A Holiday Guide to Cornwall and Devon

Ed Maughan
Ed Maughan

Family’s flock to Cornwall and Devon, surfers’ find themselves in paradise and artists’ find unlimited sources of inspiration. Cornwall and Devon have some of the UK’s most beautiful coastline views and unspoilt beaches, with moors and castles to explore and some truly wonderful attractions for family day’s out. They are also renowned for their wholesome, good food and seafood restaurants, not to mention the cream teas and fudge.

We have carefully selected a list of things to do in the area; from eating, sightseeing, relaxing, and places to stay.

Cornwall & Devon Beaches

Some of the most popular beaches are found in Newquay and St Ives in Cornwall, and Salcombe and Torquay in Devon. Whether you want to surf or dip your toes in the water, go rock pooling or simply curl up with a good book, you will be sure to find your perfect spot.

South Sands Beach – Salcombe, Devon

This pretty cove is found at the Kingsbury Estuary in Salcombe. The sandy beach is the perfect family holiday destination with a plethora of watersport activities, including canoeing, surfing, sailing and diving. If you fancy a scenic detour, take yourself on a 3-mile walk to the Bolt Head, where you will experience some breathtaking Salcombe scenery. There is a shuttle service from the beach to Whitestrand Bay, a cafe for light refreshments, with disabled access, and an on-site car park. South Sands is a dog friendly beach, and has been awarded by the Marine Conservation Society.

Meadfoot Beach – Torquay, Devon

This small and serene beach offers both sand and shingle cliffs. The promenade is lined with colourful beach chalets, capturing a quintessential part of the English Riviera. Meadfoot is a beautiful and safe place to go swimming, with some stunning views towards Brixham. There is also the opportunity to hire watersports equipment, with shower facilities available too. There is a cafe for refreshments, deckchairs, disabled access and a car park.

Porthminster Beach – Padstow, Cornwall

Porthminster Beach is a firm favourite amongst locals and tourists alike. The beach is family friendly, known for its safe swimming, and has an 18 hole golf course if you fancy a break from your deckchair. Porthminster is also dog friendly (with the exception of a dog ban from the week before Easter to 30th September). Should you get hungry, the Porthminster Beach Cafe is a stone’s throw away, an award winning restaurant which has been featured in the Good Food Guide year after year. This sandy haven also has incredible views of Godrvey Lighthouse, which inspired Virginia Wolf’s book, ‘To The Lighthouse’.

Perranporth Beach (Perran Sands) – Newquay, Cornwall

Also known as Perran Sands, Perranporth Beach is one of Cornwall’s most popular beaches. With a reputation for fantastic surfing, snorkelling and sailing, it is also the perfect setting to relax in a deckchair and take in views of the picturesque sand dunes, and resident wildlife. If you want to stretch your legs there’s a 2-mile walk to Ligger Point, once the tide has gone out, or perhaps you’d like a dip in the bathing pool at Chapel Rock. The Watering Hole is a lovely beach cafe which is open during holiday seasons, so make sure to pack a picnic for the family if you do go in off-season.

Things to do and see in Cornwall & Devon

Cornwall offers some fantastic days out, and whether you are planning to experience some local history at one of the castle’s, galleries or museum’s, or if you want to visit some of their iconic attractions, there is something for everyone, including the dog!

The Eden Project

The Eden Project is a fantastic experience for the family. Try to set aside an entire day to visit this stunning attraction. You will be educated on the spellbinding relationship between plants and humans, and learn about the Eden Project’s goals for a sustainable future. Truly an experience not to be missed. As well as the beautiful Mediterranean and Rainforest Biomes, which house the world’s largest indoor jungles and waterfalls, you will experience the stunning architecture, perfect gardens and artwork, as well as educational demonstrations. Not to mention the plethora of economical and fair-trade restaurants and cafes, for a hassle-free, highly enjoyable day out.

Minack Theatre

Penzance is home to Cornwall’s world famous, open-air theatre. The first performance took place in 1932 and since then, The Minack Theatre has grown into a venue that shows some of the finest amateur and professional productions in the South West of England. The surrounding Minack Gardens have achieved national acclaim, stretching over an acre of land, and features plants from all over the world. If you plan to visit, make sure you check the production schedule and secure your tickets in advance. The theatre’s gift shop and cafe remains open all year round. This is an experience not to be missed, and can be enjoyed by all the family. Time for a three generation family holiday?

