It’s good to know in our digital, virtual world that channelling in­coming tides around sandcastles still provides great joy. And wrap-around beaches aren’t Devon and Cornwall’s only child-friendly assets. Rafts of activities and bucketloads of attractions ensure they’re an absolute delight for kids, and adults re-connecting with child-like joys.

Best Regions For Kids

  • Newquay & the North Coast

This water-sports magnet has beaches galore, an aquarium, farm attraction and puffing steam trains. Investigate Bude, Perranporth and St Agnes, too.

  • Torquay & South Devon

Torquay offers oodles of beaches plus an eco-zoo, giant cliffside aviary, prehistoric caves and a model village. South Devon serves up surfing beaches and river trips.

  • South Cornwall

Head here for the Eden Project, a shipwreck museum, child-friendly maritime museum, and incredibly cute seal and monkey sanctuaries.

  • Exmoor & North Devon

North Devon dishes up superb surfing, huge dune-backed beaches, and the mega-attraction, the Big Sheep. Exmoor offers deer-watching and wildlife discovery days.

Devon & Cornwall for Kids

A plethora of child-focused attractions and activities ensure the southwest delivers fantastic family holidays. Attractions are well attuned to the needs of parents and children: displays are targeted at young minds, cafes feature kid-friendly meals, and baby-changing rooms are common. Many hotels, pubs and restaurants cater well for kids, but it pays to check. As elsewhere, some people will frown on breast-feeding, while others will barely notice.


The beaches of Cornwall and Devon are glorious, but do present safety issues; sadly fatalities are not unknown. Most of the key tourist beaches have lifeguards; head for one that does, then follow the lifeguards’ advice. Be especially wary of rip currents and fast-rising tides. Lifeguard cover is seasonal (often Easter to September) and tends to finish at 5pm or 6pm. The RNLI Lifeboats website ( lists which beaches it covers and when.

Some sections of the Devon and Cornwall coast are prone to cliff-falls; keep an eye out for warning signs.

Children's Highlights

Family-Friendly Attractions

  • Paignton Zoo, Torquay Innovative 32-hectare, multi-habitat eco-zoo.
  • Flambards, Helston Theme park with heritage-themed features plus rollercoaster and log flume.
  • Camel Creek, Padstow Some 60 rides and attractions set in 40 hectares.
  • The Big Sheep ( All-weather theme park near Bideford, with an agricultural feel.

Rainy-Day Attractions

Kid-Friendly Heritage Sites


When to Go

School holidays see accommodation demand, and prices, spike. But summer, Easter and half-term also see attractions extend their opening hours, often putting on special family-friendly events.


Families fare well for sleep spots in Devon and Cornwall. Some accommodation providers can provide put-me-up beds.

Self-catering and camping offer great flexibility. Look out for the new breed of ‘comfy camping’ options, where Romany caravans and safari-style tents come with their own fire pits.

Child-Savvy Organisations

All over Cornwall and Devon, organisations run superb child-focused events. Pirate parades, rock-pool rambles, night-time hikes and archery days – these family experiences can define your trip.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust (

Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA;

National Trust (NT;

English Heritage (EH;

Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA;

South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB;

Torbay Coast & Countryside (

Information Sources

For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.

Cornwall Beach Guide ( Detailed guide to Cornwall's beaches.

Day out with the Kids ( Activity directory, searchable by region.

Visit Cornwall ( Filters attractions by age-range.

Visit Devon ( Has sub-sections on family-friendly attractions and free days out.