101 Things To Do In St Ives Cornwall (Without Leaving Town)
Here are 101 things you can do right here in St Ives Cornwall. You can walk to them all from the harbour without having to drive anywhere.
Surfing - take a lesson or hire a surfboard and wetsuit from the St Ives Surf School on Porthmeor Beach.
Swimming (in the sea) - take the plunge, with or without a wetsuit! The best beach to swim from is Porthminster Beach as it is usually fairly calm here.
Swimming (in a pool) - there are several swimming pools you can use. There is a big swimming pool with a smaller childrens pool with slide at St Ives Leisure centre. The Garrack, St Ives Harbour Hotel and Tregenna Castle all have swimming pools you can use too.
Rockpooling - there is nothing more enjoyable than (gently) poking around in rockpools. We have some wonderful ones on Porthmeor Beach when the tide is low.
Crabbing - buy yourself a crab line, a bucket, a net and some bait. Sit off the old pier behind Smeaton's Pier and see what you can get.
Fishing - you can fish off the rocks around St Ives. There is usually plenty of mackerel to be caught, especially in the late Winter and Spring.
Tate St Ives - the world famous art gallery is reopening on 31st March. The existing gallery is re-opening first with the new extension opening some time in the Autumn. We can't wait to see what the new parts are like!
Barbara Hepworth Museum - visit the lovely little museum and tranquil gardens right in the heart of St Ives.
Fishing Trip - take a boat trip from the harbour and try your hand a sea fishing!
Boat Trip to Godrevy Lighthouse - get up close to the iconic Godrevy Lighthouse.
Boat Trip to Seal Island - take a boat down the coast and see seals aplenty!
Watch the RNLI launch their boat - the lifeboat goes out regularly on test runs and it is pretty awesome to watch them launch from the harbour. An even nicer place to sit is on the balcony upstair in The Hub with a drink and a burger.
Porthmeor Beach - the best surfing beach in St Ives. It is the most rugged beach in St Ives and is wonderful for a big long walk.
Spot Soggy The Bear - go and wave at Soggy The Bear and Philip Moran (the author of the Soggy Books). They can often be seen in the window along Lambeth Walk. (thanks for the correction Philip!)
Browse for local books at St Ives Bookseller on Fore Street - they have a wealth of wonderful local books, both for children and adults alike. They also have lots of local history books and maps.
The Island - this isn't actually an Island but a promontory. It is a lovely place for a walk and a sit down on one of the benches along the way to enjoy the amazing views.
Porthgwidden Beach - this is a very family friendly beach. Often sheltered and very safe it is a gorgeous sandy beach to play on. Look out for the big seal that often plays by the rocks!
St Ives Museum - on the site of the Wheal Dream mine, this is a fascinating museum full of little oddities and gems about St Ives.
Smeaton's Pier and Lighthouse - the pier is a fascinating place. It is a working pier with fishermen with all their tackle, so please do take care on there.
St Ives Harbour - the harbour provides endless interest. You can walk right across it down to the end of the pier at low tide and get up close to the moored boats.
St Ives Harbour Beach - this is a lovely beach and is often a real suntrap, even in the depths of Winter. Explore the arches or sit near Kittys Corner and simply enjoy the bustle of St Ives.
Hire a little boat - in the Easter and Summer season you can hire a motorboat to drive around the harbour and into the bay (a little way).
Find the Lonely Sea Dragon - go searching for Helen Dunmore's Lonely Sea Dragon and collect your own bottle of Dragon Tears (a young child with a vivid imagination may help here!).
Visit St Ives Library - everyone is welcome at St Ives Library. There is a lovely childrens area with books and colouring (plus childrens groups that anyone can attend). There also is a superb range of local history books and art work.
Coasteering with St Ives Surf School.
Learn a new craft at the Barnoon Workshop. They run a huge range of art and craft workshops, for beginners and children to the more advanced.
Search for Barbara Hepworth sculptures - there are several dotted around the town so keep your eyes peeled.
Go to the cinema - St Ives has it's own little cinema. It isn't terribly plush but shows the latest releases and is really good value for money!
Find Alfred Wallis's house and grave (with Leach Pottery tiles and an incredible view over Porthmeor Beach).
Try your hand at Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) - take lessons or hire equipment at Porthmeor and Porthminster Beach.
Watch a show by the AMAZING Kidz R Us at the St Ives Theatre.
Visit the amusement arcade on St Ives harbour front - a little bit of kiss me quick fun!
Take a stroll through the peaceful Memorial Gardens in the heart of town - right by the parish church. Lovely on a Sunday when the church bells are ringing.
Join in with the local pub quiz on a Monday Night at The Castle Inn on Fore Street.