Devon has all the necessary ingredients to make the perfect holiday: stunning countryside and coastline views, beautiful ancient ruins or perfect if you want a more action packed short break. Devon has got it all, so make sure you take advantage of what this wonderful place has to offer. We have selected some of our favourite things to do below:

Exeter Cathedral

Dating back 900 years, Exeter Cathedral is one of the most beautiful, medieval cathedrals in England. There are daily services, and most evenings at 17.30 the Cathedral Choir perform Evensong, which welcomes everyone and is free to attend. February 2016 saw the beginning of the Cathedral’s Big Lego Build. The aim of the project is to build a to-scale size model of the Cathedral from lego bricks. You can even get the family involved by donating from just £1, which buys you your own Lego brick to add to the model. Time for tea? Visit the cafe for a traditional Devon cream tea, or have a browse in the gift shop. Don’t forget your camera!

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park

Paignton Zoo is one of the UK’s best zoo’s, with over 2000 animals spread over 80 acres of lush land. There is so much to do here, you will want to carefully plan your day out. A real highlight are the animal experiences, including a breakfast with baboons and a picnic with pelicans. Each experience is overseen by professional keepers, providing a fantastic and interactive way for kids to learn about the animals and their surroundings. Take the Jungle Express train for an exclusive look at the lions, tigers and gorillas. This service runs from Easter to October. When you need to refuel, there are plenty of food choices from pizza and burgers, to coffee and ice cream. The zoo have recently developed an interactive app, which makes it easy to navigate your way around. They really have thought of everything.

Places to eat in Cornwall & Devon

Cornwall is best known for its seafood, quirky beach cafes and of course, the infamous Cornish pasty.

The Seafood Restaurant

Rick Stein opened the doors to The Seafood Restaurant in 1975. Famous for serving up freshly caught fish from Padstow’s local fisherman, this restaurant is a must-visit. The head chef, Stephane Delourme, recently won the Trencherman’s Best Chef 2017 award. The seafood bar requires no reservation, and you can watch in wonder as the chefs create oyster, shellfish and sashimi platters. If you fancy trying something a little different, there is even a cookery course where you will learn some crucial culinary techniques and how to cook the latest dishes from Rick Stein’s new book.

Kota Kota

Kota Kota is an Asian fusion restaurant which creates intricate, flavourful dishes using Cornwall’s finest local produce. The founder and chef, Jude Kereama, has appeared on The Great British Menu, representing the South West, as well achieving critical acclaim from the Trencherman’s Guide, The Good Food Guide and winning multiple awards from The Michelin Guide and The AA. The restaurant is situated close to Porthleven, a beautiful shingle beach, where you could take an evening stroll and watch the sunset before sampling an unforgettable feast. If you want the seafood platter, make sure you order 24 hours in advance.

Devon is home to some of the finest fish and chips, cream teas and Michelin-starred restaurants.

Gidleigh Park

Gidleigh Park holds two Michelin stars. A hotel and restaurant, set in 107 acres of stunning woodland inside an earthy Tudor-style country house. The restaurant prides itself on technical, modern cuisine, with razor-sharp precision. Gidleigh’s kitchen garden provides deliciously fresh herbs and vegetables, and the extensive wine list, taking up a whopping 50 pages, gives you the opportunity to explore a vast range of Bio Dynamic, European and New World wines. Open from Monday-Sunday, as well as offering afternoon tea, this is a real treat.

River Cottage

HQ TV Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s restaurant is a restaurant with a twist. This is not your regular sit-down meal, but a stunning dining experience. Choose a Friday Night with just 18 people, or a Farmhouse Lunch or Dinner with up to 64 guests. These four-course menu events start with canapes and drinks and finish with petit fours. Each course comes with detailed explanations from the chef, who provides a story behind the dishes and ingredients used. You need to book this well in advance, so make sure you plan accordingly and set aside the weekend to experience this unforgettable place.

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