Holidays

What to do in Cornwall during the summer holidays when it rains

The school holidays have started and you can guarantee one thing – particularly in Cornwall – it will rain.

But there are loads of things you can still do in the rain in Cornwall, from the aquarium to the zoo, the cinema to the theatre, getting wet to staying dry.

Here are some ideas to keep your family entertained when the beaches are – largely – off limits.

And if you’ve got any other ideas of your own, let us know! Email ltrewhela@dc-media.co.uk to share your thoughts with us.

READ MORE: Summer Top 50: Cornwall’s best attractions and family days out

1. GO UNDERGOUND

A visit to Carnglaze Caverns, at St Neot, and its crystal clear underground lake is a must. If you’re lucky there will be a concert in the underground Rum Store too – one of the most unique venues in not just Cornwall but the whole country.

2. GO TO BOLLYWOOD

Bring on the Bollywood is a romantic musical comedy that will fizz and whizz its way into your heart. City and country, old and new collide in this entertaining dance theatre show featuring dazzling lighting, colourful costumes, spectacular dance numbers, comedy and melodrama.o Hall For Cornwall, Truro, from August 1 to August 5.

Or if you have younger children why not see Milkshake Live on August 8.

3. ENJOY AN ASIAN SUMMER

Running at Newquay Zoo from August 1 until September 1 is a safari summer with a range of themed activities. There are lots of other events throughout the summer and if it rains you can escape into one of our favourites, the Tropical House.

READ MORE: Maze the force be with you: Huge Star Wars maze opens in Cornwall for the summer

4. GET ON THE 5D SIMULATOR

Camel Creek, formerly Crealy, near Wadebridge, opened an amazing purpose-built Super Sim Theatre ride last summer and has plans for a time-travel film this summer.

The park is also hosting a summer of science packed with fascinating facts, exciting experiments, silly scientists and more atmosphere than anywhere else in the hemisphere.

5. DANCE TO A DIFFERENT BEAT

If you ever dreamed of being like Peter Pan and staying a child foreve latest offering by Kneehigh is for you. It is a retelling of Gunter Grass’ surreal post-war masterpiece which is a story of love, war and fizz powder which is part Baroque opera, part musical satire and part epic poem.

Written by Carl Grose, composed by Charles Hazlewood and directed by Mike Shepherd – the team that brought you the internationally acclaimed Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs), The Tin Drum a folktale for troubled times: one political, profane and profound.

6. TAKE A WALK IN THE RAINFOREST

The Eden Project – which is a great place to visit when it’s raining anyway – now has a rainforest canopy walkway which offers breathtaking views across the biome, and helps explain the importance of rainforests. The new weather maker section is now open and includes a rope bridge, a cloud bridge and an immersive exhibit where you can shelter from tropical rain storms. .

7. GO BOWLING

There are a number of indoor bowling places in Cornwall and one of the most popular is Country Skittles, the home of nine-pin skittles and quality food in the country at Townhend near Hayle. See also Ozzell Bowl in St Austell and Truro Bowl.

READ MORE: The definitive guide to your summer holiday in Cornwall – where to stay, eat and play

8. WATCH EMOJIS COME TO LIFE

Always a top option – even in these days of Netflix – is a visit to the local cinema. Cornwall is full of wonderful independent cinemas – there will be one near you whether you’re visiting or local. How about The Savoy in Penzance or The Plaza in Truro which has opened its fifth screen with bar last summer, The Lemon Suite?

9. RELIVE THE AGE OF STEAM

There is nothing like travelling through the Cornish countryside with the sights, sound and smell of a traditional steam train. The Bodmin & Wenford Railway offers all sorts of journeys, including dining trains. See also Lappa Valley Steam Railway near Newquay.

10. SCARE YOURSELF

Bodmin Jail claims to be Britain’s most haunted venue. Enjoy a three-course meal before exploring the jail after dark in the company of its resident medium. He will tutor you in the basics of “energy management” before putting you to work for the night behind bars in this formidable county jail. Will you see a ghost?

11. IF IT’S WET, GET WETTER

If the heavens open then just go with it. You’re in Cornwall so why not jump into the sea? The Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay offers lessons in surfing, bodyboarding, kitesurfing, wave-ski, hand planing and stand-up paddlesurf, along with technical equipment hire. There are surf schools based all over the north and south coasts, so you’ll be “stoked” wherever you’re based.

12. …AND WETTER

Penzance’s celebrated Art Deco lido Jubilee Pool has undergone a major restoration programme. There is nowhere else like it to swim in Cornwall with the added bonus of other water activities, live music events and a licensed cafe.

