101 Things To Do In St Ives Cornwall (Without Leaving Town)
Go to the beach. You can't come to St Ives without going to at least one beach. We have 7 amazing ones to choose from, each with a different feel and often with different weather!
Take a walk along Smeaton's Pier. The pier is a fascinating place with lots of things to see. It is a working pier with fishermen landing their catch, so please do take care. Pop into St Leonard's Chapel on Smeaton's Pier. This is a tiny chapel where the fishermen used to visit to pray for luck and good weather before setting out on their fishing trips. Have a look for the old Cintra Anchor too.
Eat a Cornish Pasty. There are plenty of places selling delicious Cornish Pasties at all times of the year in St Ives. You can easily get vegetarian and gluten free ones these days too. My favourite pasty shop is the lovely St Ives Bakery on the corner of Fore Street and The Digey.
Drink a pint of something local outside The Sloop. Grab yourself a beer and sit at one of the tables overlooking the harbour. Life doesn't get better than that, even in the rain!
Learn to surf. Go down to Porthmeor Beach and book a surfing lesson with the St Ives Surf School.
Buy lunch from St Ives Farmers' Market. This is a wonderful market held every Thursday in The Guildhall in St Ives. It is jam packed full of locally made and locally grown produce.
Hire a jaunty deckchair on St Ives Harbour Beach and while the day away watching the boats.
Visit Tate St Ives. Even if you are not a modern art afficionado, a visit to the Tate St Ives is always lovely. I am often a little perplexed by some of the art work but I still always love a visit. The shop and cafe are especially good - as is the view from the main gallery! They also run lots of family friend art events which are great for the kids.
Watch the RNLI lifeboat launch. It is a fabulous spectacle to watch and they often do a practice run on a Wednesday afternoon (5:30ish). A great place to watch it all from is upstairs in The Hub.
Go to the cinema. Yes, St Ives has it's very own cinema and it is really cheap! It isn't terribly plush but it does show lots of good things. If you have children, the Mini Merlin sessions on a weekend are only £1.99 each. Another fab thing to do is the Cinema On The Beach. During the Summer a cinema screen is put up on Porthmeor Beach for beach films. An amazing experience! The Cohort Hostel in town also puts on some superb film nights.
Collect sea glass on St Ives Harbour or Porthmeor Beach. Sea glass collecting is quite addictive. The more you look the more you find. We get lots of white coloured sea glass but not so much of the rarer blues. Once you have collected your little haul of sea glass you can turn it into a lovely piece of art.
Visit the St Ives Library. It is a lovely, welcoming place with lots of local history and art books as well as local art works displayed. They often hold events such as childrens craft workshops and talks, as well as the regular weekly groups. All are welcome to attend.
Buy a locally written book from the St Ives Bookseller on Fore Street. They stock a superb range of local books for both children and adults. My kids favourites are the Soggy Books and Helen Dunmore's The Lonely Sea Dragon.
Go swimming in the sea. You will find people swimming in the sea at all times of the year. We have lots of wild swimmers down here. The best beaches if you are not a strong swimmer are Porthgwidden and Porthminster as the currents aren't so strong. If swimming in the sea isn't your thing, we have several lovely swimming pools in town.
Search for Alfred Wallis's house and grave (after seeing his art work in the Tate St Ives).
Go bodyboarding. Brilliant fun for anyone who can swim - no surfing skills required!
Visit the amusement arcade on Wharf Road in the harbour. It is a little bit of kiss me quick fun for all!
Spot the St Ives Mermaid. She often beaches herself, usually on Porthminster Beach. She loves children to come and meet her and have a chat and a photo.
Visit The Leach Pottery at the top of The Stennack. You can take a workshop and learn to make your own pottery, or just visit the museum and shop.
Join in with a local pub quiz. There are usually several a week around town.
Learn a new craft skill at the Barnoon Workshop. They run a superb range of art and craft workshops for beginners and children to the more advanced.
Build a sandcastle. A must do for every trip to the seaside, even if you are not a child!
Try your hand at Stand Up Paddleboaring (SUP). It may look easy but balancing on one of those big boards is really tricky!
Eat an ice cream made with local milk. The most local is Moomaid of Zennor - it is extremely good.
Watch a show by the amazing Kidz R Us at their theatre on The Stennack.
Take a guided ghost tour around the town with Shanty Baba. There are also art tours and history tours.
