Cornwall has to be one of the prettiest counties to visit for a traditional family holiday. Full of gorgeous beaches with huge expanses of white sands and aquamarine waters, spectacular walks and picture-perfect little villages, you will also find a tempting host of activities on offer. It's not always easy to say no to eager little faces begging you to go out but many attractions are just too expensive to do every day, especially for larger families. So, we have thought of 10 great ideas to manage the expectations of your brood while keeping the bank manager at bay. We hope you enjoy them!
Have an African adventure and get up close to the herd of lovely camels at Cornish Camels in Helston. They are joined by Welsh black cattle and fluffy sheep which children will simply love. Follow the farm trail and then explore the Goonhilly Downs Nature Reserve. There is also a little shop and café although you are welcome to bring your own picnic. Admission is free to the farm, play and picnic areas.
Chocolate is always a popular choice with children of any age, but go one step further and watch it being made at the Trenance Chocolate Factory in Mullion, Helston. Watch the yummy chocolate being made into different shapes – choccie bars with lots of toppings, Belgian chocolates of all colours and animal lollipops on sticks. Then head to the shop and choose your favourites, among which are the scrumptious Jellybean bars and chocolate dinosaur bags. Admission is free; you only have to pay for the chocolate!
If you have a mini Picasso in your family, take them along to some of the county's best galleries, including the Tate St Ives (above), one of the best galleries for contemporary and modern art. Overlooking the beach, you can explore the gallery in the morning and head to the beach in the afternoon. The Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange in Penzance is also great for exhibitions and the family-friendly Falmouth Art Gallery has an important permanent collection but also features up-and-coming artists. Admission to the Tate is free for under 18s and £7.50 for adults. Admission to the Newlyn is free for under 18s and £2.20 for adults. Entrance is free at the Falmouth Art Gallery.
On the Beach
Cornwall has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country including Sennen Cove, Constantine Bay, St Ives Bay and Porthcurno. Most of them are brilliant for families, especially those with little ones. Make lots of memories building sandcastles and picnicking together, searching for crabs in rock pools and collecting mementoes to take home. Shells, seaweed and pebbles will make a great display back at home when little hands need something to do! Admission to all beaches is, of course, free but there may be parking costs in some areas.
Magic and Mystery
A land of mystery and intrigue, Cornwall provides lots of stories for inquisitive ears. At low-tide visit Merlin's mysterious cave at Tintagel Beach and the stone at Slaughterbridge where legend says that King Arthur fought his last battle; there is always somewhere exciting to explore. Get the children to research their favourite stories before and write or draw their adventures in a storybook when they get home. Admission is free – all you will need is to put petrol in the car and prepare a scrummy picnic to have in between adventures. If you want to see the castle at Tintagel, a family ticket is £21.80.
Great for younger children (although there is an option of the Skullduggery Laser for older children), Bombadingas Pirate Soft Play in Pool, Redruth will have your little pirates busy in no time! They will love the slippery slides and creepy crawl tubes and even better, over 5s can delve into a treasure trove of dressing up costumes to really get into the pirate atmosphere! There is a café on site or you can head to a local park afterwards with a pirate-themed picnic. Admission for children is £4.50 and adults are just 50p. Skullduggery Laser is £12 per player. If you have time during your trip, for an extra pirate fix, also visit Pirate's Quest in Newquay.
Spooky Witches and Ghouls
If your children are up for a day out full of mystery and witchcraft, you can't miss the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, home to the biggest collection of witchcraft in the world. They will learn about spells, herbs and healing as well as fortune telling and festivals that are still celebrated today. There are human intestines and skulls galore so make sure you only take children who love this sort of thing; it may be better left for the older ones who will delight in scaring you! Admission is £4.00 for children and £5.00 for adults.
Woodland Walk and Caves
Head over to Carnglaze Caverns in Liskeard and take a self-guided tour around three fascinating underground caves set in acres of forest hills. Find your way down the steep steps into the caverns and watch the children's faces as they discover the beautiful subterranean lake with its crystal-clear blue and green waters. Find out how the mines used to work and check out the amazing collection of minerals. You can then have a leisurely stroll through the Terrace Garden up to the Enchanted Dell. Count the faeries as you go and then stop for a picnic in the lovely Walled Garden. This attraction is well worth the family ticket price of £17.50 (2 adults and 2 children - £4 per extra child).
Traditional Family Fun
Head over to Country Skittles in Townshend, Hayle for a touch of good old traditional fun. All ages will love it here as there are Skittle alleys, air hockey tables, a shooting gallery, a giant draughts board and mini crazy golf. There are lots of shelves crammed with old-style board games like Scrabble and Sorry! to play to take the kids back to your childhood days and try to beat them – you will have the advantage of having played them many times before! Take advantage of the restaurant and try their delicious pizza range or buy a huge stone-baked pizza with a salad from the supermarket on the way home and have it all together. Admission is 50p for children and 75p for adults or if you want to play Skittles, a game for 3-8 people is £12.50. Some games have an added charge.
Smugglers and Museums
For a fun, educational day high up on Bodmin Moor, head to the Jamaica Inn Smugglers Museum. Packed with the most wonderful collection of smuggling antiquities, kids will delight in finding out all about the legends associated with the famous book, Jamaica Inn as well as other Cornish smuggling stories over the past centuries. There is a room at the Inn dedicated to Daphne du Maurier, so if your children have been reading Rebecca at school or at home, this will be a brilliant place for it to come alive. You can eat there or take a smuggler-style picnic to eat on the moor. Admission is £2.95 for children and £3.95 for adults or family tickets are £9.95 (2 adults and 2 children).
If you're looking to visit Cornwall with your family, whether during the school holidays in February, May, October or even at Easter, or any other time of the year, we've got a great range of accommodation to suit you. Choose from our range of family-friendly cottages in Cornwall, hotels, holiday parks and B&Bs.