So, you’ve woken up on holiday, opened the curtains and it’s pouring with rain.
But don’t despair – rain needn’t stop play. Whilst a day at the beach or a walk along the coastal path may have to wait until tomorrow there are still lots of great places to visit.
Below we’ve got for you 24 brilliant ideas for things to do in Cornwall in the rain. Wet weather activities for couples and families, with or without dogs. And that’s just in our corner of the Duchy – there are plenty more further afield.
So, no excuses. Come out from under that duvet, grab your cagoule and make the most of your holiday in Cornwall.
Things to Do In Cornwall In The Rain
Great for all ages, take a trip on a heritage steam train and enjoy watching the verdant Cornish countryside whizz past the window from the shelter of your warm dry carriage. If the weather improves, alight at Boscarne Junction on the Camel Trail. From here it’s a short walk to the award-winning Camel Valley Vineyard, the pretty Camel Trail Tea Garden and the next of our rainy day ideas, Bodmin Jail.
Perfect for a rainy day, the 90 minute Bodmin Jail Experience takes place entirely indoors. The Dark Walk uses theatrical effects to transport you to life as an inmate of a creepy 18th century prison on windswept Bodmin Moor and includes the only working execution pit in the UK. It’s chilly in this hulk of a granite building so dress accordingly and, owing to the nature of the exhibition, it’s only suitable for children over the age of about 10 and with a robust constitution!
Staying in the Bodmin area, Cornwall’s Army Museum is again indoors and fascinating for young and old alike. Displaying a diverse collection of over 12,000 items from the 18th century to the present day, that includes weaponry, uniforms, Victoria Crosses and even a piece of the Berlin Wall.
Head for the famous Cornish Alps (which you can see from Tredarrup), which are actually the spoils from 200 years of Cornwall’s china clay industry and discover Cornwall’s largest mining industry and just how it shapes our lives today – did you know china clay is in car tyres? And toothpaste? No, me neither. Wheal Martyn’s indoor discovery area is ideal for rainy days, where you can follow a virtual tour into a working clay pit and enjoy film footage and interactive exhibits. There’s a cafe on site and, during the holidays, lots of entertainment for the kids. And, if there’s a break in the weather, head outside to explore the 26 acres of claypits and woodland trails.
Escape the showers and dive into the world of lobsters at this fascinating marine conservation centre in Padstow, where each year they hatch and release tens of thousands of little lobsters. Meet the tiny baby hatchlings and other beasties, including the colossal Captain Barnacles, and learn about their pioneering conservation work to protect this valuable species.
Probably the best time to visit this infamously atmospheric inn on the moor is on a wild, wet and windy day. As well as the pub and restaurant there’s a smuggling museum housing a fine collection of wrecking and smuggling artefacts and a film show that brings the history to life. The Daphne Du Maurier museum next door has 3 rooms of personal effects from the author of Jamaica Inn, Rebecca and Frenchman’s Creek and The Birds. Jamaica Inn is best described as quirky but it’s well worth a visit and is ideal for a rainy day.
Take a self-guided tour 150m into the hillside and 60m below ground to discover this amazing cave system near Liskeard, created by miners over 300 years ago. You’ll be armed with a safety helmet, a torch and a route plan and there are plenty of information points and display items along the way to keep you informed. The first chamber is at ground level and fully accessible before you descend the 60 steps to the lower caverns to discover the crystal clear bluey-green waters of the underground lagoon. The temperature is a cool 10ºC so wear warm clothing and some decent footwear. As a wet weather activity, you’ll need to keep an eye on the weather forecast and book the evening before as there are no same-day tickets.
On the outskirts of St Austell, the brewery visitor centre is open Monday to Saturday. See the beer being brewed, enjoy a sampling session, take a tour of the museum or just enjoy a pint or two of their legendary ales in the bar and restaurant. Rain? What rain?
Rainy days are no problem at this owl sanctuary near Wadebridge – flying displays are held indoors in the barn in wet weather. There are also talks and handling sessions available. Whilst the owls are undoubtedly the stars here, there are also meerkats, wallabies, alpacas, emus, raccoons and more to meet. And for the little ones there’s even an indoor play area.
If the forecast is for showers rather than full-on wet weather then head for this family theme park near Wadebridge. Although the rides are outside, there’s an enormous indoor play centre and cafe that you can nip in and out of as the weather dictates.
