Big Days Out In Cornwall - Discover The Best Things To Do For A Big Day Out

19 Brilliant Big Days Out In Cornwall

Big Days Out In Cornwall

If you are anything like me, it gets to the school Summer holidays and my brain freezes. What shall we do? What would make a great day out for the family? And more importantly, how much will it all cost?

To get ahead of the game (only a week to go as I write) I thought I’d put together one of my many lists. This one lists all the big days out that I can think of in Cornwall. I’ve summarised what there is to do there and how much it should cost you.

1. The Minack

The Minack Theatre is one of my favourite places to visit. It is carved into the cliffs overlooking Porthcurno & Pedn Vounder Beach and has the most stunning and dramatic views you can get.  We always visit every Summer to go to the wonderful storytelling sessions and the occasional show. We usually combine our visit with a trip to the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, a play on Porthcurno Beach and then a walk up the cliffs to The Minack.

We have been to performances in the blazing sunshine - take sunhats, sunscreen and lots of drinks! And we have been to performances in the wind and rain - they only cancel performances in extreme weather, so take rain coats, layers and something waterproof to sit on if the weather forecast looks poor.

  • Theatre carved into the cliffs which you can wander around when there is no performance on
  • The theatre is all outdoors, so be prepared for the weather
  • Regular shows and storytelling throughout the Summer
  • Exhibition centre telling you all about the history of The Minack
  • Beautiful, sub-tropical gardens
  • You can bring your own food and drink to eat on the terraces
  • Cafe
  • Gift Shop
  • Toilets
  • Large free car park

Dog Friendly

The Minack is dog friendly EXCEPT during performances as dogs can bark and ruin the event. Guide dogs are allowed at all times.

Visit The Minack Theatre Website

2. St Michael's Mount - National Trust

St Michael's Mount is a very impressive looking little island. It sits in Mounts Bay by Marazion and can be accessed at low tide via a causeway. People do actually live and work there and there is a little village and harbour which is lovely to wander round. There is a fine gift shop and cafe and an ice cream seller in the warmer months. I've never actually been into the castle, but I have been told it is very interesting - maybe now my children are a bit bigger they would enjoy it!

The garden rises up in terraces along the side of the mount. There has been a lot of erosion over the years, and I believe at the moment it is closed to the public.

We always enjoy walking over the causeway, and we have been to some rockpooling sessions there where we even saw a tiny octopus! During the school holidays there are often different craft and story telling sessions for children in the village.

St Michael's Mount have made some changes to how they are allowing visitors onto the island. It used to be you could walk over the causeway and visit the cafe and shop without having to have tickets. Dogs used to be welcome in these areas too. Not anymore!

Between 1st April to 30th September, you can only access the island with tickets and there is a no dogs rule.

Between October and March access to the harbour and village is free for everyone during opening hours and you can take your dogs over.

Also do be aware that Marazion beach has a dog ban from 1 July to 31 August between 10 am and 6 pm and is dog-friendly outside of these hours and between 1 September and 30 June when dogs are permitted on the beach.

  • Castle
  • Gardens (limited opening times to reduce wear, tear & erosion)
  • Village & Harbour
  • Walks & guided tours
  • Storytelling
  • Rockpool explorer adventures
  • Garden activites for kids
  • Church services
  • Sail Loft & Island Cafe
  • Gift Shop
  • Toilets
  • Car Park in Marazion – please do note that this is not free to National Trust members and it is a cash only car park.

Opening Times

St Michael's Mount is open from 9.30 am to 5 pm, Sunday - Friday each week until 31st October. Please do note that this means St Michael’s Mount is CLOSED every Saturday.

At the moment it looks like the garden is still shut. I know it was shut last year due to wear and tear, hopefully they will reopen it again soon.

It is still FREE to walk across to St Michael’s Mount at low tide but if you don't have tickets for The Island you will almost be frog-marched off! However, do note that the island doesn't own the causeway and it is still a right of way. You can walk it and rockpool there for free.

