Family holidays in Cornwall: insider tips to help plan the perfect break
If you have your sights set on a getaway to the South West of England then we have oodles of experience in planning family holidays in Cornwall. Here’s everything you need to know from where to stay in Cornwall to the very best days out with kids and dog-friendly things to do in Cornwall. There’s even our top suggestions on what to do when it rains.
When is it best to visit Cornwall?
The summer season is the obvious choice for visiting Cornwall, giving you the longest days and the warmest weather for appreciating some of the UK’s best beaches and scenery.
However, don’t discount a spring, autumn or even a winter break in Cornwall. The roads, tourist spots and beaches will be quieter. But be aware that many pubs, eateries and tourist attractions may not be open throughout the week.
Plan ahead and visit during the school holidays if you want plenty of options for entertaining the kids.
However, if you have pre-school children or are able to travel in term time then you can pick up some good deals on accommodation. We often visit at Easter and find plenty to do:
Best places to stay for family holidays in Cornwall
Whether you’re looking for an active family holiday, beach days or want to see some of the South West’s best family attractions there’s plenty of fun to be had in Cornwall.
Here’s some of our destination recommendations:
Where to stay in Cornwall for pretty towns
If you’re looking for pretty seaside towns check out St Ives, Padstow, Port Issac and Looe.
Port Issac has been made famous as the location of the ITV series Doc Martin in which it is known as ‘Portwenn’.
Where to stay in Cornwall for active holidays
Fancy learning to surf? Newquay and Bude have plenty of surf schools and other water sports on offer. Walking and cycling families will enjoy exploring Bodmin Moor and picking up the Camel Trail.
Where to stay in Cornwall for history
Want to learn about Cornwall’s maritime and coastal defence history? Then visit Falmouth. Pendennis Castle is a great place to start the history trail and you may even spot Cornwall’s infamous sea monster.
Newquay was also a hot bed for seafaring history with plenty of pirate tales. A great attraction to visit to bring this history alive is Pirates Quest.
Where to stay in Cornwall for famous sights
Where to stay in Cornwall for family attractions
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay that will put you in a good position to visit family theme parks and attractions like Flambards then take a look at places to stay in Truro or Penzance. You’ll also find plenty of family-friendly attractions within easy reach of Newquay.
Self-catering holidays in Cornwall
Whether you’re looking for a Cornish holiday park, campsite or lodge resort we have some tried and tested recommendations for self catering holidays in Cornwall.
Family hotels in Cornwall
If you’re looking for a family hotel near the beach or somewhere with a creche, swimming pool and spa facilities we can recommend taking a look at China Fleet Country Club in Saltash, Sands Resort Hotel & Spa in Newquay and The Esplanade Hotel in Newquay.
Holiday parks and camping sites in Cornwall
There are hundreds of holiday parks and camping sites in Cornwall. Sadly we’ve not had a chance to visit them all but here’s some tried and tested sites you might like to check out for pitching a tent, caravan, camper van or motorhome. Some also offer mobile homes, lodges and glamping accommodation for self-catering holidays:
- Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay
- Western Meadows Glamping near Launceston
- Looe Caravan and Motorhome Club site
- Seaview Gorran Haven at Boswinger
- St Ives Holiday Village near St Ives
- Trevella Holiday Park in Crantock.
You’ll also find these campsites are excellent for family holidays in Cornwall with dogs. Each offers pet-friendly pitches or accommodation and dog walks. Western Meadows Glamping was particularly good fun:
Family lodges and holiday cottages in Cornwall
If you are looking for luxury cottages in Cornwall then we can recommend checking out The Valley Cornwall near Truro. They even offer dog-friendly cottages that feel every bit as luxurious.
The gated resort also offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a games room, restaurant and bar, as well as tennis courts and a sports pitch. This is a great option for family holidays in Cornwall.
Here’s a tour of the two-bedroom, dog-friendly cottage we stayed in:
We have stayed at Waterside Cornwall which has lodges accommodating up to eight people along with a clubhouse, swimming pool and numerous activities for families. You can read more about these lodges in Cornwall in our review.
If you’d like a holiday apartment by the sea then The Point at Polzeath is a great option. It has a restaurant and plenty of activities like golf, surfing, indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and gym.
If you are looking for toddler holidays in Cornwall when we can recommend a stay at Bosinver Farm Cottages near St Austell. There’s a farm yard where children can feed the animals, a weekly forest school, swimming pool, play barn and outdoor play areas. The beautifully decorated cottages here can accommodate up to 12 people and some come with hot tubs too.