READ MORE: Cornwall attraction Land’s End promises five weeks of free family fun during school holidays

13. BECOME A PIRATE

Newquay’s Pirate’s Quest takes you on a swashbucklin’ voyage through Cornwall’s pirating past. Come face to face with smugglers, mermaids, and real live buccaneers (as opposed to dead ones). The storyline will see visitors transported back over 300 years to the dawn of The Republic of Pirates.

The hour-long walk-through experience will see a pirate help you escape a shipwreck, then lead you through the mystical caves and murky streets of 18th century Cornwall to the crew’s recruitment base, Blackbeard’s Tavern.Eventually you’ll arrive at the Captain’s Ship, ready to set sail to an exotic Caribbean island and The Republic of Pirates.

14. EXPLORE THE PACIFIC ISLANDS

Be inspired by heroic voyages of exploration like Captain Bligh’s HMS Bounty at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth. Join the crew of HMSAdventure to explore the Pacific Islands in our brand-new Play Zone. Plus, live performance, storytelling and new activities every week.

15. GO SHOPPING

There’s nothing better than a bit of retail therapy to improve your mood if the sun has disappeared and the umbrella is up. Truro is the king of independent shops but how about the money you can save at places like Pool Market and Par’s Cornish Market World (a taste of the real Cornwall most visitors don’t see). And no visit to Cornwall is complete without a visit to the famous Trago Mills, a retail world unto itself.

16. HAVE AN ICE CREAM

As well as savouring their fantastic range of flavours, visit Roskilly’s at St Keverne for a trip round the farm, meet the animals, see the work in the gallery and enjoy a meal in the Croust House restaurant. Or how about Jelbert’s in Newlyn which only serves its famous vanilla flavour and Mr B’s parlour in Hayle, which has recently gone on the market.

17. HAVE A PINT OF CIDER

Hidden between Truro and Newquay is Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm, home of the famous Rattler. But this is much more than a brewery. There’s a fascinating visitor’s centre, a tea room, restaurant, farm animals and a tour. Plus in September it hosts the Little Orchard music festival. There’s enough here for the kids to make it a must-visit for non cider quaffers too.

18. SCREAM YOUR HEART OUT ON A ZIPWIRE

The zip at Adrenalin Quarry is the UK’s maddest zip wire – 490m long, 50m high and reaching speeds of 40mph. Twin parallel wires cross the flooded depths of the old quarry, sheer cliffs rise on either side. The site at Menheniot, near Liskeard, also features a giant swing 160ft above the lake which leaves you momentarily weightless. Definitely one for adrenalin junkies. And don’t forget the zipwire and giant swing at the Eden Project too.

READ MORE: The best spots for stargazing in Cornwall

19. PLAY IT SAFE IN A SOFT PLAY AREA

If you’re wimpier or, indeed, a young child you may prefer somewhere like Raze The Roof in Penryn. Kids love to play in the mega play frame, slides, climbing wall, ball cannons, astro glide and tiny tots explore too, in their own safe space. Laser tag your friends in a high tech game of hide and seek with your own laser phaser while adults can enjoy a refreshing cup of coffee and bite to eat in the cafe.

20. RELAX ON A BRANCH LINE

There is no better way to spy the beauty of Cornwall than on one of the branch line railway trips – Looe Valley, Maritime Line (Truro to Falmouth), Atlantic Coast (Newquay to Par) and St Ives Bay. The latter is particularly good as you arrive right next to the gorgeous Porthminster Beach Cafe.

21. DISCOVER CORNWALL’S VIBRANT ART SCENE

West Cornwall in particular is famous for its art and on every street corner you’re likely to find an art gallery. This summer why not visit the contemporary, often challenging, always fascinating confines of St Ives’ Anima Mundi or the town’s Porthmeor for a free Tate project revolving around digital art for 15 to 25-year-olds.

22. LET A WORLD-RENOWNED CHEF COOK FOR YOU

Cornwall is famous the world over these days for the quality of its restaurants. Such big-name chefs as Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw and Paul Ainsworth have amazing restaurants in north Cornwall. I would certainly recommend Paul’s No 6 in the heart of Padstow – adventurous cooking, sublime flavours and affordable.

23. DISCOVER CORNWALL’S OTHER RESTAURANTS

It’s not all about the big names though – how about Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion, The Wheelhouse and Oliver’s in Falmouth and even Mannings in the heart of Truro which recently gained a glowing review from The Guardian’s Jay Rayner.

