Most families eagerly look forward to a holiday – but dragging the kids along on a long plane flight can be a daunting prospect! So how about taking a break nearer to home instead? Even more of us are choosing “staycations”, and Cornwall is top of the holiday pops, with its sand, sea, sunshine and delicious food. Around five million people stay there every year, most of them travelling from within the UK.
It’s easy to see why holidays in Cornwall are so appealing. First off, of course, it’s much easier to travel within Britain with young children. All the hassle of flying is avoided and there’s no worry about getting grumpy, jet-lagged tots back into their usual routine. You can also load up their favourite toys and games in the car to help them to feel at home as soon as they arrive.
Life is made even easier if you find a self-catering home which is well equipped for families. For instance, Blue Monkey, a large 5-star cottage on the Rame peninsula in Cornwall, has board games, beach toys, crabbing nets and all kinds of other items, including travel cots and high chairs for the tinies. Families staying here can even book caterers to prepare a meal, giving mum a well-earned break from cooking!
Of course, the Cornish seaside is a big draw for young families. The county has more than 100 beaches, including famous resorts like Newquay, St Ives and Falmouth plus many smaller beaches, like those at the picturesque villages of Cawsand and Kingsand. Young children in particular love traditional bucket-and-spade holidays. However, there are also many other exciting activities available, including kite-surfing, fishing, boat trips and kayaking. Crabbing is another family favourite, and Looe in south-east Cornwall is one of the top destinations for this. Just make sure you check on the tides before setting out on a crabbing expedition, as it is much easier to catch crabs at high tide.
As well as its famous beaches, Cornwall has plenty of beautiful countryside, offering opportunities for walks with the family. Take a picnic along and help your offspring to discover the great outdoors. The South West Coast Path includes many shorter walks which are ideal for families, and nearby Mount Edgcumbe Country Park has spectacular scenery plus plenty of places to eat outdoors. Young visitors to the park can even take a break from walking to ride a Segway!
It’s likely that youngsters will fall in love with the local cuisine, which includes not only pasties, but also some of the world’s best fish and chips. Of course, Cornish cream teas and ice cream are also famous delicacies. Many places are geared up to children eating out, so it will be easy to find places which will welcome them, with smaller portions and baby food-warming facilities on offer. A number of top restaurants in the county have child-friendly menus, so you can encourage your children to try something different during their holiday.
It’s possible to have a lot of fun in Cornwall without spending money, as so much is free – including miles of beach and countryside. However, there are also many visitor attractions geared to families. This includes the Eden Project near St Austell, which features the world’s largest indoor tropical rainforest, plus the world’s longest zip wire too. The Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway is likely to prove popular with dads, as well as Thomas the Tank Engine fans.
If close encounters with animals are more to your children’s liking, then take a trip to Porfell Wildlife Park near Looe, where they can meet meerkats, lemurs and zebras, and even help to feed some of the creatures. Dartmoor Zoo is another treat for animal-loving youngsters, and you could also take a trip over the border into Devon to visit the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.
With so much to do and only limited time, the problem is likely to be that you can’t fit it all in. So it’s likely you will find yourself returning to Cornwall soon for another break!