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Days out around Penzance

Surrounded by sandy beaches and beautiful, pebbled coves, Penzance is the perfect holiday destination for intrepid explorers and beachgoers alike.

The sun-soaked promenade in Penzance

Enjoying a balmy location in West Cornwall, it also boasts easy access to a selection of fascinating historical landmarks, from ancient standing stones to one of the world’s most unusual theatres. Bringing the family? There’s a whole host of fantastic – and utterly unique – family days out, whether the kids love splashing about in an art deco pool or exploring one of Cornwall’s most iconic castles.

The town itself promises a variety of things to see and do too, whether you love touring art galleries for the latest local work, fancy a spot of shopping on Chapel Street, or long to gaze upon one of the most beautiful buildings in Cornwall.

Ready to discover the many fun things to do in and around Penzance? Here’s our roundup of the very best days out on offer…

Enjoy a balmy beach day

Beautiful white sands and clear blue waves underneath rugged cliffs at Pedn Vounder near Penzance

With some of Cornwall’s most beautiful beaches within easy reach of Penzance, a beach day is always on the cards when staying in West Cornwall. Round up the whole pack for a dog-friendly day amidst the wild beauty of Prussia Cove, one of Cornwall’s stunning dog-friendly beaches, or head to the shell-speckled sands of Pedn Vounder for a beach day full of turquoise waters and rugged cliffs – not to mention some epic coastal stomps.

If you’re looking for somewhere the kids can flex their creative (and sandy) fingers, a trip to nearby Perranuthnoe is a must. The sand here was destined to be used in their next ambitious sandcastle, and the lovely beachside café promises a tempting selection of ice creams and handmade bites. Marazion beach promises miles of golden sand and sparkling waters, making it a great beach for swimming. It’s also backed by the historic Marazion town, where you can pick up a variety of tasty treats to enjoy on the beach, from fish and chips to Cornish pasties.

Walk the South West Coast Path

People walking along the South West Coast Path towards Mousehole Harbour

West Cornwall is full of incredible walks, ranging from clifftop stomps that will get those calves singing to beautiful promenade strolls suitable for every foot, wheel, and paw. From Penzance, a short bus ride will take you into Marazion, giving you a wonderfully flat walk back into town and along the prom (see our webcam for a sneak peek). Head a little further west and you’ll find the rugged coastal landscapes between Mousehole and Lamorna, which have inspired many paintings in their time. Or, on the opposite coast, St Ives waits to ply you with many stunning treks, including the famous stretch between the pretty harbourside town and the wild and wonderful cliffs of Zennor (where mermaids once swam).

Walking in Cornwall remains one of the best ways to tour this beautiful landscape, so we recommend packing up a picnic full of local goodies – or a fresh-out-the-oven Cornish pasty – and embarking on your picture-perfect tour of West Cornwall.

Explore Land’s End

Two people walking along the South West Coast Path on the cliffs at Land's End with a lighthouse in the distance out to sea

Combining dramatic natural beauty with family fun, Land’s End has become the ultimate day out in Cornwall. Although you will have to pay for parking (which goes towards maintaining the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), entry to the site itself is free. Enjoy a spot of shopping at the West Country Shopping Village, have a bite to eat at the café or restaurant, or walk along to Greeb Farm to make some furry and feathered friends.

There are some ticketed experiences available at Land’s End too, including a tour of some of Aardman’s most beloved scenes and a 4D film experience of the Jolly Roger. Of course, you can always simply head onto the coast path, finishing your windswept trek with a refreshing drink at the First and Last Inn. The famous surfing beach of Sennen is also nearby, for those who want to hit the waves where the land ends.

Experience a theatre like no other

The iconic grass-topped steps and stone stage on the cliffs above Porthcurno at the Minack Theatre

Rowena Cade’s vision of an open-air theatre overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is awe-inspiring, and when you consider that the construction was the work of one woman and two gardeners over decades of winters, the result is nothing short of amazing. Etched into the cliffs above Porthcurno, the Minack Theatre is a cultural experience like no other, with a variety of performances taking place throughout the year, from family-friendly shows to incredible musical performances and Shakespearean productions.

