10 things to do on a rainy day in Cornwall
February 14, 2018
As much as we love wall-to-wall sunshine, Cornwall’s weather is known for being fickle. You can be in a bikini one minute, and sheltering under an umbrella the next. Perhaps that’s why wetsuits are such popular attire. When it’s raining one of the best places to be is in the ocean – seeing as you’re going to get wet anyway. But when the weather doesn’t inspire you to take the plunge into the waves, here are some of our favourite things to do on a rainy day in Cornwall.
Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay
You don’t have to get wet – or even dip a toe in the ocean – to come face-to-face with Cornwall’s marine life. Undercover at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, you can encounter the likes of sea cucumbers, spider crabs and sea turtles, in displays that take you from the craggy Cornish shores to exotic coral reefs. You can watch the giant octopus at feeding time and learn more about the sea creatures through informative talks, but the highlight is the underwater tunnel where you can eyeball stingrays, reef sharks and all sorts of colourful fish.
Tell me more: bluereefaquarium.co.uk, 01637 878134
When can I go? Daily 10am–5pm
How much? Adults £11.30, 3-12 £8.75, Family from £39.10. Online discounts available.
Eden Project, St Austell
Needing little introduction, the Eden Project is Cornwall’s megastar attraction. Take an educational trip through the natural environment inside its iconic biomes, as you wander through rainforest canopy, listen to stories in the Med and find the Kangaroo Paw plant in the Western Australian garden. Twirl around the ice rink in the winter months, discover all sorts of activities and indoor exhibits in The Core, and tuck into seasonal dishes and finger-licking ice creams. You can even hop aboard a dry carriage of the tractor train to travel up and down the quarry from the biomes to the entrance and gift shop.
Tell me more: edenproject.com, 01726 811911
When can I go? Open daily, except Christmas days and a handful of days in Jan & Feb.
How much? Adults £28.50, 5-16s £15, U4’s free, Family £75. 10% discount online. Membership from £50. Local’s passes available.
Flowrider, Retallack Resort
If you don’t fancy braving the Atlantic waves in the rain, don a wetsuit in the heated changing rooms at Retallack Resort, and learn to surf on Cornwall’s only FlowRider. Get to grips with riding the simulated wave by swooshing down the face on a bodyboard, before progressing to a stand-up board and practising your surfing skills. A fantastic family activity whatever the weather, you can surf year-round and even hit the waves by night under floodlight.
Tell me more: ariaresorts.co.uk,
When can I go? Year-round
How much? Sessions are £25pp and riders must be over 107cm tall.
Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Porthcurno
Once the largest telegraph station in the world, it was here at Porthcurno that the first undersea cable was laid in 1870. Explore WWII tunnels, follow quiz trails and enjoy hands-on exhibits that introduce you to Cornwall’s fascinating history at the centre of the communications revolution. Discover the science behind telegraph communication, find out about the people who put the ideas into production, and how this tiny place changed the world forever. Footsteps from Porthcurno beach, you can also dash out onto the pearly sands between rain showers, and also make sure you visit the nearby Minack Theatre.
Tell me more: telegraphmuseum.org, 01736 810966
When can I go? Open daily 1 April–1 Nov; Sat–Mon 2 Nov–27 Mar.
How much? Adults £9, U18s £5.50, U5’s free. Family Pass £26.
Carnglaze Cavern, Liskeard
Take a self-guided underground tour of this former slate mine and discover three huge caverns and the shimmering turquoise waters of a stunning subterranean lake. History and adventure are firmly undercover as you burrow 1500-metres into the hillside and 60-metres below ground level, into these fascinating caverns on the edge of Bodmin Moor. You’ll find out how miners used their ingenuity and skills to mine slate from the heart of the caverns, and at the end of the tour you can take some memorable family photos with a backdrop to the magical emerald lake.
Tell me more: carnglaze.com, 01579 320251
When can I go? Open daily except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
How much? Adults from £7, 3-15’s £5, family from £20.
National Maritime Museum, Falmouth
One of Cornwall’s most popular rainy day attractions, here you can shelter from the rain while immersing yourself in the maritime scene and getting a hands-on experience of the county’s nautical lifestyle. Experience oceanic adventures while keeping your feet on dry land: take the helm of a model sailing boat, checkout the underwater gallery and witness a magnificent array of exhibitions and interactive displays including an exploration into the sinking of the Titanic. In the heart of Falmouth – home to the world’s third deepest harbour – there’s no better place to lap up the maritime heritage of Cornwall and beyond.
Tell me more: nmmc.co.uk, 01326 313388
When can I go? Open daily 10am-5pm, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
How much? Adults £13.95, U18s £6.50, U5s free. Pay once, get in free for a year. 10% discount online.
Bodmin Jail, Bodmin
From the execution pit to the cells, find out what life was like behind bars in years gone by. Both educational and eerie, this fascinating granite jail, built by the prisoners themselves, stands as testament to Cornwall’s penal life. Follow a tour through six levels of this historical building, experiencing the sights, sounds and even the smells of life in jail. If you’re brave enough to enter one of Cornwall’s most haunted buildings after dark, book a ghost tour or a seat for a scary movie night.
Tell me more: bodminjail.org, 01208 76292
When can I go? Open daily except Christmas Day.
How much? Adults £10, 5-15s £7.50, U5s free. Families £32.
Poldark Mine, Helston
One way to avoid the rain is to step into the shoes of a miner and head underground. Much of Cornwall’s historic mining territory has become a designated World Heritage Site, and at Poldark Mine you can burrow underground for a guided tour. Go back in time to the 18th century, as you venture through several levels of the Wheal Roots Tin Mine – a prosperous mine in the 1700s. As well as learning all about Cornwall’s mining history from a unique perspective, you will also be stepping foot into one of the iconic locations that stars in the recent BBC adaptation of Poldark.
Tell me more: poldarkmine.org.uk, 01326 573173
When can I go? Weds– Sat, Apr– Oct
How much? Adults from £19.60, kids £6.60-£14.60. No U4s on the tour.
Tate St Ives, St Ives
One of our favourite rainy days out starts with a scenic train ride from St Erth to St Ives. Once you’ve soaked up the eye-popping sea views that have lured so many artists to this fishing village since the 19th century, disembark beside Porthminster Beach head to the Tate St Ives. Just standing in the entrance and listening to the waves echo on the doorstep, or sitting in the top floor café enjoying the coastal views, is a sensory experience. Not to mention the three floors of art exhibitions (often associated with Cornwall and the coastal environment) as well as family trails and activities that encourage all ages to enjoy a hands-on art experience
Tell me more: tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives
When can I go? Daily – check website for summer/ winter hours
How much? Adults from £9.50, U18s free. Local’s pass £5.
Lizard Lighthouse, Lizard Peninsula
Step foot on the tip of Lizard Peninsula and you’re on the most southerly point of mainland Britain – and while there’s no doubt the UK’s southerly point serves up whopping amounts of landscape drama, in the rain you won’t want to stand there and lap it up for long. However, dive under cover in the heritage centre at Lizard Lighthouse and you can enjoy much more than the incredible scenery from the top of the tower. Sound a foghorn, track ships and learn Morse code, as you play lighthouse keeper in this stunning landmark that has been beaming ships to safety for over 250 years.
Tell me more: trinityhouse.co.uk/, 01326 290202
When can I go? Check website for seasonal opening hours
How much? Adults £8.50, U16s £5.50 for the lighthouse tour.