What to do in Cornwall with a toddler

If you want great food, beaches, sun and fun for the kids you don’t have to get on a plane to find it. 

We’ve just got home from the loveliest holiday in Cornwall. We spent a week in a seaside village called Polzeath, which is about 25 minutes from Padstow on the north coast. 

We have stayed here before – about four years ago when I was pregnant with Jessica. We did things a little differently this time by going self-catering but this just suited us better with two young kids. 

In case you’re looking to plan your own Cornish adventure, I thought I would share the details of our fun-filled week to give you some tips for where to take little ones.

Where we stayed

We booked a self-catering house through John Bray Cornish Holidays. The Beach House fit our needs perfectly. 

It has three bedrooms, so each of the kids could have their own bedroom, provided towels and linen and was very close to the beach in Polzeath. 

The house cost is £850 to rent for the week at the end of September. I can imagine it is a lot pricier during the school holidays, but the beauty of having babies and toddlers is that you don’t have to go away during the peak season. The view from the balcony to the sea was lovely and we enjoyed a couple of evenings watching the sun go down with a glass of wine out on the deck.

We got lucky with the weather and it only drizzled a little on two mornings during our stay. The rest of the time it was glorious sunshine and we could explore without needing to take coats and brollies with us. 

A few tips for picking a place to stay when holidaying with a toddler: 

Think about the sleeping arrangements

If your child does not go to sleep when sharing a bedroom with you, like ours, then try to get more than one bedroom so that you don’t spend half the night convincing them to drop off. 

Think about your evenings

You can’t go out and live it up in the pubs in the evenings any more, but you can have a nice meal and watch a movie at home. 

Sharing a hotel room with your toddler means you’re tied to the room once it’s time for them to go to bed. Having a rented house means you can enjoy sitting downstairs and know that your child is sleeping undisturbed. 

Check out the location

Although you may spend a bit of time in the car, it’s nice to stay within walking distance to a town or somewhere with a bit of life. 

Polzeath is quite a small village but it has a Spar open seven days a week, several restaurants, cafes and takeaways. 

Think about what you will need access to, such as places to eat and convenience stores, and what you want to do on most of the holiday. If it’s beach fun you crave, then find somewhere on the beach because parking is quite pricey at the popular beaches and the spaces go quickly in warm weather. 

Find out what the property provides

It’s tough fitting everything you will need for a week in the car. It’s a huge help if the property or hotel where you are staying provides linen, towels and cot beds. 

Where we went

There are so many pretty seaside towns to explore in Cornwall. We didn’t make it to all of them, including St Ives which is a really gorgeous place to spend the day. There are also lots of attractions that are geared up for kids, including farms and adventure parks.

These are the places we did make it to, although I had lots more on my list!

Fowey 

A pretty seaside town on the south coast of Cornwall, Fowey has a stunning harbour where you could sit on a bench and spend forever staring out to sea (if only the kids would be patient enough to let you!).

There are a few shops as well selling nice interior decor and clothes. The town has a tiny aquarium and boat trips leave from the harbour regularly.

Padstow

Padstow has become so popular with tourists over the last two decades and it’s easy to see why. 

This pretty town has shops and restaurants aplenty, including a Michelin-starred eatery. Of course if you’re visiting with kids you won’t be going for fine dining (if you do, you’re braver than me), but there are plenty of kid friendly restaurants and takeaways to choose. 

There are also several bakeries boasting of selling the BEST Cornish pasties in the world. You’ll have to sample them all to figure out who is telling the truth. NOTE: this would require eating a LOT of pasties. 

The Eden Project

 

It’s not cheap to visit the Eden Project but this incredible man-made celebration of nature is a must-see. 

Our children loved exploring the rainforest biome, which was rather warm and humid but filled with exotic plants. We had lunch in the mediterranean biome restaurant, which served pizza and paella. 

Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay

A fantastic aquarium featuring a walkthrough glass tunnel that allows a special view of sea creatures including a sea turtle, sharks and stingray. 

The aquarium has a brilliant selection of fish, and a couple of crocodiles too, and it’s all presented in a way that’s very engaging for the children. 

We also got to see the turtle being fed, which I think was our two’s favourite bit. You can’t park directly outside the aquarium and the walk to it is a bit steep (around five minutes). Bring a buggy if your child gets tired quickly.

Where we ate

Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, Watergate Bay

The breakfast here is so good we visit Jamie’s every time we are in Cornwall.

During this holiday we went twice! Part of what makes this place so amazing is the stunning views over the sea, where surfers are catching morning waves.

The breakfast menu features delights including a full English and pancakes. Their orange juice is heaven. 

Fifteen is also open for lunch and dinner. 

The Cracking Crab, Polzeath

I’m gutted we only discovered this place on our last night. This restaurant is kid friendly and serves delicious seafood.

It’s not the cheapest place to eat (most seafood dishes are around £20) but the food is amazing. The view across the beach at Polzeath is pretty spectacular too.

The Waterfront, Polzeath

We had dinner overlooking the beach at Polzeath from the balcony here. 

The menu includes pub favourites such as burgers and steak, as well as seafood. There is a kids menu too.

Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips, Padstow

If you like fish and chips, then you will LOVE Rick Stein’s. You can opt for the takeaway and eat outside while attempting to protect your chips from being stolen by the seagulls, or you can eat in.

This is a relaxed and casual dining area that is very child friendly. There were queues out the door for a table when we ate there, so try to get there early! We sat down to eat at 11.30am.

I would also add we ate a lot of ice cream at various places. Look for cafes or servers who have Cornish-made ice cream, as this really is delicious. 

Where are your favourite places to visit in Cornwall?

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