There's some Cornish gems around Penzance indeed - to keep any holiday maker happy. Just to the east of Penzance is holiday Mecca St Mount's Bay with it's striking St Michael's Mount castle island, glorious beach and lots of opportunities for kite surfing and water sports. Moving west from Penzance you immediately come across historic fishing village Newlyn, renowned not just for fishing but as a base for many of the Newlyn School artists. As well as prime fish markets in Newlyn, discover a choice of superb arts and crafts galleries. Arts and crafts is also embedded in Newlyn's history.
Moving further west your next port of call is the pretty, and smaller than Newlyn, Mousehole (better to walk here than to drive!). Pretty specialist shops, a sublime beach and a laid back feel greet you at Mousehole. On pushing out further west towards Land's End take in the breathtaking beauty of this coastline, particularly at Porthcurno Beach with adjacent Telegraph Museum and the magical Minack Theatre. The Land's End Experience is a great family retreat, with a choice of attractions and playgrounds for the kids - note the spectacular scenery too! You certainly won't be short of things to do around Penzance!
You can't fail to be impressed by the Minack Open Air Theatre - the panoramic views up here on the headland are some of the best in Cornwall! This open air theatre's setting is sublime, adjacent to one of Cornwall's most beautiful beaches - Porthcurno, and carved into the cliff face. The Minack Theatre is largely the work of one woman's perseverance to establish a community theatre. Learn all out Rowena Cade in the excellent Rowena Cade (1893-1983) exhibition within the theatre complex.
Cade had a background in theatre costume design and her Victorian childhood and growth into building expert and business woman running a renowned cliff side theatre is akin to characters such as Beatrix Potter.
Performances at the Minack Theatre began in the 1930s, and it's thriving still with regular performances of Shakespeare and more. Pre-booking is essential, and seeing a performance here is certainly the best way to view the theatre. Book online via the website, and expect treats such as Macbeth and Hamlet. Daily visitors are welcome, unless the theatre has a matinee performance.
Between Penzance and Land's End sits Porthcurno Beach, one of the few sandy beaches on this stretch, and one of Cornwall's best beaches. Naturally formed, Porthcurno beach is dramatic indeed with it's granite rock formations framing this stunning bay beach of glorious golden sand which is made up completely of ground shell particles. Looking down at Porthcurno beach from the Minack theatre, the water takes on a beautiful clear turquoise colour. This effect is largely due to the shell fragments in the sand which run well under the waterline - the effect is magical indeed. Porthcurno beach is now owned by the National Trust - given to them by Cable and Wireless in May 1994.
Parking for Porthcurno Beach is 200 yards from it, and you access the beach via a sloping footpath. The car park serves the renowned Porthcurno Telegraph Museum as well, and there's a cafe nearby, as well as public toilets. Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is an important treasure in the history of Britain's communications networks, including the internet. Porthcurno is a significant location in communications history, as the first undersea telegraph cable was laid from Porthcurno in 1870. In 1900 it was the world's largest telegraph station. To protect it, during the Second World War it was moved into bomb-proof and gas-proof tunnels - and today a visit to the museum includes a tour around this fascinating underground building.
The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum take up much of the focus of the pretty little West Cornwall village of Porthcurno. The village also consists of attractive gardens where visitors are welcome to relax with a picnic. There is a good cafe in the Telegraph Museum, plus the Cable Station Inn situated nearby offering family meals. There's also a beach cafe down on Porthcurno Beach which is open from April to September. Walkers will love the coast path on this stretch of Cornwall's coast! The Telegraph Museum is fully accessible to disabled visitors.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions in the area is St Michael's Mount - and definitely a little adventure. Hook into the relatively cheap ferry across to visit the mount which has the odd legend attached to it, one being it was once the home of a giant. St Michael's Mount has been found recorded in records as far back as the fourth century, and it began as a port used by local Marazion fishermen. Then, cor gawd blimey, some sailors had a vision in the 5th century (might have been a bit tipsy perhaps?) that they saw St Michael - on the Mount. After this by the 8th century they'd built a church and monastery on the mount. Followed by dissolution by Henry VII, then use as an arms storing fort by the Royalists during the English Civil War. The St Aubyn family took it over, finally donating it to the National Trust although a St Aubyn still lives on the Mount.
Lots to do once you're across the water. St Michael's Mount has a castle with some pretty steep steps upto the entrance. There's a little harbour too with quaint shops, a cafe and great views of the coast and out to sea. You can stroll around the beautiful St Michael's Mounts gardens also.
The attractive ancient coastal market town of Marazion makes a most pleasant base for exploring St Michael's Mount, the Lizard, Penzance and further west to St Ives and Land's End. There's a superb clean beach here too, with an interesting town centre museum on Market Place, plus numerous holiday facilities including shops, accommodation and lots of opportunities for Kite surfing and other water sports. Check out the local Marazion Tourist Info website for more details. Marazion also happens to be an excellent all year round base for birdwatchers, with Marazion Marsh RSPB reserved situated here.
Idyllic fishing village Newlyn retains it's historic fishing industry, with a thriving fishing industry still evident today. The fishing history of Newlyn is one of struggle, but also of courageous challenge by some of the poorest workers in Britain during the 19th and early 20th century. Fishing families of old were dependent on the catch, and hence dependent on good weather. Without these they faced poverty - you can get a sense of this struggle from the realist approach of Newlyn School artists like Fores and particularly Walter Langley.
The Newlyn Art Gallery holds more treats from the Newlyn School and the adjoined Industrial Class arts and crafts - a school set up in the late 19th century to assist the economy of the village with arts and crafts making, backing up a volatile fishing income. It is the sensitivity of the Newlyn School painters and crafts men and women to the struggles of local people that gives their work a particular appeal - they are ingrained in the social history of the village of Newlyn as much as it's development as an artistic centre similar to St Ives.
Newlyn today is easily walked to from Penzance and well worth the effort. In fact, take a longer walk all the way to pretty Mousehole further along the coast. Newlyn, as well as it's still thriving fishing harbour which is home to the second largest fishing fleet in the UK, has numerous art galleries and craft centres to peruse. Get your fresh fish here in Newlyn at it's famous fish market - some of the best fish in the country. Mackerel is one of the most common catches. Newlyn's harbour dates back to the Medieval period, A good time to visit Newlyn is during the Fish Festival, held annually every August Bank Holiday. Check the Newlyn Fish Festival website right for full details on this years events and happenings. Although, sadly, the Pilchard Works & Museum in Newlyn had to close you can still, thank goodness, buy what can only be described as the best salted pilchards in the world.
The pretty Cornish village of Mousehole gets crowded in peak season, as it has a particularly attractive little beach - walking to it is recommended. Mousehole harbour is used by visiting yachts and boats rather than fishing boats these days, Mousehole has also become famous for it's Christmas celebrations, and decorative illuminations - they begin preparing here for Christmas in November!