Cornwall is a stunning part of the UK with many small towns and fishing ports attracting visitors all year round. One such town is Looe. Located in the south of Cornwall, not far from the Devon border, it is one of the more popular towns for people to visit.
However, not all of these towns are ideal for kids. As much as I love a quaint fishing village holding a pint while enjoying a view, the little ones, not so much. So while staying in the nearby Tregoad holiday park, Looe seemed like a great way to find that delicate balance of something for the kids and the adults.
So if you’re wondering if you should visit the town and what to do in Looe with kids, check out some of my 7 top suggestions.
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You may also enjoy a visit to Quince Honey Farm in Devon
1. Crabbing from the Looe harbour walls
It’s hard to wander around Looe and not notice the many shops selling crabbing kits. Then when you do make it to the harbour, the many buckets perched on the wall, crawling with crustaceans.
Crabbing, in case you are unfamiliar with the term, is basically fishing for crabs. While there are a few setups, the most common here is a net on the end of a rope you put some bait into, drop it in the water and pull it up a few minutes later with lots of little crabs inside. The sets will also be sold with a bucket where you will put some water, and the crabs can hang out until you throw them back.
Bait can be bought from many harbour shops and just some wrapped fish guts.
My kids were happy for an hour or two doing this. They loved peering off the wall into the water to see if they could see the crabs as they wandered into our net. Although it was a little nerve-racking as, without close supervision, they could easily fall in.
One thing to bear in mind is at some point, you may need to pick a crab up, which, if you haven’t done it before, can be surprisingly scary. Even the little ones will give you a good nip. So be sure to read up on some techniques first and be brave. If you can pick up a crab, your little ones will think you’re a superhero!
If you don’t fancy doing it yourself, it is also fun to wander up and down looking in other people’s buckets. We found everyone was happy to show off their hauls to our kids. Some had even scooped up little fishes and shrimps.
2. Spend a penny or two in the arcades
One of my memories of visiting the coast while growing up was how hard I’d push my parents to let me go to the arcade, I absolutely loved those little 2p pushing machines, and given how many there are, I’m not the only one.
It turned out to be a pretty cheap way to spend an hour with the kids as I passed on my skills to my son. We just changed £1 into 2p coins, which was enough to keep us going for a while. We even won a little dinosaur toy that he was delighted with.
Aside from the machines, they have all the usual suspects such as Dance Crazy, air hockey (my wife always manages to beat me at) and many other games.
The only downside is the iconic grabbing machines. I realise they were always in favour of the house, but it seems now they are more than ever. Every time it picks up a teddy and drops it, I can only assume it is programmed to hold onto a prize every now and again, but we didn’t see one person win.
But that aside, there are two arcades I found in Looe. One at the top end of the harbour, close to the crabbing hotspot and another across the bridge. The opposite side of the river to the town, but close to the man car park.
3. Looe Detective Mystery Trail
The Looe Treasure Trail is a self-guided walking Trail that takes you around the town of Looe. It is ideal for kids aged 6 and over and takes around 1.5 hours to complete at your own pace. The Trail is a ‘loop’, meaning you can start and finish wherever you like.
The Looe Treasure Trail is full of fun challenges and puzzles that will have you exploring the town in a new way. The best part is that if you get stuck, there is a text message service with clues to help you. What’s more, solve the quest and be entered into a £100 monthly draw.
The trail book does need to be purchased first, though, you can do this on their website, and it comes in various formats, including a PDF download if you can’t wait for a delivery.
4. Head to Looe Beach
Of course, kids love the beach making Looe beach an option for families to visit. It’s close to town, so it’s easy to get to, and toilet facilities are available.
The beach can be extremely busy in the summer, so arrive early if you want to snag a good spot to build a sandcastle.
A promenade runs the length of the beach, a great place to enjoy fish and chips or traditional Cornish pasty with a beautiful view.
Access to the beach is generally on foot as traffic is not allowed through the town centre in the summer, so be prepared as the closest parking is around a 15-minute walk away.
5. Take a glass bottom boat ride
There are several different boat trips that you can take from Looe, but if you have kids with you, the glass bottom boat will be a great choice.
Boatzer is a glass-bottom boat that operates trips around Looe Island and the bay. You’ll get to explore the beautiful bay and its many sights, including the caves on Looe Island, and if you’re lucky, you may also see some seals sunbathing on the rocks or dolphins swimming in the water.
You need to pre-book your trip by calling 07896162292. At the time of writing, it was £10pp (cash payments only). For more information, you can check out their Facebook page.
6. Indulge a sweet tooth with some local delicacies
OK, so this was probably more for me, but my kids loved it too. There are a few places you can find a traditional Cornish cream tea. If you are unfamiliar with this, then you need to find out.
A cream tea will consist of a scone (the closest US translation would be a biscuit) with clotted cream and jam served with tea. Although most places let you substitute other drinks.
Now, the controversial part comes next.
So you must put your jam and cream on your scone, but the order to do this has been somewhat controversial for many a year. The Cornish claim that you should put the jam on first and then the cream on the jam. But, the folks from the neighbouring county of Devon scoff at this and say it has to be cream then jam.
I can assure you that both ways are tasty, and the best part is testing both and asking your kids what they prefer.
Me? Sorry Cornwall . . . I side with Devon on this one.
Of course, Cornwall is also famous for amazing clotted cream, ice cream and fudge, so if scones aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other choices.
7. Outdoor activities with Adventure Fit
Adventure Fit in Looe is worth considering if you’re looking for an exciting and active day out with your older kids!
They are located in The Old Sardine Factory in West Looe, where they have climbing walls. They also offer loads of outdoor activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding trips along the river and shoreline.
Away from the water, there are also land-based outdoor activities such as mountain biking, bushcraft, camping, and hill walking.
These activities are perfect for getting outdoors, enjoying nature, and hopefully, wearing them out for a nice early night!
Find out more on their website.
As you can see, there is more than enough to keep your littlies occupied in Looe, and I didn’t even mention the number of dad jokes that can be dropped about going to the loo in Looe!
Whether you are just passing through or staying for a bit longer, this little Cornish town is worth visiting.