City Centre Plymouth's original city centre was almost completely destroyed in the Second World War. It has been totally restored with a modern grid pattern of wide, mainly pedestrian streets, making shopping a pleasure. The whole shopping area has been attractively landscaped, the trees and flowing streams cooling the hottest summer day. Plymouth has a wealth of fascinating shops, both large and small, including all the big names. There are a wide variety of pubs, clubs and restaurants within the centre too. You can still see some places of historical interest amidst the modern buildings. St. Andrew's Church was rebuilt after the Blitz, but still retains much of its ancient history, as do the nearby Prysten House and Merchant's House . There are outstanding centres for drama and music here including the Theatre Royal and the Athenaeum .
Plymouth Hoe The Hoe is undoubtedly Plymouth's most well known place, with its wonderful view of Plymouth Sound and the bevy of ships and boats that pass through. Here is where Sir Francis Drake played his famous game of bowls. Today it's where Plymothians gather to celebrate everything from Bonfire Night to pop concerts to Pentecost, its broad expanse of green holding tens of thousands of people in convivial comfort. Many of the hotels and guest houses are situated here, some with outstanding views. The most obvious landmark is Smeaton's Tower , a large lighthouse, re-erected on land. Close by is Plymouth Dome, Britain's most up-to-date visitor's centre and also the Royal Citadel , a huge 17th century stone fort, still in military use today.
The Barbican Follow the road down past the Citadel and you'll take a step into history as you come to the Barbican , a group of parallel streets linked by narrow lanes and bursting with historic buildings, which survived the bombing. It's now a vibrant shopping and dining district offering art galleries, exotic shops, ethnic food experiences, craft and antique stores. Sutton Harbour and the National Marine Aquarium should not be missed, as is a visit to the Mayflower Steps , the Elizabethan House and a score more, all within a few moments walk. There is probably more to see and do in this tiny area than in any district of Plymouth.
Mutley & Peverell Just north of the city centre you'll find the heart of community life, in the busy area around Mutley Plain. Here are many small shops, banks and services, catering for the more basic needs of the city's residents and the large student population, whose bedsits abound. A few minutes walk takes you to Mannamead, an area of higher income housing. Peverell is mainly a middle class residential district, with the huge Central Park on its edge. Apart from acres of greenery and beautiful trees, you'll find the Mayflower Leisure Centre and Central Park Leisure Pool here.
Stonehouse, Devonport & Stoke Stonehouse and Devonport are two of the original 'Three Towns' of Old Plymouth. Stonehouse's most interesting landmark is now the Royal William Victualling Yard, a 14 acre site open to visitors. The large Royal Marines Barracks at Stonehouse is an unexpected sight, amidst rows of expensive Georgian houses. Devonport was famous as the city's naval centre. Devonport Dockyard , which once played a very prominent part in the life of Plymouth, still remains the main place in Britain for the refitting of naval vessels and can be visited by the public on Navy Days. Stoke is chiefly a residential area, but Stoke Damerel Parish Church is worth a visit, as it has been a centre for worship for nearly a thousand years.
The suburbs of Plymouth stretch out in military precision along the hills and valleys of the estuary of the River Plym, offering residents low cost housing. In complete contrast is the Georgian splendor of Saltram House with its vast gardens, a popular venue for walking in all seasons. Historical Cattewater is still used as an industrial port, particularly by oil tankers. Queen Anne's Battery is a purpose built marina, home to the Royal Western Yacht Club and also the main water sports centre, Mount Batten . Plympton, an eastern suburb, mostly contains housing estates, but glimpses of the medieval past of its two original settlements can still be seen.
The main industrial areas lie to the north of the city, with centres in manufacturing and high technology. Here you'll find the factories making Sensodyne toothpaste and Wrigleys chewing gum, as well as Toshiba, British Aerospace and many more. The Plymouth Albion rugby team has its home here too. Low cost housing covers the many hills, although the main route north towards Dartmoor is a high price residential area. Here you will find Derriford District General Hospital and the small Plymouth City Airport.
North of the City
This is a pleasant area of countryside, bounded on the east by Cornwall and on the west by Dartmoor. It has a few small towns and many interesting places to visit. Tavistock has been a centre for marketing, industry, trade and culture for many centuries. It's an attractive, prosperous town, where you can visit the Wharf Arts Centre for a creative entertainment, Meadowlands for exciting watersports and Tavistock Pannier Market for shopping. Buckland Monachorum, just north of the city, has two interesting attractions, 13th century Buckland Abbey and the 8 acre Garden House . Fishing and other water sports can be enjoyed at Roadford Reservoir .
East of the City
Wonderful riverside spots can be found here, such as Plymbridge Woods , and Shaugh Bridge, where the rivers Plym and Meavy meet. Apart from the natural beauty, there are several fine attractions in this area. Animal lovers should look for the Dartmoor Wildlife Park at Sparkwell, the Donkey Sanctuary and < Prickly Ball Hedgehog Hospital .
This last great wilderness in southern England has many moods; misty and mysterious, bleak and foreboding, natural and unspoilt. Three hundred million years of history are on display, from the naturally eroded tors and the Bronze Age settlements like Grimspound to 20th century imitation Castle Drogo . There are many sites to visit here, depending on your personal preferences and, of course, the weather. There are museums, such as the Museum of Dartmoor Life ; historic buildings like Buckfast Abbey ; fishing and walks around Burrator Reservoir ; animal sanctuaries such as the Butterfly Farm and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary ; visitor centres like the High Moorland Centre , and beauty spots like Dartmeet.
