St Ives, a picturesque seaside town nestled on the Cornish coast of England, has long been a haven for families, friends and couples interested in art, surfing or just a general escape from city life. But beyond its stunning beaches and vibrant cultural scene, St Ives offers a treasure trove of family-friendly activities. 

Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in art, savour fresh seafood or simply soak up the sun, there’s something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll explore how to spend a perfect family day in St Ives.

1. Explore art galleries

St Ives has a rich artistic heritage that offers something for all the family. Begin your day by immersing yourselves in the town’s vibrant art scene. The Tate St Ives, perched dramatically above Porthmeor Beach, is a must-visit. This renowned art gallery showcases contemporary art and often features family-friendly exhibitions and activities to help get the kids engaged in the artistic side of town.

The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is another gem for art enthusiasts of all ages. It offers a unique glimpse into the life and work of one of Britain’s most influential sculptors. Kids will love exploring the unique sculptures in the garden and the whole museum provides a great chance for them to learn about the creative process and discover new interests.

For families that want a more interactive experience, Leach Pottery offers pottery workshops suitable for children and adults. Here, you can try your hand at the pottery wheel and create your own ceramic masterpieces.

2. Eat at beachside cafes and restaurants

After spending time on the beach and the sea beyond, you can make time to grab a bite to eat at one of St Ives famous beachside cafes or restaurants. Seafood is locally sourced, immersing you in the culture of the town and promising tastes and experiences you won’t find anywhere else. 

Porthmeor Beach Café, with its panoramic views of the ocean, is an excellent choice for lunch. Their menu features fresh seafood dishes, sandwiches and kid-friendly options, making it a hit with families.

If you’re craving traditional Cornish pasties, head to the Cornish Bakery, which offers a variety of savoury and sweet pastries that are perfect for picnicking on the beach.

For dessert, head to one of St Ives many ice cream parlours and choose from a diverse array of flavours guaranteed to satisfy kids and adults alike.

3. Visit beaches

St Ives is famous for its stunning beaches and spending time on the golden sands is a quintessential part of any family day. Porthminster Beach, with its calm waters and gentle sands, is perfect for families with young children. It also boasts the prestigious Blue Flag status, marking it as the perfect beach to relax with the family.

Porthmeor Beach, on the other hand, is a favourite among surfers and those excited to try out some water sports for an extra dash of adventure. Kids can also build sandcastles while parents watch the surfers in action or simply bask in the sun.

For a quieter, more secluded experience, escape to Bamaluz Beach or Porthgwidden Beach, both hidden gems that offer a tranquil escape from the crowds. Bamaluz Beach is also friendly to dogs year round so don’t forget to bring your pet along on your adventure.

Photo of a smiling teenage girls, using bicycles to commute to the beach

4. Going out on a sea safari

To add an element of adventure to your family day, consider booking a sea safari. Several local companies offer boat trips that take you along the stunning coastline, providing opportunities to spot seals, dolphins and a variety of seabirds.

Your kids will be captivated as they witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Knowledgeable guides on board will provide fascinating insights into the local marine life, making it both an educational and thrilling experience for the whole family.

Some unforgettable destinations included in the boat trips are heading out to see the famous Seal Island and taking a turn about Godrevy Lighthouse, a rich part of St Ives’ cultural and literary history as it helped to inspire famous author Virginia Woolf.

5. Taking part in an arts and crafts workshop

After your sea safari, head back to town for an afternoon of artistic exploration. The St Ives School of Painting offers family-friendly workshops where you can unleash your creativity, cultivate passions and learn more about your favourite craft. From watercolour painting to printmaking, these classes cater to all skill levels and ages. It’s a wonderful way to bond with your family while nurturing your artistic talents.

Alternatively, the Barnoon Workshop offers drop-in sessions for families, allowing you to try your hand at a variety of arts and crafts activities. There are also opportunities to join in larger community projects, allowing you and the family to make lasting memories and make a difference in the town during your stay.

6. Taking the dog for a walk along the cliffs

St Ives isn’t just a paradise for humans; it’s also a fantastic destination for dogs. If you’re travelling with a furry friend, take them for a walk along the stunning coastal cliffs. The South West Coast Path offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline, and your dog will relish the opportunity to roam in this picturesque setting.

The walk from St Ives to Zennor is particularly beautiful, with its dramatic cliffs and expansive vistas. Just be sure to keep your dog on a leash, as the cliffs can be quite steep in places.

For longer walks, you can travel with your pet all the way to St Michael’s Mount, giving you plenty of opportunities to drink in the dramatic coastal scenery, catch sight of rare and stunning sea life and give your dog all the exercise and excitement it needs.

St Ives, with its blend of art, nature and delicious cuisine, provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable family day. Whether you desire the quiet of exploring an art gallery, the adventure of heading out onto the sea or simply want to spend time with your family and your beloved pet, St Ives has something to offer every member of your family. 

So pack your bags, bring your loved ones, and embark on a family adventure you’ll treasure for years to come in this idyllic seaside town.