Penzance, located in picturesque Cornwall, is in Mounts Bay, in the far south of England. In the ancient Cornish language, its name meant “Holy Headland.” While the meaning was derived from the chapel located on the western side of the harbor over 1,000 years ago, it is not hard to imagine this being a place of holy beauty when visiting present day Cornwall. With a population reaching 20,000, temperate Penzance (www.penzance.co.uk) is neither small, nor quaint, but it is picturesque with numerous lovely parks to pass the time, including Morrab Gardens — three acres of renowned sub-tropical plantings home to a surprising variety of greenery, shrubs and trees that thrive in the mild coastal climate. Some of the plants now growing over a century there include magnolias, camellias, tree ferns, palm trees, and banana plants. Near Morrab is Penlee Memorial Park with over 15 acres where you can wander or sit quietly reading and watching the world itself stroll by.
There is also a wonderfully attractive promenade along its sea front, along which the coastal trail passes. Perhaps not surprisingly, Penzance is home to many artists. As a result, there is a large array of galleries with fantastic art.
Two must-see places when based in Penzance are St. Michael’s Mount (www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk), a three-mile walk along the coastal path to the east to a stunning medieval castle with sub-tropical gardens, and Mousehole –pronounced “Mow’-zel” –, a 2.5-mile walk to the west along the same coastal path to a picturesque fishing village that has been dubbed “the loveliest village in England.” We agree, but you can decide for yourself.
For dinner, there are plenty of pubs and eating spots, but do plan on one night (make a reservation) at the Navy Inn, a pub and restaurant owned by chef, Keir Meikle, winner of numerous food honors. He only sources local fish and produce and the food is absolutely delicious. Need to slake your thirst? Head to the Bath Inn, a proper local pub that serves only drinks, no food. The garden out back is wonderful. For local beer, order a pint of Tribute, though we prefer a nice local cider, and would recommend ordering a pint of Thatchers.