15 Free things to do in Cornwall with kids
Family holidays aren’t always cheap, even if you stay in the UK. But even in Cornwall, one of the most popular parts of the country for family holidays, you can find plenty to do which won’t cost a penny.
Whether you’re heading to the coast or exploring inland, it’s one of my favourite places to holiday – with some very tempting cottages from Stay in Cornwall giving me plenty of family-friendly places to stay too, plus some more ideas of where to visit.
So here are my top 15 free things to do in Cornwall with kids.
1. Hit the beach You can’t go to Cornwall and not go to the beach. Well, you can but you shouldn’t. I love the wilder north coast but there are beautiful stretches of sand along the south as well, whether you’re making sandcastles and paddling with toddlers or bringing your own surfboards and heading into the waves.
2. Rock pooling
It’s not all about buckets and spades either – Cornwall has some great rock pools to investigate, especially Polzeath, Gyllyngvase and St Agnes beaches and Hannafore Point, with crabs and lobsters among the winkles and anemones.
3. The Camel trail
The disused railway line is now a great cycle track or walking route taking you through the Camel Valley, from Padstow on the coast past lovely little villages (and to the area’s vineyard if you have a few pennies to spend).
4. Lanhydrock cycle trails
The trails around the National Trust property are free (if you bring your own bikes) with different difficulty levels, including ones suitable for trailers and tagalongs.
5. Cardinham Woods
Home to the Forestry Commission’s Julia Donaldson-inspired trails – currently Stick Man – there are also four walking trails to explore as well, including one that’s buggy friendly, plus a play area. There is a charge for parking.
There’s a whopping 19 acres to explore at this free attraction, including a giant adventure playground, sculptures you can climb on, mining exhibitions, botanical gardens – the indoor options mean it’s ideal for rainy days as well.
7. Falmouth Art Gallery
The gallery has won an award for its family-friendliness, with craft sessions, baby painting, sensory play and more than 1,700 artworks in the collection.
8. Spot camels
It’s not just the valley, you can find a herd of the humped beasts at Cornish Camels with a free farm trail that lets you wander past and camel spot.
9. Mount Edgcumbe Country Park
The former home of Earls, the house and formal gardens do cost to enter, but there’s 865 acres of country park with plenty of walks to explore, as well as the chance to wander by the river and spot wild deer.
10. Wander the coast
The South West Coast Path stretches for 300 miles – more than enough to find a few good places to walk, from dramatic cliffs to traditional fishing villages and ambling past some more of those wonderful beaches.
11. Discover Merlin’s cave
Tintagel’s stunning setting and legendary history makes it one of my favourite places in Cornwall, but you needn’t fork out for the castle ruins to get a taste of King Arthur. Head down to the beach (at low tide) and you can explore Merlin’s cave – there’s scrambling involved, so better with older kids than babies or toddlers.
12. Walk to St Michael’s Mount
You’ll need a strong will and a tight budget not to explore the whole of St Michael’s Mount, but if you’re determined not to spend any money, the walk across the causeway (check the tides!) is fantastic as you reach this island community. You can wander around the village as well and imagine what life is like for the 30 islanders who still call it home.
13. Discover Golitha Falls
The Golitha Falls Nature Reserve is another magical spot with footpaths leading through the valley along the riverside – one is buggy-friendly, but older kids will love stepping stones and clambering over tree trunks on the way to the falls. Don’t forget to watch out for the piskies which live there… And do bring your own provisions.
14. Try some cider
With a new visitor centre, Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm is even better if you’re interested in how some of the county’s traditional food and drink is made. You can look around and taste for free, although if you do want the full experience, you’ll probably find yourself paying for a tour.
15. Have an ice cream
Roskilly’s Ice Cream Farm is also free – you can wander around the farm to meet the animals, watch cows being milked, enjoy some lovely walks and see the ice cream (plus yoghurt and fudge) being made. And try a few samples. If you escape without buying a single ice cream, I salute you!
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Compiled in association with Stay in Cornwall*
Images courtesy of Pixabay and Visit Cornwall