10 family-friendly places to go in Cornwall

For our summer holiday this year, we decided to return to Cornwall, somewhere we haven’t visited for almost a decade.

It’s a special place for us. It’s where we had our first holiday as a couple 13 years ago. And it’s where we holidayed with treasured friends after university.

So, almost a decade since our last holiday in Padstow, we returned to Cornwall with the children and a mission to fill our days with fun and places that made us stop and smile.

We stayed in Hengar Manor Country Park near Bodmin, which proved a great location to see the great things Cornwall has to offer.

Its location meant we were able to visit 10 places during our Monday to Friday stay. Here’s what we did and saw.

Disclaimer: Although these days out were fantastic fun, I can confirm that either we or one of the children had a tantrum at each lovely location due to tiredness/lack of food/sheer grumpiness.

1. Sandymouth Beach, near Bude

Our first outing of our holiday was to Sandymouth Beach near Bude. A National Trust beach, it is surrounded by stunning cliffs and has a myriad of rock pools to explore.

Our children loved the small waterfalls dotted around the beach and using the pebbles to decorate their sandcastle creations.

It has ample parking, a lovely cafe overlooking the beach and well-tended loos.

Car parking is free for National Trust members, and £5.50 for non-members.

2. Bude

After our visit to Sandymouth, we decided to head into Bude itself for a stroll and a look around the lovely local shops.

And we also stopped for delicious fish and chips near the sea.

3. Porthcothan Bay Beach

Based near Padstow, Porthcothan Bay Beach is a stunning beach encircled by dramatic cliffs. It’s been featured as Nampara in Poldark, which is testament to how beautiful it is.

The children loved exploring the swirling streams on the sand and paddling in the clear sea.

There are chargeable car parks nearby and loos (you’ll need 20p to go though as the local town council runs the toilets after funding cuts by the local authority).

4. Padstow

After drying (and sand-dusting) ourselves off, our next stop was nearby Padstow where we whiled away a few hours exploring its shops, beach and harbour. We stopped for a Cornish cream tea and popped into Rick Stein’s bakery to lust after the delicate patisserie goods and doorstop bread loaves.

5. Lanhydrock

Rebuilt in 1881 after an extensive fire, Lanhydrock country house in Bodmin is presented with artefacts from the time meaning stepping over the threshold is like a walk into history.

The children loved exploring its 50 rooms and a spotting quiz kept our five-year-old enthralled as he tried to spot the items on the quiz sheet. Highlights included the vast kitchens, the nursery and seeing family photos and portraits of the Agar-Robartes.

Staff and volunteers dressed up in period clothes adding to the historic feel and we were lucky enough to hear a harpist perform during our visit.

Outside, the gardens and grounds are beautiful. Roses, topiary and wild flowers and a higher garden where the children loved hiding. Our daughter declared: “Flowers are my favourite,” as we left.

Parking and entry to Lanhydrock is free for National Trust members, but chargeable for non-members.

6. The Eden Project

In our previous visits to Cornwall, we had never made it to the Eden Project so it was on our wish list for this break.

With its aims of education and promoting environmental sustainability, it was somewhere we wanted to take the children to.

We started the day at the journey into space section. The astronaut training-style bouncy castle was a hit followed by the exhibition that walks you through the nine planets of the solar system. Our five-year-old loved hearing facts about each planet and the interactive rooms.

The highlight for us was visiting the rainforest and Mediterranean biomes. Filled with plants, fruit and vegetable plants and flowers from across the world, they featured walkways and bridges that take you high up in the biomes giving you a great view of the environments.

Sculptures and hands on activities caught the children’s imagination meaning they didn’t want to leave.

As a family-friendly venue, the project has plenty of places to eat, free water stations and all the facilities you need.

It isn’t a cheap day out, but it’s a unique charitable project on a huge scale, which is a must visit if you’re in these parts. You can save 10 per cent by booking online in advance.

You can also donate your entire entry fee to convert it into free access for a year, which is a good option if you’re a regular visitor to Cornwall. And children aged under 5 go free. Our entry fee was roughly £60.

7. Fistral Beach, Newquay

Newquay has been on my ‘to visit’ list for many years so we were lucky that the sun shone for our visit to Fistral Beach.

A massively popular beach with surfers and families alike, it has everything you’d expect including shops, bars and cafes for visitors.

