Where to Stay in Cornwall with Family: A Local Guide

Find the best places on the Cornish coast the whole family will love.

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Empty beach in Cornwall

With beaches, action-packed activities and kid-friendly restaurants, it never takes long to figure out where to stay in Cornwall with family. From the beaches of Newquay and the adventures of Tintagel to the rich history of Bodmin Moors, Cornwall gives the kind of holiday you and the family will remember. And not just because the youngest fought with the oldest over who got to go in the giant unicorn-shaped float first and little (insert child’s name here) screamed when you politely suggested they get off their phone. You’ll remember the good times, we promise. Here’s our round-up of where to stay in Cornwall with kids.

Penzance

Take your pirate-loving progeny to the fair seas of Penzance for a holiday of surfing, SUP-ping, swimming and sand in your sandwiches. The beach stretches for a mile along the promenade so you can really spread yourself out from your little darlings. When you’re done with the sea, solid ground has a lot to offer with St Micheal’s Mount and Paradise Park offering interactive learning for little ones.

Bude

Beaches in Bude offer safe rock pooling, crabbing and sandy explorations for young travellers, making it a popular choice when it comes to where to stay in Cornwall with family. Water babes can take surf lessons or the whole family can rent a canoe for an expedition down the Bude Canal. For rainier days (alas, we can’t promise suncream weather at all times) the independent Rebel Cinema shows the latest releases and there’s a host of indoor soft play options to keep your offspring overjoyed whilst you read your book in peace.

St Ives

As well as dreamy coastlines and walks to suit all feet, St Ives is the art capital of this glorious stretch of England and a favourite when it comes to where to stay in Cornwall, with or without the whole family in tow. Tate St Ives is mini-artist friendly with exhibitions and activities, and there’s no better hide-and-seek than at the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden. After you’ve surfed and bathed on the sandy beaches - catch a boat to Seal Island where you can impress your kids with your wildlife knowledge. In case you don’t have any; there are 18 species of seal, the largest is a southern elephant seal and they sleep in the sea with one eye open for sharks. You’re welcome.

Truro

The UK’s most southern city has got an historic charm that wee nippers just love. Joking - they won’t care about the cathedral (neither will you probably) but Truro has got enough activities to keep the whole family holidaying in joyful, peaceful union. Visit wildlife sanctuaries, theme parks and watersports centres to fully exhaust everyone - and that is before you’ve hit the beach. Truro regularly tops ‘where to stay in Cornwall with kids’ lists, and those lists are usually from idiots on TripAdvisor the word of God.

Tintagel

Areas to stay in Cornwall don’t come much more quaint than Tintagel: it’s the perfect spot to annoy your offspring with history lessons they didn’t ask for. Tell them all about King Arthur, the sea-spanning Tintagel castle and the legends of this epic stretch of coast. When you’re done with history lessons it’s time to stretch those legs on a beautiful coastal walk. Find Merlin’s Cave on the beach or the waterfall at the end of St Nectan’s Glen.

Bodmin

Legends and tall tales were made here, making this one of the best areas to stay in Cornwall for any story-loving family. Spend your days searching for ghosts, ghouls and proof that the Beast of Bodmin isn’t just a large house cat gone awry. Delight in walking the moorland and making your way to its highest peak, delightfully named Brown Willy. When you’ve exhausted all conspiracy theories the town is actually tranquil (spoiler: we didn’t see any ghosts) and there are plenty of beautiful apartments, cottages and houses to call home whilst you’re exploring the Cornish coast.

Newquay

Surfing and stag weekends, what a sweet, sweet combination. But Newquay isn’t all gnarly waves and ‘I’m tying the knot, buy me a shot’ T-shirts. Yes, there is a fair bit of it, but it’s enviable location and action-packed activities also make for a great place when it comes to where to stay in Cornwall with family. Surf, coasteering and rockpool adventures can be found on each of the seven beaches.

Looe

Fishing boats bob on the harbour, narrow lanes hide quaint shops and all ice creams are free. One of those statements is untrue. The quaint town of Looe is a working fishing port, so you can watch the fleet of boats come in each day with the freshest of fish. As to be expected, you can eat a lot of the good stuff here too. Intrepid (and not so, it’s just a mile off the coast) explorers can take a trip to Looe Island and explore this marine nature reserve for a couple of hours. Alongside wildlife, you will also find tales of it’s smuggling haven history and visits from the world’s oldest celebrities; Joseph and Jesus.

Sennen

Pack your bucket and spade; this spot is the place sandy dreams are made of. The views from Sennen Cove are goddamn delicious, as is the selection of eateries in the area, with high-end bars and restaurants next to kid-friendly options. When you’ve exhausted the sand and surf, a coastal walk to Land’s End can be completed in 20 minutes - an entrepreneurial family has set up a service where you can pay £10 for a personalised photo of your family next to the signpost. Plum Guide tip: don’t.

Padstow

It’s not all Rick Stein restaurants and Michelin stars here. There are too many a few of them, but it also makes a great spot for a Cornish holiday with little ones if you’re blessed to have them. Alongside the usual beach shenanigans the town has a gem that is sure to be atop of your holiday agenda; the National Lobster Hatchery, complete with a visitors centre and more information than you could ever need. Next up: head to Rick’s place(s) to eat one of them.

So, you've worked out where to stay in Cornwall with family and you're about to read out three-day itinerary to plan the trip further. All you need now is a place to stay…and luckily, we'll be able to help with that very soon. Plum Guide is the official selection of the world's best rental homes, coming soon to Cornwall. Independent home critics vet each each property for quality –from the neighbourhood down to the art on the walls– so your high standards are always met.

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