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From the Blog

Things to do in Cornwall when it rains: ideas for families

Posted by Bethany Walton on Feb 25, 2022
Child splashing in puddles.

Dodge the grey clouds and make the most of a rainy day in Cornwall

A popular topic amongst visitors to Cornwall: what to do when it rains? While we like to keep our fingers crossed for brilliant sunshine and blue skies, it’s not always a guarantee. However, when beach trips and watersports are off the cards, there’s still plenty to keep everyone entertained wherever you may be in Cornwall. Let young imaginations wander in the county’s most-loved museums and aquariums or let off some steam in fantastic indoor play centres. Here are some of the best things to do in Cornwall in the rain…

North Cornwall

Mother and child looking into an aquarium tank.
National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow

National Lobster Hatchery, Padstow

A dedicated marine conservation project, the National Lobster Hatchery is committed to protecting lobsters and increasing the population of the species. Children will love discovering more about Cornwall’s local marine life and saying hello to the baby lobsters. What’s more, you can even adopt your very own to name and track after your visit.

Before venturing back home, stop for an early evening meal at one of Padstow’s best restaurants.

Newquay Trampoline and Play Park, Newquay

Perfect for energetic youngsters, the trampoline park in Newquay provides an afternoon of entertainment away from the elements. With plenty of space to run, jump and bounce, children of all ages will love playing and testing their acrobatic tricks. While the soft play area is perfect for under 12s, where slides, a ball pit, rope bridge and glow room provide hours of fun.

Lappa Valley, St Newlyn East

Tucked away in the beautiful Cornish countryside, Lappa Valley is a much-loved family day out amongst locals. Hop on the steam train for a ride through the valley, discover the fleet of steam engines and shelter from the rain in the indoor play centre. Perfect for the whole family, youngsters can enjoy playing while grown-ups can watch from the café. If the rain eases off, head out onto the boating lake or test your swing with a few rounds of crazy golf.

Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay

Located on the shores of Towan Beach in Newquay, the Blue Reef Aquarium makes for a wonderful family-friendly day out. Peek into the tanks and watch shoals of exotic fish weave through the corals, say hello to the caiman crocodiles and walk beneath swimming sharks in the underwater tunnel. The young marine enthusiasts in your group will love ticking everything off their list with the aquarium’s ‘Spotters Guide’ – we bet the adults won’t be able to resist getting involved too.

If you’re staying on Cornwall’s south coast, we recommend paying a visit to Fowey Aquarium. Home to local marine life, discover the unusual creatures that occupy the waters around Cornwall. Just be sure to arrive in time to watch the resident octopus be served lunch!

The Living Space, Watergate Bay

For those looking for an easy-going afternoon away from it all, head to The Living Space in Watergate Bay. Find a seat to watch the waves roll into shore, before ordering a delicious Asian-inspired lunch. Plus, with a dedicated children’s menu, The Living Space is perfectly family-friendly. Bring sketch books and pencils or while away a few hours with rounds of cards as four-legged friends snooze under the table. With welly boots and raincoats at the ready, enjoy a stomp along the sand before bundling everyone back into the car when home time is calling.

South Cornwall

Steam train travelling through the countryside.
The rainforest biome at The Eden Project.

The Shipwreck Museum, Charlestown

Open from spring through to December, escape rainy days with an eye-opening discovery into the history of over 150 shipwrecks from around the UK. Listen to tales of the ocean and mysteries of yesteryear as you weave your way through the fascinating museum. Spot hidden treasure before venturing into Charlestown to admire the 18th century tall ships that line the harbour for a real taste of Cornwall’s maritime history. 

If you’re visiting in the winter months, spend an evening exploring the spectacular ‘tunnel of lights’ exhibition, where The Shipwreck Museum put on a dazzling winter light show.

MAD Museum, Fowey

Meaning ‘Mechanical Art and Design’, the MAD Museum in Fowey is a completely unique museum of interactive and kinetic creations. Taking over two floors of an old bank in the centre of the town, budding inventors and curious minds will love working out the mechanical constructions and scientific drawings on display throughout the museum.

With young imaginations buzzing with new ideas, take a moment to explore Fowey before heading back to the car. If the weather holds off for a moment, enjoy the view over the river towards Polruan or warm up with a hearty fish and chip supper from Havener’s.

Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway, Bodmin

Perfect for families and welcoming four-legged friends, a day on the train could be just the ticket for when the weather turns. Board at Bodmin General Station and enjoy winding through the Cornish countryside for a few hours on a 1950s-style train. Catch glimpses over the River Fowey, play ‘eye spy’ as you pass livestock grazing in the fields and delve into a traditional cream tea en route.

The Eden Project, near St Austell

A favourite amongst visitors and locals alike, The Eden Project is on nearly every rainy day guide to Cornwall and it’s easy to see why. Let children discover the scent trails, plant displays, and sculptures hidden around every corner in the Mediterranean Biome, walk high above the treetops in the Rainforest Biome and recharge at the Eden Coffee House, there’s something to keep everyone entertained. Older children will love running ahead to take it all in, while the whole site is buggy-friendly, making it ideal for younger families too.

