If you are looking for inspiration for your next family holiday then Newquay in Cornwall is a brilliant destination. Here’s my guide to things to do in Newquay including family attractions, free days out and what to do when it rains.
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Why visit Newquay?
I’ve been holidaying in Newquay on the North Cornwall coast since I was a kid and more recently have visited with my own family on more than one occasion.
You’re never short on things to do in Newquay from its epic beaches and fun-filled family days out to its historic landmarks. This is that’s makes it such a winning location for a family getaway.
In this post I want to share all the brilliant things to do here for families.
Things to do in Newquay with kids
During our last trip to Newquay we had a full on weekend exploring and were exhausted at the end of each day. But it was a different type of exhausted from what you feel sat at your desk on a Friday afternoon.
We experienced new places; played silly games; and laughed, A LOT!
Here are some of those great days out, plus more of our favourite things to do in Newquay for families and more places we recommend visiting close by.
Newquay is famous for its golden sandy beaches and the surfers they attract. We love them because they make for brilliant beach days with kids, even if the sea isn’t the best for swimming because of the Atlantic swells.
All of the more popular beaches have life guards and designated swimming areas in the summer months to give parents peace of mind.
As dog owners we lean towards dog-friendly beaches in Newquay and have plenty of choice. Here are our favourites:
1. Towan Beach
This large sandy beach is at the centre of Newquay and is home to the iconic suspension bridge that joins Towan Island with the mainland.
When we last visited the tide was out, making it possible to walk underneath the bridge and along the rocky cliffs.
We found plenty of rock pools and caves to explore, much to the girls’ excitement. It was the perfect spot to go on a bear hunt with all the squealing you’d expect when Mr Tin Box growled at the girls.
Back at the main sea wall there’s the Blue Reef Aquarium, historic Newquay Harbour where you can book boat trips and hire water sports equipment, and plenty of cafes. We popped into The Harbour Rest Cafe for an ice cream and Cornish cream tea. The scones were huge!
2. Crantock Beach
If your kids – and dog – love sand dunes then there are plenty to explore here at Crantock. At low tide there’s oodles of space to roll out a picnic blanket and build sandcastles.
One of our favourite things to do is to create massive doodles in the sand with a spade or stick. The sand is that brilliant squishy consistency that makes for deep, satisfying footprints. You’ll find Crantock less busy than some of the beaches close to Newquay town.
We always park in the National Trust carpark that you can access from Crantock village. Bring your own sandwiches as there’s no cafe here. If you are short of a snack then wander back up the road to the village.
Find out more about parking and facilities at Crantock Beach.
3. Fistral Beach
This iconic beach is known as ‘the home of British surfing’ and it’s not hard to understand why when you see how many surfers are bobbing around in the waves. It really is a Mecca for water sports.
If epic sunsets are more your thing then Fistral Beach is the perfect spot to appreciate the sky turning gold and pink in the evening.
There are lots of bars and restaurants along the front where you can grab a drink or meal while nature puts on a show.
4. Lusty Glaze Beach
This private sandy beach at the North end of Newquay has been named as the Britain’s Best Beach by The Sunday Times. Catch a sun set here and you’ll understand why.
There’s a stylish bar and restaurant. You’ll also find music events hosted here during the year.
The walk down the 200ft cliff makes this less accessible than some other Newquay Beaches.
Find out more about Lusty Glaze.
Free things to do in Newquay
Newquay days out need no be expensive. Here’s some of the free things to do and places to visit:
5. Trenance Gardens
If you are looking for free things to do in Newquay, Trenance Gardens is a great place to head. The Edwardian botanical gardens have evolved over the years to include a boating lake, adventure playground, tennis club and miniature railway.
After thoroughly conquering the adventure playground, the girls were keen for a go on the railway. This takes you on two loops of a landscaped track.
You can also go in the free museum in the Trenance Cottages to find out the history of these traditional houses built in the 1800s.
Find out more about the history of Trenance Gardens.
6. Crabbing in Newquay
The top spot for crabbing in Newquay is Gunnel Estuary. Head there at low tide with your crabbing line and buckets to see what you can catch.
7. Spot seals in Newquay Harbour
You don’t need to go on a boat tour to spot some of the wildlife off Cornwall’s shores, although they area available. Newquay Harbour has regular visits from seals who follow the fishing boats in at the end of the day.
8. Bedruthan Steps
One of our favourite south west coast path walks near Newquay in Cornwall is Bedruthan Steps. They are a gathering of rocky sea stacks along Cornwall’s Atlantic Coast near Newquay.
