Best things to do in Wild West Cornwall

Image courtesy of Jill Hurst


St Ives. Penzance. Redruth. Porthleven. Hayle. Helston. Porthcurno. Mullion. These towns and villages are the most popular hotspots in Cornwall’s Wild West along with some of its inimitable attractions and beaches. But what are the best things to do in West Cornwall, which is right at the end of the country and sometimes feels like its at the most beautiful end of the world? Well, we at Proper Cornwall have a whole host of hot recommendations just for you. Holster your pistols, er, smartphones and head out to the Wild West with us as we recommend the greatest attractions (and beaches too!) in West Cornwall that you’ll fall in love with in 2022 and beyond…

Basset Monument

Type: Historical attraction
Suitable for: Fans of monumental places
Location: Carn Brea, Carnkie, Redruth

The towering granite Celtic cross up on Carn Brea that’s known as the Basset Monument is an important point in Cornwall’s ‘Wild West’. For a start, it’s one of its highest points at 738 feet above sea level, allowing breathtaking views across the area. More importantly, though, it’s a historical reminder of Cornwall’s industrial past. Standing at more than 90ft in the air, the monument looms over Redruth but can be seen from miles away. It’s said a giant once lived here. Take some giant steps up to the obelisk and be rewarded with ace vistas of the Wild West.

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Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Type: Marine life attraction
Suitable for: Seal lovers!
Location: Rose Terrace, Gweek, near Helston

Are you a fan of seals? Sorry, wrong question. We mean: who isn’t a fan of seals? There’s no better place to check out these incredible semi-aquatic mammals in the flesh than at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, near Helston. With scores of rescued residents to meet and more than 40 acres of grounds to enjoy, this place is a must-visit for anyone with a heart during a tour of Cornwall’s ‘Wild West’. Just try not to fall in love too quickly, okay?

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Type: Theme park
Suitable for: All the family
Location: Clodgey Lane, Helston

It’s been one of the best things to do in Cornwall since 1976. Flambards, popularly known as a ‘triple theme park’, is a must-visit in Cornwall’s ‘Wild West’ region. Located just outside Helston, this adventure paradise has tons of fast and kid-friendly rides as well as The Victorian Village and the Britain in the Blitz lifesize exhibitions. As this is the ‘Wild West’, we recommend you try the park’s most recent ride, The Western Mine Train, that takes you through cowboy country. Then try the SkyRaker (pictured above). We dare you…

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Geevor Tin Mine

Type: Historical mining attraction
Suitable for: History buffs and those with a head for tight spaces
Location: Pendeen, Penzance

Cornwall’s ‘Wild West’ is littered with the remnants of the county’s once-booming mining industry. You can wander all over this region and find ruins and relics from the past. But one of the best historical mining experiences you can have (that’s also great for kids) is to take a tour of Geevor Tin Mine in Pendeen, near Penzance. Explore the underground mine here and experience what it was like to be a miner 200 years ago. Also see an array of exhibitions, check out old machinery and even pan for ‘gold’. The magic of the mines comes alive at Geevor.

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Type: Historical mining attraction with play zones
Suitable for: History buffs and active kids
Location: Dudnance Lane, Pool, near Redruth

A mining museum. Diaspora gardens. A massive outdoor adventure playground. An indoor soft play zone. A mine shaft. A visitor’s centre. Bijou shops. Nineteen acres of land. A highly recommended café. Exhibitions. Regular fairs and events. A lively atmosphere, whatever the weather. Have we described Heartlands, in the heart of Pool, a village between the towns of Redruth and Camborne, well enough? For learning about mining and Cornish history while the kids play, there’s nowhere else like this in the ‘Wild West’ of Cornwall.