With lifeguards on patrol, and notorious rip tides, bathers and surfers are told to stay within the yellow and red flag areas to stay safe.

With such dramatic views and a huge expanse of sand, we loved it here.

There’s free parking along the esplanade, but there are plenty of car parks in the area too.

8. Perranporth

The lovely village of Perranporth has an enormous beach and a huge expanse of sea.

With rock pools and dramatic cliffs, the children loved exploring it and sandcastle-building there. We had ice creams on the beach and the children buried themselves in the sand.

Perranporth itself is kitted out for visitors with pretty shops and cafes serving delicious food. There’s ample parking and facilities including showers to wash off the sea and sand.

9. Trelissick

This National Trust property offers a 18th century house, gardens, wooded walks and incredible views of land and sea.

You can follow the woodland walks down to catch the ferry to Falmouth, wander through the hydrangea garden (some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen) or take in the views of the Fal Estuary.

Visitors can also explore many rooms of Trelissick House. Sit in the dining room and take the views of the sea. Take in the artworks and sketches sitting delicately on pretty period wallpaper. And read about the fortunes and fall of the original owners.

I particularly liked the exhibition about this, including period clothing dotted with golden coins, a visual way to tell the story.

We ate at the cafe, which offered delicious food and healthy options, which is perfect when you need to take a break from the cream teas!

A great few hours out!

Parking and entry to the house and gardens are free for National Trust members, but chargeable to non-members.

10. Summerleaze Beach, Bude

For our final day in Cornwall, we headed back to Bude for a visit to Summerleaze Beach. It’s near to where we first holidayed as a couple and is another huge beach filled with rock pools.

It’s also home to Bude Sea Pool, an open air swimming pool which provides perfect views of the beach and beyond.

A popular spot, it’s advisable to get there early as the nearby car parks fill up fast.

Where are your favourite days out in Cornwall? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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A sunny Sunday at Dyffryn Gardens

Our favourite family days out involve exploring somewhere new so a few weeks ago we signed up to be National Trust members.

Today we put that membership to good use with our first visit to the magical Dyffryn Gardens. Nestled in St Nicholas in the Vale of Glamorgan, its 55 acres feature a myriad of gorgeous garden rooms with plants and landscaping themes from across the globe. Although just 15 minutes from Cardiff, it feels worlds away from the bustling city.

When you arrive at Dyffryn Gardens, the first thing to greet you is the park. The children raced straight in, enjoying the wooden, nature-themed playground.

After encouraging them to leave the park, we went through the Reception area to start exploring the gardens.

Our son led the way and we soon found ourselves outside the impressive Dyffryn House, a manor house built in the late 19th century which is partially restored.

We followed the path around the house to discover the croquet lawn peppered with striped deckchairs. From there, the children meandered through a network of gardens, finding vibrant flowers, apple-bursting trees and arches threaded with roses. It was stunning.

The children loved exploring the gardens, discovering arches leading to a new walled garden and the various sculptures and statues.

My favourite? The Italian walled garden and the rose garden. Our daughter loved spotting the different colour roses as we strolled around it.

As you’d expect of a National Trust property, the facilities were excellent. It had a cafe, picnic benches and sitting spots as well as traditional garden toys to keep the children entertained.

Tired little legs meant we didn’t get to go inside Dyffryn House but we will definitely be back to visit – and see the house – soon.

Overall, a beautiful family day out that is such a treat for garden lovers of the world.

15 things you’ll learn as a parent on a day out at a theme park

1. Someone always needs a wee at the worst time. Either when you’re 50 miles from a service station or mid-way through a mind-bogglingly long queue for a ride with no loo nearby.

2. When you do locate a loo, the queue will be as long as the one for the rollercoaster.

3. You will fantastise about ankle-ramming the people who absentmindedly stop in front of your buggy. Look where you’re going people.

4. You will have arms of a weightlifter by the end of the day from carrying your toddler who has to walk absolutely everywhere and then needs to be carried absolutely everywhere as their little legs can’t cope.

5. You start to question your principled decision to refuse forking out for queue jump tickets after enduring 45 minutes waiting for a two-minute ride with an energetic and impatient toddler. There will be tantrums, tears and short-lived bribery snacks. 

6. And those smug queuebuster pass holders will always turn up when you get to the front of the queue meaning you have another final wait to go. And you will hate them for it.

