St. Ives in Cornwall is famous for its artists and the amazing quality of the light which drew them there in the first place, it's also one of my favourite places.
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.
Finally the jewel in St Ives crown is the beaches, they are perfect for looking for shells and sea glass in the harbour as well as sitting back and admiring the view while the children get on with building sandcastles and digging holes. There are around 12 beaches in and around St Ives but I have three favourites (more information on them and the others is available here). The one closest to the town (and therefore great when you're as unprepared as I am and invariably need to buy something you've forgotten) is St Ives Harbour beach, it is sandy and huge when the tide goes out but when it's in it can get very small so keep and eye on those tide times! It also gets pretty busy. Porthgwidden is quite small but is often overlooked so can be quieter, you do feel like you've stumbled on to a little secret after the crowds in the town. There is a good café and it's fairly sheltered if its a windy day.
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.