Things to Do and Places to Visit in Cornwall for Free 2024

April 01st, 2024

With some of the nation’s best beaches, unique museum exhibits and annual fairs, Cornwall boasts a brilliant range of attractions, many of which you won’t have to spend a penny on.

Here are a few of our favourite free days out that you can enjoy with all the family!

The Best Free Family Days Out in Mid/South Cornwall

Our luxury family holiday park in Cornwall is ideally situated between Falmouth and Truro, so when you stay with us, you’ll have plenty to do right on your doorstep.

  • Gyllyngvase Beach
  • Swanpool Beach
  • South West Coast Path
  • Pendennis Point
  • Falmouth Art Gallery
  • National Maritime Museum
  • Truro Cathedral
  • Flicka Foundation Donkey Sanctuary

1. Gyllyngvase Beach

A trip to Cornwall just wouldn’t be complete without visiting a couple of the county’s picture-perfect, family-friendly beaches. Gyllyngvase is Falmouth’s most popular beach, with the stretch of golden sand and crystal waters providing fun for families throughout the year. From splashing in the waves to building sandcastles to exploring rock pools, there’s plenty to keep you and the kids busy.

Once you’ve had your fill of beach activities, you could also take a walk around Queen Mary Gardens, which are located directly behind the beach. Here you can peruse subtropical plants and take in the surrounding views from a peaceful vantage point.

 Gyllyngvase Beach

Gyllyngvase Beach by Nilfanion. CC BY-SA 4.0

2. Swanpool Beach

Just along from Gyllyngvase, on the outskirts of Falmouth, lies Swanpool Beach. This sheltered bay is ideal for water sports and offers a fantastic, calm swimming spot. The beach is only 20 minutes from the town centre, making for the perfect little side adventure after you’ve spent some time exploring the town and docks.

Swanpool is backed by Swanpool Lake Nature Reserve, which is a haven for wildlife and a lovely place to wander around. The walk around the reserve is flat, and only around a mile, so it’s ideal for the whole family.

Swanpool Beach

Swanpool Beach, Falmouth by Tim Green. CC BY 2.0

3. South West Coast Path

Both beaches are linked by the South West Coast Path, a 630 mile route going from Minehead in Somerset, round the Southwest peninsula across Devon and Cornwall, along to Poole in Dorset. Cornwall makes up over 300 miles of the coast path so there are plenty of stretches along the way where you can amble at your own pace, taking in the coastal views and hidden gems on the journey.

Whether you’re up for a whole day of walking or a relaxing afternoon stroll, there are loads of opportunities to stop for a picnic or some seaside fun.

South West Coast Path

South West Coast Path by N Chadwick. CC BY-SA 2.0

4. Pendennis Point

Pendennis Castle is a beloved Falmouth landmark perched atop the scenic headland. While you do have to pay for entry to the Tudor fort itself, if you’re after a totally free day out, head along to Pendennis Point which is a scenic spot with opportunities for walking and catching sight of occasional dolphins and seals.

For those who want to explore the rocks, you’ll also find a smaller fort known as Little Dennis, which was built in 1539 and is likely one of the oldest buildings in Falmouth.

Pendennis Point

Falmouth: Blockhouse, Pendennis Point by Chris Downer. CC BY-SA 2.0

5. Falmouth Art Gallery

Falmouth Art Gallery is an award-winning, family-friendly gallery with a vibrant, ever-changing roster of exhibitions. The gallery is home to over 2,700 artworks from across the centuries, including local Cornish-based artists, museum loans and community group pieces.

The collection also includes a children’s illustration archive and has plenty that little ones will love exploring.

Falmouth Art Gallery and Library

Falmouth Art Gallery and Library by N Chadwick. CC BY-SA 2.0

6. National Maritime Museum Cornwall

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall is another must if you’re interested in local heritage. Learn about Cornwall’s maritime history and the issues relevant to the modern day through a range of intriguing, interactive exhibits.

With tales of pirates and what lies beneath, there’s a lot to get the whole family thinking about the sea and the people who live off it.