7. The drinks and snacks you’ve lovingly prepared in advance will be refused in favour of a soft drink and packet of crisps that cost £3.99. Each.

8. You will fork out a small fortune at the gift shop while knowing you could get the same thing much cheaper on Amazon. Much cheaper.

9. Your child will find it impossible to chose what they want in said shop. And they’ll always insist on something that costs the same as the theme park ticket. You’ll then face a miserable battle of wills trying to convince them that the small teddy is just as good as the £65 play set they’ve set their little heart on.

10. Someone will always end up getting their clothes (or shoes) soaked. 

11. You spend an age getting into the car park and have to park a long walk from the theme park entrance. That walk feels even longer when walking back there and trying to locate your car with overtired children. What row were we in again?

12. You need to be prepared for all weather eventualities so you’ll be carting around enough gear for a week abroad. Coats ✅ sun hats ✅ wellies ✅ sun cream ✅ 

13. Finding your way out is as difficult as finding your way there. How is it so complicated? 

14. You’ll feel like you’ve walked a marathon by the end of the day but your Fitbit only says 8,000 steps.

15. You’ll forget all of the above when you and the children remember the day and look back at magical photos. All completely worth it. Now, where’s the wine? 😉

A trip to Folly Farm Wales – a review

Pembrokeshire’s Folly Farm is a popular day out for families in Wales and that includes us. 

Boasting both exotic and farmyard animals and a fantastic range of indoor and outdoor play, it was has won accolades from TripAdvisor for being a top family day out.

We do a family day out to Folly Farm at least once a year and it gets better with every visit with new animals and updated sections. 

Our first stop was the barn, where you can find traditional farm animals including goats, pigs, donkeys and a variety of chickens. The hatchery allows children to watch eggs hatch and the interactive cwtch corner enables them to cuddle smaller animals such as guinea pigs. 

The children then made their way to the vast outdoor play park starting with the sand diggers. They both loved digging mounds and steering the diggers. Then it was off to the different sections of the park to explore the pirate ships, castle and network of slides and tunnels.


After an hour of play, we made our way to see the more exotic animals including rhinos, meerkats, lions, zebra and the giraffes. 

One of the lovely things about Folly Farm is the interactive and educational element that accompanies each species meaning you learn along the way. Our five-year-old loved the measuring chart which showed him how tall he was in comparison to a baby giraffe. 

There is excellent information about conservation too, which is helpful to start talking to children about these issues.


Our highlights were seeing the the giraffes and the visit to penguin cove. Both of our children were thrilled to see the penguins swimming, especially through the glass viewing area. 



We ate lunch at the fast food diner at the soft play centre. It cost us £26 for two adult and children’s meals and drinks. The food was good and portions were very ample. There were other dining options including a cafe near the entrance, but we decided on a treat after two hours’ exploring. The children then burnt off some energy by racing around the vast soft play area before returning outside for more play and animals.


The facilities at Folly Farm are great for accessibility, including prams and wheelchairs. There are plentiful drinking water stations and toilets, which is vitally important when venturing out with a recently toilet-trained toddler! 

It cost around £45 for the four of us to get in, but we exchanged our Tesco Clubcard vouchers for four times the value in advance to pay towards the entrance cost. 

The entry fee covers the vast majority of activities at Folly Farm, but some cost a small fee such as the fairground rides.

Overall, we had another fantastic day out at Folly Farm. Fun, informative and interactive.

Blogger note: We paid for our visit to Folly Farm and the venue was unaware I was writing a review.

Colby Woodland Garden – a review

Tucked away in tranquil Amroth in Pembrokeshire, The National Trust’s Colby Woodland Garden is a stunning place to explore. 

It’s a hidden gem of walks, blooms, streams and a never-ending meadow filled with daisies and wild flowers.


After arrival, we headed straight to the walled garden. Walking through the metal gate, you are greeted by trees and gorgeous flowers of all colours. Statues are dotted around walkways and paths and a fountain babbles downstream from a summerhouse. 

As someone who loved The Secret Garden as a child, it felt lovely to look around this hidden place.

The Walled Garden


Our toddler was enchanted by the flowers and the ducks who were taking a swim in the fountains.

From the walled garden, our next step was to find the meadow and the network of paths and bridges around it. The children enjoyed discovering steps and walkways, picking up sticks and leaves and hunting for dandelion clocks. As it’s early May, the bluebells were also out in force.