The views are spectacular and it always feels like an accomplishment to make it down 120 steps to the beach.
At the bottom of the steps you’ll find a sandy beach bordered by rocky cliffs and caves. These are great for exploring at low tide but can be submerged or inaccessible at high tide.
It’s worth checking the tide times if you want it to be worth spending a bit of time at the bottom.
The National Trust has all the information you need to know about tide times.
You can also read our tips for visiting Bedruthan Steps with kids.
9. Surf or body board
What better place to try a water sport than in the home of British surfing.
If you don’t have your own equipment or want some lessons those are available too.
Things to do in Newquay when it rains
It rarely rains in Cornwall – honest! But when it does here’s the best places to go in Newquay on a wet day:
10. Pirates Quest Adventure Golf
If your children are fans of pirates then indoor adventure golf course in the middle of Newquay is a must-visit.
Putt your way through Newquay’s maritime and smuggling past with atmospheric sets along the way.
Find out more about Pirates Quest.
11. Blue Reef Aquarium Newquay
This sea front aquarium in Newquay has 40 different watery environments to check out.
It’s a good choice of day out when its raining allowing you to walk under water through the its ocean tunnel and remain totally dry!
This is also an all year round attraction that’s open every day except Christmas Day.
Find out more about visiting Blue Reef Aquarium.
12. Oasis Fun Pool at Hendra Holiday Park
If it’s raining in Newquay why not get a bit wetter at Oasis Fun Pool. If has slides, a lazy river and loads of water features to keep the kids entertained.
Read out review of Hendra Holiday Park.
13. Trampoline Park at Newquay Leisure World
There’s trampolines, foam pits, aeroball and and obstacle course at this huge indoor play centre in Newquay. You’ll also find a play zone for under-12s.
Visit Newquay Trampoline Park.
14. Soft play at Jungle Jacks
Let the kids burn off energy in this 1,700 square foot indoor play centre.
There’s challenging climbs, a rope bridge, slides and tubes to scramble through.
Find out more about Jungle Jacks.
Newquay attractions for families
Here’s some of the best Newquay attractions for families:
15. Newquay Zoo
We didn’t have time to see Newquay Zoo during our most recent visit, but have been twice before. We love this small attraction, which does a brilliant job of introducing visitors to the 130 species that live here.
It’s the perfect Newquay day out with toddlers as there’s not too much ground to cover and playgrounds along the way.
Our top tip is to plan your visit around the regular animal talks and feeding times throughout the day. Our favourites are the lion and penguin feeding times.
Each talk is announced before it begins and, thanks to the small nature of the zoo, you can easily relocate to where the action is happening.
Find out more about visiting Newquay Zoo.
16. Trerice National Trust
This Elizabethan manor house with modern extensions has traditional garden games and plenty of outdoor space for kids to explore. In the school holidays, the National Trust lay on extra activities like Easter egg hunts, archery and wil
d art workshops. In the house, kids can grab an activity trail and dress up in a suit of armour.
Find out more about visiting Trerice.
17. Camel Creek Adventure Park
This theme park is an action packed day out where there’s plenty to entertain the whole family, even tiny tots. Six-year-old Tot and four-year-old Baby were able to go on all the main outdoor rides, including the rollercoasters and water rides.
There are even rides designed specifically for little ones like a mini log flume and clown rollercoaster.
Our favourite rides to do together were the Raging Rivers water coasters and Thunder Falls log flume, which we rode several times. Each time it only seemed to be me that got very wet – how does that work?
The weather was quite changeable on the day we visited, so we focussed on the outdoor rides like Vertigo and The Viking Warrior swing boat when it was dry and dived into Creeky’s Playhouse soft play when the drizzle came. It was an ideal all weather day out near Newquay.
And when you are wet from the water rides, who needs to worry about the rain?!
We have already said we will have to go back next time we are in North Cornwall as a few the new Air Bender – Cornwall’s largest rollercoaster – has opened. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Newquay with kids if you enjoy thrills.
Check opening times and prices for Camel Creek.
18. Lappa Valley
This family attraction just outside Newquay comes with a model steam train ride, boating lake and plenty of outdoor play areas.
It’s ideal for families with young children.
In the winter you’ll find a very popular Santa train at Lappa Valley. Book early – and I mean as soon as tickets are released – as it sells out quickly every year.
Find more things to do in Cornwall the Christmas.
