seal Sanctuary also holds family-friendly events like beach cleans at two local coves.
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Pros: Supports a good cause, dog-friendly, free entry for carers of disabled visitors, golf buggy service available for less mobile visitors, toilets have baby changing facilities
Cons: Gets busy in summer, entry is fairly expensive, steep hills are not suitable for mobility scooters or electric wheelchairs
Tickets from: Cornish Seal Sanctuary and Picniq
5. Eden Project, Bodelva
— Best for rainy days
Adults from £32.50, child £11 | Best for all ages | All-weather attraction | Free onsite parking | St Austell station 4 miles | Pre-booking essential
On a rainy day in Cornwall, the two biomes at the Eden Project are the perfect place for the whole family to shelter. One is Mediterranean-themed and the other totally tropical, complete with a rainforest climate and a thrilling canopy walkway above the treetops. Outside, beautiful gardens change with the seasons and there are play areas for children of all ages both inside and out, from the Nest to the Minibeast mansion. The whole site is buggy-friendly and there are also unisex baby changing facilities, high chairs and dedicated family-friendly itineraries.
Pros: Buggy-friendly throughout, play areas for children of all ages, great for a rainy day out, shop sells unusual and sustainable gifts, good range of eating options
Read the full MadeForMums Eden Project family days out review
Tickets from: Eden Project and Picniq
6. Flambards, Helston
— Best for thrillseekers
Adults from £19.75, child £15.25 | Best for teens | Best in good weather | Free onsite parking | Falmouth Town station 14 miles
How about feeling the G-force as you spin 360-degrees high above the ground on Sky-Force? Or twisting round and upside down on The Thunderbolt? Older children will love these thrilling roller coasters at Flambards – but there are also gentler rides, such as spinning teacups and the Dino Express, for younger visitors. Want more? Cornwall’s largest theme park also has outdoor adventure playgrounds, a Victorian village and two indoor soft play areas (including one especially for toddlers). Baby changing facilities are available throughout.
Pros: Good range of rides and play zones for all ages, wheelchair access around the park
Cons: The eating options aren’t great (mainly burgers and chips) but you can bring your own picnic
Read the full MadeForMums Flambards family days out review
Tickets from: Flambards and Picniq
7. Lanhydrock, Bodmin
— Best for dog walks
Family ticket from £45, free to walk in the woods | Best for all ages | All-weather attraction | Paid onsite parking | Pre-book to visit the house
There are so many reasons to love this National Trust attraction. It’s a superb place to walk your dog while also keeping the kids entertained. There are acres of woodland to explore – all buggy-friendly – plus mountain bike routes (bike hire is available) and a great outdoor playground that’s suitable for all ages. Our one-year-old twins love the little slide, while older children can whoosh down the bigger one. It’s also good for people with mobility issues, with a pavement all the way through the estate to the main house and a golf buggy service. The house itself is well set-up for children with a “nursery route” featuring a Victorian dressing up box, things to pick up and sniff and a rocking horse that younger ones will love. Bring a picnic on sunny days or head to the cafe.
Pros: Free for National Trust members, good cafe with children’s menu on-site, buggy-friendly routes throughout, good playground, interactive exhibits
Cons: Dogs aren’t allowed in the main house, cafe can get busy
Tickets from: National Trust and Picniq
8. The Camel Trail, Padstow/Wadebridge
— Best for active families
Free if you have your own bikes, bike hire available at Padstow, Wadebridge, Bodmin and Wendfordbridge | Best for ages 4+ | Best in good weather | Paid parking available in all towns
Stretching for just over 17 miles, from Padstow to Wentfordbridge via Wadebride and Bodmin, The Camel Trail is a former railway line that’s been transformed into a cycleway. The best bit? It’s traffic-free and wonderfully flat, ideal for little legs to pedal on. You can do the whole hog, or choose a smaller section. The final, 5.5-mile stretch from Wadebridge to Padstow is a highlight, taking you over Petherick Creek and into the charming harbour, but it can get busy. Head in the other direction (towards Bodmin) for a quieter experience. Pre-booking is advised for bike hire in Padstow and Wadebridge.
Pros: Easy flat route with no traffic, free (unless you hire bikes)
Cons: Gets busy in peak season, no baby changing or toilets until you get to the main towns
Tickets from: The Camel Trail
9. Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey
— Best for natural beauty
Family ticket from £48 | Best for ages 5+ | Free onsite parking | St Austell station 7 miles | Last garden entry at 2.30pm
Opened in 1992, Heligan is one of the most popular gardens in Britain – and for good reason. Once hidden beneath the brambles, it’s now a delight for all ages, with exotic plants, a huge adventure playground, “insect hotel” and rare breed farm. There’s enough room to tire out even the most energetic legs – watch little eyes fill with glee as they cross the jungle on a Burmese Rope Bridge (the longest in Britain). For parents with babies, much of the gardens are buggy-friendly and there are baby changing facilities. Heligan puts on some fantastic family-friendly events, such as “Farm Fridays” where you learn about rare breed livestock.
Pros: Variety of areas and events for children, dog-friendly, good cafe with high chairs
Cons: Fairly expensive
Read the full MadeForMums Lost Gardens of Heligan family days out review
Tickets from: Lost Gardens of Heligan and Picniq
10. Dairyland Farm Park, near Newquay
— Best for animal encounters
Family ticket from £40 | Best for ages 2-8 | All-weather attraction | Free onsite parking | Newquay station 5 miles
Budding farmers will love a trip to Dairyland to meet its resident animals, which range from farmyard favourites to meerkats. Our children enjoyed the tractor ride, which takes you via cattle down to the lakes, and the huge indoor “Bull Pen” was brilliant when the heavens opened – its indoor soft play is complete with a ball pit, jump zones and slides. The Hay Barn is another great place to shelter from the rain, with cute animals providing a good distraction. Other highlights include a hands-on milking experience, pony rides and numerous outdoor play areas.
Pros: Good indoor and outdoor areas, family tickets for different size families, whole site is buggy-friendly
Cons: No dogs allowed, fairly expensive, children’s menu in the cafe is fairly basic but you can bring a picnic, extra charges for tractor and pony rides
Read the full MadeforMums Dairyland Farm Park family days out review
Tickets from: Dairyland Farm Park
How we tested
Our 10 of the best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. When testing the best family attractions in Cornwall, we relied on feedback from parents, including our MadeForMums reviewers. Our list is not ranked in order from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried and tested attractions designed to meet different families’ interests. We test each attraction for value for money, age suitability, accessibility and the fun factor.
Ellie Ross is a travel writer with over 15 years’ experience in journalism, working for national newspapers, magazines and websites. She’s also a mum to 15-month-old twins and lives in Newquay, Cornwall, so has tried and tested many of the family days out in the county.
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