Cornwall can be magical when the heavens open and it rains on our hilly county, so grab an umbrella and take a look at ten free things to do in Cornwall in the rain.

From outdoor gardens that provide some natural shelter to leaving your brolly by the door to explore Cornish history undercover, The Duchy has places to visit without spending a penny.

1. Falmouth Lifeboat Centre

If you’re looking for free things to do in Cornwall in the rain, head to the Fal Estuary and experience The Falmouth Lifeboat, one of the top free attractions in Cornwall. The brave RNLI volunteers get soaked and save lives at sea in all weathers and seeing the equipment used, especially the boats is exciting, rain or shine. For a free guided tour, visitors can simply turn up and enquire in the lifeboat shop attached to the station. The Falmouth Lifeboat Centre is one of many coastal stations designated as an ‘Explore Station’ meaning for most of the year visitors can experience the lifeboats and learn about the RNLI first hand from dedicated volunteers. A great spot for family friendly fun!

Five Brave Lifeboat crew in the water on two RIBS
Brave Lifeboat Crew

2. Helston Museum

Exploring Cornwall is about more than enjoying the beaches. When the heavens open you have the chance to explore the deep culture of the county and few places give an insight into the history and culture of Cornwall like the Helston Museum of Cornish Life. Situated off Helston high street behind an unassuming facade, this top free museum is a veritable Tardis, stretching on and on, jam-packed with treasures and curiosities. A fantastic free day out for families when the weather is a bit too wet outside – if the kids get bored of looking at muskets and pirate ships (although why would they?) there’s always Denzil’s den, the family play area to keep them entertained while you check out the exhibits!

3. Morrab Gardens – Penzance

A drizzly day sat in a park might not sound that appealing but the peaceful pitter-patter of the rain on the giant Gunnera leaves is an experience that can transport you to another world. So put on the raincoats and wellies and take the kids out for a fun day of splashing in puddles on a rainy walk through Morrab Gardens, or explore the historic house. Take time to spot the many different animals that call the park home and wander beneath the leaves of the giant sub-tropical plants, meticulously kept by the dedicated gardening team. You can even take a little bit of the park home with you, with an on-site nursery selling exotic plants found in the gardens.

Water droplets on lush green leaves

4. Royal Cornwall Museum

Looking for a day out with the kids that’s not going to get you soaked? Look no further than the Royal Cornwall Museum, located in the heart of Truro. Admission to Children is free and it’s a fantastic place to explore history and culture in a warm, friendly setting. There is a dedicated section on Cornwall’s history but the museum has a far wider appeal, with collections focusing on Natural History, Aincient Cultures and even Fine Art. There’s something to keep everyone entertained and it’s a fantastic way to avoid getting soaked if the weather is looking grim.

5. Go for a Surf

Even when it’s raining cats and dogs, Cornwall’s favourite pastime is always a great choice for a fun day out. Cornwall’s beaches are amongst some of the best in the world with many having achieved blue flag status. And if you’re jumping in the water then the rain makes no difference at all, making it the perfect activity for a rainy day. Wherever you are in the county you’re never more than a short drive away from one of Cornwall’s spectacular beaches, so grab your board and wetsuit for a great free day of fun.

Cold water surfer wearing a hood surfing a wave

6. Falmouth Art Gallery

More free things to do in Cornwall in the rain! If you find yourself in Falmouth looking out at a rainy day, switch that grey vista for the colour, vibrancy and quirkiness of the Falmouth Art Gallery. Considering the size of this cosy little gallery there’s an impressive collection to go through, with over 2,000 artworks to cast your eye over, from classical pre-raphaelite works to British impressionism and modern prints. For anyone with young children, it’s a good idea to check their list of events and exhibitions as there are often workshops and activities planned that are perfect for keeping the little ones entertained on a rainy day.

7. Geocaching

An overcast shot of the Cornish coast

8. Trenance Gardens and Leisure Park

Cornwall is truly blessed with a wealth of beautiful sub-tropical gardens. If you find yourself on the North coast looking for something to do on a rainy day, then a walk through the park is a great way to see one of the prettier parts of Newquay. Pull on those raincoats and take a leisurely stroll through the wooded areas to avoid the worst of the rain. Or, if you feel like braving the elements, wander down to the boating lake and feed the family resident swans who call it home. If you end up in Newquay on your visit to Cornwall it’s definitely worth a look

9. The Marconi Centre, Poldhu

If you’re enjoying a day out on the Lizard peninsula and the heavens open up, head over to  The Marconi Centre and take in another slice of Cornish history. This tiny museum situated on Britain’s most southerly point tells the fascinating story of the early radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi. From this little station in Poldhu, he managed to send the first transatlantic signals all the way to Newfoundland, a distance of 2100 miles! Without him, we wouldn’t have so many of the technologies we rely upon today, like satellite broadcasting, mobile phones and even the internet. Make sure to check their opening times though as these can vary.

A shelf full of vintage radios

10. Heartlands UK

If you’re looking for free things to do when you visit Cornwall, then a family day out to Heartlands UK is a fantastic place to entertain the kids. The 19-acre visitor attraction is located on a UNESCO world heritage site and has loads of different attractions and activities to explore. Get out of the rain and visit the World Heritage exhibition, with its interactive exhibitions documenting the rise and fall of the tin mining industry in Cornwall. Or enjoy the stunning Diaspora Botanical Gardens, a beautiful experience even in the rain.

If you’re not pinching the pennies, then there are even more things to get up to in Cornwall, whatever the weather! Just take a look at our previous blog on rainy days out in Cornwall.

By: Tony Townsend On:17th January 2019

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