South Hams This district stretches from South Dartmoor to the South Devon coast and covers many miles of Devon's traditional rolling countryside, historic old towns, quaint little villages, clean beaches and no less than five river estuaries. There are many tourist attractions in this area, from the water-coasters and death slides of Woodlands Leisure Park to popular stately homes like Overbecks . A wealth of historic and beautiful small towns abound, including Totnes, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge and Salcombe, each with its own highly individual attractions. This is a wonderful place to explore by car, steam train, ferry, bike or even on foot.
The beautiful countryside, rugged coastline and fascinating towns of Cornwall offer many delights. Sample traditional cuisine at the Jubilee Inn and explore history at Antony House and Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park . Enjoy sporting venues such as St. Mellion Golf and Country Club and modern visitor centres like Flambards . With astounding natural beauty everywhere you look, Cornwall is worth many visits.
With so many centuries of maritime exploration behind the city of Plymouth, it's not surprising that its restaurants cover a wide spectrum of international cuisine. You'll find an Indian restaurant not looking out of place in a 16th century building and a Chinese restaurant hugging the waterfront. Tucked away in old cobbled streets or magnificently modern edifices you will also find Irish, Thai, Greek, Spanish, Mexican, French, Italian, Malaysian, American and more.
Top of the list of local favourites has to be those serving fresh fish and seafood. From pubs and cafes to elegant restaurants you will find seafood galore. Take your choice from lobster, shrimp, crab, prawns, mussels, sea bass, lemon sole, halibut, trout, salmon, monkfish, swordfish or John Dory; all available on local menus. In these days of mass produced food, a fresh, naturally fed fish remains the epitome of culinary delight.
At The Brasserie you can enjoy views of the marina as you eat; Piermasters will make you feel you are dining beside the Mediterranean, while Platters is as jolly and busy as any fishing boat. Even if your proud boast has always been that you 'hate fish,' don't leave Plymouth without trying a local crab sandwich at the very least. The Queen's Arms makes these sumptuous enough to change the habits of a lifetime.
Why not dine on the waterfront at the Wet Wok , admiring the boats on Plymouth Sound as you eat? Deep in the historic Barbican is the Crystal Dragon , while the Ocean Palace has wonderful Dim Sum at lunchtime. The Wah Tin Garden is one of the few places in Plymouth that specializes in Malaysian cuisine as well as Chinese, while the delights of the Hoe Cantonese restaurant are a healthy as well as a tasty choice.
Thai restaurants, like the Thai House , add an exotic touch to the local seafood, while the Thai curries there and at the Thai Palace have to be tried to be appreciated.
Indian cuisine is also alive and kicking in Plymouth - especially those vindaloos! The Indian mastery of combining spices to perfection cannot be surpassed, so be sure to sample it here. The Taj Mahal is the oldest Indian restaurant in the area and well worth a visit, while the Moghul, situated in New Street, does wonderful duck. The name Veggie Perrin's may not immediately conjure up the idea of Indian food, but the excellent vegetarian Gujarati cuisine is as authentic as you'll get anywhere.
Italian delicacies like pizza and pasta are now as common on tea tables as Yorkshire pudding and fish and chips. But nobody does them better than the Italians themselves, so it's well worth visiting a few Italian restaurants to try the authentic versions. The Positano is where local Italians go to eat, while Bella Napoli serves superb fish dishes. The Pasta and Pizza Bar will give you exactly that, but so much better than at home.
Elegant French cuisine can be had at the Cafe Rouge , which also has an excellent wine bar. Dining at Chez Nous is like being in rural France, while Chambers Restaurant serves classic French dishes. Several excellent restaurants also include French cuisine in their repertoire. Bistro Bene is one example that produces international dishes of high quality.
The Greeks have a superb way with fish too, and the Village offers a magnificent mixed fish grill if you cannot choose between all their specialties.
Fast food can be found at the youngsters' favorite sites of McDonalds , Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, but there are hundreds of smaller restaurants and cafes that can rustle up a good meal in a short time. O'Brien's Irish Sandwich Bar also serves excellent Italian coffee while Cap'n Jaspers is a unique, al fresco establishment, much loved by Plymothians and visitors alike.
Traditional British and local food can be found in abundance in Plymouth as well. Combine sumptuous food with buildings steeped in history by dining at Tanners in Plymouth's oldest building, the Prysten House. Or try a 500-year-old waterfront fort, the Artillery Tower . You can even get an Elizabethan Banquet at the Tudor Rose Tea Rooms , complete with fire jugglers, mead and serving wenches.
There are many excellent restaurants not far from Plymouth, on Dartmoor or the South Hams. The Old Ship Inn is well worth a visit, and if you've never eaten in a thatched cottage, Old Mother Hubbard's is the real thing. If you want to combine the beauties of Devon with first-class food, board the Riviera Belle for steam propelled gourmet travel.
If you are intent on drinking rather than eating, or want to combine the two in a more informal manner, then you have masses of choice. Wine bars and pubs abound, with many varieties of Real Ale. In the city itself there is every type of drinking establishment possible, from the 'spit and sawdust' and lively Irish music to the sophistication of the Union Rooms . The Bank , Yate's Wine Lodge and the Significant Half all offer good drinking within the city centre. Barbican pubs like the China House and the Maritime are also popular with locals and tourists alike.
But if you'd rather see ghosts than pink elephants, head for the pubs of Dartmoor and the South Hams. Here all the spooks have taken up residence in the ancient hostelries. The Brentor Inn and Pilchard Inn both have resident phantoms, while the one at the Rock Inn is so life-like that one of Mrs. Thatcher's bodyguards is said to have shot at it!
If you look hard enough you'll be able to find something in Plymouth to please everyone, at a price you can afford. Don't hesitate to explore the streets away from the city centre. With a bit of luck you'll find a gem that the locals are trying to keep to themselves; a cosy, friendly pub or a breakfast cafe that serves enough to feed an Olympic athlete. Don't hesitate to go in and try it out for yourself.