Looe is a nice area to be in. about 25 mins train journey from mainline Plymouth. you can do no car in Cornwall but would suggest you base yourself near a train station rather than a beach - the two don't tend to be right next to each other. buses are fairly useless for getting around in so would need to be trains and taxis imo. we stay here just gone on their website and noticed that they do 10% off if you come by train or bus so worth checking out. also try cornwall tourist board they have a lot of good places that have been inspected as well. would try and avoid school hols in cornwall as prices do jump up then.
there is an indoor play place called playzone a short bus ride from the centre of st ives - the walk from the bus to the building is not bad (have done it myself). If you want to do a day trip by train truro is not bad - lots of shops, market on some days, museum with activities for the kids in the holidays, you can also go from truro by boat down the river to falmouth which is a lovely day trip. There are regular buses from truro to st ives and back every day. They also stop in Hayle (I think) where there is paradise park (a bird sanctuary with a penguin pool where you can see them being fed and an indoor play area), a good playground and skate parks. I would maybe google firstbus and see how much it would be to buy a rover ticket for the buses for a week as it may be cheaper than buying separate tickets. You could always then look and see what buses run in and out of st ives as think there is probably also buses to penzance and maybe lands end. Also buy a west briton paper on arrival as they have vouchers for local attractions, (paradise park nearly every week) and info on what's on. Hope that helps! (don't go to redruth unless you are into mining - there is nothing here!)
We've just come back from Falmouth and said that if we went there again we would actually go on the train (it took us 8 hours to get back in traffic ....). From Falmouth centre (where the station is) you can walk in about 15 minutes to beaches, castle, bowling, leisure centre and museum, also boat trips, but this may be a place to consider for when your children are a little older?
St Ives is a great place to go by train. The train itself stops right above Porthminster Beach - and as parking is such a nightmare in St ives the train is the best way to travel! It's a pretty journey too. Good choice of lovely sandy beaches in St Ives and a pretty working harbour too.
There are plenty of shops in St Ives so getting supplies is no problem, although you can always order an internet shop before you leave home!
Carbis Bay is another option. It's a mile from St Ives and is about a two minute train ride into St Ives. Carbis Bay has a spectacular beach - a bit quieter than St Ives and ideal for young children. Catch the train into St Ives for the evening, or for a bit of crabbing along the quay, seal watching etc. Train ticket for a family of 4 is just £2 each way. Taxi would be about £6 ish. And you can walk along the coastal path too, which is simply stunning and free.
Catch the open top bus from St Ives to Lands End for a good day out, coach trips go to the Eden and other places .... but we find there is enough in Carbis Bay and St Ives to keep us going without the need to venture further afield!. Catch the train to Penzance, Truro or further afield.
Take a look on owners direct for a good choice of holiday cottages and apartments to suit all budgets.
I will hunt out the PMs people sent- MN's new layout means I've just discovered about ten PMs I had no idea were there
It would seem that St.Ives is our best bet- and Carbis bay seems to be just what we're after; nice and quiet with a beach and st.ives down the road if the weather is shitola. Now I just have to find a cottage! <sells kidney>