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As parents, we’ve all been there. You spend months anticipating a fabulous family holiday, only to look around after a day or two and find everyone staring at their screens! Getting the most out of your precious time together, and creating memories that last a lifetime, can sometimes take a bit of extra planning (and cajoling!)

The Cottage Boutique team are here to help, with our collective experience of bringing up a small army of children in this part of Cornwall. Not only do we have places to stay which are so enthralling that your kids will forget all about TikTok or YouTube for the duration, but we’ve also got some useful insights for wholesome family activities that won’t break the bank.

Here’s our guide to screen-free stays in St Ives and Carbis Bay, Cottage Boutique style!

Best For: Families with young children

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Make their first holiday a special one at Skipper’s Loft

Young children will be enchanted by Skipper’s Loft, a lovingly restored fisherman’s cottage in the heart of ‘old St Ives’. The cosy attic bedroom will see them falling asleep under the eaves to the sounds of the Cornish coast, and waking up eager to explore the four beaches within easy reach.

Screen-free activities:

Fill your days with sandcastle building, rockpooling and paddling at nearby Porthgwidden Beach, where the takeaway serves good children’s options.

Your storybook surroundings, and the original Cornish range in Skipper’s Loft, might inspire you to look for local literature. Try snuggling up with the Soggy the Bear stories after a dip in the huge free-standing bath!

Best For: ‘Tweenagers’

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Pretty Inglewood is a fairy tale come true!

Inglewood is centrally located, with spacious accommodation for up to eight in four bedrooms. There’s a pretty twin room and a single with an extra pull-out bed, so siblings and cousins can play at sleepovers!

Screen-free activities:

If they get bored of the beach, why not try this downloadable fun mystery trail? “You’ll be searching high and low along the cobbled streets, winding past medieval inns, dazzling art galleries and quaint fisherman’s cottages, uncovering the history and hidden gems with each step.”

For a trip out of town, jump on the branch line train for amazing views along the coast and treat the kids to pizza at The Old Forge in Lelant before returning.

Best For: Teenagers

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This cool coastal den will be the envy of their friends!

Ultra-cool Gimme Shelter is the perfect Cornish den for style-conscious teenagers, who may get a double bed to themselves while their younger siblings enjoy the funky triple bunks! The wetsuit drying yard is perfect for storing beach gear, and the location is ideal for dipping into the local nightlife.

Screen-free activities:

Encourage your teenagers to hone their water skills at nearby Porthmeor Beach, where surfing, kayaking, SUP and coasteering lessons are all on offer. For a family outing to remember, hire e-bikes and head west to the village of Zennor, stopping along the way to explore the views from the top of Rosewall Hill.

In the evening, pile onto the beach for family sunset barbecues, or book a booth at Porthmeor Beach Cafe and treat them to tapas.

Best For: Multigenerational family breaks 

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Enjoy spacious surroundings at The Fairings

Luxury detached cottage, The Fairings, is crying out to host wholesome family breaks. There’s plenty of space to roam inside and out, and parking for two cars makes it perfect for multi-generational stays. The location is idyllic too, surrounded by countryside and moments from the coastal path, yet just a 15 minute walk into St Ives town.

Screen-free activities:

Opt for invigorating coastal hikes or meanders into town depending on your party make-up. St Ives skatepark is nearby if your group includes young (or old!) skating fanatics. For a more sedate activity, visit Trink Dairy to watch the cows being milked and try out their milkshake bar!

Closer to home, the garden at The Fairings is great for ball games and barbecues, and if the weather turns the cosy lounge is the ideal spot for family board game marathons.

Best For: Outdoor lovers

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Coast and countryside activities surround you at Corva Farmhouse

Corva Farmhouse sits in gorgeous, quiet countryside on the outskirts of St Ives, which is a twenty minute walk down country lanes. Cheerful decor, spacious accommodation and the fabulous garden make it perfect for large families looking to get away from it all and reconnect in the great outdoors.

Screen-free activities:

If you love exploring and staying active, you’ll be spoilt for choice! The Ocean Sports Centre at Carbis Bay has a great choice of activities, and Standing Stone Stables offers horse trekking in the Cornish countryside.

Alternatively, simply head west into the wilds of Penwith and discover breathtaking coves like Portheras, or hike the moors and discover ancient standing stones and mysterious quoits.

Best For: Creatives of all ages!  

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Spark a creative adventure with a stay at Bay View House

Bay View House is your very own artists’ residence overlooking St Ives. This period townhouse is packed with quirky touches and delightful details, with eclectic decor and original art adorning the walls. All of the cultural highlights of St Ives are within easy walking distance, including the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden and Tate St Ives.

Screen-free activities:

Book a Young Potter’s Wheel Workshop at Leach Pottery and introduce them to the art of pottery at this world-famous cultural centre.

If painting or drawing is more their style, look out for summer classes for families and young people at the St Ives School of Painting – Summer 2023 class details will be released soon. Meanwhile, Tate St Ives always has family activities to get involved with, including an Art Adventurers Town Trail.

If you’d like personalised help and recommendations, feel free to give The Cottage Boutique team a call!