Things to do in St Austell
St Austell is maybe one of the more underrated coastal towns in Cornwall, and with stunning vistas and rugged history, it’s well worth a visit.
Plus, it’s only 20 miles up the road from our Perran Sands Holiday Park. If you want to get out in nature or immerse yourself in Cornish history, here are some family-friendly things to do, St Austell style.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
It’s hard to believe that a few decades ago, these gardens were nothing more than an abandoned estate. Now, these mysterious gardens are Europe’s largest garden restoration project, with 200 acres of land. Delve deep into the UK’s only outdoor jungle, complete with rope bridges to traverse! Explore the themed gardens with allotments, weird and wonderful sculptures, and unique plantings. Naturally, it attracts lots of wildlife that you’ll spend all day trying to spot. This special area is home to ancient woodland and beautiful wildflower meadows too.
Over 13 acres of the gardens are accessible by an even path and there are toilets and a car park available. It’s best to book your ticket in advance so you don’t miss out.
Cornwall FootballGolf Park
Get outdoors and make a game of it! Cornwall’s FootballGolf—you read it right—is amazing fun for kids and adults to play together. It’s exactly what it sounds like; golf rules, but you'll swap a golf club with your own feet and kick a football around one of two 18-hole courses. The great thing is that there’s no need to book—just show up and get stuck in. To refuel, stop by the licensed bar for a local beer on tap and chill out in the covered picnic area with a hot or cold meal.
Shipwreck Treasure Museum
Did you know that St Austell is home to Europe’s largest shipwreck collection? There are over 8,000 treasure artefacts, all from sunken ships around the harsh Cornish coastline. Learn their stories through the exhibits, where thousands of belongings from lives lost at sea are on display. Even bring your dog on the journey, as dogs on leads are allowed to join you throughout the museum.
Although there’s no parking, the venue is fully wheelchair accessible, including the Koffi cafe, where you can relax with a locally roasted cup of coffee and light bites.
For an interactive day of local history, visit the UK’s only china clay mining museum. It’s an indoor and outdoor museum where your four-legged friends are more than welcome to join in the fun. Learn about the life of the workers that mined here in the Victorian era, through artefacts and true stories. Make your way around the discovery centre to interact with the exhibits there.
Outside, check out the waterworks and lots of vintage vehicles on display. You can follow the woodland trails around the museum to explore further! If you need a moment of calm, take a timeout in one of many quiet areas dotted around. Learning and exploring is thirsty work, so pop to the on-site cafe afterwards for a cuppa and a bite to eat.
For more outdoorsy things to do in St Austell, the 30-acre Pinetum Gardens won’t disappoint. Arranged like ‘rooms’, the ten themed gardens each have a completely different vibe and are home to one of the largest collections of plants in the county.
As you stroll around the grounds, you’ll spot a bridge garden, sunken gardens, and an arboretum. Pinetum is home to Champion trees, too. Please bring your dog as they’re welcome as long as they’re on leads. For a pick-me-up, visit the Marquee Tearoom on-site, where there’s drinks, snacks, and cakes available all day.
St Austell Market House
Inside a stunning Grade II-listed building in the heart of St Austell is the Market House, a creative community and arts space managed by local volunteers. It dates all the way back to 1791, when locals held a small market on the same site before the building was eventually constructed in 1844. You’ll find many resident stores inside including arts and crafts, guitar lessons, ceramics, and independent comic books.
When you’ve shopped until your feet hurt, relax with freshly prepared food and drink in the Market House cafe.
The Eden Project
We couldn’t mention St Austell things to do without including the iconic Eden Project. Just a couple of miles outside the town, you’ll find one of the world’s largest indoor rainforests underneath gigantic covered domes. These biomes let you experience global nature in a completely unique way.
In the rainforest, it feels like a totally different climate, so wear clothing for hot weather, even if it’s blustery outside. There’s over 1,000 plants to see, including cacao and banana trees, and a real waterfall. In the Mediterranean biome, smell aromatic herbs and flowers as you make your way around the Australian, South African, and Californian gardens, citrus grove, and perfume gardens.
To entertain younger nature lovers, visit Nature’s Playground, a natural outdoor play area with slides, ladders, swings, and a water course.