disclosure: we were given a free family pass for the day in exchange for an honest review.
I can remember watching on TV as the Eden Project in Cornwall was being constructed and knew I would have to visit one day. I visited Cornwall last, just after it opened in 2003, but decided at the time that I’d visit once the plants had had time to become really established. Then life took over and my planned return to Cornwall has taken considerably longer than first envisaged! Now with a 5-year-old son in tow, it was time to enjoy Cornwall again and for us all to visit the Eden Project for the first time. It really is a must-visit attraction for all the family to enjoy and we were really looking forward to exploring all it has to offer.
We arrived bright and early a few weeks ago so we could make the most of our day. The site is well signposted and there is ample parking, and as we walked down to the entrance we could see the whole site before us. The Biome’s are world-famous in their own right and Monkey was really intrigued by them. I loved the idea that at one of the lookout points, there were child level peep holes.
]We picked up a guide-book and map for Monkey and tried to decide where to explore first.
Mummy, we are here! Although the site looks vast, it’s actually quite walkable and my son managed a whole day with no moaning at all. We agreed that the Biome’s were likely to be very popular and that it would be a good idea to visit whilst it was still reasonably quiet. Which one shall we visit first? The Rainforest Mummy!! Ok, lets head in that direction then. It was a bit chilly so the warmth of the rainforest would be much appreciated. We found an information point showing us the transformation of the site and my son was really taking it all in and asking lots of questions.
It was great to see him taking an interest and wanting to learn, of cause the talk of excavations and diggers certainly helped! It’s worth mentioning that there were a whole host of Easter activities running whilst we on site, we’d have happily participated but my son wanted to explore. So that was that! For me, it was lovely to see some colour, Spring was appearing before our eyes.
As we walked towards the Biome there was a lot to keep our interest, especially some rather wonderful art installations. I really want this one for my garden, oh ok, maybe a slightly smaller version!
You know we’re a family of bug hunters so this Bee went down particularly well and led to discussions about the valuable job the bee does in the garden pollinating. Don’t forget the honey Mummy! Yes, well-remembered. There are lots of information points around the site which are useful and great for kids too.
You access the Biome area through the ‘Link’ which houses indoor and outside eating areas, toilets, changing room and juice bars.
When you enter the Rainforest Biome it is definitely advisable to remove any coats/warm weather gear, or you and the kids will melt. Also as I soon discovered, the humidity doesn’t go with having a DSLR camera, I soon reverted back to my iPhone, which handled the atmosphere much better. I’d also have drinks available for younger children, my son certainly appreciated the occasional pit stop along the way.
I explained to my son that we would be seeing examples of plants from around the globe and some from places I’d visited myself. It was great to see plants I recognised from my travels to Gambia and Thailand and to be able to share stories as we walked through the Biome. Things become far more interesting for children when you can relate them to your own life experiences. Discovering a ‘ship’ went down well as we began our journey.
Again, lots of information points and ideas to keep the children engaged as we walked through the different areas.
Walking through the Rainforest what can you see? We saw all sorts of plants, some big, some small.
We saw rubber trees where latex could be harvested and cocoa plants to make chocolate. My son couldn’t believe it when we showed him the rice fields. I’m still not sure he’s entirely convinced that he saw rice plants! Mangoes and sugar cane, Baobab and Bamboo, Coffee and Cashews (sadly no nuts at this time of year) but again, I could tell my son about seeing them growing in Thailand. Lots of things brought back forgotten memories of plants I’d seen abroad over the years. It was a great experience for all of us.
We walked through the Rain Forest Canopy Walkway and then realised we could walk right up about the canopy on a suspended platform.
Whilst the rest of the Biome is Buggy friendly, this platform is not and children must be able to walk up the suspended staircase, they can’t be carried. My son decided to try climbing the staircase, but it didn’t surprise me at all that after a few steps he wanted to come down. So Daddy P and I took it in turns. There’s a waiting area at the bottom with a bench and storage buckets for your rucksack etc. The stairs wobble very slightly but the view from the platform is wonderful.
Once we’d finished we listened to a really interesting demonstration on how chocolate is made from cocoa and the children could have a go grinding coffee beans. Then we got to see bananas being harvested. Greengrocer Daddy P was in his element and a banana loving son was so excited to see where bananas actually came from.
Once we’d finished in the Rainforest Biome we decided to grab an early lunch before exploring the Mediterranean Biome. We bumped into a friend and her family and enjoyed some Cornish pasties and drinks. They’ve been before and we were comparing notes. Once we’d eaten it was time for some more adventures. This Biome is warm but nowhere near as humid so much more DSLR friendly.
The Biome felt vaguely familiar as we could easily have been walking around a village in Southern Spain with Granny and Gramps. It certainly felt that way when we saw the citrus trees in fruit.
The children loved the wide walkways which gave them some space to let off steam as we followed the yellow brick road.
There was a lot more colour in this Biome with less vegetation and a lot of blooms.
We were enjoying just walking through the different area looking at the plants and art installations, but there is another cafe area inside the Mediterranean Biome too. Monkey got his camera out and was busy snapping away. When I get a moment I’ll have a look through his photos and maybe they’ll be another ‘Through the lens of a 5-year-old’ post coming soon!
We’d seen so much already, it was hard to believe we still had so much more of the Eden Project to explore. The weather was being kind to us and the kids were desperate to try out the pirate ship play area.
Iona and I left the Dad’s in charge whilst we wandered up the hill to see the Metal Giant and Hemp fence.
We looked down over the site and watched as the brave travelled the Sky Wire – the longest zip wire in England. Not for me at all, but it costs £18.00 and you can actually take part without visiting Eden Project itself, should you so wish.
Time was getting on and we wanted to head towards the Core with its various interactive displays. We met WEEEMan on the way and the kids were fascinated – what electrical appliances can you spot? Hard to believe that this lot represents what one person will throw away in a lifetime.
Then the kids spotted tractors to play on and there was more fun to be had.
We spotted some creepy crawlies along the way.
Before finally tearing the kids away from the tractors with the promise of a cake in the Core Cafe area! After we’d tried out a few of the interactive areas with the Core, it was obvious that our little men were getting tired after a long day out. They both wanted to take the Land Train back up to the entrance and they certainly deserved it.
The complimentary Land Train runs every 15-20 minutes and goes from the Stage Area up to the Visitor Centre below the car parks. We’d had a full, action-packed day, my son walked all over the place, listened, learned and explored. It’s certainly somewhere we would revisit as he gets older and I can thoroughly recommend Eden Project as a great place for all the family to enjoy. Looking at the guide-book I’d bought, after we got back to our cottage at Coombe Mill, I soon realised we’d still missed sections of the site, a great excuse for a revisit the next time we’re back in Cornwall.