Falmouth for tourists
I am actually from Falmouth originally - my parents still live there and I visit 2 or 3 times a year
Falmouth is quite different from other Cornish towns. It is an industrial town, centred on its docks and maritime support industries and, although it relies on tourist income too, it is not a seaside resort in the same way that for example Newquay, Bude and Padstow have become. It is quite large for a Cornish town, c 20000 pop, but has until recently been relatively starved of investment. This is due to a combination of NIMBYism (largely by retirees to the area) quite unbelieveable indecision and procrastination in local govt and a focus on developing Truro at its expense. For example it does not have a proper cinema, and the public swimming pool took 30 years to arrive. Nevertheless it is a vibrant and interesting town that attracts large numbers of visitors, foreign and young, and is a definite must on any trip to Cornwall.
Falmouth lies at the end of the A39 from Truro.In summer it is better to stay on the A30 until Redruth and take the Falmouth road from there, although Redruth can be a bottleneck it is nowhere near as bad as Truro
Alternatively come by train. There is a branch line from Truro that runs every 90 mins or so from 0630 to 2200. Alight at "The Dell", this is at the western end of the main street, the terminus is by the docks and a 15 minute walk into town (handy though if you are in a seafront hotel), do not get off at Penmere halt, it is a residential area and a stiff walk (and hill !) into town.
Falmouth is a Cornish town and therefore too narrow to accommodate cars easily. In their infinite wisdom the local council have made very poor provision for car parking, in summer if you are not in town by 1000, forget it.
There is a one way system through the main street but it soon clogs up as people park at random in the no parking areas. A recent innovation is "Park and Float". You park at Ponsharden (on the left as you enter Falmouth on the A39) and take a short (20min) ferry ride (great for the kids). If you don't feel nautical there is a free bus service from Ponsharden into town - quicker than finding a parking place. Cost (2004) £4.50 adults , £3.50 children, Family (2 A 3C) £12.50 for an all day float pass (gives a reduced admission into the Maritime Museum), Car Park £2.90.
The best way is to come by sea - then you see the harbour in all its glory - moorings are difficult to come by though, so plan ahead.
In the past two yars an attempt has been made to integrate ferries, buses, water taxis and walks etc : Fal River Links. Boats are an easy way to get around, and often quicker, for example the St Mawes ferry takes about 30 mins, the road alternative means going 7 miles towards Truro, taking the King Harry Ferry and then driving south another 7 miles. And you can drink in the Victory pub in St Mawes!
You can also go on cruises to the Helford River (highly recommended), whale watching, fishing, or go up to Truro by river