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Land’s End Landmark

Type: Major Cornish attraction
Suitable for: All the family
Location: Land’s End, Sennen, near Porthcurno and Penzance

Yes, yes, yes, we know this is such an obvious choice but why wouldn’t we select the end of the land as one of the best things to do in Cornwall’s ‘Wild West’ region? It’s just so iconic. And there really are so many things to do here once you’ve had your photo taken next to that famous signpost that signifies you’re at the country’s most southwesterly point. There’s a shopping village, cafés, clifftop trails, 4D experiences, cinematic experiences and even Greeb Farm, where you can meet farm animals. Yeah, obvious but nevertheless a must-visit.

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Minack Theatre

Type: Major arts and stage attraction
Suitable for: Theatregoers
Location: Off The Valley, Porthcurno

Yes okay, this too is an obvious addition to any list but, just like the Land’s End Landmark, the Minack Theatre is iconic and just has to be visited on a tour of Cornwall’s ‘Wild West’. It would be a Shakespearian tragedy to miss it as it is one of the county’s greatest attractions. The shows here are world-class but it’s worth heading to this open-air arena – which looks like it was built by the Romans centuries ago – when a performance isn’t on to witness the drama of the cut granite and rugged cliffs at the edge of Porthcurno for yourself. Just don’t break a leg.

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Paradise Park and JungleBarn

Type: Animals and kids play attraction
Suitable for: Kids who want to play and meet animals
Location: Tresillian Road, Hayle

This attraction is a real two-for-one in Cornwall’s ‘Wild West’. Kids (and big kids, for that matter) will love the Paradise Park wildlife sanctuary with its red pandas, red squirrels, flamingos, donkeys and Asian otters. And they will also adore the JungleBarn, a massive play area jam packed with stuff that the little monsters will go crazy for, like giant slides, soft play areas with climbing ropes and a toddlers’ zone. Animals and play. This is indeed a sweet taste of paradise (for the youngsters, at least) in the West Cornwall region.

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St Michael’s Mount

Type: Major historical attraction
Suitable for: All the family
Location: Off the coast from Marazion, near Penzance

Another obvious selection, sure. But this is also another place-to-see that can’t be missed off a list of the best things to do in West Cornwall. St Michael’s Mount is famous, is breathtakingly beautiful, is an important slice of history, is packed with things to see and do, and is quite simply one off the bucket list, wherever you may be from. Managed by the National Trust, the mount offers unrivalled views of the Cornish coastline and the sea, plus it’s home to some stunning subtropical terraced gardens. Read all about this cherished historical attraction here.

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Tate St Ives

Type: Art gallery
Suitable for: Art lovers
Location: Porthmeor BeachSt Ives

Think ‘Cornwall’ and ‘art’ and you’re probably going to think of the Tate St Ives before anything else. Sitting on the doorstep of Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, this place is an institution in Cornwall’s ‘Wild West’ region. Marvel at some of the most-loved British artworks of the 20th century alongside newer national and international works as the exhibition programme changes regularly. And then there’s the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, just 10 minutes’ walk away where stone, bronze and wood statues await. Picture that.

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And here are a few ‘Wild West Cornwall’ beaches you just have to experience…

Dollar Cove

Suitable for: Nature lovers, treasure seekers and shipwreck story fans
Location: Gunwalloe, near MullionPorthleven and Helston
Parking: Large National Trust car park to the rear
Dog friendly?: Open to dogs all-year-round

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Nanjizal Beach

Suitable for: Beauty lovers who like a walk
Location: An hour’s walk from Trevescan, near Porthcurno and Penzance
Parking: In Trevescan, an hour’s walk away
Dog friendly?: Yes

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Porthcurno Beach

Suitable for: Families and couples
Location: Porthcurno, on the edge of the village near the Minack Theatre
Parking: Plenty of parking above the beach
Dog friendly?: Yes, apart from the summer months

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Porthmeor Beach

Suitable for: Beach lovers who want a town nearby
Location: Practically in the centre of St Ives next to the Tate St Ives gallery
Parking: Plenty of parking around the town
Dog friendly?: Yes, apart from the summer months

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