As with anywhere in the UK, you’re not always guaranteed sunny weather even in the Summer. Don’t despair if the forecast is grey and drizzly during your time in Cornwall, however, as there are still plenty of things to do. If the rain does hit then stow away your sun cream and beach towels and explore the incredible things this beautiful part of the country has to offer. From heritage sites steeped in history, to unbeatable gastronomic experiences, we have compiled a list of the best things to do on a rainy day in Cornwall.
1. Take a Trip on a Steam Train
Travel back in time on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway and experience Cornwall in a completely different light. This 13 mile round trip will take you through the Cornish countryside, with a plethora of things to spot along the way. This is a leisurely journey, taken in one of the steam trains heritage carriages, where you can get off and explore one of the many fascinating stops.
The trains operate between Bodmin Parkway Station and Boscarne Junction all year round, with daily trips between June and September. Dogs are allowed to travel free, as long as you keep them away from the delectable buffet cars! The trains are easily accessible for those in wheelchairs, although some of the stations may be difficult to navigate.
2. Eden Project
One of the top attractions in Cornwall, the Eden Project is the perfect place to visit on a rainy day. Within the numerous biomes you can see the world’s largest indoor rainforest, make your way through the olives trees in the Mediterranean garden, or explore the secret corners of a traditional Cornish allotment. There’s also an incredible hands-on learning experience to be had at the education centre, which is suitable for all ages.
Try to schedule your visit around one of the many events the Eden Project put on; from ice-skating to gigs and exhibitions. Many of the events do cost extra, so check the website before heading over. Discounts are given to those who walk, cycle or take public transport, so buy your ticket on the door if this applies to you. Dogs are welcome at no extra charge, as long as they remain in the outdoor gardens. The Eden Project has won an award for their accessibility, so those with limited mobility or wheelchair users will be able to enjoy all parts of the attraction too.
3. A Day at the Gallery
Cornwall is a popular destination for artists, which means there are plenty of galleries for you to enjoy when the weather is grizzly. One of the most famous is the Tate in St Ives, which plays host to dozens of exciting exhibitions every year. There are no permanent displays here, as they change on a regular basis, so you can visit time and time again to see something different.
Other must-sees include the Falmouth Art Gallery, Beside the Wave, Porthminster Gallery and Waterside Gallery. All of the galleries are free to enter and are easily accessible for those in wheelchairs. This is not a day out for pets however, as dogs are not allowed inside the galleries.
4. Go Surfing
What do you mean go surfing in the rain? Well, if you’re going to get wet anyway why not embrace it! Surfing is such a popular activity in Cornwall that you’ll see plenty of people hitting the beach, even when the weather is miserable. By the time you’re decked out in your wetsuit you’ll hardly even notice the weather anyway. There are plenty of beaches to pick from, many of which have surf schools. Some of our favourites include:
- Fistral Beach
- Watergate Bay
- Gwithian Beach
- Sennen Cove
Not all of these beaches are easily accessible or dog friendly throughout the year, so make sure you check before making the trip.
5. Kayaking and Canoeing
If you’re not quite brave enough to take on the waves at Cornwall’s popular surfing beaches, how about cruising along the rivers and creeks instead? Two of the most popular destinations for a kayak or canoe tour are Fowey River and the Tamar River. These escorted excursions will take you through the beautiful Cornish countryside, allowing you to get up close with all of the local wildlife. Whilst you are likely to have a more enjoyable day if the sun shines, there is so much to see and do on the excursions that you will hardly notice the weather.
Grab your canoe or kayak from either the Tamar Trails Centre or Fowey River Expeditions, both of which welcome beginners. Don’t let a bit of rain get in your way, as these expeditions run throughout most of the year come rain or shine! Find out more about these excursions in South Cornwall.
6. Gastronomic Experiences
If you’re looking for something a bit more upmarket than crab sandwiches (not that there’s anything wrong with those!), then head to Padstow. The home of famous chef Rick Stein, this beautiful harbour town is packed with exquisite restaurants to tantalise your taste buds. One of the most renowned restaurants in Padstow is Paul Ainsworth at No. 6, which is an excellent destination for a romantic dinner.
You can enjoy seafood at its freshest here, whether it be in one of the many local restaurants or purchased from the habourside and cooked up in the privacy of your cottage. There’s nothing like a seafood supper caught fresh that day or a lobster BBQ, so make sure you take part in this incredible Cornish gastronomic experience.
7. Bodmin Jail
If you want to stay out of the rain and enjoy something spooky, then take a trip to Bodmin Jail. Entrance to the grounds, bar and restaurant are free, so this is an excellent way to save money during your holiday in Cornwall, too. If you want to experience the inside of the jail, which is a rather spine-tingling trip, then there’s an admission charge; from £5.50 for a child’s ticket.
This historic attraction is a great place to while away the day, with plenty of events happening during busy times as well. If you’re feeling a little more daring then you can visit Bodmin Jail at night, when one of their Overnight Ghost Walks takes place. Dogs are allowed in and around the jail, but not near the restaurant or bar areas. Due to the constraints of the building, no wheelchairs will be able to access the jail.
8. Shipwreck and Heritage Centre at Charlestown
There’s fun for the whole family at the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre at Charlestown; with a wide range of things to do and see, including the fascinating story of the Titanic! Here you’ll find artefacts from over 150 shipwrecks, along with historical facts, tours and photographs to browse through. You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, as it caters for all tastes and interests. There’s even a Kids I-Spy Trail and colouring sheets.
Make sure you check out one of the showings at the Audio Visual Centre, for a fascinating insight into the Charlestown Harbour and the clay industry that once thrived here. Children under 10 go free when accompanied by a paying adult, plus there are concessions for students and the disabled. This is an accessible building, which makes it easy for everyone to enjoy all of the exhibitions.
9. Learn About Cornwall’s Mining Heritage
Cornwall has a rich and varied mining heritage, which has led to many attractions and museums springing up all over the county. One of the best places to visit, in order to learn more about this unique way of life, is the award winning Geevor Tin Mine Museum. Standing as a gateway to the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, within the museum are plenty of hands-on experiences for you and the whole family to play around with.
Be dazzled by the incredible machinery of yesteryear, enjoy some interactive fun at the Hard Rock museum and even go underground into the 19th century mine. You and the children can have a go at gold and gem panning, where you get to keep what you find (be lucky!). This is truly a fantastic day for everyone, so make sure you take a trip when the weather is grey. Much of the museum is accessible for those in a wheelchair, however the underground mine and some of the rough terrain may be difficult to navigate.
10. Lanhydrock House
This is the type of attraction you would want to visit, come rain or shine, however it’s perfect if you want to stay sheltered for the day. With over 50 rooms to explore, Lanhydrock House can keep the whole family entertained for hours. You can take a leisurely stroll through this National Trust building, or get more hands on and try servants’ work.
If the sun does decide to come out then make sure you take a wander through the beautiful gardens and exquisite estate that surrounds this atmospheric house. There are also woodland cycle trails nearby, which are perfect for adventure lovers. Dogs are welcome in the park and wooded areas, as long as they are on leads. The building itself is also easily accessible for those in wheelchairs, with single-seater PMVs available for the gardens.
Whoever tells you that Cornwall is no fun when the sun isn’t shining, obviously hasn’t tried out any of these attractions. This is just a small selection of the many things you can see and do on a rainy day, with plenty more museums, dining experiences and activities we just haven’t had the time to mention. If the sun goes in and it rains when you are on holiday, don’t moan about it, make the most of it!