The best dog-friendly attractions in Cornwall

Proper Cornwall's roving reporter Merlin at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth


If you have a dog in the family and want to head out for the day, you may need to paws for thought. Choosing one of Cornwall’s best attractions to visit can be a tough call as keeping all your human friends and loved ones entertained can sometimes mean neglecting your pooch. Quite simply, not everywhere is so welcoming to canines.

But we’re here to help with a list of our best dog-friendly attractions in the county. In these places, human fun is the priority but we choose those attractions that have pedigree when it comes to also giving your pup a good time. We’ve been helped in our selection by Proper Cornwall’s resident roving reporter, Merlin, who loves going out and experiencing Cornwall’s attractions with us whenever possible.

Do assume that dogs must be on leads in most of the places we list below and do note that we recommend some awesome beaches in the county that are open to dogs in the winter and all-year-round. But yeah, here we go with our best attractions in Cornwall for dogs…

Bodmin and Wenford Railway

Type: Historical steam engine attraction
Suitable for: Well-trained dogs
Location: Bodmin General Station, Bodmin

All dogs are welcome on the station platforms and in the carriages at Cornwall’s magical steam train attraction, the Bodmin and Wenford Railway. This 13-mile stream engine journey through stunning Cornish countryside has a nostalgic 1950s feel and is perfect for dogs who want to relax and, pooch-ance, take in the sights. Note that restrictions apply for evening events and in carriages where food is served.

Merlin’s verdict: Choo choo! Or should I say ‘chew chew’? This ride is howlin’ good.

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Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Type: Marine life attraction
Suitable for: Dogfish and great white barks
Location: Gweek, near Helston

Did you know that seals, sea lions and walruses all belong to the suborder ‘caniformia’, which means ‘doglike’? Well, what better place to check out this likeness in the flesh than at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, near Helston? With scores of rescued residents to meet and more than 40 acres of grounds to enjoy – not to mention the attraction’s annual dog show – there’s plenty to keep your own little lion’s tail well and truly wagging.

Merlin’s verdict: A massive seal of approval for this attraction for allowing other four-legged types in!

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Eden Project

Type: Major nature attraction
Suitable for: Plant-loving pups
Location: Bodelva, near St Austell

Cornwall’s epic global garden attraction welcomes well-behaved dogs on its outdoor paths that seemingly run for miles around this former china clay works. Unfortunately, Rover and Fido can’t actually go into the world-famous biomes, which are for sure the main event at Eden. But as long as they have more than one owner, take it turns: one of you can explore the flora outside with the mutts while the other marvels at the plant life inside the biomes.

Merlin’s verdict: You can really stretch your legs in those fields that surround the biomes. Thanks Eden!

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Flicka Foundation Donkey Sanctuary

Type: Animal attraction
Suitable for: Dogs who do the donkey work
Location: Penryn, near Falmouth

The natives at Falmouth’s fave donkey sanctuary love nothing more than to have a visit from their canine cousins, as long as they are on their best behaviour. There are more than 100 donkeys, horses and ponies at Flicka, all who have been rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment. So your best friend needs to treat these beasts with the same level of respect as you. Also expect your pooch to become a star attraction too as animal lovers adore Flicka.

Merlin’s verdict: Donkeys seem to tolerate us canines well and we enjoy meeting them too.

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Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm

Type: Farm and cider attraction
Suitable for: Farm dogs and cider drinkers
Location: Penhallow, between Truro and Perranporth

Every dog starts salivating when he or she gets a whiff of food or drink cooking. So every dog loves Healey’s as the smells of brewing cider and cooking jam are thick in the air. Canines also get to meet many farm animals here and go on a dog-friendly tractor ride here. Okay, so Shep and Sally aren’t allowed in the cider production areas or the jamming kitchen but they’re otherwise free to be with you everywhere else, like the museum. We’ll drink to that!

Merlin’s verdict: Meeting farm animals, going on tractor rides and sniffing out that tasty cider and jam. Paw-fect!

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Lanhydrock House

Type: History and gardens attraction
Suitable for: Cultured canines (who love the outdoors)
Location: Trebyan, near Bodmin

Why would a family pet want to walk around a beautiful Victorian country house that’s owned by the National Trust? Well, let’s face it, they wouldn’t. But they’d love to play and explore in the wonderful woodlands and pretty parks that stretch out across this 900-acre estate near Bodmin. For sure, hounds can’t go into Lanhydrock’s grand buildings but with miles of dog-friendly paths to venture out on for the day, we don’t think they’ll care.

Merlin’s verdict: So much barkland to explore. This place is like a huge doggie paradise.

