Clear blue waters, four golden sand beaches, fine food, galleries and art have made St. Ives one of the most popular of Cornwall’s seaside towns and a most rewarding location for a holiday cottage stay. From here, not only the delights of this picturesque seaside village but the wider attractions of the Penwith peninsula, on Cornwall’s west coast, open up to the visitor whatever the time of year. The town’s main street is thronged with holidaymakers in the summer season, but the relative mildness of the climate and the presence of the Gulf Stream combine to make this area a superb holiday location all year round.
St. Ives spreads out over the hillside, tumbling down to the coast where it offers four lovely sandy beaches. The centre is a maze of pretty narrow streets lined with fishermen’s cottages, picturesque nooks and crannies affording enticing glimpses of the sea in unexpected places. Restaurants, bars, craft shops and galleries all jostle for position along the main street leading up from the harbour. The local catch is landed daily on Smeaton’s Pier, in time-honoured fashion, ready to serve some of the freshest fish available at the region’s tables, all of which will delight in offering the visitor an irresistible ‘taste of the west’.
St. Ives enjoys a strong artistic heritage, with painters and sculptors attracted to the area since the early 1900’s, and one of its principal cultural attractions today is the Tate Modern St. Ives. More compact than it’s counterpart in the capital, the Tate St. Ives nonetheless houses an international-standard collection by over three hundred artists, including amongst many others Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron – whose striking stained glass work dominates the exterior of the building – and Terry Frost. The superbly designed building stands high above Porthmeor beach, and offers sweeping views of the bay from its lovely rooftop café. Also under the auspices of Tate St. Ives comes the neighbouring Barbara Hepworth museum. The sculptress’ former studio at Trewyn has been converted into a gallery exhibiting her work, where the beautiful tranquil gardens are as much a feature as the gallery itself. Though they remain popular, these gardens are a lovely spot in which to escape the crowds in the height of the summer. There are many galleries, small and large, to be enjoyed in St. Ives, whose celebration of its artistic heritage culminates in the town’s annual Music and Arts Festival, which takes place during the middle two weeks of September each year.
The Wayside Folk Museum is the oldest private museum in the region, chronicling the life and times of the inhabitants of the St Ives and Zennor regions of Cornwall, with displays, reconstructions and snapshots of daily life in times past. Children will enjoy following the quiz trail and uncovering how their forbears fished, mined, worked the land and generally lived life. Children will also be well entertained during a trip to Paradise Park, near Hayle, billed as Cornwall’s top wildlife park, with a ‘Junglebarn’ indoor play centre for wet weather days which is ideal for younger children. The park is set around a Victorian walled garden and features a collection of rare and endangered tropical birds and plants, both of which thrive in the mild climate, as well as beautiful gardens.
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