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall by Rod Allday. CC BY-SA 2.0

7. Truro Cathedral

If your Cornish break takes you to Cornwall’s only city, you can’t miss the cathedral in the heart of the bustling central hub. Admire the Gothic Revival architecture and stained glass windows. For those with a head for heights, you can also take roof tours for a unique perspective and to learn more about the architecture on display.

The cathedral is home to a number of events throughout the year, including various concerts, markets and fairs.

Truro Cathedra

View from the Train – Truro Cathedral by Tim Green. CC BY-SA 2.0

8. Flicka Foundation Donkey Sanctuary

For the animal lovers among us, the Flicka Foundation Donkey Sanctuary is a must-visit. The sanctuary does important work rescuing donkeys and other animals and provides a chance for you to get up close with these gentle creatures. You can see the donkeys roaming their paddock and go and say hello via the visitor walkways.

Entry to the sanctuary is free, but there are also ticketed experiences to get closer and help take care of the donkeys.

Two donkeys in a field

Your holiday itinerary doesn’t have to be packed with big, expensive events! With free entry and just a short distance from us at The Valley, these attractions are perfect for families looking for a cheap but memorable day out. For more Cornish fun, check out some of our favourite woodland walks.

The best family friendly woodland walks in Cornwall

A Guide to Pumpkin Picking in Cornwall

October 08th, 2021

It wouldn’t be Halloween without the chance to carve your very own pumpkin. And what better feeling is there than picking that pumpkin yourself?

So, dust off those wellies and get into the spooky spirit when you stay in one of our child-friendly cottages in Cornwall by checking out any one of these great pumpkin patches this autumn.

The History of Pumpkins

The pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes a variety of other fruits that come from flowering plants. That’s right; a pumpkin is technically a fruit!

Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America over 7,500 years ago, although the first pumpkins were nothing like the autumnal treat we love today. They were small and hard with a bitter flavour, but thanks to their solid, thick flesh, they were perfect for storing during cold weather.

It became a challenge for women in the 17th century to find new and delicious ways to serve pumpkin, which ultimately led to the variety of ways it can be eaten and enjoyed today.

A lit and carved pumpkin

A History of Pumpkin Carving

Pumpkins are good for more than just eating. Pumpkin carving has roots in many ancient cultures, particularly Celtic.

The term ‘Jack-o’-Lantern’ was taken from an Irish Folk Tale called ‘Stingy Jack’. In this story, Jack invited the Devil to sit down and drink with him. However, living up to his name, Jack wanted to drink for free, and so he tricked the Devil into paying for their bar tab!

Not a fan of being swindled, the Devil cursed Jack so that when he passed, his soul wouldn’t be able to move on to the afterlife. Jack wandered the Earth alone with nothing but a single lump of coal for light. He would place this coal inside a hollowed-out turnip which earned him the new name, ‘Jack of the Lantern’.

From then on, the Irish began carving out vegetables in his likeness as a way to drive the wandering spirit of Jack away while also offering a guiding light to good spirits.

So, where do pumpkins come into it? In the 1800s, many Irish families immigrated to America, where they found that pumpkins made for much better carving canvases.

Someone holding a pumping by the stalk

Where Can You Go Pumpkin Picking in Cornwall?

If you’re looking to get into the Halloween spirit, then make sure you check out our top picks for pumpkin patches in Cornwall.

Trevaskis Farm, Hayle (Seasonal)

Trevaskis Farm is the perfect place to pick your own fruit and veg!

With 28 acres of stunning Cornish countryside, Trevaskis Farm offers the chance for you to pick your own pumpkins (when they’re in season) no matter the weather! They’ve also got a brilliant on-site farm shop and restaurant with some of the most delicious desserts around.

There’s no need to book; just pop in to pick your pumpkins at any time between 10 am and 5 pm. Keep your eye on their website to see when those pesky pumpkins are ready!

Scaryland at Dairyland Farm World, Newquay (23rd- 31st October)

A trip to Scaryland is the perfect way to treat the kids this Halloween.

Open every day from 10 am until 5 pm, there’s a whole host of activities to keep everyone entertained. Not only do you get to pick your own pumpkin from Dairyland Farm World’s own pumpkin patch, but you can also carve it right then and there to take home with you.

There’s also a Creepy Craft Workshop and access to the rest of the park, including the Farmhouse Kitchen.