Please check the website for details as there are lots of ticket variations. I 've not included the garden prices as it isn't open at the moment.

Children under 5 go free.

National Trust Members get FREE entry but you must prebook your tickets.

Visit St Michael’s Mount Website

3. Land's End

When I first visited Land’s End as an adult I was a bit surprised. I was expecting it to be just a great view and a signpost. Either my memory is really bad or it really has changed since I was a child. There is a pretty big entertainment complex there now. There is lots to see, do, eat and buy, but I’m not convinced why it is there at beautiful Land’s End – it does slightly confuse me. However, I do have to say my children really enjoyed some of the entertainment bits. My son hated the 4D film experience, but that was because he found it really scary. Both of them loved the Shawn The Sheep experience and Greeb Farm.

The bits I like!

  • The view – simply breathtaking and worth paying the car park charge for the view and a walk
  • The famous signpost – do be aware that you have to PAY to have your photo taken infront of it (so cheeky!)
  • RSPB Discovery Centre
  • Heritage Trail
  • South West Coast Path
  • Wreck of HMS Mulheim
  • Enys Dodman rock formation
  • Decommissioned lifeboat and helicopter
  • The End To End Story
  • Greeb Farm
  • Fireworks every Tuesday and Thursday evening starting 22nd July with music!

And the entertainment…

  • Arthur’s Quest
  • Shaun The Sheep Experience
  • 4D Film Experience
  • Land’s End Doughnut Company
  • West Country Shopping Village
  • First And Last Inn
  • Cornish Pantry
  • Lots of other places to eat & drink
  • Ice Cream Parlour
  • Gift shop
  • Car Park – there is a charge if you don’t have a local’s pass!

Car Parking

If you arrive after 9am July - September it costs £7.50 to park. It does vary a bit with times and prices so you need to check - and book it online before you go.

If you have a local's pass it is free to park.

Partially Dog Friendly

Dogs are allowed basically anywhere outside. They are not allowed inside the attractions or eating areas.

Visit The Land’s End Website

4. Newquay Aquarium

The Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay is the big blue building on Towan Beach promenade. It is a lovely place to visit for a few hours – we like to combine it with a nice play on the Towan beach and a shopping trip to Newquay.

The aquarium is quite small but has lots of exotic species, sharks and turtles, coral reef display and feeding sessions.

  • 40 naturally themed habitats
  • Black tip reef sharks
  • Giant pacific octopus
  • Dwarf Caiman crocodile
  • Loggerhead turtle
  • Lots of colourful corals and smaller fish
  • Underwater viewing tunnel
  • Feeding times and talks
  • Cafe
  • Gift Shop
  • Toilets
  • Parking is in town – the closest car parks are St Georges Road and Manor Road

Not Dog Friendly

You can’t take your dog to The Blue Reef Aquarium.

Visit The Blue Reef Aquarium Website

5. Newquay Zoo

Newquay Zoo is a lovely zoo to visit. It isn’t the biggest or grandest zoo you have ever seen, but it is beautifully laid out and really well run. The keepers are so engaging and enthusiastic about their animals, they really help to make you love even the littlest of animals there.

  • 2 African Lions
  • Zebra
  • Wildebeest
  • Lynx
  • Warty Pigs (so cute!)
  • Sloth
  • Monkeys (lots of different types)
  • Loads of birds including roaming peacocks
  • Penguins
  • Red Pandas
  • Capybara (like a massive guinea pig!)
  • Snakes, lizards & frogs
  • Meerkats
  • Deer & more!
  • Lots of feeding times and talks
  • Cafes
  • Picnic areas
  • Toilets
  • Parking is nearby in the local council car park which you do have to pay for at certain times of the year (free until Easter)

Not Dog Friendly

You can’t take your dog to Newquay Zoo unless it is an assitance dog.