If you have a trip planned soon, be sure to pay a visit to The Core, where a fascinating Augmented Reality exhibition is running until August. Explore contemporary artworks created by AR technology and delve into the world of ‘invisible art’.

Lanhydrock House, Lanhydrock

A spectacular National Trust property not far from Bodmin, Lanhydrock House is the perfect way to spend a few hours hiding from the rain. Set amongst sprawling countryside, Lanhydrock House is a beautiful Victorian home steeped in history. Walk in the footsteps of the Agar-Robartes family as their story is told throughout the spectacular 18th century rooms. From the servants’ quarters through to the grand hall, everyone will love discovering the home’s past.

If you visit on a less rainy day, spend some time wandering around the beautiful gardens before taking a seat in the bustling Park Café at the top of the estate for tea and cake.

West Cornwall

Exterior of The Tate St Ives.
The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

Tate St Ives, St Ives

Located just a stone’s throw away from Porthmeor Beach, the Tate St Ives is home to awe-inspiring exhibitions and child-friendly art classes. Let little ones get creative with their ‘Art Challenge’ and encourage them to recreate their favourite pieces of work in their own drawing books. Round off your trip with a pit-stop at the rooftop café where delicious ice creams await – after all, ice cream is an all weather event when in Cornwall.

Take a look at our full list of crafty workshops dotted around the South West, ideal for a rainy day.

National Maritime Museum, Falmouth

An ode to Cornwall and the sea, the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth aims to educate and inspire its visitors. With exhibitions dedicated to Cornwall’s maritime heritage, the whole family will enjoy wandering through the fleets of boats and discovering archives, maps and models from the past. Plus, to celebrate the 200th birthday of the HM Coastguard this year, the museum is hosting a small exhibition honouring the emergency service.

When hungry bellies call, head over to The Shed just opposite the museum for a sea-view supper by the harbour. Or stop by Gylly Beach Café before driving home for one of their famous hot chocolates and watch as the weather whips up the waves across the bay.

Spend a day exploring Truro

With small boutique shops, history museums and independent restaurants aplenty, a day spent exploring Truro is wonderful, whatever the weather. Wander the cobbled streets and dip into some of Cornwall’s most-loved stores - avoiding the rain as you go. Lovers of history will enjoy a few hours walking around the Royal Cornwall Museum, where collections of art, antiques and artefacts tell the story of the county’s fascinating past.  

Stop for lunch at Truro Arts Café for beautifully prepared salads and freshly made sandwiches, before picking up a few crafty supplies in the shop to keep little hands busy, no matter the forecast. Sam’s in the City and The Longstore are also great options for a heartier lunch, while Bread & Butter is perfect for a sweet treat on the go.

Or if an afternoon at the cinema is on the cards, head to Truro’s Plaza Cinema and settle in to watch a family-friendly film while the rain passes.

 

Flamboyance of flamingos.
Seals lying on a beach.

Paradise Park, Hayle

For those staying in West Cornwall, head to Paradise Park near Hayle where a beautiful animal kingdom awaits. From penguin feeding to flying bird shows, everyone will be thoroughly entertained all day. Plus, with an indoor play centre open all year round, children will love zooming down the giant slides and exploring the multi-level soft play area.

Cornish Seal Sanctuary, Gweek

When walking the coastline of Cornwall, you may be lucky enough to spot a bobbing seal or two, but the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek allows visitors to get up close and personal with the marine animals. A home to seal pups and injured grey seals from the surrounding coast, the Cornish Seal Sanctuary’s mission is to care for them until they can be released back into the waters. A great place to spend grey days, youngsters will love meeting the sweet seal pups and cheeky penguins, as well as learning fun facts about the animals.

Jubilee Pool, Penzance

For those who simply don’t mind getting wet, the seawater pool in Penzance is the best place to be. An art deco lido, the Jubilee Pool is a unique setting for an exhilarating swim. Children will love splashing in the waters or taking it in turns to jump in, while parents will enjoy a peaceful dip in the smaller, geothermal pool. Once you’ve towelled off, warm up with a decadent hot chocolate from the café and watch the waves crash into Penzance’s shores in the distance.

Where to stay

Kilden Mor's living room with blue furnishings and large window with views over the estuary.
Trehayl's outdoor swimming pool with views over Rock.
Morning Tide's living room, inspired by Asian interiors.

Left: Kilden Mor. Middle: Trehayl. Right: Morning Tide.

Dodge the April showers and retreat to one of our luxurious Cornish homes. Enjoy hours of fun in the games room at Morning Tide in Constantine Bay. Watch the tide turn the estuary from sparkling waters to golden sands at Kilden Mor in Padstow or enjoy afternoon swims in the outdoor pool at Trehayl, in Rock.

Speak to our Concierge Team to start planning your Cornish staycation: 01208 895 570

Image credits: The Eden Project by Matt Jessop and Tate St Ives by Ian Kingsnorth, via Visit Cornwall. All other images are our own or from Unsplash.

Posted by Bethany Walton

Beth can usually be found on a Cornish beach or enjoying a swim in the sea. She has great insight about where to visit across the county, plus plenty of recommendations for finding the best Cornish ice cream.