With just over 22,000 inhabitants, St Austell is the largest town in Cornwall. It's located at the south coast and is about 30 miles from the border with Devon. The market town is full of attractions for visitor of any age, no matter what your expectations are. St Austell became rich through its China clay industry, which you can still learn about in the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum. Another traditional business of the area is the St Austell Brewery, which to this day still delivers ale to many local pubs in the area.
Just a short drive from St Austell, Carlyon Bay features beautiful white sands and is popular with surfers and for many other water sports. For swimming, head to Polkerris Beach which is popular with visitors and locals alike.
Culture & Attractions in St Austell
No trip to St Austell is complete without a visit to the traditional St Austell Brewery, where you cannot only learn everything about the production of fine ales that are enjoyed throughout Cornwall, but enjoy a pint or two yourself at the end of the trip.
For fans of author Daphne du Maurier, a visit to her former homes, Kilmarht and Menabily is an absolute must.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan are splendid old gardens with a lot of secretive history, and have only been restored within the last 20 years. Whether you're a fan of horticulture of just looking for a nice walk and maybe picnic, the gardens will not disappoint. Some of the trails wind through steep slopes, so don't underestimate the gardens as a walk in the park if you're usually a hiker!
In nearby Charleston, the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre tells you all about the less fortunate ships that tried to anchor on Cornwall. With many treasures, artefacts and everyday items from all over the world and throughout the last centuries, there's always something to discover at this surprisingly big museum.
Must-do highlights in St Austell
St Austell is synonymous with Britain's, if not the world's, most famous environmental project. The Eden Project, dubbed by some as the 8th Wonder of the World, is located just outside of town and is an outstanding example of engineering. Here, several climatic environments have been created in a series of biomes that you can wander through. From lush rainforest to gushing waterfalls, this is not just a mere tropical garden, it also acts as an important conservation project. On top of that, the Eden Project is a top venue fro a variety of concerts and many other fun and educating events.
For yet another day out, head to St Austell's Cornish World, a visitor centre with some of Cornwall's best shopping opportunities. While you shop to your heart's content, kids can get hours of entertainment at KidzWorld or The Kids Academy, an Ofsted approved nursery and holiday club.
The Wheal Martyn China Clay Country Park tells the story how St Austell rose in the world of China production and depicts the lives of men, women and children who lived and worked around the clay tips. The museum is located next to a modern day clay pit which you can see from a viewing platform. Its café and shop are great for buying and eating some traditional Cornish produce, too.
Eating & Drinking in St Austell
Eating out in St Austell, you have a wide choice of traditional pubs, restaurants on both ends of the price scale, excellent seafood and a variety of ethnic restaurants.
The Watermargin for example is a great Chinese restaurant, housed in an old, traditional building that combines the best of both worlds. The Gurkha provided standard Indian food, alongside some more exotic Nepalese dishes that are worth a try.
Accommodation in St Austell
In and around St Austell, you can relax after a long day of exploring in a number of high-class, modern yet cosy holiday apartments and cottages.
Driftwood Cottage is a romantic two bedroom holiday home within walking distance of the historical harbour for Charlestown. The cottage sleeps up to six people and offers a magnificent sun trap garden.
At Duporth Bay, close to both Charlestown and St Austell, Kara Mor is a 3 bedroom house with a spacious open plan living area and a beautiful garden.
For a very luxurious experience for the whole family, Pelican Cottage is a four star gold rated cottage near Charlestown. It's especially child-friendly with stair gate, travel cot and high chair and is just a short walk from a playground and playing field.
So that's our round up of things to do on a weekend in St Austell. Have you ever been there? What would you recommend doing if someone went there for the weekend? Please share you experience with us…