Visit The Leach Pottery at the top of The Stennack. Take a workshop and learn to make your own pottery, or just visit the museum, kilns and shop and admire the wonderful creations.
Visit St Ia Parish Church by the harbour - it is a beautiful building inside that reminds me of the hull of a boat. They hold services and regular concerts too.
Take an art tour around town every Tuesday morning.
Are your children Lego fiends? Take them to the St Ives Library on a Monday afternoon (2nd Monday in every month) and join the group.
Kayakking - take a kayakking trip around the coast (speak to St Ives Surf School to book this).
Concerts, comedy and other entertainment at St Ives Guildhall - check their website for events.
St Ives Farmers' Market - every Thursday at St Ives Guildhall. Delicious local produce, perfect for a picnic lunch.
St Ives Pilot Gig Club - check out their website and come along to the slip by The Sloop to give it a go!
Sandcastle Building - a must do for every seaside trip. All our beaches are brilliant for building sandcastles on. Check out our what's on guide for sandcastle building competitions.
Visit the waterfall and river - go to the West side of Porthmeor and play in the little waterfall and river. My children and their cousins spend nearly the whole Summer here playing in the water and on the rocks.
Take a guided ghost tour around the town with Shanty Baba.
Take an art class or art course at Porthmeor Studios. They have drop in Life Drawing classes every week, or specialist art courses running throughout the year.
Walk up to Trewyn Tropical Gardens and get a little bit of peace and quiet.
Get a cup of coffee in Cafe Art in Royal Square - an art gallery in a cafe!
Take a coastal walk all the way to Zennor - you should be able to catch the bus back into town if you time it right!
Search for the oldest house in town (clue: it's on Fish Street).
Have a drink in the oldest pub in town - The Sloop circa 1312!
Hang out around the harbour and pier and look for seals - there are usually plenty when the fishing boats come in. You may be lucky and also see sunfish and even dolphins!
Make your own chocolates! If you are a chocoholic, check out the amazing shop called I Should Coco on Fore Street. They make the most wonderful chocolates and also run chocolate making workshops!
Walk up to the top of The Island and have a look at The Coastguard Lookout and The Battery. Last year whales were spotted from here!
Visit St Nicholas Chapel on The Island - it used to be used by smugglers as a lookout. Nowadays it is used for wedding blessings.
Walk round to the headland on the far side of Porthmeor Beach - this is called Mann's Head and is a really good place for a walk and an explore.
Paint a pot at 54 Lemons. Choose your blank shape (lots to choose from) and paint it up. They will fire it and you can collect it at the end of your holiday. They also do lovely coffee and cake!
Play tennis - St Ives Tennis Club lets you "pay and play". The club and 2 tennis courts are just behind Porthminster Beach.
Search for 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).
Visit St Leonards 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.
Take a helicopter trip over St Ives. In the Summer months you can take a ride right over St Ives - it is even more stunning from the air!
Stone Balancing - you can often see stone balancers (or their art work) on Lambeth Walk Beach. Try your hand at it and see just how tricky it is!
Pitch and putt - you can play pitch and putt golf on Beach Road over looking Porthmeor Beach. There is also a bowling green here.
Have a Spa treatment - there are a few AMAZING spas in St Ives. Try St Ives Harbour Hotel, The Sail Lofts, Una Spa or Carbis Bay CBay Spa.
Have a cream tea - well it would be rude not to wouldn't it? My favourite place for a cream tea has to be Olives!
Take the kids to a playground - Ayr Field and Play Park is a good place for the kids. It has a huge climbing frame and slide, a bucket swing and a few other bits. There is a big field there for ball games, scooting, cycling or walking the dog.
If you have smaller kids, the park up at the top of Penbeagle Hill may be a better place to go. It has baby swings, things for toddlers, plus lots of older kids.
If your children are into skating, behind the park at Penbeagle is a Skate Park. There is also a big field with goals for playing ball games.
Take a most picturesque train trip - the branchline from St Erth to St Ives goes right along the coast so you get the most terrific views!
Take your children to The Wonderful Bear Emporium on Fore Street and let them design and build their very own bear.
Walk along The Digey and keep your eyes peeled for the famous "Harvey The St Ives Cat". He has quite the following on facebook and loves to be stroked and photographed!
Have a pasty - the St Ives Bakery bake DELICIOUS pasties. As do Ferrells, Philps, The Yellow Canary - maybe you need to sample a few to decide which is your favourite!
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.
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 down The Stennack. Now 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 mines).
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 working group to help maintain the reserve (gloves and tools are provided!).
The Sloop Studios - visit The Sloop Studios and watch craftmen and women make beautiful creations.