24. PRETEND TO BE A CORNISH MINER

Discover Cornwall’s mining heritage with a visit to one of many mines open to the public in West Cornwall. Geevor is the largest preserved mine site in the country. Go underground into a real 18th century tin mine. Get interactive in the Hard Rock Museum which tells the fascinating story of Cornish tin and copper mining. Explore the many buildings with their magnificent mining machinery. Discover how the rock brought up from deep underground was processed in the mill to produce the precious tin concentrate. All of this set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with fantastic coastal scenery, spectacular views and an array of wildlife. See also East Pool Mine, Heartlands, King Edward Mine at Troon and Wheal Martyn at St Austell.

25. SEE A BAND

If it happens to be raining from August 9 to 13 – and let’s hope it’s not – get under one of the marquees at Boardmasters at Watergate Bay or even brave the rain for the main stage antics. There are too many bands and musicians to mention here but headliners include Two-door Cinema Club, The Flaming Lips, Jamiroquai, Alt-J, Vaccines and Stormzy.

READ MORE: The top 11 spots for watching spectacular sunsets in Cornwall

26. BECOME A SEAL CADET

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, are giving youngsters a chance to become a seal cadet over the summer, to get involved and learn what it takes to protect oceans and care for marine mammals. This includes seal medic training, marine protection, mammal identification, pup assessing, seal care and more.

27. GET THE DOWNTON VIBE

Visit an historic house – Cornwall is full of them: Mount Edgcumbe and Antony House at Torpoint, Cotehele at Saltash, Lanhydrock near Bodmin, Pencarrow House at Washaway, Port Eliot at St Germans, Padstow’s Prideaux Place and Trereife House just outside Penzance. All of them stage special events over the summer and some even host music festivals, even a punk one in the case of Trereife.

28. COME FACE TO FACE WITH A SHARK

Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium is always a good bet when the weather’s bad. The centre-piece of the aquarium is the spectacular coral reef housed within a giant ocean display. The reef is home to exotic species like angelfish, puffer fish, wrasse and hundreds of other brightly coloured species as well as a variety of sharks, including the graceful black tip reef shark, as well as rays, moray eels and lionfish. Enjoy really close encounters from inside the amazing underwater walk-through tunnel running through the centre of the reef.

29. PRETEND YOU’RE IN A DAPHNE DU MAURIER BOOK

Visit Cornwall’s most famous smuggling pub, Jamaica Inn on the wilds of Bodmin Moor. This historic coaching house has welcomed weary travellers crossing the moor for nearly 300 years. Full of legend, mystery, romance and even, according to folklore, the odd friendly spirit, the inn continues to welcome guests to its 20 en suite bedrooms, award-winning restaurant, “olde worlde” bars with great local ales and wines, its souvenir shop and the fascinating Smugglers’ Museum where tales of wreckers, murderers and villains are brought wonderfully to life. And if you saw the 2014 BBC show based on the book, don’t worry you don’t have to mumble when you’re there….

READ MORE: Have you tried coasteering on the Cornish coast?

30. GET GAMING

The first exhibition of its kind at Royal Cornwall Museum will be a haven for game lovers. Let The Games Begin opens on July 29 and will be a hub for all video gamers, and for all things board gaming, interactive and fun.

Board games on offer will include a giant Cornish-themed take on Snakes & Ladders – ‘Mineshafts & Ladders’ designed by local artist, Melanie Johns and some more obscure choices such as the Ancient Egyptian game of Seega.

Gamers will also have a chance to try their hand in our multiplayer arcade where you can play some 21stcentury retro video games or old favourites like Pong. Or if you fancy something even more ‘retro’ then while-away happy hours playing with our dolls houses and train sets.

31. RELIVE TUDOR TIMES

While much of Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, is outside and you’ll need to pack a raincoat, many of the exhibitions and the interior of the castle itself are perfect for a sun-less day. The First World War and Discovery Centre are perfect for keeping the kids entertained … and educated.

32. VISIT TRURO CATHEDRAL

The grandest building in Cornwall, Truro Cathedral is well worth a visit whether for one of its many concerts (its own choir is one of the most renowned in the country) or for the stunning 19th century architecture.

33. GO TO A THEME PARK

As well as Camel Creek and its 5D simulator (see No 4), there is always Flambards, Helston, and its ever-charming Victorian village and Britain In The Blitz walk-around displays as well as its rides for both younger and older children.

34. LAST BUT NOT LEAST … STAY IN

If you’re Cornish you could escape the influx of tourists, stay at home and watch Stranger Things on Netflix. It really is very good. No offence, holidaymakers, we love you really. You can come round and watch it too ….

For all the latest on what’s happening in Cornwall, visit our What’s On page

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