Cornish Maize Maze and Fun Farm, Saltash (16th – 17th October and 23rd – 31st October)

If you’re looking for a fun, family day out, then look no further than the Cornish Maize Maze this October. With pumpkin picking, a Halloween maze and farm animals, you’re sure to have a blast!

The pumpkin patch is open from 10:30 am until 5 pm each day, with pumpkins available for a little as £1!

Lobbs Autumn Fest, Heligan (23rd – 30th October)

Celebrate autumn in style this October at the Lobbs Farm Shop’s annual pre-Halloween event, Autumn Fest.

Every ticket holder receives a tractor and trailer ride to and from the pumpkin patch, as well as their pick of hundreds of pumpkins to take home. What’s more, they have a variety of different pumpkin varieties available. If you’re tired of the standard orange, why not pick up one of their stunning white ‘Ghost Pumpkins’?

There’s something for everyone at Autumn Fest, from hay bale photo shoots to baby lambs and even a free Halloween cupcake!

There’s no shortage of amazing spots to pick your own pumpkins in Cornwall this autumn. So, whether you’re looking to guide the way for good spirits, or you want to try your hand at making the perfect pumpkin pie, make sure you head down to one of these great pumpkin patches and find your perfect pick.

For more autumnal activities, check out our guide.

Things to do in Cornwall in Autumn

What to Do on a Rainy Day in Cornwall

September 27th, 2021

Whether you’re camping or staying in one of our Truro holiday cottages, if there’s one thing you can’t always depend on while on your holiday, it’s the weather.

Luckily for you, Cornwall is a fantastic place to visit, rain or shine! So, whatever the weather, you can be sure there’ll be something to entertain you and the family throughout your holiday in Cornwall.

Here are some of our favourite things to do in Cornwall on a rainy day.

Museums in Cornwall

Cornwall is rich in culture and history, so why not spend those rainy days learning all about Cornwall’s past and how it came to be what it is today?

Here are a couple of our favourite museums to visit in Cornwall on a rainy day.

National Maritime Museum, Falmouth

A child looking at a fish tank in a museum

You can find this award-winning and family-friendly museum tucked away in Falmouth. The museum is dedicated to celebrating how the influence of the sea has shaped Cornwall’s history and culture.

With permanent fixtures like the National Small Boat Collection as well as fantastic temporary exhibits, there is something to keep everyone entertained. There’s even a pirate-themed play area for the little ones to enjoy!

Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro

If you’re looking for a broad exploration of Cornwall’s rich and fascinating history, then look no further than the Royal Cornwall Museum.

Based in Truro, Cornwall’s only city, the Royal Cornwall Museum offers visitors the chance to browse thousands of historical objects that showcase Cornwall’s history.

The museum also has temporary exhibitions showcasing history from the rest of the world as well as its own art collection and programmes just for kids!

Art Galleries in Cornwall

Someone looking at a sculpture in the Tate gallery

If you’re a fan of the finer things, then why not check out one of the dozens of art galleries in Cornwall.

From small independent venues and local artists all the way to world-renowned collections, there’s something for everyone’s tastes.

Here are just some of the brilliant galleries you could visit while staying with us at The Valley:

  • Falmouth Art Gallery
  • Newlyn Art Gallery
  • Tate St. Ives

Shopping in Cornwall

 A man browsing clothes on a rail

Why not tend to those rainy day blues with a bit of retail therapy?

There are shopping centres dotted all across Cornwall filled with high street chains, boutiques and even cute little cafes to help you shop the day away!

Or, if you prefer to shop independent, why not lose yourself to some of the hidden shopping gems and bag yourself a memento of your time away?

As you can see, there’s no need to let the weather get you down! There are plenty of ways to make the most of your holiday in Cornwall, even if the weather isn’t always on your side.

Image credit: Visit Cornwall


What’s On Easter Holidays 2020

March 06th, 2020

Now that the signs of spring are appearing all around us, with beautiful blooms starting to emerge, we can start to look forward to the upcoming Easter holidays!

 

We take a look at some of the exciting activities that will be taking place near our child-friendly cottages in Cornwall this Easter for the whole family to enjoy! 