Visit one of the smallest theatres in the land and watch a puppet show at The Boathouse Theatre. They put on shows throughout the school holidays that are amazingly, bizarrely funny!
Meet the St Ives Mermaid - she often beaches herself and has a lovely chat with the children.
Have an ice cream - eat a Moomaids ice cream made from cows from just down the road in Zennor. Delicious!
Do a spot of bird watching. We have much more than seagulls here. The best places to take your binoculars are Mann's Head, The Island and round by Porthgwidden Beach. Here you can often see cormorants drying their wings on the rocks out to sea.
Walk to Carbis Bay. This is a lovely walk along the coast, over the train line and 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.
Watch a local rugby match. Walk up to the Rugby Club at the top of town and watch St Ives town RFC play.
Have a drink in The Lifeboat - on a cold day they have a lovely real fire.
Play Golf - Tregenna Castle has 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 (behind the park on Penbeagle Hill). There are lots of work party dates for volunteers - check out their website or on facebook. You don't need any experience, just a cheerful disposition!
Fish & Chips - you can't come to St Ives without having some fish & chips. For a sit down meal try The Balancing Eel. For me the best takeaway is Sharky on The Penbeagle estate.
Catch an open top bus to St Just and Lands End from St Ives (these run in the Summer leaving St Ives every 2 hours).
The RNLI Lifeboat Station - visit the RNLI station and shop in the harbour. Visiting times are April - October, Monday - Friday day times.
Horseriding - you can do horseriding at Halsetown (Penhalwyn School) which is on the road into St Ives. You can book short sessions for those wanting to have a little go, or longer sessions and hacks for those more experienced.
Visit Porthminster Beach - a most elegant and calm beach, almost mediterranean in feel. It is very sheltered and surrounded by tropical planting. The railway station sits above it and my little boy loves to watch the trains come in.
Walk through Tregenna Castle gardens and grounds - a beautiful 72 acre site overlooking St Ives. You can get guided tours - phone up the castle beforehand.
St Ives Surfhouse - the surfhouse has been recently 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.
Wander round the town looking at all of the art galleries - many of which have working artists in them. Watch them create their beautiful works of art. There is always an interesting exhibition on somewhere in town.
Knills Monument. Overlooking St Ives is the pointy obelisk, Knills Monument. This was erected to commemorate John Knill, who was the eccentric mayor of St Ives in 1767. John Knill left the town £25 for a celebration to take place around the monument every 5 years. You must read about it - it is completely bonkers! The last one was in 2016 and so the next one will be in 2021.
St Ives Jumbo Luggers association. The luggers are traditional fishing boats - the St Ives Jumbos are very specific in design to St Ives. The association maintains and sails the luggers - 2 of which you will see moored in the harbour from Easter time until late September. For a years membership of £20 (last time I checked) you can arrange to go out with the crew and sail the luggers in the bay!
Lots of the pubs in town have live music events on. The Sloop, The Castle and The Lifeboat are 3 to check out!
Yoga - there are several yoga classes in St Ives. Check out Lucy Aldridge who has a drop in class at Carbis Bay Memorial Hall, St Ives Leisure Centre, or Monday at St Ives Library.
Shopping - shopping is a lovely experience in St Ives. There are lots of little quirky shops such as Poppy Treffy and Indo-Blue. You also get some nice clothes shops like Fat Face, Sea Salt and Joules. There are lots of jewellery shops, art galleries and souvenir shops. My kids especially like the Post Office on Fore Street as it sells all sorts of games and toys.
Food & Drink - you will never be short of a new place to eat or drink in St Ives.
Sit and admire the view - where ever you are in St Ives that is one thing you can pretty much guarantee.
Annual Events In St Ives
St Ives Feast Day
St Piran's Day
Good Friday at Consols Pond
St Ives Food Festival - held in May on Porthminster Beach. This is an amazing event which is getting bigger each year. This year it is on the 13th and 14th of May and looks like it will be the best yet!
Boats In The Bay
St Ives Literature Festival - this runs from May 13th - 20th and there are many events - poetry, book readings, live music and all sorts to get involved in.
St Ives September Festival - this is an annual 2 week festival celebrating music and art in the town.
St Ives Lifeboat Day (on the 17th August 2017). This is an amazing day with music, stalls and lots of demonstrations by the RNLI.
St Ives Festival - a music festival new to the town this year. It is on 19th August 2017 and we cannot wait!
St Ives Raft Race - held in August every year this is a crazy event with homemade rafts competing for prizes.
St Ives Harbour Swim competition.
St Ives Gin Festival - 17th June at St Ives Guildhall.
St Ives Biathlon - 24th June 2017. 2km road race St Ives to Carbis Bay followed by a 1.5km swim back from Carbis Bay to St Ives harbour.