Find out ore about visiting Lappa Valley.
19. Dairy Land Farm Park
Here’s a great day out in Newquay with toddlers! You’ll find animals aplenty and lots of farm-themed small rides to entertain young children.
Dairy Land Farm Park has indoor activities including a petting area, peddle toys, soft play and Cornish life museum. Outdoors there’s a wildlife trail tractor rides, playgrounds and pony rides.
Find out more about visiting Dairy Land.
20. Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
Ever wanted to sit in the pilot of a fighter jet – Top Gun style? You can do exactly that at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre just 10 minutes outside Newquay.
As well as being a top place to immerse yourselves in the history of aviation you can also bring your four-legged friend.
Find out more about visiting the heritage centre.
Things to do around Newquay
Within just a short drive there are even more things to do near Newquay that we absolutely love.
Here are some extra ideas on what to do during your Cornish holiday:
This theme part in Helston is a sure bet for wet day fun with lots of indoor attractions to keep kids busy.
Explore the Victorian Village with more than 50 recreated shops and scenes and the Britain in the Blitz experience which has a life-size WWII street the sounds, smells and rumblings of the time.
As well as ways to help you dodge the rain, there’s roller coasters, a log flume and life-sized dinosaurs.
Find out more about this theme park day out near Newquay.
22. Cardinham Woods
If your kids are fans of Julia Donaldson books then Cardinham Woods always has the latest Forestry Commission trail inspired by her work. When we visited it was the Zog trail – based on the story of a dragon who learns his trade with the help of an unruly princess.
You’ll now find the Gruffalo sculptures at Cardinham Woods and other forests around the country.
As well as the trail, which follows one of four circular walks, there are three cycle paths, a play area, woodland cafe and barbecue area.
Take a look at the visitor information for Cardinham Woods.
23. Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm
This is another dog-friendly and free attraction near Newquay where you pay for extra experiences if you fancy. Visit the farm and sample its produce for free or book a tour to get a better understanding of how Healey’s makes its famous cyders like Rattler.
Our girls love the tractor ride through the orchards and we can recommend a tour through the museum and distillery. It’s hard not to come away with a few bottles of cyder, wine or whiskey to try again after the kids have gone to bed!
Take a look at tours and what’s on at Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm.
24. Eden Project
The Eden Project is famed worldwide for its incredible biome that have been flourishing in a former china clay pit over the past two decades.
You don’t need to be a plant enthusiast to appreciate the awesome scale of the rainforest and Mediterranean domes. And, something I’ve found after visiting at least five times over the years, is that it’s always changing.
Highlights for families have to be the The Core interactive education centre, the treetop walkway in the rainforest biome and the special events that take place during the school holidays in normal times.
If you are visiting in the winter months there’s always an ice rink and a visit from Santa in December.
The Eden Project is a 40 minute drive from Newquay in St Austell.
Read about our visits to the Eden Project.
Here’s some more things to do in St Austell with kids.
25. Hire bikes and ride coast to coast
It is possible to cycle from the north coast of Cornwall to the south between Portreath, south of Newquay, and Devoran.
This 11 mile route follows one of the old tramways that used to transport minerals from the many mines along the way. There’s some fantastic scenery and historic mine remains to spot, but be warned: there are a few hills! I’m not a regular cyclist and struggled a bit with Tot tagging along behind me.
Strangely, she found it super easy! Mr Tin Box and Baby were definitely the winning team that day.
Find out more about the Coast to Coast route.
If you are looking for more ideas for things to do in Cornwall then check out these posts:
Find more days out in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in my big round up of 101 UK attractions for families.
Where to stay in Newquay
Parkdean Resorts have four holiday parks in Newquay. We stayed at White Acres Holiday Park, which has plenty of onsite activities for families, like an indoor pool, fantastic play park, crazy golf, soft play room, mini ten-pin bowling and evening entertainment.
If you enjoy fishing, there’s also lakes where you can cast a line and enjoy the view.
More guides to Cornwall with kids
Here’s some more reading to help you plan you Cornwall days out:
- Things to do in Cornwall when it rains
- Things to do in Cornwall with dogs
- Outdoor days out in Cornwall
- Christmas events in Cornwall
Find more days out in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in my big round up of 101 UK attractions for families.
Disclosure: this post has been written as part of a paid campaign with Parkdean resorts. We partnered with them for their Best of Britain campaign to help promote the amazing things you can experience in Britain. All opinions and recommendations are my own.