Take a coastal walk all the way to Zennor. Have lunch in The Tinners Arms and catch the bus back into town.
Search for the oldest house in St Ives (clue: it's on Fish Street).
Play tennis at St Ives Tennis Club just behind Porthminster Beach. The club lets you "pay and play".
Find the Well of St Ia (the saint who the town was named after). It is here that the Feast Day parade visits for a blessing each year (in February).
Take a helicopter trip over St Ives. In the Summer months you can take a ride right over St Ives - a stunning sight from the air!
Watch the stone balancers on Lambeth Walk Beach. Try your own hand at it to see just how tricky it is!
Shop at an Arts & Crafts Market. St Ives has several craft markets - The Island Centre, The Salvation Army and The Guildhall all host them. Check their websites for more details.
Go on a boat trip from St Ives Harbour. During the season, boats go to Seal Island, Godrevy Lighthouse and do longer deep sea and mackerel fishing trips.
Visit the waterfalls on Porthmeor Beach. My children and their cousins spend nearly the whole Summer there playing in the water and on the rocks.
Take an art class or course at Porthmeor Studios. They have drop in Life Drawing classes every week, or specialist art courses running throughout the year.
Have your photo taken with The Invisible Man. He is sometimes there, sometimes not (wind dependent!).
Hire a motorboat in the harbour and pretend you are a boat owner for a few hours! You can also do the hair raising rib rides around the bay - not for the feint hearted!
Walk up to Trewyn Tropcial Gardens and get a little bit of lush peace and quiet away from the hussle and bussle of the town.
Have a Spa treatment. There are some amazing spas in St Ives. Try St Ives HarSpa, The Sail Lofts, Una Spa or C Bay Spa.
Take a walk up Steeple Lane to Steeple Woods and Nature Reserve. If you are free on a Wednesday morning, you could join in with their volunteers and help maintain the reserve. Gloves and tools are provided.
Continue your walk through Steeple Woods Nature Reserve up to Knill's Monument. This obelisk has a bizarre history and is part of the Knill Ceremony that takes place there every 5 years.
Take the kids rockpooling. There are some fab rockpools on Porthmeor that are fascinating to dip in.
Go for afternoon tea, complete with cucumber sandwiches and macarons. St Ives Harbour Hotel does a lovely afternoon tea, as does Silco on the Wharf.
Hang around the harbour by Wood Pier or the end of Smeaton's Pier and look for seals. THere are usually plenty of them when the fishing boats come in. You may be lucky and also spot a sunfish or a pod of dolphins!
On stormy weather days, go wave watching on Man's Head or The Island. Go wave dodging on Lambeth Walk. But take care, don't take risks!
Walk round The Island and look for stunning coastal flowers and bird life. There is usually a kestrel hanging out at the top!
Make your own chocolates at I Should Coco on Tregenna Hill. They also have a lovely cafe and shop where you can buy their delicious chocolate made in St Ives.
Walk all the way up to the top of The Stennack. You will see The Roundhouse. Behind this is Consols Pond, featured in the Soggy books. Every year on Good Friday there is the tradition of children sailing their model boats on the pond. Follow the river Stennack all the way back down The Stennack. How you know why The Stennack is called The Stennack! The Cornish word Stenek means tin-bearing ground. Most of the engine houses you see dotted around the area are from tin mining.
Paint a rock and hide it! Painted rocks are really popular around here. The idea is that you paint a lovely picture and hide it somewhere so that someone else can find it. There is a local Facebook group called St Ives Rocks which you can post your pictures to.
Visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Gardens. This is a delightful little museum and such a peaceful garden full of her sculptures. You can also search for Barbara Hepworth sculptures around town. There are several dotted around so keep your eyes peeled!
Visit St Ia Parish Church by the harbour. It is a beautiful building inside that reminds me of the hull of an upturned boat. They hold services and regular concerts plus bell ringing on Sunday.
Take a stroll through the peaceful St Ives Memorial Gardens right by St Ia Parish Church. It's a great place to listen to the bells on Sunday.
Check out the concerts, comedy and other entertainment on at The Guildhall in St Ives. Check their website for events - there is usually something good on, especially in the Summer.
Visit St Nicholas Chapel on The Island. It used to be used by smugglers as a lookout. Nowadays it is open for visitors and is often used for wedding blessings.
