Unlike some tacky places along the Cornish coast, which are overrun with cheesy shops selling cheap souvenirs, Penzance maintains a bit of a regal air in spite of its hordes of summer visitors. Of course, it has a vast array of antiques stores hustling their wares, often trinkets more than genuine antiques, but it can be a lot of fun nonetheless.
At night in summer, young people flock to the fun-loving, often rowdy, pubs to begin drinking lager in time to enjoy some of the most spectacular sunsets in the West Country.
Frankly, if you're from Miami, the waters for swimming will always be too cold for you. But for the average visitor, the best temperatures are in July and the first 2 weeks in August. After that time passes, find other pastimes with which to amuse yourself.
Escape to an Oasis: Trengwainton Garden -- Just 3.2km (2 miles) west of Penzance you'll discover Trengwainton Garden, west of Heamoor off the Penzance-Morvah Road (tel. 01736/363148; www.nationaltrust.org.uk), a woodland garden of trees and shrubs on a 40-hectare (98-acre) plot overlooking Mount's Bay. Allow at least an hour to explore this property, with its flourishing collection of camellias, magnolias, and rhododendrons. Because of the mild climate, the garden site is famed for its series of walled gardens, with sloping beds that contain tender species not found elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Along a stream you'll find feathery bamboos and Australian tree ferns on its banks, along with lilies and other water-loving plants. This National Trust property is open February 11 to November 4; admission is £5.40 for adults, £2.70 for children 11 and younger, and £14 for a family pass.
A Fishing Village & Artists' Colony -- From Penzance, a 3.2km (2-mile) promenade leads to Newlyn, another fishing village -- second largest in the country -- and a port of infinite charm on Mount's Bay. Artist Stanhope Forbes (1857-1947) founded an art school in Newlyn in 1899, and the village has been an artists' colony ever since, attracting both the serious painter and the Sunday sketcher. If you're in Newlyn at lunchtime, fish is, of course, what to order. For the tastiest fish and chips in town, head for Tolcarne Inn, Tolcarne Place (tel. 01736/363074; http://tolcarneinn.users.btopenworld.com). Under a beamed ceiling from 1717, the main room for dining evokes a Cornish pub, with paintings by local artists on display. If you don't want fish and chips, opt for the Newlyn fish pie or, better yet, the fresh crab. Main dishes cost from £8.90 to £25 at dinner or £4.95 to £9.25 at lunch. MasterCard and Visa are accepted. It's open daily 10:30am to 3:30pm and 6:30 to 11:30pm. A bus runs throughout the day linking Penzance with Newlyn. We suggest you walk to Newlyn, and then take the bus back to Penzance if you're tired.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.