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Family holiday in Padstow

Are you planning a family holiday in the pretty Cornish town of Padstow and wondering what to do with your toddler while you’re there?

Padstow is one of our absolute favourite parts of Cornwall, and the world for that matter! It’s such a beautiful town and has such a welcoming atmosphere. 

This area of Cornwall is one of the more expensive in terms of cost for renting a holiday home or hotels, so I do recommend avoiding the pricey school holiday season if you can. 

The beauty of Padstow is that even though it’s a seaside location, it doesn’t have to be the peak of summer for you to enjoy your time visiting there. 

There’s so much to do and see that can be done just as well in a jumper as it can in t-shirt and shorts! My point is, I think Padstow is a year-round destination, although of course it’s much better when it isn’t raining there!

I thought I would share my top tips for staying in Padstow, having just returned from the pretty seaside town myself. We took our four and two-year-old with us, who absolutely loved every day of their holiday. 

Holidays in Cornwall are the best

We found that Padstow is a fantastic base to explore the rest of Cornwall. We’ve previously stayed in Polzeath where you need to navigate a lot of windy country roads when heading out to explore anywhere else. This adds about 25 minutes to every journey. 

Padstow is roughly 40 minutes from the Eden Project and just 45 minutes from the Lost Gardens of Heligan. It’s also around 30 minutes from Newquay, so you have good access to lots of the places you’re likely to explore when in Cornwall. 

Visiting Padstow with toddlers

Anyway now that I’ve sold you on staying in Padstow, lets get to the fun stuff!

These are my top tips for booking your holiday and staying in Padstow with toddlers and small children: 

1. Picking the right child-friendly accommodation in Padstow

This was our first Cornwall holiday where we stayed in Padstow and we absolutely loved it. We’ve stayed in Polzeath and the Retallack resort before, but found there was so much more accessible to us in Padstow. 

However we didn’t get it exactly right, as we stayed in a house close to the outskirts of town which involved trekking up a very steep hill to get home at the end of every day. 

This isn’t the end of the world of course, but in future if I were renting a house in Padstow again I would choose one that’s a little closer to the harbour. 

We booked our accommodation through the Padstow Cottage Company. They have a lovely range of homes of all sorts of shapes and sizes available, but do double check the location and think about whether you can make it up and down the hill with buggies and tired toddlers every day. 

We stayed in Driftwood Cottage, which is a three-bed house. It was ideal for the kids, as there was a twin room right next to the main bedroom where they could stay. It had just the one bathroom, featuring a shower over the bath, and a nice kitchen. 

The house was in a great condition when we arrived, although there was a slight musty smell in the air. It has two parking spaces and is located very close to Padstow’s branch of Tesco. 

Of course the closer you get to the harbour, the more expensive the house will be, but this is just something to think about. 

2. Make the most of the harbour

Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the most fun. One of my favourite things about our trip to Padstow was the times we just sat on benches overlooking the harbour and ate ice cream. There are several ice cream shops on the harbourside, but I recommend the Kelly’s ice cream as it’s just delicious!

You can sit and watch the people strolling by, or take a slow walk around the harbour yourself. 

If you do have an ice cream, watch out for the seagulls as they love to steal them!

The Lobster Pot ice cream shop iN Padstow

3. Take the ferry to Rock

A ferry leaves from Padstow Harbour bound for the pretty village of Rock every 15 minutes. 

It’s a lovely chance to have a nice view of the water and Padstow, plus it’s a cheap journey. 

Once you’re at Rock you could browse the shops close to the ferry dock, although there aren’t many, have a meal at The Mariner’s pub which is run by celebrity chef Paul Ainsworth, or hit the beach, which is gorgeous. 

4. Explore the shops 

For a small town, Padstow has loads to offer in terms of shopping. It has a Joules, Sea Salt and J Crew Clothing for those who love their familiar brands. There are also little independent shops selling lesser-known and big brands of clothing, plus a lot of gift shops too.

