Today it is a bustling town with a wealth of independent shops, stunning beaches and a range of places to eat. There truly is something for everyone from the culture of Tate, St Ives to the more traditional bucket and spade shops and arcades.
My top tip is that this is not a place made for cars! Choose one of the car parks away from the main harbour and take a bus in or use the park and ride. It can also get extremely busy in peak holiday season so come early to have a look and browse in the shops and around the ancient streets and then grab your things and head to the beach when things get crowded.
Some of my favourite shops to visit when I'm there are on Fore Street. Poppy Treffry for wonderful handsewn goodies and The Painted Bird a beautiful independent homewares and lifestyle shop.
It's so refreshing to see a main street with so many thriving and ingenious independent businesses more than holding their own against a few bigger chains.
I also love the interiors in Cream Cornwall with their striking prints which are modern but deliciously fresh and coastal at the same time, I would love to live in their shop!
Just take a look and some of their stunning lampshades and soft furnishings alongside ceramics and kitchenware. Every time I go there my wish list grows!
For baked goods you have to try the Mississippi Mud Pies at The Yellow Canary Café, they are the perfect indulgent treat.
The New Craftsman Gallery is always worth a visit with a wide range of stunning pieces from jewellery to paintings, ceramics and glass and they are also very welcoming and friendly. They didn't bat an eyelid when my exuberant tribe of children came in with me (although I was on tenderhooks!) and were very knowledgeable about all their artists.
If you fancy a walk to work off all the ice cream and cakes, or to burn some energy off the children, take a walk up to St Nicholas Chapel.
St Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and this is the perfect spot for his chapel with wide ranging views out to sea and of St Ives to one side and Portmeor Beach on the other.
A walk down back into the town towards Tate St Ives takes you past numerous small artist studios where you can see some work being made and talk to the artists. I discovered, and fell in love with, the work of Julie Harper Ceramics.
If the amazing light and scenery has inspired you too you can take a workshop yourself at the St Ives School of Painting.
The blue flag Porthmeor Beach (pictured below) is a long stretch of golden sand overlooked by artists studios and the Tate St Ives. As it faces the Atlantic you can usually see some surfers in the waves. So that's a whistle stop tour of this fabulous little town, what do you think? Any recommendations for next time we visit? I'd love to hear about them.