The children loved the freedom of running through the huge meadow and climbing the fallen tree trunk.

Tired young legs meant we only explored part of this beautiful, expansive place. But what we saw was gorgeous.

There is ample car parking by the garden and a cafe on site serving a selection of meals and light bites for hungry walkers.

We paid £17.50 for a family ticket to the garden, which included access to the walled garden. 


Where are your favourite family days out in Wales? I’d love to know to add them to our to do list.

Pontypridd Lido – a review


It’ll be two years in August since Pontypridd Lido reopened after an extensive renovation. It’s been on my to do list since then and we finally made our first visit there yesterday.

The lido reopened for the current season on Saturday and we booked online in advance. It cost just £7 for the four of us to swim – including an extra £1 per child to access the activity pools. 

The lido is located in Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd and is just a few minutes from the A470. Although there is no parking at the park, there is a choice of affordable car parking options that are a few minutes away. 

When we got to the pool, we booked in and were given wristbands to access the activity pool. 

The lido has a choice of changing areas – indoor and retro outdoor cubicles inspired by its 1927 roots. There is a good mix of family changing cubicles, which is handy for families with younger children like us, and lockers. Ratios are one adult to every child under four. 

The lido features three heated outdoor pools, which are heated to around 28 degrees. There’s a splash pool, a swimming pool and a smaller swimming pool, which is set up for activities such as an inflatable assault course. The pools are surrounded by sunloungers for friends and family who want to spectate rather than take a dip (or swimmers who want to catch some rare Welsh rays!).

Our toddler loved running in and out of the splash pool and getting soaked by the water fountain whereas our five-year-old headed straight for the activity pool, which was kitted out with a giant inflatable assault course. He loved taking on the challenge and launching into the giant slide at the end.

The lido has a cafe which serves snacks poolside through a serving hatch and a visitor centre upstairs, which tells the story of the lido’s history.

Outside of the lido is a beautiful play park and the main cafe entrance. We refuelled in the cafe after our dip. Drinks and snacks for all coming in at less than £10 so it was reasonable. 

After our pit stop it was time to explore the play park, which opened with the lido in 2015. The children spent more an hour exploring and playing in the network of tunnels and sand sections as well as a zip wire. 

Overall, it was a fantastic few hours out as a family. The children were in their element and we’ll definitely be back! In fact, our toddler asked to go swimming again as we were about to leave.

Have you been to the Lido yet? Are you planning to visit? I’d love to know. 

Disney on Ice comes to Cardiff

As a child, I was enchanted by a myriad of Disney films from Beauty and the Beast to Cinderella to the Lion King. I loved the music, the stories and the characters, watching them time and time again.

Now, it’s my children’s turn to love all things Disney. So when I heard that Disney on Ice‘s 100 Years of Magic was coming to Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, I snapped up some tickets.

We arrived at our seats half an hour before the show started and walked in to an arena of excited children donned in Disney dress and a sea of flashing wands and windmills.

The 100 Years of Magic concept meant the show brought together a range of famous Disney characters through the ages. The show kicked off with a warm up to introduce hosts Mickey and Minnie Mouse, who then introduced classic Disney characters.


The skating and the choreography was spectacular ranging from gorgeous solo performances from Pinocchio’s ethereal blue fairy to the underwater world of Finding Nemo.


One of my favourite sections was the couples’ dance where famous Disney duos including Belle and the Beast, Cinderella and the Prince and Rapunzel and Flynn danced duets before joining each other on the ice.

But it’s no surprise that the stand out moment was Frozen with ice proving a perfect setting to transport us to Arendelle complete with snow flurries. 

The choreography for these segments was particularly beautiful, with Elsa and Anna’s wildly different personalities reflected in every move.


At around two hours, including an interval, it was a long show. I felt it worked well, but both of the children were getting restless as the finale neared so it could have been a little bit tighter.

We expected merchandise at the show to be on the expensive side, but I was surprised to see small soft toy characters for £22, not much shy of what a ticket cost. So we didn’t buy one!

Overall, it was a magical few hours that we all enjoyed. My never-sits-still toddler sat entranced throughout and told me she wanted to watch it again when it ended. 

And our son whispered “It was super!” to my husband as we left the arena (high praise indeed from a five-year-old). Couldn’t have put it better myself.


Blogger note. We purchased our tickets to Disney on Ice and the venue and promoter were unaware I was writing a review.