Having the Atlantic Ocean as an ever-changing backdrop adds atmosphere and excitement to the plays: pods of dolphins, rainbows or sudden downpours sometimes making an unscheduled appearance in a play. With this in mind, we wholeheartedly recommend dressing for any weather and taking a cushion to sit on – the granite steps might be striking but they can always do with a little extra padding! The Visitor’s Centre is open throughout the year for those interested in the history and construction of the theatre, and nearby Porthcurno beach is always worth a visit.

Discover Cornwall’s mining past

The locker room at Geevor Tin Mine

Cornwall’s mining heritage can be found across the landscape, with engine houses often adding their silhouettes to the coastline. One for all the family – and a great rainy-day attractionGeevor Tin Mine near Pendeen is a fascinating glimpse into Cornwall’s past. It was a working mine until 1990, and it is now a wonderful reminder of Cornwall’s tin mining heritage.

You can take an underground tour through part of the mine itself, practise panning for minerals, and investigate the tools used in every stage of metal processing. Our favourite part is the miners’ dry (locker rooms), which has been left exactly as it was on the day the mine closed; the atmosphere there is one of expectancy and anticipation that reaches every visitor. You can see boots and clothing hanging there, looking for all the world as if tomorrow mining will continue just as it always has done. There is a huge amount to do and see, and there’s a café providing amazing pasties.

Uncover the secrets of St Michael’s Mount

A river winding through Marazion beach towards St Michael's Mount

As you approach Marazion, you cannot miss St Michael’s Mount – a place of mystery and myth that dominates Mount’s Bay. It also never looks the same twice, as the sunlight and weather can play tricks on the colours that surround the mount. Whatever the conditions, you will find you can’t take your eyes off the Mount and the way it rises out of the sea just off the shore.

At low tide the Mount can be reached by foot across the famous Causeway, while high tide sees a small boat ferrying people to and from the island. Owned by the National Trust, entry to the Castle and gardens is free with a National Trust membership, and tickets can be bought online or on the day. Explore the historic harbour, tour the sub-tropical gardens, or head up the pebbled path to see the castle itself (keep an eye out for the legendary giant’s heart stone as you go). The Godolphin boasts a spectacular view over St Michael’s Mount from its beach-top beer garden, the perfect spot to soak up the magical sight.

Tour a sub-tropical garden

Looking out across Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens at St Michael's Mount in Mount's Bay

With a balmy microclimate, Cornwall’s gardens and parks are always worth a visit, whatever the season. For an eclectic mix of art and subtropical delights, the Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens are a sight to behold. The sculptures and natural displays change regularly, as do the exhibitions, creating an ever-changing excuse to visit these wonderfully quirky gardens (the restaurant helps, too).

Swapping the contemporary for a splash of Victorian design, Trengwainton Garden promises a wonderfully green-fingered display. Dogs are welcome throughout the gardens, which are home to an enviable collection of exotic plants. Stop by the garden café for a coffee and a cake, enjoy some horticultural shopping, or simply sit and marvel at the peaceful surroundings in the pretty walled garden. If you’re a fan of a good old fashioned stroll through the park, head to Penlee, where you’ll find a beautiful array of green spaces and an open-air theatre, as well as one of Cornwall’s top collections from the Newlyn School of Artists at Penlee House.

Step back in time at an ancient site

A circle of stone and pillar at Men-an-Tol near Penzance

A fascinating place to visit (that requires a dash of imagination), Chysauster is one of Cornwall’s incredible ancient sites. Nestled deep in the beautiful countryside, the remains of this Iron Age Cornish village provide a glimpse as to what Cornwall was like many (many) years ago. You can clearly see the outlines of the dwellings, and there are information boards with some historical titbits, but the true beauty of this place lies in the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds it. Soak it up and admire the views over the coast that have remained unchanged for centuries.

Cornwall is also known for its standing stones, the most famous of which can be found deep in the historic countryside of West Cornwall. The Merry Maidens is an intriguing circle of 19 granite blocks, which, according to the legend, used to be 19 girls before they were turned to stone. Nearby, The Pipers stand guard over the Merry Maidens, while a little further afield near Ding Dong Mine, the famous Mên-an-Tol waits to allegedly cure you of common ailments.

Whether you’re a history buff or a coastal wanderer, Penzance is a wonderful base for your Cornish holiday. Explore our collection of beautiful cottages in Penzance and start planning a jam-packed stay in West Cornwall.

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