Do a spot of bird watching. We have much more than just seagulls here. The best places to take your binoculars are Man's Head, The Island and round by Porthgwidden Beach. Here you can often see cormorants drying their wings on the rocks out to sea.
Take a train trip on the St Ives Bay Line. The St Ives to St Erth train line has to be one of the most picturesque train trips in the world!
Walk around Island Square just off Back Road East and keep a look out for Harvey The St Ives Cat. He has quite the following on Facebook and loves to be stroked and photographed.
Take your dog for a beach walk IN THE SUMMER on Bamaluz, Breakwater or Lambeth beach. The main beaches (Porthmeor, Porthgwidden, Harbour and Porthminster) are not dog friendly after Easter until October. Alternatively, get your walking boots on and hike along to Porthkidney Sands by Lelant. This is a superb, BIG dog walking beach that is pooch friendly all year round.
Visit The Sloop Studios and watch artists and crafters at work. They make some beautiful creations!
Watch a show at one of the most smallest and quirkiest theatres in the land. The Boathouse Theatre is tiny. They put on shows throughout the school holidays that are amazingly, bizarrely funny!
Play golf at Tregenna Castle. They have an 18 hole par 3 golf course which is open to non-residents. It is a challenging course with spectacular views!
Help out at St Ives Community Orchard. This lovely community project is located behind the park on Penbeagle Hill. There are lots of work dates for volunteers throughout the year. You don't need any experience, just a cheerful disposition! They also hold some lovely events such as Wassailing and Apple Day.
Live music, buskers and Shanty Shouts. Lots of pubs in the town host live music acts. The Sloop, The Castle, The Kettle and Wink and The Lifeboat are ones to check out on Facebook. The streets during the warmer months have plenty of buskers to listen to - the ones outside The Sloop Inn are especially good. If you are lucky with timing you might run into a Shanty Shout in the pubs.
Watch a local rugby match. Walk up to the Rugby Club at the top of town and watch St Ives town RFC play. They have matches most weekends and these are advertised at the junction by Consols Pond.
Sail with the St Ives Jumbo Luggers. The luggers are traditional fishing boast, 2 of which you will see moored in the harbour from Easter time until late September. For a years membership of £30 (last time I checked) you can arrange to go out with the crew and sail the luggers in the bay.
Wander around the town looking at all the art galleries. Many of them have working artists in them which are usually happy for you to watch and chat to. There is usually an interesting art exhibition or two on somewhere in town too.
Visit The St Ives Museum overlooking Bamaluz Beach. This museum is delightful. It is stuffed full of St Ives artifacts and history. Well worth a visit!
Surfhouse St Ives. The surfhouse which sits on top of The Island has been rennovated by local surfer Tassy Swallow. She has set up a surf school for girls to help build skills and confidence. The surfhouse is also used for workshops, talks and the amazing surf film and pizza nights.
Walk through Tregenna Castle gardens and grounds. There are 72 acres of garden overlooking St Ives. You can get guided tours but do phone up the castle beforehand to book.
Catch an open top bus to St Just and Lands End. These run in the Summer leaving St Ives every 2 hours. While the bus station is out of action I believe they are leaving from the bus stop opposite the launderette on The Stennack.
Visit the RNLI Lifeboat Station and learn all about it's history. Visiting times are April to Octore, Monday to Friday day times. Buy something lovely in the shop next door and support the good work the RNLI do.
Eat Fish & Chips. You can't come to St Ives without having some traditional fish and chips. For a sit down meal try The Balancing Eel. There are 2 superb takeaways - Becks at Carbis Bay and Sharky's at the top of Penbeagle Hill.
Go horseriding. You can horseride at Penhalwyn Riding School in Halsetown. You can book short sessions for those wanting to have a little go, or longer sessions and hacks for those more experienced at riding.
Take the kids to the park. We have two proper play parks in St Ives, one at Ayr and one at the top of Penbeagle Hill. There is also a good play park near Tescos in Carbis Bay. There is a skate park behind the park on Penbeagle Hill. At the moment funds are being raised to completely rennovate it into a brilliant skate park for our kids.
Sail with St Ives Sailing Club. If you can already sail you are welcome to come and sail with the club if you are visiting. They have a small cabin and boat yard at the back of The Sloop car park. Pop in and say hello if you fancy a sail.
