When Lou Reed wrote Perfect Day about drinking Sangria in the park and going to the zoo, I’m sure he had a lovely time. But had he ever enjoyed a pasty on a bench overlooking the sea in St Ives, sun on his face, seagulls circling above, children playing on the beach below and happy faces all around…
The the long golden beaches, the cobbled lanes that wind their way past the pretty fishermens’ cottages, the wonderfully clean air and the subtropical climate. Perhaps it’s the marine wildlife, the coastal walks and the breathtaking beauty of the south west tip of Cornwall. The town’s famous art scene with The Tate, Barbara Hepworth garden and the countless galleries and craft shops. Or the restaurants and cafes, from simple lunches to Michelin guide recommended places, all vying for your business.
Whatever the reason is for your visit to St Ives, one thing is pretty much guaranteed; you will want to come back.
In the last 5 year St Ives has been awarded Best UK Seaside Resort by the British Travel association twice as well as winning many other accolades.
You see people wearing hats proclaiming “I ♥ NY” and good for them. Our family love St Ives…
So here is our families list of places we like to visit, things we like to do. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy some of them too.
We would love to hear your ideas, the things you enjoyed, the places that made your holiday special, so please leave comments here, or email us firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to put them in. Photos are very welcome too.
We always suggest to others that they pre book a meal out in St Ives when the town is busy. Otherwise, we tell people, they will be disappointed, everywhere will be booked up. Invariably we forget and then regret it.
The Seafood Cafe on Fore Street. I can honestly say we have never had a disappointing meal here.
Seagrass (If you are staying at the Sandals Holiday Cottage it is about 30 seconds door to door)
Award winning food at The Alba
The Black rock is very popular, and has won several awards including one from Michelin
More lunch than dinner at Pels
Another great place for a sandwich and #3/120 in St Ives Tripadvisor is The Cornish Deli. Hard to find though so look at the map on their web page.
Pasties. They seem to evoke strong feelings of loyalty to a particular shop. For some it is The Yellow Canary, others like Pengennas, for me there is only one place, Ferrells. This little shop is like a time warp back to the 50s, no chicken tikka pasties here :). They never seem to make enough so always run out, the lady who works in there is ‘Proper cornish’ and a large pasty (be warned, it is LARGE ) and a saffron bun is enough for 3 people on a normal day but I always stuff the lot!
Ice cream, it’s got to be Moo Maid
And lastly, Porthminster beach cafe. Probably the most famous restaurant in St Ives, it wins lots of awards and always features in any guide on eating in St Ives. What we do is go for cheese and 1/2 bottle of desert wine. A cheapskates way of enjoying the view and the ambiance without spending £100+ for a dinner for two!
There are some great walks.
St Ives to Zennor. A challenging walk out of St Ives from the far left hand side (as you face the sea) of Porthmeor beach along the coastal path to the hamlet of Zennor. The wooden sign at the start of the walk says 5 miles, be warned though, it is more like 10. A lovely walk on a sunny day, it takes you along the sea side path, with lots and lots of ups and downs giving the most amazing views over the sea, there is loads of wildlife, you will pass Seal Island, so take some binoculars, you may see dolphins. Kittiwakes, buzzards, and other birds are often spotted too. A friend of mine set off on the walk with his family, his daughter was in Saturday night going out shoes, they took no food and no drinks and he texted me from Zennor to say how popular a Dad he was for taking them all out for the day So please take food and drink and wear decent shoes. The pub at Zennor is an experience in itself, no Jägermeister bombs here then! More barrels of beer on the counter and basic sandwiches (fresh and very nice though). Get the bus back to St Ives unless you feel like walking back (I doubt you will!).
St Ives To St Unys church at Lelant. This one is easier. Basically it is walking along the coast the other direction from Zennor. Walk out of St Ives along the harbour front with the sea on your left and keep going. Amazing views and if the tide is out the beach at Hayle is as lovely as any beach in St Ives, about 2/3 mile of open golden sand, and normally deserted too.There are many variations to the route but as long as the sea is on your left, you are pretty much on track. There are some steeper bits, but it does get easier the further you go so don’t give up. After about 5 miles there is a wooden post with a pointer on it to St Unys church ( if you go a bit further you will reach the Hayle estuary and have overshot ) , walk past the church, straight on up the hill to the main road, on your left is The Badger inn , have a drink if you like, then over the road from the pub is the bus stop for your journey back. If you are planning to get the bus back, here is the timetable and a map of the walking and bus route.
