When we think of summer holidays our minds drift to sun, sea and sand.
I used to always think that meant catching a plane to somewhere exotic.
But the truth is you can catch plenty of sun, sea and sand without leaving the country. And actually I think what’s right here at home is just as good, if not better, than what you find at the popular foreign destinations for British tourists.
And best of all, you get all the best bits of a holiday abroad without the fuss, stress and hassle of going to the airport.
For us a staycation means Cornwall. We visited when I was pregnant with our first child as a kind of last hurrah before our lives ended.
We came back again the following year when it turned out our lives hadn’t ended, we were just much more tired and less up for late nights than before.
Our favourite part of Cornwall to visit is the north coast around the Rock and Padstow area.
This area is not only amazing for food, attractions and stunning views, but it’s also totally family, and baby, friendly.
With babies, every first is a bit stressful. First nappy change, first time in the car, first bath, first all-night crying session. The first holiday is no different.
You worry about what to pack, how on earth you’re going to fit it all in your bags, and then how will you transport the buggy and travel cot to boot!?
We’ve managed to squeeze more in our car by buying a Maclaren Mark II buggy, which folds down much smaller than our Bugaboo.
So once the car is packed and we’ve made the six-hour car journey to Cornwall, this is where we love to go:
Where to stay
St Moritz Hotel and Spa
Very child friendly and handily located in Polzeath with pretty sea views and a gorgeous beach just a short walk down the road. This hotel has rooms as well as villas and frequently has deals out of season, so keep an eye out on their website for bargains. The hotel will provide travel cots and other baby gear, so you can save yourself the headache of trying to cram stuff into your car boot. The breakfast is heavenly and there’s a lovely chilled out bar to enjoy a drink in, if you get time! The spa also offers lots of lovely treatments, so make sure you leave the kids with your other half to get your pamper on! Visit the website.
This has plenty to keep kids entertained on site and is close to the gorgeous town of Padstow. We rented a two-bed lodge with our first daughter when she was about nine months old. They provided a travel cot and all kitchen equipment and utensils. We just had to stock the fridge. I loved staying here as we could put our little girl to bed, then enjoy a meal and a drink downstairs together. Hotel rooms make that kind of thing a bit tricky! The restaurant is very child friendly and also serves takeaway pizza. For older kids, the Flow Rider, which lets you surf on jets of water, is really fun. Visit the website.
Watergate Bay Hotel
Another very family-friendly hotel. The Watergate Bay offers a baby listening service so you can dine in the hotel restaurant and still keep tabs on your little one. It also has supervised play sessions for kids aged three and up. There’s plenty of choice for where to eat with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant on the same complex along with three others to whet your appetite. Visit the website.
Where to eat
Not only does it have the best name ever but the beach here in Newquay is seriously amazing. The restaurant is at the bottom of a very steep set of stairs, so be prepared to carry your kids and bags to reach it. Once you’re there though the food is amazing and the restaurant is lovely. The kids can race around on the beach while you relax with a drink. Visit the website.
Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen
Situated next to the Watergate Bay Hotel, this is our favourite place to go for breakfast when we’re in Cornwall. The view across the sea and beach is simply breath-taking. You can sit back and watch the surfers catch some waves while enjoying a cheeky fry-up. Not only is the view great, but their full English is one of the best I’ve ever had. Don’t forget to book. Visit the website.
This pub in Rock, near Padstow, belongs to celebrity chef Nathan Outlaw. It has a chilled out vibe and some seriously good food. We took our little girl here and few times and loved it.
TJ’s Surf Shop and Cafe
Located right on the beach at Polzeath, this is a lovely place to grab lunch after a busy morning playing in the waves.
Where to visit
This quaint little fishing village is where the TV series Doc Martin is filmed. It’s always packed with tourists but the shops and restaurants are very much geared up for families.
There’s parking right on the beach so this is perfect if you have kids and lots of bags to juggle. There’s plenty of sand to making sand castles and some rock pools to explore too.
It’s a bit of a drive from Padstow but well worth a visit. The town is so beautiful and perfect for a relaxed stroll with your kids. There are loads of shops selling art and souvenirs to pop into for a browse and plenty of choice for where to eat with a view of the harbour.
The harbour town located on the south coast of Cornwall is simply stunning. It’s an easy drive from the Padstow area, taking around an hour. There are lots of pubs and restaurants that offer a great view over the bay plus are very welcoming to kids of all ages. The town also has some beautiful art shops selling amazing pictures. It’s definitely worth exploring.
The Eden Project
Take your children to the rainforest inside one of two biomes at The Eden Project. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cornwall. As well as the rainforest biome, there is also a Mediterranean one and outdoor plants and flowers. It’s a beautiful place to visit and somewhere the kids can learn about our natural environment too.
Home to the best fish and chips I have ever eaten, courtesy of the king of fish Rick Stein. His takeout fish and chip bar is located right by Padstow’s public car park, so you can’t miss it. I would go back just to get a taste of it again. However Padstow has loads more to offer too! There’s lots of little cobbled streets to explore, shops dishing out Kelly’s ice cream, which is amazing, and benches to sit and watch the comings and goings in this harbour town. There’s a short ferry ride from Padstow to Rock that will entertain little ones as well.
Do you have any Cornwall or other staycation recommendations? I would love to hear from you!