 

Easter at Eden

28th March – 19th April 2020

A fun family day out in itself, the Eden Project will be offering some extra special Easter activities for those visiting during the holiday. If you’re up for an Easter hunt with a twist, embark on the gofindit challenge and use all of your senses to track down some tasty chocolate treats.   

 

Kids will love the assortment of animal-related activities on offer at the wildlife playground. Refine your balance and jumping skills, play a hedgehog-themed game of pick-up sticks or have a go at giant Top Trumps!

 

When you visit this Easter, you also won’t be able to miss the seven-foot inflatable artworks from Parer Studio – a gathering of white, illuminated giant bunnies!

 

Easter at Newquay Zoo

28th March – 13th April 2020

One of the Easter highlights from Newquay Zoo this year is the Eggstreme Easter Egg Trail, which will lead you around the zoo in search of a chocolatey treat!

 

For more Easter fun, you can watch as the animals get fed some tasty Easter treats and learn all about them from the keepers. Over in the barn, more fun can be had from the face painting sessions, where little ones can be transformed into their favourite animals!

 

Rockpool Explorers at St Michael’s Mount

6th April 2020 10am-12pm and 8th April 2020 11am-1pm

Discover some of the weird and wonderful creatures that call the Cornish coastline home in this interactive and educational experience. Join in with the Great Scott! Adventures Outdoors activities for free on your chosen day.

 

Become a rockpool explorer and learn all about the sea life living off the causeway leading to St Michael’s Mount. Groups meet at the Great Scott! Flag near the start of the causeway and booking is not required.

 

It is advised that old trainers or rock pooling shoes are worn to embark on this adventure, as the rocks can become quite slippery!

 

 

Into the Deep Blue at National Maritime Museum Cornwall

30th March – 3rd April 2020 and 6th April – 10th April 2020

This Easter, the Yskynna Vertical Dance Company will be setting up in the National Maritime Museum for a delightful mermaid-themed performance. A dazzling show of aerial dance, Into the Deep Blue will bring sea creatures from the deep to life through dance, storytelling and song.

 

The Into the Deep Blue performance is just one thing to enjoy at the Maritime Museum at Easter though, as you will also be able to experience the Monsters of the Deep exhibit and little ones will love the pirate-themed Treasure Island Play Zone!

 

Especially for Easter, kids will also love the make and take craft area, where they can create a magical costume inspired by the creatures of the deep, as well as following the tentacle trail around the museum to win a prize!

 

The Easter Golden Egg Challenge at Paradise Park

28th March – 19th April 2020

The Easter Golden Egg Challenge will take you on a journey throughout Paradise Park, completing a quiz with the goal of discovering a delicious chocolate surprise!

 

A full timetable of fun events can also be enjoyed during your day at Paradise Park, with plenty of bird displays and shows that give you the chance to get up close to a range of stunning macaws, cockatoos, owls and other magnificent birds.

 

Head to the JungleBarn for some great indoor play fun, perfect for both kids and adults to play, with giant slides, a soft play area and rope bridges!

 

Easter Adventure Quest at Pendennis Castle

4th – 19th April 2020

Embark on a legendary quest this Easter at Pendennis Castle. Hunt for clues and follow the trail around the castle as you try to track down the dragon egg that is hidden in this historic landmark. Successful explorers will receive a certificate and chocolatey treat from Hotel Chocolat to celebrate the completion of the quest!

 

Explosive Easter at Flambards

28th March – 19th April 2020

Easter at Flambards is sure to be a blast with the explosive activities taking place over in the Flambards Indoor Laboratory!

 

Join the mad scientists and take part in some exciting experiments – from rocket science to myth-busting, and even the chance to make some slime. The science shows will take place at 1pm and 3pm.

 

On Easter Sunday, 12th April, join in with Ferdi’s big Easter Egg hunt throughout the park and try to track down the hidden clues to receive a chocolate prize!

 

Which of these exciting activities will you be enjoying while you are staying in Cornwall?

 

Here at The Valley, we will also be running our own selection of exciting Easter activities and events for families to get involved with while staying at our luxury cottages during the holidays!

These include Easter crafts, a visit from Marks Ark for animal encounters, and yoga, football and swimming lessons for children!