Here’s a video from our stay at Bosinver Farm Cottages:
If you’re planning a stop off on the way to your Cornwall holiday I can suggest some family-friendly places to stay in Devon.
Things to do in Cornwall
Cornwall is famous for its beaches which make it a fantastic family holiday destination. But it’s not just sand dunes and rock pools that you can look forward to when when you book a break in the far South West of England. Here’s a selection of things to do in Cornwall whatever your interests or the time of year:
Cornwall when it’s raining
Sad fact: if there’s a low weather front approaching the UK, Cornwall is likely to get it first. But even if it does rain during your Cornwall holiday it’s not hard to find things to do. There are lots in indoor family attractions to choose from or why not try these other things to do in Cornwall when it’s raining:
- Visit a swimming pool
- Play board games
- Go to the cinema
- Embrace the rain, layer up and go for a wellie walk.
Take ride on a steam railway in Cornwall
Here’s a video of our day our at Bodmin & Wenford Railway:
Gardens and botanical attractions
Cornwall is peppered with hidden valleys featuring their own micro-climates, so it’s not unusual to find yourself stood in a landscape more common in tropical countries. Here’s some of the best gardens and botanical attractions to add to your Cornwall bucket list:
Active days out
Whether you’re visiting Cornwall for surfing or land-based adventures there’s plenty of options for active family days out:
- Cycle trails at Lanhydrock
- Segways at Waterside Cornwall
- The Camel Trail
- Cycle the Mine Trails
- Walking, cycling and activity trails at Cardinham Woods
- Climb down 120 steps to Bedruthan Steps
Zoo and wildlife days out
If your kids love animals then here’s some options they’ll enjoy:
- Newquay Zoo, Newquay
- Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay
- Green Farm at Land’s End
- The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, Gweek
Cultural and heritage
Cornwall is packed full of historic sights including some with legendary status. You might even stumble across a ghost or two among these cultural attractions:
- Tintagel Castle, Tintagel
- St Michael’s Mount, Marazion
- National Trust in Cornwall, various locations
- Minack Theatre, Porthcurno
- The Telegraph Museum, Porthcurno
- National Maritime Museum, Falmouth
- Bodmin Jail, Bodmin
- Carnglaze Caverns, St Neot
- Geevor Tin Mine, Lands End
- The Lizard Lighthouse, The Lizard
More family attractions in Cornwall
If you’re looking for sure fire ways to please the whole family then take your pick from these Cornish theme parks and adventures:
Christmas in Cornwall
Winter is a great time to visit Cornwall – there are less crowds, the roads are quieter and there’s still plenty going on. Find out what family attractions are open at Christmas and where to find markets, meet Santa and see festive illuminations in my Christmas in Cornwall round up.
Don’t discount days out in Devon
Devon is just a hop and a skip away. Here’s some Devon family days out that you can reach easily from Cornwall.
And if you’re planning a break in Devon too then take a look at my big Devon holiday guide.
We love holidaying with Tin Box Dog and Cornwall has proved a great destination for pet-friendly breaks again and again. We’ve found many family and dog-friendly days out, family attractions and dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall.
In our experience self-catering holidays are the most dog-friendly in Cornwall. We rate the dog-friendly holiday cottages at Bosinver and the pet-friendly glamping at Western Meadows. If you prefer camping then take a look at my list of camping sites in Cornwall which all allow dogs.
Packing list for a holiday in Cornwall
Our best advice for when you are packing for a holiday in Cornwall is don’t forget your essential beach gear. You’ll save yourselves a packet by remembering to bring buckets and spades, wet suits and beach shoes.
Packing layers is also a good plan. The weather is changeable on the South West peninsular so if you are planning walks or other outdoor activities make sure to bring:
- base layers
- light-weight jumpers
- waterproof coats
- comfortable walking shoes.
Here’s my full packing list for family holidays in the UK and Europe.
You might also like to take a look at my checklist list for self-catering holidays if you’re staying in a mobile home, holiday cottage or lodge.
If you’re interested in family holidays to Cornwall why not save this post on Pinterest to help plan your trip?
Disclosure: we received complimentary stays and visits to some of the locations mentioned in this post for the purposes of a review. This guide includes our recommendations regardless of whether we were invited or paid for the experience ourselves.