Travel: Rainy summer days in St Ives
St Ives is one of my favourite places in the world. If the weather is with you there is no place I would rather be on holiday. Unfortunately the Great British weather is not always gloriously sunny. We went on holiday there for 12 days this year and had a wonderful time. We had some really sunny, hot days but also had the odd showery day. This doesn’t have to ruin your holiday though if you know where to go without spending a fortune. We also don’t really like theme parks or anything like that plus some places can get really crowded. This post is a guide to our favourite things to do with our 8 year old son when it is raining in St Ives.
We lived in St Ives for a short while and one thing we learnt was to always pack an umbrella. The weather can change very quickly, for the better or worst so it is best to be prepared. Don’t panic because there are plenty of things to do if you have a wet day. There are the obvious things to do like getting your wetsuit and braving the sea, playing in the arcade or going shopping but we always head for a good cafe for a hot drink and a slice of cake.
St Ives has an abundance of amazing cafes and restaurants so this is usually our first port of call. We have many favourites but the following ones are where we would go if it is raining:
Hub. This restaurant and bar has stunning views across the harbour. It has recently been extended and refurbished to a high standard. You can’t book but don’t usually have to wait long for a table. We visited for breakfast this year and it was amazing. They also do really good cocktails.
Porthminster cafe. This is a more expensive option but definitely worth visiting for a special occasion. I would recommend you book a table here before you go on holiday as it is a popular spot. If you can book a window seat, the best one is with the balcony. The food is amazing, predominantly seafood. I had plaice with brown shrimp. It was delicious.
Beer and Bird. We visited this place a bit off the cuff but were very impressed. We had to wait about twenty minutes for a table but the service was excellent as was the food. It was well priced compared to the size of the portion. The menu is chicken based. My husband had three tacos which were all different and all absolutely delicious. The kids loved this place.
The Tate cafe. The food here is amazing. It is our favourite place to go for a cream tea, especially when it is raining. The views across the beach and rooftops of St Ives is amazing. I could stare at it all day. The cafe serves other homemade food. We always opt for the cream tea but when it comes out for other customers it looks wholesome and delicious. We have always had excellent service in here.
If you are all eaten out and need somewhere to go for the afternoon I would highly recommend the Tate. You can buy a ticket that gives you entry to there and the Barbara Hepworth Museum within 7 days which is well worth it. The Tate is one of my favourite galleries. The building is stunning, the exhibitions are always interesting and inspiring and even if it is busy it’s so spacious that you never feel crowded.
This floor of the Tate has amazing Art one way and Porthmeor beach the other. This was taken on a very wet day when the gallery was busy. As you can see it still doesn’t seem crowded.
The view out to Porthmeor.
If you have the car and fancy a drive out of St Ives there are so many places to choose from to visit. If it is really raining I have a few suggestions.
Penzance Art Gallery. This is a wonderful modern building that shows some really exciting exhibitions. I think it has a bit more edge that the Tate and shows more performance art. There is also a fabulous cafe and little area with puzzles and activities for children. You do have to pay for the exhibition but this also gets you into Newlyn Art Gallery which is a short drive away or if it has stopped raining you can walk along the sea front to it.
Chapel Street, Penzance. This street is the best street in Penzance and definitely worth visiting. There is a large vintage store that has a real eclectic mix of finds, Number 56 is has sophisticated interior and fashion pieces, The Artist Residence is a stylish hotel that has a well designed bar to visit, The Egyptian House is amazing and needs photographing and Fishboy PZ (clothes shop) has some really cool pieces for sale.
Mousehole. This is an incredibly pretty harbour village that has an abundance of quaint cottages and back streets. If it is raining enjoy a pint or two in The Ship Inn that overlooks the harbour. A tip though, park in one the car parks that are just before you get into the village. The narrow streets of Mousehole are not designed for summer tourist traffic and it can be very frustrating.
Mackerel Sky, Newlyn. This small fish bar in Newlyn is a little gem. You cannot book so expect a short wait but it is so cute inside. I had the salt and pepper squid which was delicious. The service is excellent and you feel like you could be anywhere. It was raining when we visited and it felt very romantic sitting in this small , glass restaurant eating food that had been caught just metres away.
Trenmenheere Sculpture Gardens, Ludgvan. These gardens are worth a visit no matter what the weather. They are a real find. We visited and were prepared to walk around in the drizzle but it was torrential so we opted for the cafe instead. We were not disappointed. The food had been recommended to us by friends but we were still pleasantly surprised. For lunch you may need to book as it is very popular with the locals. The food is amazing, made with local and seasonal produce. We only stopped for a mid morning treat and I had the cheese scone which was the best scone I have ever had. It was served warm with butter, cheese and chutney. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
St Just. This is a quaint little village that has a couple of gems. One of them is the Kurt Jackson Foundation which is a modern gallery showcasing his art work. It is tucked behind houses on a backstreet and I couldn’t quite believe that it was there. The building is industrial and stunning. Kurt Jackson’s art work was so inspiring. He isn’t someone I had heard of until we found this gallery but he now one of my favourites. Also is St Just has a wonderful vegan friendly cafe called Dog and Rabbit. This is just around the corner from the gallery and is decorated with an eclectic mix of furniture. The menu was wholesome and ethical and the range of cakes very tempting. The drive to St Just is beautiful too. Go through Zennor along the coast and view the rugged coastline.
The Gurnard’s Head. This is my favourite pub ever! It is more of a restaurant but there are some spaces to sit if you just want to visit for a pint or two. It has the warmest feel to it and if you are hungry the food is amazing. You can stay here which I have always wanted to do - I can imagine weary travellers resting here after a blustery walk along the coast. It would be perfect. If you are travelling towards St Just along the Zennor coastal road you will see its bright yellow building from the road. The owner also owns The Coastguard in Mousehole and The Felin Fach in Brecon both wonderful and worth visiting.
Thank you for reading. I hope you find some of this post useful. Please let me know if you visit any of these places on my recommendation or if you have any suggestions of your own. It is such a beautiful place of the world and there is so much to see. Everyone has different favourite spots. Ours usually have a food or art theme so your interests might take you to other places that we don’t know about. I’d love to hear from you.