The free entry is likely to be a winner for parents but children visiting Heartlands will be hard pushed to decide on their favourite bit. The adventure playground is arguably one of the best in the south west – think tunnels, slides, climbing frames and even a shipwrecked boat - and there’s no brightly coloured plastic here, it’s all chic and au naturale in wooden splendour. Heartlands is also the place for young families to get their first fill of Cornish heritage with the interactive exhibition which masterfully combines education with fun in a tale of all things mining. Then there’s the Diaspora Botanical Gardens where small feet can take large steps through the likes of Australia, South Africa and North America and learn how Cornwall has touched these far-flung corners of the globe. And we haven’t even mentioned the performance areas, glorious lawns and varied events...
They’re available to hire for a small fee throughout Cornwall, but assuming you have bikes, cycling has got to be one the best free activities for energy filled families. The Cornish Way multi-use trails criss cross Cornwall for 180 miles offering access to beautiful views and amazing wildlife. The biggest hit with families is The Camel Trail which runs from Wenfordbridge near Bodmin to Padstow. As well as being off-road, a massive plus point for this trail is that it is lovely and flat as it follows a disused railway line - perfect for those that have recently mastered two wheels or for grown-ups pulling precious loads in buggy trailers. And the best bit? The promise of your pick of family friendly places to eat in Padstow as a reward for all the hard work.
Another fail safe way to keep toddler tantrums at bay is to head to Falmouth Art Gallery which welcomes children with open arms - so much so that it has been named as one of the UK's top family friendly galleries by The Telegraph. Amongst the works of art, inquisitive young minds are sure to spot the play tables weighed down with crayons and piles of paper ready for the next masterpiece. There’s also a section dedicated to children’s illustrations and a popular hands-on collection which encourages little fingers to explore. But taking the gallery to the next level in family friendliness are the baby painting sessions where nappy clad mini Picasso’s are let loose with paints on a tarpaulin covered section of the gallery – clue lots of paint covered babies and grinning parents!
For families with a sweet tooth there’s no better place to be...ice cream is one of Cornwall’s (many) specialities! Follow your nose to Roskilly’s Organic Farm on the Lizard where entrance is totally free and watch ice cream, yoghurt and fudge being made before an obligatory taste test (sorry Mum and Dad, purses needed for this bit!). You can also catch a glimpse behind the scenes by taking a buggy friendly stroll around the meadows and following one of the trails to learn about the farm. While little ones won’t be able to get as close to the cows as they might like, tell them to keep an eye out to the side of the collecting yard and it won’t be long till they spot the star attraction.
Through the eyes of children the world is quite literately your oyster - or should we say crab - on a Cornish beach. Whether it's creating works of art from seaweed and driftwood, building your very own sandy empire or delving into rockpools to discover what lurks beneath, a day at the beach offers 101 possibilities. Beach rounders, wave jumping, stone skimming, tide races, shell seeking...the list goes on, and on, and on. Make a beeline for one of Cornwall's Blue Flag beaches - Porthmeor, Porthminster, Gyllyngvase, Porthtowan or Polzeath - for the ultimate in safety!