St. Ives is a lovely seaside town that is well-worth a visit. It was the subject of the well-known nursery rhyme “As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks, every sack had seven cats, every cat had seven kits. Kits, cats, sacks and wives, how many were there going to St. Ives?”
Parking is somewhat tight, so you might take the train for your visit as I did. It is very walkable from the train station.Once there you can easily walk to the hotels, beaches, shops, restaurants, museums, artist studios and galleries. Trains to and from St. Ives to St. Erth on the main line, leave frequently.
For many years, St. Ives has been a popular destination for artists. Today as you walk and explore you can see many galleries and open studios. The St. Ives School of Painting was established in the historic Porthmeor studios at the center of the artists’ quarter in 1938.
Artist Ben Nicholson and his wife, the famed sculptor Barbara Hepworth, settled there in St. Ives with the outbreak of WWII. After the war more and more artists were attracted to the area which became known as the “St. Ives School”.
In 1993, the Tate St. Ives opened, as the second gallery in the Tate Gallery network. It is located in a contemporary three story building overlooking Porthmeor Beach. It is currently under renovation and will reopen in early 2017. It features many works by artists of the “St. Ives School”.
Make sure to visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. The home and gardens feature over 30 sculptures in bronze, stone and wood by one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. She lived and worked in the Trewyn Studios, now the museum from 1949 until her death in 1975. Barnoon Hill, St. Ives. It is part of the Tate Museum.
You can stop in at the Tate visitors center to buy tickets for the Tate and the Barbara Hepworth Museum. You can also buy a seven day Art Pass which also includes entry to the Leach Pottery Studio and Museum in St. Ives opened in 1920, the Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance, The Newlyn Art Gallery in Newlyn and the Exchange in Penzance.
You might also visit the current exhibitions of The St. Ives Society of Artists.
Walking to and around The Island, a fortified headlands/peninsula a short walk from downtown, you will have some wonderful views of the coast..
To eat, St. Ives has some really excellent restaurants. My top finds include:
Porthminster Beach Cafe: Located on Porthminster Beach, is a lovely restaurant with views of the beach. It is a short walk below the train station.
Porthminster Kitchen is a sleek contemporary restaurant overlooking the St. Ives Bay harbor downtown.
Porthmeor Beach Cafe is a casual spot overlooking Porthmeor beach. I had a perfect salad and crab sandwich.
Madeleine’s Tea Room: Just down from the Barbara Hepworth Museum, stop in at this charming tea room for a traditional Cornish cream tea. Market Place St. Ives.
The Mermaid Seafood Restaurant: This is a fun, casual choice as well. 21 Fish St.