There’s a lovely soft toy shop which the girls just love to explore, and a book shop. If you’re looking to spruce up your own home, there are some gorgeous interiors shops there too. 

Padstow shopping

There are a few hills in the town, plus the pavement runs out occasionally and you have to skirt out onto the road, however it’s mostly buggy-friendly around the shops.

5. Enjoy a boat ride

There are several boat tour companies operating from Padstow Harbour. Which one you choose is really down to how much time you want to spend on the boat, how speedy you want the ride to be and what you want to see on the journey. 

None of the companies can guarantee you will see any of the local wildlife, but just the experience of being on the boat is fun enough in my opinion. 

We enjoyed a ride with Padstow Sealife Safaris. You can book through their website or at the cabin they have at the harbour. 

Padstow Sealife Safaris with toddlers

The boat is quite fast, and my eldest daughter was a bit nervous. However my two-year-old giggled and screamed with delight during the entire ride. You’re provided with life jackets and waterproofs for the journey.

Taking our toddlers on a saline safari trip from Padstow to see seals and puffins

We saw a few puffins and a seal on our trip, which last one hour. You can also book a two-hour safari with this company. This particular company only takes children over two, but there are other firms with bigger, slower boats that will take babies.

Taking our toddlers to see seals and puffins from Padstow

6. Visit the Lobster Hatchery 

The Lobster Hatchery is packed with information about lobsters plus has loads of the little critters to look at. However, don’t expect this trip to last a full day, or even half a day. 

National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow

It’s a very small exhibit and with a toddler, who won’t be ready the information boards, you probably won’t be there much longer than 30 minutes. 

However it has some lovely activities on offer for kids in the summer holidays and is genuinely fascinating for little ones and adults alike. 

7. Where to eat with toddlers in Padstow 

Padstow is home to several fine dining restaurants, such as Paul Ainsworth’s No 6 and Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant. Of course, you won’t be taking your toddler to these places!

Padstow harbour

However there are places you can take your little one where you will receive a warm welcome!

My favourite in the town is Rojano’s in the Square, which serves up delicious pizza in a gorgeous setting, while also catering to children. I have a full review of Rojano’s which you can check out here. 

You can’t visit Padstow without having fish and chips, and if you want fish and chips then you need to go to Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips. The venue (one of many he owns in Cornwall) has a takeaway and sit down option in a casual environment. It’s ideal for kids. 

Rick Stein's fish and chips in Padstow

I recommend the takeaway, as you can find a bench by the sea and enjoy your fish and chips in the way they are meant to be enjoyed. However do watch out for the seagulls, they are very brave and will snatch the food straight out of your hand!

Embers pizza offers eat-in and takeout options. We liked having our pizza down by the sea.

8. Where to have a pint in Padstow with a toddler

You fancy sampling a pint of Tribute, because you’re in Cornwall and it just tastes better, however you’re worried you’ll annoy the staff and put off the other customers with your screaming toddler in tow. 

But there are several pubs in Padstow that are welcoming to children. 

Our favourite was the Old Custom House, which is located close to the harbour car park and has plenty of space inside. We were able to find a quiet corner during our visits where we weren’t too close to the other customers. 

There’s a nice ambience in there, with a decent background noise, so you don’t worry too much about your toddler shrieking. 

There’s a children’s menu featuring pizzas, chips and other toddler favourites, as well as a lovely menu featuring seafood, steak and burgers for adults, if you’re looking for somewhere to eat. 

The Old Ship has a lovely beer garden which is ideal for people watching. It doesn’t have a view of the harbour, but it’s nice to just watch the world go by. There’s lots of seating outside and we saw plenty of people drop in with babies and toddlers while we were there. 

I hope you find these tips and suggestions useful. Let me know if you’re planning a trip to Cornwall, where are you staying?

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Tips for enjoying a family holiday in Padstow, Cornwall, with young children
Planning a family holiday in Padstow, Cornwall