Best local shop is Norway Stores, milk, bread, fancy biscuits, alcohol etc. Friendly shop a few minutes from any of the cottages.
There are a few national chains (Cath Kidston, Superdry, Sea Salt, etc.) and also lots of independent shops.
Calico has things like Alessi and Pandora etc. I Should Coco is great for lovely chocolates (you can get a free samples), local delicacies herb shop. Farmers market is good. Stockpile on Fore Street has all sorts of inappropriate gifts for teenage boys and teenage 40yr old men, snappits, bb guns, pocket knives, laser pointers etc. Great shop :).
Millenium Gallery has high end modern art and is always interesting, even if you walk round whispering things like ‘£6,000, for that, Jimmy could do better and he is only 4’.
The Tate is well worth a look, if you want to go in for a coffee the cafe is really nice, has great views, and you don’t have to pay to look round the gallery to visit it. The Barbara Hepworth museum (it’s a garden) is a good afternoon.
If you fancy buying some art a great place (not run for profit) is the St Ives society of Artists, and it’s about a minute from any of the cottages. Lots of the art in the cottages came from there. There are also about 20 other galleries in the town to wander round and enjoy. Great way to spend an afternoon and also spend more money than you planned to when you set off :).
The surf school at Porthmeor beach is renowned, they have one of the UKs top surfers as an instructor. Worth pre booking in high season.
Hire a boat and drive it your self around the bay.
The fast rib ride around the bay is great fun too, but I wouldn’t go on a windy day, they don’t go as fast and it is very bumpy. Recently a guest told me they went out on it and saw dolphins.
Quay side jumping (See video) sounds dangerous and probably is. My adrenaline junkie 12 yr old loves it, only at the top of the tide though and I am not suggesting it is safe! Join the other thrill seekers and local lads showing off at the pier by the lifeboat station.
Swimming/exercise classes:There is a very nice swimming pool and leisure center at the top of St Ives, get a bus for £1 from near the cinema, or walk up.
Cinema: This cinema is a bit 1960’s. If it’s wet and you want to get out…
Amusement arcade. Usual sea side machines, the best bit is a rifle range (not real guns, they shoot light beams) which squirts water at any one close when you hit a target. We can’t go to St Ives without tipping, and losing, countless 2ps into the penny falls. Wouldn’t dream of doing it at home!
Out of St Ives
Go Karting at St Erth (10 mins in the car) Really good fun here, my sons (12,16) love it.
For younger kids try Paradise park at Hayle.
Penzance and Newlyn have lots of galleries. In Penzance New St Gallery is a great place if you want to buy from the artist without paying the gallery a big commission ( it is a co-operative). It is a bit tricky to find so I would have a look at a map before you set off. Why not leave the car in its treasured parking place and get the train? See below.
Penzance also has St Michaels mount. You can drive or get the train to Penzance. The train ride is a great journey, the track runs by the sea front for a few miles with wonderful views before finishing at St Erth. You then get your connection on to Penzance. About £5 return. The buffet at St Erth is a lot better than the usual sterile fare found at say Euston, thanks goodness; lovely old ladies selling home made sandwiches etc. Once at Penzance walk, with the sea on your right for about a mile down the front to the causeway where you walk ‘across the sea’ to the island. Go at low tide or you will have to pay for a boat over.
The Minack is a totally unique theatre, just take a cushion if you decide to go as the seats are stone :).
Truro has its cathedral, shopping, nice cafes etc. Train from St Ives via St Erth.
Hope some of this helps, my top ‘don’t miss’ things would be Seafood Cafe, walk to St Unys church, St Michaels Mount.
More inspiration? Try St Ives Tourism Association. They even put a picture of Flip Flops Holiday Cottage, 1 Love Lane on their home page very near the top! Shows what a nice cottage it is
Please tell us what you enjoyed, if something as changed/closed down, what was fun by leaving a comment, or you can email us on email@example.com.
Derek and Liz
Footsteps Cottages in the heart of St Ives. Please browse our website and like our Facebook Page