Devon is blessed with having two amazing coastlines and a wonderfully diverse landscape full of countryside, sea, moors and woods. It’s incredibly ecologically interesting and perhaps the most interesting part of the county is to the east around the Jurassic Coast.
This part of Devon has a host of dramatic sea scapes, an AONB and a range of fun, family friendly attractions, so why not spend some time exploring this part of the coast this spring?
The East of Devon features several picturesque and charming towns and villages, each with unique and fascinating heritages. Ottery St Mary is home to the tradition of tar barrel rolling which takes place on Bonfire Night and is awe-inspiring, while Budleigh Salterton has an annual literary festival that celebrates the joy of the written word. Sandy Bay, Beer, Sidmouth, Seaton and Salcombe all have amazing views of those famous cliffs and Exmouth is a thriving community will lots to see and do. Wherever you choose to base yourself in the East of Devon, you’ll find somewhere fascinating and enchanting, perfect for rock pooling, getting up close to friendly animals and immersing yourself in an adventure that takes advantage of this beautiful part of Devon.
First off, let’s start with all the fun things you can see and do in East Devon.
In addition to the many beaches, the award winning gardens and fascinating history, there are a host of attractions that welcome tourists all year around.
You can explore the coastline from the water by going on one of the themed cruises with Stuart Line Cruises. Based in Exmouth, they’re an award winning company that have been offering pleasure cruises around Devon for over fifty years.
Image: Stuart Line Cruises
Exmouth is a wonderful place to visit, so if you’re in the town for a cruise, don’t forget to stop off at World of Country Life. Based on the outskirts of Exmouth in Sandy Bay, this is the place to go if you want to hand feed a deer, walk a goat or bottle feed lambs, particularly in the spring!
A little further inland at Budleigh Salterton, you’ll find Bicton Park Botanical Gardens. With over 60 acres of beautiful gardens, this is the ideal place to go to spot spring flowers and with the wide range of facilities, its perfect for families looking for a day out. The site has indoor and outdoor play areas, Bicton Woodland Railway, Nuthatch Nature Trail, historic glasshouses, Countryside Museum , a garden centre, a restaurant and a gift shop. The Palm House is one of the world’s most beautiful garden buildings and the Bicton building dates back to around 1825. The Bicton Countryside Museum has a diverse range of exhibits and is great for the youngsters.
Image: Bicton Park.
If you like the sound of finding out more about Devon’s heritage, you can’t miss the chance to ride a tram at Seaton Tramway as well as giving you the opportunity to step back in time, they also offer a range of fun family friendly activities including pirate, fairy and dinosaur themed rides throughout the year.
As well as being the home of tar barrel rolling, Ottery St Mary also boasts Wildwood Escot, a family friendly activity centre with adventure play centres, mazes, zip lines and amazing animal encounters. Whatever it is your kids are interested in doing, this place has it all!
In the village of Beer high up on the hillside with amazing views over East Devon is Pecorama, one of the leading tourist attractions in the region. The 9 acre site is home to the world famous model railway track manufacturer and has gardens, a light railway and plenty of things to see and do which will keep the kids, both big and small!
Beer is one of the prettiest villages in the East Devon area, but if you do tire of exploring above ground, make sure to take a look at the Beer Quarry Caves. These caves have a 2,000 year history and the method of quarrying of Beer Stone has remained virtually unchanged since Roman times. The small museum features a late Beer stone church window and you can find out more about the stories of the local quarry men. It’s a fascinating delve into the region’s history.
If history is your thing, don’t miss out on visiting one of the best preserved textile mills in the country. The Coldharbour Mill Working Wool Museum and Country Park is a working museum and has been in constant production since 1797! The site features traditional looms, which still produces high quality fabrics to this day and many of the exhibits are completely interactive. You’ll find the museum in Cullompton towards the outskirts of the East Devon area. Also in Collumpton is the Bear Trail, ideal for those of you that like getting out and about and getting muddy! Known as the muddiest family assault course in Devon the whole thing is based outside and is available for private hire, should you want to come back with your friends and have the whole run of the place!
Image: The Donkey Sanctuary
Nearby in Sidmouth along the wonderful Jurassic coast is the Donkey Sanctuary, an award winning attraction home to a whole host of friendly donkeys and mules who are awaiting your visit! The resident donkeys love to meet new people and you can come along and say hi to them completely free of charge. Alternatively, view Devon from above by booking a trip with Aerosaurus Balloons.The balloon rides give you a 360 degree view of the world below and with a range of tours available, you can see get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful landscape of East and Mid Devon.
Of course, the reason East Devon and the Jurassic Coast is so well known is because of the many fossils and dinosaur remains that have been found in the region. For those of you who want to find out more about this part of the UK’s history, spend some time at the Lyme Regis Museum where you can embark on a fossil walk and learn more about Mary Anning, one of the UK’s most famous fossil hunters. While technically over the border, Lyme Regis neighbours a number of towns along Devon’s east coast including Sidmouth and Salcombe and you can easily visit both areas in the course of a day.
