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Rainy-day family activities

by Jasmine, Three Mile Beach

Of course, we hope you have nothing but blue skies when you visit Cornwall, but we have to face the fact that our county does get its fair share of rain, even in summer. Still, grey days don’t mean your holiday has to be a washout; there are plenty of great ways to entertain the family undercover. While adults might be happy hunkering down in a pub, young people need a little more stimulation. So, with kids firmly in mind, here are some of my favourite local activities.

A top tip

North and south coast weather forecasts can be surprisingly different, so always check both before you plan your day.

Paradise Park and Jungle Barn, Hayle

Red Pandas Cornwall

This fun wildlife sanctuary is a great option for younger children. It has an indoor play centre, and when the weather brightens up, you can get involved with the birds and animals. I like joining the penguins and otters for feeding time and watching the bird of prey shows. I like that this place has an emphasis on education and conservation. The Park has been instrumental in reintroducing the Cornish chough, which is now breeding here again for the first time in over 100 years.

How far? 15-minute drive.

When can I go? All year from 10am (except Christmas Day). Closing times vary per season.

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Country Skittles, Hayle

Go here for a bit of retro fun. As well as skittle lanes, they have pool tables, air hockey, table football, mini crazy golf and more.

How far? 15-minute drive.

When can I go? Evenings and weekends but from noon every day on school and bank holidays.

See their website

St Ives and the Tate gallery

Days Out Tate St Ives

Whatever the weather, it’s always well worth taking the 15-minute train trip from St Erth along to St Ives – the view of the estuary and coastline is stunning. Plus, you avoid having to park in the town centre, which can be a challenge during busy periods. Once you’re there, you can easily spend a few enjoyable hours wandering around the cobbled streets and hopping in and out of the many shops, galleries and cafés. If the rain sets in proper, head to the Tate gallery, where the kids can run about and explore. During the school holidays, they have special activities and trails for children.

How far? 25-minute drive or take the train.

When can I go? All year. Tuesday to Sunday. 10 am–4.20 pm.

See their website

Geevor Tin Mine, Pendeen


If it’s raining outside, it makes perfect sense to head underground. There’s lots to see and do in this preserved tin mine. You can explore the 200-year old tunnels, go on the Virtual Reality tour, or try your hand at panning for gold and minerals (kids love this). I also love the café, with its huge windows overlooking the coast.

How far? 30-minute drive.

When can I go? All year. Sunday to Friday. 10 am–4 pm.

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Truro’s Royal Cornwall Museum and cathedral

Truro cathedral

Truro is Cornwall’s city, and it’s a great place for pottering around, even on a rainy day, with its big high-street brands, independent shops, cafés and restaurants. If it’s wet, duck into the Royal Cornwall Museum, which isn’t huge, but it’s really geared up for young visitors. There are a couple of activities rooms, and you can pick up explorer packs in the shop. And the café and art shop sometimes run kids’ workshops. Another wet-weather sanctuary is the impressive cathedral, which dominates the city centre.

How far? 30-minute drive.

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Trerice – National Trust property, nr Newquay


When we were little, my siblings and I always got dragged around boring National Trust properties on our Cornish holidays. These days, they’ve put a lot more effort into making them kid-friendly, and they have a range of children’s craft, trails and activities, particularly in the school holidays. There are around National Trust 50 sites in Cornwall, but Trerice is one of my favourites. It’s set in lovely gardens, and you can explore the beautiful Elizabethan manor house on a rainy day. For tea, scones and cakes, you can’t beat a National Trust cafe.

How far? 40-minute drive.

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The National Maritime Museum, Falmouth

Maritime Museum

This is our go-to place for a rainy day. It’s super-family-friendly, and I highly recommend it. With 15 galleries over five floors, there’s lots of space to run around as well as interactive stuff to explore and jump on. They also have free crafts for kids, and in the school holidays, there’s always a sea-related theme with associated exhibits, activities and trails. Kids also get a kick out of the viewing towers. At the top, you have amazing views over the harbour, and if you go all the way down, you end up underwater, where you can have fun spotting fish through the windows. For wee ones, there’s The Treasure Island Play Zone with dressing up, slides and a climbing frame.

How far? 45-minute drive.

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This is not an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other things to do in Cornwall including the amazing watersports and marine tours in and around St Ives Bay.


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