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Lappa Valley

Type: Steam train attraction
Suitable for: Well-coached dogs
Location: Lappa Valley, near Newquay

Billed as one of Cornwall’s best attractions for children and young families, Lappa Valley is also a great place for four-legged members of the clan to blow off some steam. The attraction near Newquay, which is famous both for its rides on a 15-inch minimum gauge railway and for its wealth of kids’ activities and crazy golf, positively welcomes pooches. It’s so dog-friendly, there’s even a designated field where they can run freely off the lead.

Merlin’s verdict: Well-trained pooches lap up Lappa, especially that dog-friendly field.

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Lost Gardens of Heligan

Type: Garden attraction
Suitable for: Dogs who want to get lost (in nature)
Location: Pentewan, near Mevagissey and St Austell

With its miles of meandering pathways, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is the perfect green space for you and your best friend to get lost for the day. This network of Victorian productive gardens and pleasure grounds, which was laid out more than 200 years ago but was once lost to ‘the brambles of time’, stretches out over more than 200 acres of greenery, ravines, paths and woodlands. It’s all super-dog-friendly and welcoming to all visitors.

Merlin’s verdict: How many times have I been told to ‘get lost’? Well, now I can… all day in Heligan!

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Minack Theatre

Type: Major arts and stage attraction
Suitable for: Theatre-hounds
Location: Porthcurno

What cultured canine wouldn’t enjoy sitting atop Cornwall’s magical coastline to take in the vistas at a theatre like no other? Okay, we don’t want to dress this one up too much because you can’t take your dog (unless he or she is a guide dog) to an actual performance for fear they’ll bark at all the wrong moments but considering Minack is a work of drama all in itself that can be visited whenever, the fact you can take Pup at any other time is to be applauded.

Merlin’s verdict: Is ‘Dogtanian and the Three Muskerhounds’ on this summer? Or maybe ‘Piddler on the Ruff’?

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Pencarrow House and Gardens

Type: Historical house, gardens and estate
Suitable for: History woofs
Location: Washaway, between Wadebridge and Bodmin

Pencarrow’s dog-friendly credentials have set tongues wagging for years! Mutts aren’t allowed in the Cornish Georgian house and they need to be on leashes in the gardens outside where peacocks and chickens roam free. But otherwise they can explore the attraction’s acres of grounds. Plus, after a day of frolicking across the estate, your pedigree chum can enjoy a doggy ice-cream from the café. Apparently, the ‘old sock’ flavour rocks.

Merlin’s verdict: Acres of grounds followed by a doggy ice-cream? Count me in!

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Pendennis Castle

Type: Historical attraction
Suitable for: Dogs of war
Location: Falmouth

Fancy visiting a historical castle dating back to the 1540s? And fancy taking the beagle? No problem! Hit up Falmouth’s Pendennis Castle, an artillery fort with a welcoming attitude to canines. Here, your gundog can go inside the buildings with their fab history exhibits, as well as across the well-kept grounds. There’s a fun dog-friendly moat he or she can run around in too, plus there’s Pendennis Point next door that’s great for both views and more exercise.

Merlin’s verdict: Dogs of war like me just love frolicking around old castles while you learn about military history.

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Tintagel Castle

Type: Legendary historical attraction
Suitable for: King Charles Spaniel and his knights of the round dog-bowl
Location: Tintagel

While you’re searching for the Holy Grail, your little dragon can be searching for his or her lost bone around Cornwall’s most famous castle. The home of Arthurian legend makes for a fab location to take the hounds, although they’ll need a head for heights when traversing Tintagel Castle’s unforgettable suspension bridge. But with plenty of opportunities to explore the beaches and coast paths nearby, the castle makes for a legendary doggy day out.

Merlin’s verdict: Obviously, this is my favourite attraction ever. Especially my Merlin’s Cave below the castle.

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Trebah Garden

Type: Garden attraction
Suitable for: Garden growlers
Location: Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth

The lush gardens at this tropical ravine oasis on the banks of the Helford River make for a fab setting for a day out with your dog. After a day rollocking around the flower beds at Trebah, which sits in a unique 25-acre wooded subtropical ravine garden, take the littlest hobo along the paths that lead down to a private beach where he or she can paddle around the many rock pools. Plants, pools and pooches. Could you enjoy a better dog day afternoon?

Merlin’s verdict: I like to do Trebah like this: gardens, woodlands, beach, sea, rock pools, gardens, beach, gardens, home, eat, sleep, repeat.

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Wheal Martyn

Type: Historical china clay attraction
Suitable for: Wheally good pups
Location: Carthew, near St Austell

Wheal Martyn, probably the most famous china clay museum in the world, gives human visitors a fascinating glimpse into Cornwall’s industrious past. The indoor and outdoor museum areas also give dogs full access, meaning canines can enjoy the experience at your side. Plus, there’s masses of nature and woodland trails around the 26-acre former china clay works so paws are kept pounding and noses are kept nosy for the whole day out.

Merlin’s verdict: Wheally good fun both inside and out. Who’d have though china clay could be this much fun?

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