Take a glass workshop with the St Ives Glass Art Workshops. Held in Carbis Bay these workshops are fun, affordable and suitable for all levels.
Hire a beach chalet on Porthminster, Porthgwidden or Porthmeor beach. Store all your beach gear without having to lug it up and down the hills.
Have a go at wheel-thrown pottery at St Ives Pottery. They hold taster sessions plus courses for the more advanced. The sessions are held in The Drill Hall on Royal Square in St Ives.
Walk to Carbis Bay and spot the old Huer's Hut. This is a lovely walk along the coast and over the train line down into Carbis Bay. It's not pram or wheelchair friendly but it is well worth the effort. If you are too tired to walk back you can always get the train.
Have a cream tea. Another must do in St Ives. Lots of places do them but my favourite has to be Olives on Island Square, just off Back Road East.
Try kayaking. The beaches and headland of St Ives are great for kayaking. You can hire kayaks from St Ives Surf School and they tend to launch them from Porthminster Beach. Alternatively you can go on a guided trip right round the coast, depending on tides and weather.
Visit the quirkiest of museums in St Ives, The Capt Sir Richard Francis Burton Museum. The world's only museum dedicated to one of the world's most extraordinary individuals. Entry is by appointment only but bookings can be made in the evening when it will be candlelit by Moroccan lanterns.
I'm sure you have seen the gorgeous, bright blue gigs in the harbour. These belong to the St Ives Pilot Gig Club. They row in the Summer evenings and you can come along to the slip by The Sloop to have a go too.
If your children are Lego fiends, go along to St Ives Library on a Monday afternoon and join in with the local lego club. All all welcome!
Walk up to the top of The Island to see The Coastguard Lookout & The Battery. Last year whales were spotted from here!
Play pitch and putt in the Summer on Beach Road overlooking Porthmeor Beach. There is also a bowling green here.
Play mini golf on Porthminster Beach. There is an 18 hole course and clubs and balls are provided. You can hire children's clubs. There is also an old fashioned merry-g-round and The United Beach Mission team arrive in the summer and provide children’s games and fun activities on the beach.
Go tombstoning! Okay, I shouldn't be recommending this as it can be dangerous if you don't know the tides. It is basically jumping off the pier into the sea. It's mainly done by brave local kids, but they are pretty friendly if you want to join in!
Drink a glass of St Ives Cider. Deliciously crisp and arromatic, scrumpy this is not!
Go crabbing or line fishing on Smeaton's Pier. If you go down the old slip way by the loos there are lots of good crabbing and fishing spots.
Eat a meal in a heated pod overlooking Porthmeor Beach. Porthmeor Beach Cafe does some stunning food and drink, all with a beautiful view, what ever the weather!
Walk round to the headland on the far side of Porthmeor Beach. This is called Man's Head and is a really good place for a walk, a picnic or just an explore.
Visit Barnoon Cemetery, possibly the cemetry with the best view in Britain! There are some really interesting graves, such as the men who were lost in the wreck of The Alba, Alfred Wallis, Commonwealth War Graves and Stephen Curnow who lost his life on the Titanic.
Spot the mice and buy some Cornish cheese from Cheese On Coast. This is one of my favourite shops in St Ives. Their cheese are delicious!
During the Summer months you can do Yoga on the beach. There are also several other yoga classes run in St Ives throughout the year. Check out Jo Riley, Lucy Aldridge on Facebook, St Ives Leisure Centre and St Ives Library who run a drop in class on a Monday.
Drink Trink Milk. This milk is made by cows reared in the fields above St Ives. It is pasteurised but not homogenised so the taste is quite something else. Available all over St Ives, you really do need to try some!
Shopping in St Ives is a delightfully quirky experience. Yes, some of the more unusual shops have given way to bigger brands but there are still some gorgeous independent shops still thriving. It is not just Fore Street though, there are some wonderful shops on Tregenna Hill, St Andrews Street and in The Drill Hall on Royal Square. Search them out, you won't be disappointed!
Discover the famous Green Door! You have heard it spoken of but are yet to find it. Keep your eyes peeled and post your pics to Facebook!
Take a photo of the famous Kitty's Corner on St Ives Harbour Beach.
Watch the sun set on Porthmeor Beach. The best way to enjoy this is with a glass of something cool from Porthmeor Beach Cafe and a good companion!
Is there anything you like to do in St Ives that you think should be included? Send me a message below and I can add it!