From the salt-soaked coast to the rugged moors and dappled woodlands, there’s one thing we know with absolute certainty: Cornwall is stunning whatever the weather. Whether it’s a light dusting of mizzle that sets the grass aglow or a spectacular storm that batters the cliffs in an impressive display of might, we love every weathered moment in Cornwall.
Naturally a change in the forecast can result in a change of plans, so we thought we would put together a list of fun rainy-day activities in Cornwall you can choose from when the weather turns, whether you fancy learning something new or embracing the wet completely and embarking on an off-road adventure under the protective cover of a Cornish canopy.
Ready to make the most of a rainy day in Cornwall? Here are some of our favourite things to do come rain or shine…
Surrounded as we are on three sides by water, it’s little wonder that the seascape has played such a huge part in Cornish culture. From the height of mackerel fishing, through to the famous docks at Falmouth and the piratical exploits of days gone by, it’s all recorded at the National Maritime Museum. Featuring permanent exhibitions charting the role of the maritime industry, alongside a schedule of intriguing guest exhibitions and lots of child friendly activities, there’s a veritable storm of fascinating maritime intrigues to explore here.
Is there a better feeling than embracing the wondrous weather and splashing your way through a Cornish wood? Whether you fancy striding or riding through the dappled delights of Cardinham Woods in North Cornwall, you’re in for a green-topped treat here. A selection of trails and routes wind their way through the trees, which are surrounded by bluebells in the spring. We recommend pulling on the wellies and wet-weather gear and heading out for a marvellously muddy adventure through glade and copse, discovering the secrets of Cardinham as you go. Top tip: dog-friendly Woods Café sits happily in the heart of the woodland and welcomes muddy boots and paws – oh, and they have a hot chocolate that’s to die for!
Swap the rain for a rainforest at the Eden Project, Cornwall’s incredible adventure into the natural world. With two biomes – one tropical and one showcasing the balmy delights of the Mediterranean – the Eden Project offers a fascinating escape from the rain. Discover a myriad of botanical delights throughout both biomes and the surrounding tiered gardens before stopping off in one of the many eateries for some top-notch grub – we particularly recommend sitting down to a sumptuous meal in the Mediterranean biome, which instantly transports you to the slopes of Greece. They often run fun and interactive activities for kids during the school holidays, while Christmas sees the biomes lit up like disco balls and the ice rink offering undercover fun for all ages.
Giving us pasties and an engine-house speckled landscape, Cornwall’s mining heritage is a key player in the moulding of the county. You may have spent many a day walking amongst the stately old tin mines, but there’s no better way to get a deeper understanding of Cornwall’s past than heading underground. A subterranean tour of Geevor Tin Mine takes you back to the world of 18th Century Cornish Mining, all while providing a bit of shelter from any inclement weather. The Hard Rock Museum is a fascinating visit, providing an in depth look at Cornwall’s mining heritage, while kids will love having a go at mineral panning – they can even keep what they find!
Here in Cornwall, it’s common to see people resolutely setting up camp on the beach in the wind and drizzle, and to see them stepping outside wearing flip flops and shorts come rain or shine. This also means we are a county that eats ice cream whatever the weather – even if it’s bucketing down! If you find you need a bit of respite from the rain, but still fancy a scoop of the Cornish good stuff, Callestick Farm has you well (and literally) covered. Famous for its top-quality ice cream, the farm is where it all happens, from cow to cone. There’s a little café on site, where you can taste your way through the many award-winning flavours.
When the rain clouds appear, there’s no better way to stay dry than heading underwater thanks to the oceanic delights of Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay. Home to a colourful array of sea life, you’ll come face to face with some of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures, from sharks to tropical fish. The underwater tunnel is particularly mind boggling as it allows you to walk beneath the oceanic critters – have you ever seen the belly of a reef shark? Dive into the magical world that hides underwater, including Cornish waters, tropical rivers, and the vibrant cold and warm seas. You can even visit the nursery to see which creatures are about to make their home here. You’ll find an on-site café and gift shop, so you can fill up on tasty treats and fun mementos from your visit.