Visit Newquay Zoo Website

6. Dairyland Farm

Dairyland Farm World is a lovely kids’ adventure park offering pony & tractor rides, animal feeding, games and lots of play areas. They also have a massive indoor play area called the Bull Pen if it is raining.

  • Farm Animals
  • Pat A Pet
  • Pony Rides
  • Hay Rides
  • Feeding Times
  • Lakes and Nature Trails
  • Maize Maze
  • Milking Parlour
  • Animal ark
  • Trampolines
  • Raging Bull Ride
  • Mini Tractors
  • Tractor House with display of tractors and engines
  • The Bull Pen Soft Play  – Take Socks!
  • Clarabelle’s Kitchen Cafe
  • Gift Shop

Not Dog Friendly

As this is a farm with lots of free ranging animals it is not dog friendly.

View Dairyland Farm World Website

7. The Seal Sanctuary

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is always on our Summer holidays bucket list. It is primarily a sanctuary for injured seal pups, with a seal hospital and rehabilitation areas. They rescue about 60 seals a year, most of which are released back into the wild, once they have recouperated. It is really educational, and the older my kids get, the more inspired they are by it.

  • Seals, otters, sea lions, penguins & other sea life
  • Seal hospital
  • Big pools with underwater viewing areas
  • Woodland walks & nature trail
  • Talks, feeding times & demonstrations.
  • Quiz trails for the kids
  • Pirate play area
  • Rockpool discovery area
  • Safari Bus (Summer time only)
  • Adopt a seal!
  • Cafe
  • Picnic areas
  • Gift shop
  • Toilets
  • Free car park

Dog Friendly

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is dog friendly! There are a few areas where you can’t take dogs, such as the seal hospital, the safari bus and inside the cafe. But the rest of the park is dog friendly (on a lead please). There are plenty of water bowls around the site and even doggy treats at the reception.

Visit The Cornish Seal Sanctuary Website

8. Day Trip To The Scillies

A day trip on the Scillonian to the Isles Of Scilly is a wonderful way to spend the day. Do be aware though, if the sea is rough, it can be a choppy ride! On a beautifully calm day though it is the most amazing sea trip.

If you want to go just for the day (going in the morning, coming back in the afternoon), an adult ticket costs £35 and a child £17.50.

The Scillonian leaves Penzance harbour at 9:15am and lands on St Mary's at 12noon. You disembark and get until 4:30pm to visit the island. The boat leaves St Mary's at 4:30pm and gets back to Penzance around 7:15pm.

Some days the boat leaves later and comes back earlier, so again you would need to check times in order to give yourself a nice amount of time on St Mary's.

You can go for a longer period of time over to The Scillies, but prices do go up a fair bit. You can also get the helicopter or plane over too.

Car Parking

You can't take your car on the Scillonian, so you need to park it somewhere in Penzance. The Scillionian company do offer a park and ride service from Trereife House, but you should be able to get parking at Penzance Harbour council car park much cheaper for the day.

Visit The Scillonian Website >>

9. Flambards

Flambards is a big amusement park near Helston.  There is lots of entertainment for all ages, including some high-adrenaline thrill rides down to the indoor soft play for the younger ones and some sensible attractions such as Britain In The Blitz for the more grown up ones amongst us.

  • Rollercoaster
  • Sky rides
  • Log Flume
  • Traditional Carousel
  • Space Shuttle
  • Pirate Ship
  • Dino Express
  • Jurassic Journey
  • Go Karts
  • Outdoor Adventure Play
  • Mini Golf
  • Indoor Soft Play
  • Victorian Village
  • Britain In The Blitz
  • Concorde Life-size simulation
  • and lots more rides and attractions
  • Firework displays
  • Lots of food & drink places
  • Picnic areas (take your own if you want to)
  • Ice cream kiosks
  • 2 main gift shops
  • Old fashioned sweet shop
  • Free car parking on site

Visit The Flambards Experience Website

10. Geevor Mine

Geevor Tin Mine is the largest preserved tin mine in the country. You can go underground to explore the mine and get interactive in the museum with things like panning for gold! There are often lots of other activities that the kids can get involved with. It is all great educational fun!