Now you’ve got some idea of the fun things to see and do, here are a few ideas of places to stay. The region boasts hotels, cottages, holiday parks and more, so whatever your taste and budget, you’ll find the ideal base for your East Devon adventure.
For those of you who are looking for a hotel stay, here are a few suggestions.
In Exmouth there is Bay the Imperial Hotel, a striking Victorian building with modern facilities and a fantastic position. During the summer months the surrounding gardens bloom and guests are welcome to use the putting green or the garden terrace to enjoy the warmer weather.
Image: Bay Imperial, Exmouth
Being a popular seaside resort, Sidmouth is full of hotels that suit every budget. Right on the seafront is the Royal York and Faulkner Hotel a magnificent Regency building that overlooks the beach with glorious, uninterrupted views of the Lyme Bay and the red rock cliffs of the coastline. For those of you that like to be at the centre of the action, this is the perfect place to stay.
A little further up the hill you’ll find the Victoria Hotel, one of the Brend Hotels, based within a grand Victorian hotel, this has some amazing views over the town. Many of the rooms have sea views and you can guarantee real luxury here with fine dining, a spa and lavish gardens.
The Belmont is another of the Brend Hotels chain that can be found in Sidmouth. Also set in a spectacular location, you have an uninterrupted view of the sea from the front of the hotel and three acres of stunning gardens surrounding it. Originally a summer residence for a wealthy Victorian family, this manages to retain a home from home ambience whilst being a luxury hotel.
If you want the freedom of self catering and the privacy of a holiday home, take a look at some of the quaint cottages that can be found in the region. Littlecourt Cottages have a range of fabulous properties in the Sidmouth area just a short stroll from the town centre Hemphaye, Courthaye, The Coach House , Cherry Tree and Magnolia are all tastefully decorated and offer the very best in home comforts.
Know you want a cottage but can’t decide where in the east of Devon you want to stay? Take a look at the portfolio of properties for Sweetcombe Cottage Holidays, they have over 160 coastal and rural holiday cottages all across the region with accommodation in Sidmouth, Beer, Branscombe, Budleigh Salterton, Topsham and Exmouth. Staying in a cottage will often give you secure parking, allowing you to bring your car and explore the wider area, alternatively, those cottages in the larger towns will have access to the mainline rail network, opening up the whole of Devon to you!
Higher Wiscombe is another option for anyone wanting a cottage but aren’t sure where you’d like to base yourself. The cottages can all be found within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and all of them have stunning rural views. If you’re planning a large group holiday, some of their properties are large enough to sleep around twenty people in five star luxury, so do check them out!
Image: Hawkchurch Resort and Spa
Alternatively, why not look at the holiday parks and resorts that can be found in the region? Hawkchurch Resort and Spa in Axminster is part of the Darwin Escapes brand and is the perfect place to escape the stresses of everyday life. There are a range of facilities onsite including a hydrotherapy pool and a number of spa experiences. Plus, for accommodation you get to stay in luxurious lodges and some of them are even dog friendly!
Andrewhayes Holiday Park is a great family friendly option. Based in Axminster, this family run park is surrounded by countryside but is only fifteen minutes from the coast, so you can really enjoy the best of both worlds. With a choice of accommodation options and a host of facilities perfect for the whole family, its ideal for those visiting with children if all ages.
If you want to stay at a coastal holiday park, take a look at the facilities offered by Ladram Bay in Budleigh Salterton. This park has the perfect elements for a family seaside holiday with first class entertainment, comfortable accommodation and superb facilities right on your doorstep. Plus being along the Jurassic Coast, you have plenty of things to do outside the resort too.
For accommodation with a difference, take a look at the holiday homes offered at Oakdown Touring and Holiday Caravan Park. This site offers a range of properties as well as touring and camping pitches and glamping units and is just a short journey from Beer where you’ll find a range of attractions. Or there’s Jurassic Glamping, which focuses purely on glamping holidays with their luxury, large safari style tents. Each of the tents includes your own bathroom with hot shower, basic and proper flushing toilets, warm comfy beds and fully equipped kitchens with everything you could possibly need for a self catering holiday.
With its diverse landscape, the east of Devon is also home to some of the finest local produce which is evident in the menus offered by the region’s cafes, restaurants and hotels. Many of the hotels, like the Belmont and the Victoria Hotel offer a variety of dining experiences from fine dining to more casual, informal menus. Or for a real taste of the local area, visit River Cottage HQ where you can join in with the thriving cookery school and enjoy the delights of seasonal menus made from the very best local ingredients. The site also offers accommodation should you want to stay over too.
Image: River Cottage HQ
Need any more inspiration for your trip to the Jurassic Coast and East Devon? Click here to see a whole host of accommodation and attractions that can be found in the region. Are you going to visit any of our suggestions? Let us know, you can get in touch on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.