What is it about Cornwall that faithfully attracts visitors year after year and makes many people vow to retire to Cornwall?
Perhaps it is the climate. After all, winters are short and relatively frost-free unless you live on the moors. Spring brings daffodils and primroses bursting forth from their hiding places while azaleas, camellias and magnolias bloom at their best in the Victorian planted gardens of the many grand estates. Summers are warm and onshore breezes temper extreme heat. September and October are glorious months to visit, when the county seems to breathe a sigh of relief as the summer hordes decamp and roads return to more normal levels of traffic.
The attractions are pretty good too. There are hundreds of beaches and coves offering surfing, sandcastles, boating, stream-damming, windsurfing, kite-surfing, boat trips, sunbathing, ball games and long walks at the water's edge. There are theme parks within easy reach of every resort destination along with breweries, old mine workings, golf courses, animal parks and wildlife sanctuaries protecting all manner of species, from woolly monkeys to grey seals.
It is no surprise that Cornwall is home to some national treasures too. Tate St Ives is at the heart of this artist's colony and the obvious site for the National Maritime Museum was Falmouth, one of the deepest natural harbours in the world. The acclaimed Eden Project, with its futuristic domes, is appropriately situated in a former clay pit and the Blue Reef Aquarium at Newquay is now one of Cornwall's most popular attractions.
Along with the many modern attractions, Cornwall is proud of its history and heritage. Visitors can visit a tin mine, go shark fishing, take a tour of a vineyard, enjoy a boat trip or explore ancient castles. Walk across the tidal causeway to St Michael's Mount or take a helicopter ride to the far-flung Scilly Isles.
Cornwall certainly does not lack cultural attractions either. Admittedly on a smaller scale than Britain's bustling cities, it still manages a number of theatres and museums and probably more art galleries and studios than the rest of the country put together. Cornwall, it seems, is an inspiration to craftsmen, writers, poets, musicians, jewellers, painters, sculptors and potters.
And let's not forget chefs. Inspired by the fresh local produce and reliable sources of lamb, beef, dairy produce and fish, Cornwall has more than its share of acclaimed restaurateurs and Michelin-star chefs. Offering gastronomic cuisine at prices seemingly unaffected by snobbish postcodes, visitors to Cornwall may be surprised to find how affordable good food can be. There is certainly more on offer than moist meaty pasties and lashings of clotted cream on everything remotely sweet.
Families on budgets and couples seeking quiet weekend trysts will find local pubs and smugglers inns serve generous portions of delicious home-cooked food. Popular drinks include Cornish scrumpy or local ales with names like “Cornish Knocker” to warm the heart of any CAMRA aficionado.
Cornwall's tiny boundary is packed with things to do and it's hard to find anything not to like about this spirited county. Easy to reach by air, train or road, perhaps it's time to put Cornwall on your bucket list of must-see places for 2013.