This fabulously eerie rainy day attraction is a family favourite in Cornwall, with plenty of creepy corners to explore. Guided tours offer an in depth look at the harrowing history, which covers everything from ghost stories to life as a prisoner at Bodmin Jail, while the immersive Dark Walk experience gives you the chance to explore the fascinating buildings yourself. If you love a spooky story, Bodmin Jail also features plenty of paranormal experiences, with ghost hunting and cinema nights providing a pretty spooktacular line-up of events. There’s a bistro-style restaurant at the jail, or you can continue your dramatic adventure with a visit to the nearby Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor, which boasts some ghouls and ghosts of its own.
One of the most iconic art galleries in Cornwall, the Tate provides a wonderfully cultured escape from the elements. A rolling calendar of incredible exhibits ensures there’s always something new to discover, while the kids will love the variety of activities that take place, including multi-sensory sessions and crafty workshops. You’ll find a wide variety of installations, which cover everything from local artists to contemporary works. We also recommend enjoying a stroll around the cobbled streets of St Ives, where many other art galleries wait to enlighten and inspire – not to mention the drool-worthy selection of eateries that call the seaside town home.
In the mood for a spot of friendly competition? With a classic nine pin skittle alley and a games room full of opportunities to test your skill and hand-eye coordination, this family-friendly attraction has everything you need for a fun day out. You can take turns on one lane or take over all four in the skittles alley, which is perfect for large groups, or you can get stuck into a round of pool or a table-top board game. You’ll also find a great restaurant here that serves up everything from sizzling steaks to fish and chips.
One of the best ways to spend a rainy day in Cornwall is to soak up the rich heritage and history that permeates our beloved county, from the mines that punctuate the landscape to the artwork that depicts our histories so perfectly. At the Royal Cornwall Museum, you can stroll through a rolling collection of exhibits, which detail the many twists and turns of Cornwall’s past, including mining, clothing, and even rebellions. Entry is free for children, and guided tours provide an extra layer of insight into the exhibitions.
Something a little different
These might not be your usual rainy day attractions, but these fun-filled activities are a great way to spend a gloriously wet day in Cornwall…
Settle into a Cornish pub
Sheltering folks for as long as we can remember, Cornwall’s cosy collection of pubs is the ultimate way to get out of the rain. Whether it’s at the end of a blustery walk or you’re heading into the warm and welcoming inn for a slap-up Sunday roast, Cornwall’s pubs are the place to be when the clouds empty. We recommend taking a pack of cards and whiling away an afternoon by a roaring fire with a pint by your side – it’s a soul-warming activity you just can’t beat.
Get out on the coast path
Cornwall’s coast is stunning 365 days a year. We’re particularly partial to a rainy day visit as the moody skies turn the coast into a fabulously atmospheric scene you just want to sit down and paint. And with such a variety of waterproof clothing and footwear out there, it’s never been easier to embark on a wonderfully wet trek across the cliffs. Plus, the feeling of returning home and climbing into warm pyjamas with a hot chocolate is second to none, especially if your holiday cottage has a wood-burner you can curl up next to.
Get in the sea
We see the rain, and raise you a sea swim! Oh yes, our favourite way to enjoy a rainy day in Cornwall is to embrace the wet completely and jump straight in the sea. It’s such a uniquely freeing experience, and with so many beautiful beaches to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to a drizzly dip. You can always warm up in one of Cornwall’s well-placed beach cafés afterwards for an extra treat.
Cosy on down in your cottage
Sometimes the best way to enjoy a rainy day is from the comfort of your home-from-home. Choose between cottages that boast warming wood-burners, bubbling hot tubs (for a rather special DIY spa day), and sea views, and find a cottage you can’t wait to curl up in. All you need is a good book, a mug of something steamy, and you’re set for a deliciously cosy day indoors with the sound of rain pattering on the windows.
Excited to experience Cornwall whatever the weather? Explore our cosy cottages and find the perfect place for your Cornish adventure.