If it rains during your stay in St Ives, don’t let it stop play. There’s plenty to do in and around St Ives in all weathers – including simply striding out into the rain and enjoying that breath-catching, fresh feeling.
We’ll take you through the rainy streets, stopping at our favourite wet-weather spots.
If you want to spend a lot of the day under one roof, the wonderful Tate St Ives has to be the top choice. The permanent galleries tell the story of modern art in St Ives, and there’s a programme of temporary exhibitions. If you’re here with children, look out for family days, which are the perfect wet-weather activity.
If the timing’s right, you might catch a Kidz R Us matinee at St Ives Theatre, or an indoor market at the Guildhall. Admire (and buy?) contemporary local art at the St Ives Society of Artists HQ in a former chapel in Norway Square.
You can always throw yourself into the time-honoured rainy seaside activities: the amusement arcade, fish’n’chips under a shelter, then a couple of hours in the Royal Cinema. Rainy days should smell like popcorn and loose change.
Shop hopping is a lovely way to spend a rainy day. It’s always a joy to explore St Ives centre, with its wealth of independent shops and small private galleries. Buy something to read from St Ives Bookseller in Fore Street, then take a seat on the heated balcony of The Hub, a favourite wave-watching spot.
Possibly the town’s number one sheltered la fresco spot is one of the booths in Porthmeor Beach Café. These inviting pods have heaters, lamps and blankets. Rain has never felt so cosy.
Use the rain as an excuse for a spa day at Una St Ives. A day pass costs £20, and gives you access to the pool, sauna, steam room, spa and gym. There’s also a small and shallow pool for young children – although older kids may prefer the thrills and spills of Ships & Castles in Falmouth, with its wave machine and flume.
St Ives Leisure Centre is at the top of the town (in the big car park) and has a 25m swimming pool and a learner pool. The pool doesn’t have a café at the moment (late 2018), so you’ll need to pop across the road to the lovely Brewhouse Café for your post-swim treat.
Provided it’s not so wet your windscreen wipers won’t function, a rainy day is a good time to explore Cornwall’s indoor attractions. Geevor Tin Mine is just along the coast road in Pendeen. You actually get to go down a mine – how much more sheltered from the rain can you get? Penzance is a short drive from here, and Penlee House Gallery and Museum takes you back further into Cornwall’s history as an art hub.
Further up the line, the larger towns of Falmouth and Truro have museums, galleries, cinemas and shops. The National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth is one of the county’s best-loved undercover attractions. You can explore indoors in the Eden Project’s biomes; however, don’t forget your waterproofs, as the outdoor space is also spectacular.
Put on your waterproofs (there’s a Mountain Warehouse on Fore Street if you’re stuck) and head for the beach whatever the weather.
If you’re with kids, you’ll find that they are alarmingly weather-resistant. If they get engrossed digging in the sand, that’s your next hour taken care of (ditto with dogs). Go with it; and either grab a spade yourself (you’ll keep warmer that way), or simply enjoy the different kind of beauty that a cloudy sky brings to St Ives.
Thanks to that unique St Ives light, you can still see the turquoise tones in the shallow waters in most weathers. If the sea’s calm, don your wetsuit and get even wetter. It’ll be the most memorable swim ever, promise.
And the best bit? Peeling off your outer layers, as, with steamed specs and slightly damp socks, you stumble into one of St Ives’ many cafés for a warming hot chocolate. (With extra cream, because you’ve Been Intrepid.)
It’s not unlikely to rain during your stay in St Ives. This is the South West after all, and a bit of wet weather is the price we happily pay for a temperate climate and a lush landscape. Make the most of it: a wet day in St Ives isn’t a wasted one – it’s an opportunity.