On a budget: free things to do with the family
Cornwall in pictures
Discover the work of artists inspired by the light and landscape of Cornwall at scores of galleries throughout the county. See some of the greats and spot the stars of the future for free at the Falmouth Art Gallery, which houses an important permanent collection of works and showcases upcoming talent and has won a Family Friendly award. And don’t miss the Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange in Penzance where there’s no charge to enjoy exhibitions of contemporary work from international and local artists. Under 18's are also free at The Tate St Ives, for the best in contemporary and modern art overlooking the beach in beautiful St Ives
You can't take it with you, but it can be lots of fun. Use stones, driftwood, shells and seaweed to create your own beach art. Maybe draw a fish in the sand, or a mermaid, and use whatever comes to hand to fil in the gaps and make your own unique piece of art - just remember to take a photo before the evidence of your labours get washed away with the tide.
Cornwall isn’t famous for its desert landscape but you do get up close to the herd of camels at Cornish Camels near St Keverne where admission is free and they have a little cafe and shop too. It’s easy to make friends of the feathered variety at Mousehole Bird Hospital where you’re welcome to visit and see the work of dedicated volunteers caring for sick and injured birds rescued from all around Cornwall.
Learn about Cornwall’s past from prehistoric archaeology to the county’s industrial triumphs at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro where there is no charge for under 18's to enjoy the fascinating artefacts. For adults it's just £5 for an annual pass. During school holidays there is always a family friendly exhibition going on where you can get hands on, dress up and have fun. You can also get a taste of the lives and times of Cornwall’s ancestors at the folk museums at St Agnes and Perranzabuloe, created and run by local people. Both are free to visit and give an intimate insight into the county’s past.
You’re totally free to explore over eight hundred acres of impressive parkland at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park* at Cremyll as you walk along the shore amongst the rare trees and plants and glimpse wild fallow deer and at Helston it won’t cost you anything to visit the Godolphin Estate*. Home to one of the most important medieval gardens in Europe, the estate contains many remarkable archaeological remains from Bronze Age enclosures to dramatic 19th-century mine buildings. There's also the Princess Pavilions at Falmouth where the wonderful period gardens have just been lovingly restored, get to the beach via a hidden tunnel or just sit and enjoy the music from the bandstand on a sunny afternoon. And don't foget the many free gardens and parks around Cornwall - great for a picnic, feeding the ducks, riding your scooter and playing hide and seek!
* admission price does apply to house and formal gardens
At Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm near Truro you’re welcome to sample some traditional food and drink, smell the simmering fruits being prepared for jam in traditional open pan kettles and watch apples being pressed to make cider and Roskilly's Farm near St Keverne invites you to find out about the country life you’ve always dreamed of. Watch the cows being milked, take a wildlife walk and feed the ducks and treat yourself to some of the delicious organic ice cream made on the farm.
Discover Cornwall’s innovative past for free at the Marconi Centre perched on the cliff at Poldu on the Lizard peninsula where, back in 1901, the first ever radio transmission was sent across the Atlantic Ocean changing the world forever. And scattered around the county are memories of the county’s industrial past, too. All over Cornwall there are designated World Heritage Sites where the silent tin and copper mines that once shaped the world’s fortunes are yours to explore. The new Heartlands centre at Pool near Camborne is a recently opened visitor attraction with a community hub, restored mining engine house, cafe, botanical gardens and huge free kids outdoor adventure playground. There are lots of free events throughout the year, check their website for details.
The landscape in Cornwall is always free of charge and there’s no better place to see it all than from the Cornish stretch of the South West Coast Path. Snaking over 300 miles up soaring cliffs, meandering along tranquil estuaries, passing vast beaches and wandering through whitewashed fishing village. Wherever your vantage point may be, Cornwall’s heritage, culture and jaw dropping scenery are vibrantly revealed.
Cornwall is full of magical stories and children will love visiting some of the legendary locations which are free for everyone discover. Explore Merlin’s mysterious cave on the beach at Tintagel. At nearby Slaughterbridge there’s an ancient stone where legend has it King Arthur fought his last battle. Visit Zennor where a mermaid lured a young chorister into the ocean and at Portreath see where Ralph the Giant once threw huge boulders out to sea to scuttle passing ships.
See chocolate being handmade at Trenance Chocolate Factory at Mullion where you’re more than welcome to sample the delicious flavours.
The Cornwall Wildlife Trust manages fifty five reserves throughout the county. Perfect locations where you can discover the diverse nature of Cornwall.