If you’re going to get wet then you may as well do it thoroughly. Retallack is home to Cornwall’s only Flow-Rider, where you can surf (or learn to surf) the perfect wave all year round. There are bodyboarding sessions for the kids too. All equipment is provided.
This incredibly wonky medieval building is over 600 years old and now owned and run by the National Trust. Book into a history talk to learn more about how the house has evolved over the centuries and, if the rain stops, step outside into the pretty cottage garden.
On a miserable wet day take time to wander around this magnificent National Trust property near Bodmin. Explore the enviable Victorian kitchens before heading upstairs to see how the other half lived in the 19th Century. And, if it’s still raining when you emerge, there are two lovely cafes to choose from where you can enjoy a famous National Trust cream tea or a traditional Oggy. The second hand bookshop is a must too. If you’ve a raincoat and brolly to hand do head out and enjoy the formal gardens and 900 acres of magnificent parkland.
Another historic house, Pencarrow lies between Bodmin and Wadebridge and is a lovely place to while away a couple of hours whilst you wait for the weather to cheer up. The Molesworth-St Aubyn family have lived here for over 500 years and the mostly Georgian mansion is packed with art and antiques. You may recognise it from Doc Martin or a Rosamunde Pilcher film or two. There’s a cafe to linger in and, if the rain stops, then a walk around the magnificent gardens is a must.
With over 40 habitats and a glass tunnel running under the ocean tank, you can get up close to some amazing sealife, including sharks, rays, octopus, pufferfish and much more!
Rain definitely doesn’t stop play at this all weather attraction near Bude, offering ten-pin bowling and four floors of soft play. There’s a snack bar too with a games area if you fancy a game of pool and some pizza.
This quirky little museum in the pretty harbour village of Boscastle is one for adults and teens only, with exhibitions exploring magical practice in Britain from ancient times until the present day. There are numerous cafes along the harbour where you can enjoy a spot of lunch and take shelter from the weather afterwards.
After a welcome gin and tonic, learn all about the history of this small craft distillery near Wadebridge. Enjoy a botanical masterclass and a guided tour followed by the all-important tasting session. You can even wax your own bottle to take home. Book a taxi for this one!
Fancy a challenge? This indoor climbing gym is the perfect place to escape the weather with a spot of bouldering or rope climbing. There are some nicely challenging routes for experienced climbers but also taster sessions for those that have never tried it before and all equipment is available to hire. And you don’t need to be a gym bunny – it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
The beautiful harbour village of Charlestown on the south coast is home to this fascinating museum that’s perfect whatever the British weather throws at you. With over 8000 finds from more than 150 shipwrecks there’s plenty to explore on a rainy day. New for 2022 is the Shackleton experience – explore the icy tunnels under the museum and delve into the world of early polar explorers. When you finally emerge into Charlestown you’ll find shops, cafes and restaurants lining the harbour with its tall ships, which you may recognise from Poldark.
An amazing visitor attraction near St Austell exploring the natural world and our reliance on it. The warm, dry biomes ought to make it the ideal wet weather activity but be warned: on a rainy day every other person in Cornwall will have had the same bright idea and, from May to September, it can get very busy indeed. But if you’re visiting out of season then it’s a fantastic place to spend a wet afternoon.
Treat yourselves to an indulgent high tea at the Harbour Hotel, an imposing Victorian building perched above Padstow and with gorgeous views over the Camel Estuary. Enjoy freshly baked scones, jam and clotted cream (jam first please, you’re in Cornwall), finger sandwiches and a selection of dainty cakes. As well as the usual tea and coffee, you can opt for a glass of Prosecco or champagne, turning a rainy afternoon into a special occasion to remember. A great alternative would be the Scarlet Hotel at Mawgan Porth, whilst for families there’s the gorgeous Woods Cafe in Cardinham Woods near Bodmin and, for a cracking sea view, Boscastle Farm Shop.
Go wild on a huge inflatable floating playground at this total wipe-out style aqua park near Liskeard – ideal for ages 6 and over. Wetsuits are provided and when you’re splashing around you really won’t notice the weather.
This charming little independent cinema in Wadebridge dates from the 1930s. There are two digital screens showing the latest blockbusters as well as live screenings from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House. Just add popcorn for a perfect rainy afternoon.