The 10 Best Rainy Day Activities in North Cornwall & Devon

We’ll let you into a secret  – every now and again, it rains in the South-West.  While many visitors are happy to don their raincoats and get outside, thankfully, we are also privileged to have a wealth of attractions in the area that will allow you to stay dry.  From indoor play parks that give the kids a chance to let off steam, to fascinating museums and heritage attractions – here are 10 great rainy day activities for North Cornwall and Devon. (If we’ve missed your favourite, add it to the comments below!)

© Carnglaze Caverns, Liskeard

Please check on the websites or call the attractions before setting off –
some of them are not open all year round or have ticketed entry.

Harlequinns Leisure & Splash Leisure Pool – Bude

These are two separate attractions but as they sit next to each other, it’s often worth combining a visit when the weather’s really bad.

Harlequinns Leisure, Bude
A fun little family attraction in Bude offering a reasonable sized playzone and ten-pen bowling.

Splash Leisure Pool, Bude
This family fun pool isn’t the largest you’ll find, but with its wave machine and slide it should keep your little ones amused!

Atlantic Village – Bideford

In terms of size, of course Atlantic Village can’t compete with the shiny new shopping centres of Drake’s Circus (Plymouth), or Princesshay (Exeter).  However, for shopaholics it offers a range of discount brands through more than 35 different stores, various play areas, a good range of eateries, and free parking.

Carnglaze Caverns – Liskeard

This former slate mine is now a modest all-weather attraction.  Take yourself around the 3 large underground caverns and the mysterious lake, and explore a little mining history.  If the weather clears up, there are some pleasant walks on the site too.  It won’t fill a day, but for an interesting hour or two it’s a good option.

Bodmin Jail – Bodmin

Cornwall’s last county jail closed 90 years ago, but now houses a fascinating 6-storey museum.  Plenty of exhibits in the old cells and a lot of information about the former prisoners and their grisly crimes.  Experience the rather spooky atmosphere as you navigate the narrow stone steps and corridors!  Bear in mind, it can get rather busy in peak season when the weather’s bad.

Dartington Crystal – Torrington

Dartington Crystal is famous for its high quality glassware, and you can visit their factory to get an insight into how it’s made.  We recommend visiting during the week when the factory is in production.  Watch demonstrations of engraving and glassmaking, as well as various hands-on activities for children.  Not very accessible for those with mobility problems.

Davidstow Airfield & Cornwall at War Museum – Davidstow

For history buffs, this volunteer-run museum is always worth a look, and yet isn’t particularly well known.  Spread over 18 buildings, it houses numerous artefacts and exhibits that chart our military history and has particularly interesting items from WW2.  If the weather dries up, you can explore the larger objects and vehicles outside.


The Milky Way – Bideford

North Devon’s biggest indoor adventure play area is a real draw for families with young children.  On drier days, there are plenty of outdoor farm-related activities as well, but when it’s raining the 85,000 square feet of indoor play should tick the right boxes.  Assault courses and slides, soft play, sand pits and much more.

If this kind of attraction is your cup of tea, it’s definitely worth checking out The Big Sheep which is relatively close by. (  They offer very similar activities so take a look at their websites and take your pick.  Both are a great way to spend a rainy day!

National Trust Properties The South-West is peppered with amazing National Trust properties.  Although many of them boast stunning gardens, a few have sufficient indoor interest to be worth a visit on a rainy day.  Of all of these we would recommend the following:

Lanhydrock (Bodmin)
A magnificent Victorian country house that will remind visitors of Downton Abbey.  The kitchens and servant quarters off a glimpse of life ‘below stairs’, while the elegant bedrooms and halls show pure luxury.  (More information)

Cotehele (Saltash)
This manor house is one of the least-altered medieval buildings in the country.  With its displays of armour and tapestry, and network of atmospheric rooms, it’s a property that captures the imagination.  (More information)

Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre – Lifton

This centre is a fantastic repository of traditional fairground attractions.  3 large halls contain a range of exhibits from Victorian fairground art to vintage engineering – but of course the most popular hall is the one containing the working rides.  Have a go on the dodgems, ride the carousel, brave the ghost train!  A charming attraction.

Bodmin and Wenford Railway – Bodmin

Steam enthusiasts come from across the country to experience Cornwall’s last full gauge line operated by steam trains.  The Y-shaped line offers a variety of routes, from a scenic round-trip with no stops, to a pleasant 6.5mile chug to Boscarne station where a tea-room and pub await.  A great family day out, and it even allows dogs.

© Copyright Ron Strutt

Further afield:

If you’re willing to drive a little further, you will have even more options:

The Eden Project (nr St. Austell) is a world-class attraction, and while there are miles of walks and gardens to explore outside, the biomes will shelter you on a really wet day.

Newquay Blue Reef Aquarium is very popular with visiting families, offering the usual aquatic sea-life including sharks, turtles and rays.

The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth is a great wet-day activity if you’re in that end of Cornwall, and the displays of boats are spectacular.

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