Geevor sits in the most beautiful spot and is actually an Area Of Outstanding Beauty.

  • The Underground Tour
  • The Hard Rock Museum
  • The Dry & Miners Talk
  • Victory Shaft
  • Mineral Panning
  • Stone Carving
  • Hand Drilling
  • Kibble Filling
  • Dressing Up
  • Count House Cafe – free entry if you just want to use the cafe
  • Shop
  • Free Car Park

Partially Dog Friendly

Dogs are welcome on site but are not allowed in the underground, shop and cafe.

Visit Geevor Tin Mine Website

11. Tintagel Castle

  • One of the most spectacular historic sites in Britain
  • Built half on the mainland and half on a jagged headland projecting into the Cornish sea.
  • Discover the legend of King Arthur
  • Visit the castle
  • Cross the bridge
  • See the King Arthur sculpture

Visit The Tintagel Castle Website >>

12. Lappa Valley

Lappa Valley is great for those train enthusiasts among you (like my son!). When you arrive you catch a train into the park where there is lots of family friendly things to entertain you.

  • Woodland Railway
  • Newlyn Branchline
  • Canoeing Lake
  • Toddler’s Maze Path
  • Crazy Golf
  • Play Areas
  • Nature Trails
  • Indoor Play Carriages
  • Childrens’ Rides
  • Whistle Stop Cafe
  • Ice Cream Express
  • The Carriage Cafe
  • Picnic areas (you can bring your own)
  • Free car park on site

Dog Friendly

Dogs are allowed at Lappa Valley providing they are well behaved and kept on a lead. They charge £1 per dog. Assistance dogs go free.

Visit Lappa Valley Website

13. Camel Creek Adventure Park

Camel Creek is a family attraction with rides, soft play, animals, cinema, food, drink and lots of play area. We haven't visited it before but we are hoping to go this Summer. It sounds like it offers a proper good day out with children.

  • 4 Different Adventure Zones With Lots Of Rides
  • Creature Creek
  • Kiddies Kingdom
  • Thunder Canyon
  • Swampy & Dina Land
  • 5D cinema
  • Wave Rider
  • Animal Petting Areas
  • Reptile House
  • Shire Stables
  • Meerkat Enclosure
  • Soft Play
  • Food and Drink
  • Shop

Dog Unfriendly

No dogs allowed, expect guide and assistance dogs.

Visit Camel Creek Website >>

14. Pendennis Castle

There aren’t many castles in Cornwall but Pendennis Castle is a good one. It was built for Henry VIII as a coastal fortress and is quite impressive. It is owned by English Heritage.

  • Fortress Falmouth & First World War Exhibition
  • Weapons of war
  • Tunnels to Half Moon Battery
  • Observation Post
  • The Tudor Keep
  • Guns and Cannons
  • Great view over Falmouth and the estuary
  • Sandcastle Building Workshops  (21st and 22nd July)
  • Family Fun – Hands On History events with activities and storytelling (25th July – 31st August excluding event days)
  • Tudor Pageants (31st July – 2nd August)
  • Grand Medieval Jousts (7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd August)
  • Pendennis At War (29th and 30th August)
  • Free Car Parking on site

Visit Pendennis Castle Website

15. The Maritime Museum

I love the National Maritime Museum, it is such a fabulous museum. It encompasses all the amazing things about the sea that everyone must love if they love being in Cornwall. It honestly is my best day out – you MUST visit it if you love the sea.

