Cornwall is packed with theme parks, gardens, railways, farms, wildlife parks, animal sanctuaries, castles, historic attractions, caverns, museums and activities. How do you choose which ones to visit during a short stay in Cornwall? Here are some of the very best award-winning attractions which are sure to be a resounding success with all the family.
The newly announced Gold Winner of the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2011 is Trebah Gardens. This Cornish Valley garden was founded over 160 years ago beside the Helford River. It is ranked one of the Great Gardens of Cornwall, and one of the finest gardens in the world.
Highlights include the Monet-inspired bridge, the bamboo stand, the shady walkway beneath giant gunnera and the private beach at Polgwiddon Cove. This peaceful cove was where 7,500 US Infantrymen boarded landing craft and took part in the D-Day landings in 1944. Alice's Seat, a thatched summer house, was rebuilt as a faithful recreation of the original 1907 seat and was also given a prestigious Civic Trust award.
Award-winning Newquay Zoo is home to 130 species of animals and offers great interactive experiences. Animal encounters and zookeeper talks are always popular, and in between events you can keep busy with activity trails and the Dragon maze. See big cats eating lunch, visit the tropical house, join the penguin encounter and feed a cute lemur. You can also opt to be a zookeeper for a day and learn more about wildlife conservation.
National Maritime Museum
Awarded Bronze Visitor Attraction of the Year 2011 by Cornwall Tourism and Large Visitor Attraction of the Year by South West Tourism Excellence Awards, the National Maritime Museum should be high on your list of places to visit in Cornwall.
Located in a purpose-built museum right on Falmouth's waterfront, it includes several floors of boats and maritime exhibitions plus an underwater viewing gallery below decks. It also has floating exhibits outdoors. The Maritime Museum offers hands-on activities, workshops and an ongoing programme of lectures and discovery talks, making it a well-deserved award-winner and a national treasure.
Tate St Ives
Located in an award-winning building which was commended by the Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage, this modern art gallery continues to be among the best of the best. Coast magazine voted it runner-up in the best-loved coastal building category in 2010 and St Ives itself was voted Best Family Holiday destination. It continues to have an ever-changing selection of artworks and has an excellent rooftop cafe with stunning views across the bay.
Geevor Tin Mine
It's hard to think of a more Cornish attraction than a historic tin mine. Geevor Tin Mine near Penzance offers a fantastic experience for visitors on the 67-acre preserved mine site. There is an excellent museum showing how harsh life was for a tin miner. Don a hard hat and explore the mine shaft and tunnels before learning more about the amazing range of rocks, ore and minerals that were mined in this area. This is a superb for budding geologists, historians and those wanting to learn more about how ore is mined and separated from its surrounding waste materials.