Introducing guest blogger Claire from Tin Box Traveller
It’s quite a challenge to come up with just 10 places to visit in Devon with kids. There are just so many amazing things to experience here in the South West of England.
However, that’s where Devon comes up trumps every time. Whether you have an adventurous family that never sits still, or you want to find out about the area’s natural history and experience its 819km of coastline, you’ll have to plan several visits to pack it all in.
Here’s my guide to the very best things to do in Devon for families:
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of locals
1. River Dart Country Park
If you’re looking for a day out to satisfy the whole family then River Dart Country Park on the edge of Dartmoor is perfect for all ages.
There are adventure playgrounds, high ropes, a pump track, and a swimming lake complete with pirate ship. You can also hire a kayak or have a go at water zorbing.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay there’s an excellent campsite here with a shower block and restaurant.
2. The Box in Plymouth
The Box is a free interactive arts and heritage centre that explores Plymouth’s natural history, contemporary art, and the city’s maritime history.
Far from being a stuffy museum, there’s plenty to intrigue and inspire young visitors including a fleet of floating Royal Navy figureheads, a life-sized recreation of a wooly mammoth, cases of insects that you can step inside, and a TV studio where you can create your own film.
The museum doesn’t shy away from the realities of slavery and colonisation that accompany some of the historic events it covers.
It’s a particularly educational place to visit for anyone interested in the Mayflower’s voyage to America and the impact settlers had on the indigenous Wampanoag people in Massachusetts.
Here are some more things to do in Plymouth with kids.
3. Pennywell Farm
Devon has a number of lovely farm parks that are wonderful to visit with young kids. Pennywell Farm in South Devon is one of the best.
It’s well-known for it’s micro pigs, which even teenagers can’t resist cuddling. In the Spring there’s also baby lambs, goats and chicks to pet.
As well as an array of cute creatures, you’ll find plenty of toddler-friendly indoor and outdoor play areas. For older kids, there’s a ‘rocket’ tractor ride, maze, and assault course.
4. Clovelly Village
If you love living history experiences then Clovelly Village has to be on your Devon bucket list. But be warned: have a hearty breakfast and bring your walking shoes – you’re going to need them!
This 14th Century fishing village is only accessible on foot as the steep, narrow cobbled streets were never designed for cars. Instead, a team of donkeys helped residents and businesses transport goods to and from their properties.
Today the donkeys are there to entertain visitors. There’s also a craft studio at the top of the village where you can book into a workshop or buy hand-made pottery and gifts.
At the bottom of the village, there’s a picturesque harbour and pebbled beach. Pop into The Red Lion Pub before the breakwater and order a Devon cream tea to help power you back up the hill.
5. Explore the Jurassic Coast
East Devon’s coastline is part of the Jurassic Coast – a UNESCO World Heritage Site stretching 95 miles between Exmouth and Studland in neighbouring Dorset.
Hooken Beach, between Branscombe and Beer, is Devon’s top spot for finding fossils.
If you want to learn out more about the geology of the area then the best place to go with kids is
Seaton Jurassic. It’s a thoroughly interactive museum that takes you on a journey back in time to discover the origins of life and the Jurassic Coastline.
Another way to explore and appreciate the coastline here is to take a boat trip with Stuart Line Cruises. We love the trip they run from the beach at Sidmouth all along the red cliffs towards Ladram Bay. This is where there is a series of sea stacks that have been created by erosion. They are eye-wateringly beautiful.
6. Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary
A free day out for animal lovers is Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary in East Devon.
This charity has saved hundreds of donkeys from abuse and hard labour around the world. Its sanctuary in Sidmouth allows you to meet them, as well as find out about their rehabilitation.
My kids love wandering between the fields to say hello to the donkeys and mules and exploring the maze.
While here you must visit the cafe, which serves lovely cakes and has a beautiful view across the countryside.
Here are some more family-friendly places to visit in East Devon.
7. Lydford Gorge
This National Trust managed waterfall walk to the west of Dartmoor is beautiful whatever the weather. In fact, a bit of rain makes it even more dramatic.
Lydford Gorge is the South West of England’s deepest gorge and is where you can find a 30m waterfall and a naturally formed whirlpool called the Devil’s Cauldron.
There are 2.4km of woodland walking trails that are steep in places but not too much of a problem for kids to access. Tots who can’t walk too far may need the backup of a baby or child carrier.
8. Hartland Quay
There is an incredible number of beaches in Devon, all with their own distinct features from dune-backed golden sands to surfing hot spots and craggy coves. Hartland Quay in North Devon is one of our favourites because of its unique geology.
The cliffs around this pebble bay are made up of amazing, folded rock formations. It’s common to see paragliders launching from the top and seals playing in the sea below.
Halfway down to the beach you’ll find the Hartland Quay Hotel where you can get hot and cold meals. There’s also a visitors centre telling you the story of the Quay and selling that all-important Devon ice cream.
9. Canonteign Falls
This day out in the Teign Valley steals you away to a magical place of fairies and woodland people that also includes a walk up to England’s highest manmade waterfall.
If you’re visiting Canonteign Falls with young children, a toddler carrier is a must to get them to the top of the waterfall. The paths are uneven and there are a few boulders to walk over and around. It all adds to the adventure.
To help make the walk more enticing for families, there’s a children’s trail and fern garden populated with fairies halfway up.
Back at the bottom, you’ll find an adventure playground, cafe, and model boating lakes.
10. Visit Dartmouth
I may be totally biased as this is our hometown in Devon, but a wander around Dartmouth is an absolute must if you are visiting.
We fell in love with the Medieval streets and stunning coastal views long before we moved here. It’s incredible that we now get to call this gem home.
Our favourite things to do in Dartmouth with kids include visiting Dartmouth Castle, riding the steam train to Paignton, and catching the ferry upriver to the house where Agatha Christie used to holiday.
There are lots of simple pleasures to enjoy here too, like crabbing from the embankment, rock pooling in the coves around the mouth of the River Dart, and tucking into fish and chips beside the harbour.
About the Blogger – Claire Hall
I moved to Devon with my husband, our two daughters and our dog in 2015. It’s one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations with two coastlines and two National Parks, as well as plenty of family-friendly resorts. We always feel like we are on holiday here.
I’ve been a travel blogger since 2012, but in 2020 I decided to launch something new: Devon with Kids. It’s now a thriving online resource for parents living in the South West of England and for those visiting Devon with their families.
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