  • The Main Hall with the National Small Boat Collection, some of it hanging overhead!
  • Survival Zone – all about surviving and sea rescues
  • Boat building workshop
  • Titanic Stories in The Hold
  • The Flotilla
  • Cornwall and The Sea
  • Tidal Zone
  • The Lookout Tower
  • The Nav Station
  • The Lighthouse
  • The Boat Pool
  • and so much more amazing stuff about the sea. It really is the best!
  • Waterside Cafe
  • Picnic & Play area (in the school holidays)
  • Brilliant gift shop!
  • Pirate School (for the kids during the school holidays)
  • Treasure Island Play Zone
  • Car Parking is in the public car par about 100 metres away from the museum. It is a pay and display.

Not Dog Friendly

Accessibility dogs are allowed in the museum. All other dogs are not allowed. However, a “dog bed” is set up outside the museum in a sheltered and protected location near the entrance with a dog bed, lead tie up and water bowl.

Visit The National Maritime Museum Website

16. Bodmin Jail

We haven't visited Bodmin Jail, but I know lots of friends who have been. We are putting off going until my youngest is a bit older. We know he will find it too scary at the moment!

  • Prepare to be scared, an immersive attraction not for the faint hearted!
  • Discover the hidden stories and myths of Cornwall, Bodmin and the jail
  • Dark Walk - take a journey back in time
  • The Naval Wing - peek into grimy cells and learn about the harsh punishments
  • Administration Block - includes the paranormal and the condemned cell!
  • The Last Moments - follow in the footsteps of the condemned
  • Gift Shop
  • The Jolly Hangman Tavern - for food and refreshments

Dog Unfriendly

Dogs aren't allowed in Bodmin Jail for their own well being!

Visit The Bodmin Jail Website >>

17. The Lost Gardens Of Heligan

The Lost Gardens Of Heligan is such an inspiring and uplifting place to visit. We rarely go because it is a fair drive from St Ives, but when we do visit we always wish we lived closer!

  • 200 acre garden
  • Productive gardens
  • Pleasure grounds
  • Jungle
  • longest Burmese Rope Bridges in Britain
  • The Hide
  • Insect Hotel and Hives
  • Wildflower meadows
  • Woodland
  • The Giant's Head
  • Mud Maid
  • Grey Lady
  • Farm
  • Beautiful, natural playground
  • Kitchen & Bakery
  • Takeaway, Pizza and BBQ
  • Shop & Plant Centre

Dog Friendly

Dogs with well-behaved owners are welcome to the Gardens all year round!

Visit The Lost Gardens Of Heligan Website >>

18. The Eden Project

The Eden Project is a good drive from us in St Ives, but we always go several times a year. It is a full on day out and we find it both inspirational and quite tiring! It does involve lots of walking, lots of learning and lots of fun too.

  • Rainforest Biome
  • Mediterranean Biome
  • Outdoor Gardens
  • Western Australian Garden
  • Vegetable Garden
  • Wild Cornwall
  • Giant Bee
  • Rainforest canopy walkway
  • Skywire
  • The Nest climbing frame
  • Soft Play
  • Exhibitions & Events
  • Cafe
  • Baobab Bar
  • Restaurant
  • Amazing Gift Shop!

Partially Dog Friendly

Dogs are allowed in the outside gardens. They are not allowed inside the biomes. Assistance dogs are allowed in all area.

Visit The Eden Project Website

19. Paradise Park

Paradise Park is a wildlife park in Hayle. It is a great combination of amazing birds and smaller animals alongside play areas, a little train and a very good indoor soft play facility.


  • flamingos
  • penguins
  • red pandas
  • owls
  • parrots/parakeets - lots of colourful ones
  • toucan
  • Cornish chough
  • otters
  • small farm animals

Other Info

  • large outdoor animal park
  • outdoor play areas
  • feeding times
  • bird displays
  • little train
  • dinosaur statues
  • picnic areas (you can bring your own food to eat outside)
  • indoor soft play
  • cafe
  • shop
  • toilets


There is plenty of free parking onsite.

Visit the Paradise Park website >>

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