Cornwall is such a great mix of rustic, undiscovered natural beauty and delightful villages to explore. Padstow is one of the prettiest and a great place for a family holiday. Located on the North Cornish coast you can read about other places to visit on the route from Newquay to Tintagel here. If you’re wondering what to do in Padstow with kids, check out these recommendations.
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The best things to do in Padstow
Wander the Village
Cornish villages were just made for mooching. And Padstow is one of the best. The delightful alleyways, quaint shops and pretty harbour mean you could spend a full morning exploring and taking pics for your Instagram account. One of the best things to do in Padstow is a quiet amble through the streets. This probably isn’t going to keep the kids happy for too long. But throw in an ice cream and you’ll probably get a good hour of sightseeing.
Take in some views of the Camel Estuary
Walk up to the World War One war memorial at St Saviour’s point for some of the best views of the sand banks in the Camel Estuary. Although a little steep it’s a fairly easy walk even for little legs and should only take you around ten minutes.
Most days this part of Padstow is a little quieter so it’s a good place to escape the crowds.
Visit the Lobster Hatchery, Padstow
This place will fascinate all ages and is absolutely one of the best things to do in Padstow with kids. It takes you through the whole life cycle of local lobsters and its economic and social importance to the area. You’ll get to see some tiny baby lobsters and even adopt your own which you can track online when you get home. The National Lobster Hatchery is great value to visit, just £11.50 for a family of four.
Indulge in Rick Steins Seafood
Padstow is still a working fishing port so where better to get the freshest catch of the day. In recent years celebrity chef Rick Stein has opened many branded restaurants, cafes and shops. Most of them revolve around the delicious seafood from the local area.
Many have complained about the evolution of “Padstein”, meaning an increase in rates and an almost overtaking of this once quiet town. It’s definitely put Padstow on the map as one of the foodie capitals of the UK. Whilst the food comes with a premium price point it is absolutely delicious and I think he’s done a great job with all the eateries.
Rick Steins main restaurant The Seafood Restaurant has been here since 1975 and is by far the poshest. We didn’t visit on this trip but when we did a few years ago (as a treat for my 30th!) it was one of my favourite meals of the whole holiday. The set lunch menu starts at £42.95 for 3 courses and the kids menu is 14.95. Children must be 3 and over to visit
Other Rick Stein owned venues in Padstow include the Seafood bar and Fishmongers, Rick Steins Café, Ruby’s bar (over 18s only), Steins Fish & Chips, a couple of hotels and even a cookery school. You can see where the moniker Padstein comes from!
If you fancy eating out of the monopoly then Padstow has plenty of other great pubs and restaurants to choose from. For a simple fish supper, I highly recommend Chip Ahoy, located slightly off the main street. We’ve been coming here for years, it’s fantastic quality, the queues are smaller and the food is way cheaper than most. Grab your takeaway fish and chips and find a bench overlooking the harbour – perfect!
Make sure you check out my other recommendations for the best restaurants in North Cornwall here.
Learn about the history of Padstow at the Padstow Museum
The Padstow Museum is a surprisingly fun place to visit in Padstow with kids. Full of the rich history of the area. It’s small so you don’t need to spend too much time here but it’s free to enter so definitely worth popping in. The museum is closed on Sundays and through the whole of January.
Take the ferry across to Rock
Another of my favourite places in North Cornwall is Rock, instead of driving round the whole Camel estuary, the easiest way to reach it is by Ferry from Padstow Harbour. It’s a very small village with a fantastic sandy beach. It’s popular with city visitors which is reflected in the property prices and at the various bars and restaurants. But there’s a good reason for that, it’s a stunning place for dinner! Head to the Blue Tomato Café for lunch, you wont be disappointed. If you can visit out of season, even better!
The ferry is called the Black Tor and regularly carries foot passengers across the water for the day. Adult return tickets are £4 and kids are just £2. It takes less than 10 minutes vs a 30 minute drive. Over summer they leave every 20 minutes.
Spend some time at the beach
Not specifically a beach town, Padstow is well within walking distances to many great beaches. My favourite is probably St Georges cove, a half mile, 15 minute walk along the coastline up past St Saviours point. There are no facilities or lifeguards at this beach and the current can get fairly strong. Although it’s not ideal for swimming, the golden sand is perfect for building sandcastles. For more amazing beaches in the area check out these best beaches in North Cornwall.
Where to park in Padstow
If you’re looking for things to do in Padstow, I’m not going to lie to you, parking in peak summer season can be a bit of a nightmare. There are no less than four car parks in town so as long as you arrive early enough in the morning you should find a space. The closest to town is the Harbour car park, we found a space in the first car park you reach at the bottom of the hill into town, it’s less than a five minute walk into town past the lobster hatchery. I don’t recommend driving through Padstow, tourists, dogs and kids wander all over the roads.
Where to stay with kids in Padstow
We stayed twenty minutes drive out of Padstow at the amazing Bedruthan Hotel and Spa, possibly the most family friendly hotel I’ve ever been to.
If you fancy staying in the village there are several options.
Padstow Harbour Hotel, an uber funky four star hotel right next to the harbour. It has an outdoor pool and family sized suites.
Larger families may find an Airbnb a better option. Padstow has several, take a look at Crenella Barn which is a 3 bed holiday home with private onsite parking in a quieter area of Padstow old town. Or the Yellow House, another 3 bed property with parking and a small garden.
How to get to Padstow, Cornwall
Padstow is on the North Cornish coast around a 5 hour drive from London. Head West on the M3, join the A303 which will eventually get you to the A30 which you can take all the way through the centre of Cornwall then follow the signs to Padstow. If you’re visiting from the North, it’s the M5 all the way down to Exeter where you’ll pick up the A30.
The nearest train station to Padstow is Bodmin Parkway which is an half hour taxi drive away. If you’re flying in then you’ll want to fly to Newquay airport which is about a twenty minute taxi ride away.
Best time to visit Cornwall
Cornwall is hugely popular in the UK summer and Easter school holidays. Padstow is probably one of the busiest towns you can visit. If you’re tied to kids holidays then visiting in October or February half term is my recommendation, I love brisk Cornish weather and just take some extra layers. For those that like it a little warmer, September/early October is a lovely time to visit, it’s still busy but not too overwhelming.
If you’re looking for other fantastic UK staycations with kids then you might also like to check out the best Llyn Peninsula beaches and why we love this part of North Wales.
Make sure you pin for later to plan what to do in Padstow with kids.