The summer holidays are well and truly here, and whether you are on a break in Devon or you’re planning day trips, you’re no doubt on the hunt for things to do that will entertain the whole family and won’t break the bank. To help you out, we’ve put together a couple of suggestions so you can have a summer you won’t forget!
Visit the coast
One of the biggest reasons why people choose to come to Devon is the chance to spend some time by the sea. Devon has two coastlines and a host of lovely beaches to visit. Some of the best beaches for families include Woolacombe Beach, Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands in North Devon, Blackpool Sands, Goodrington Sands and Paignton Sands in South Devon and Exmouth Beach in East Devon. All these beaches have several amenities right on the seafront and plenty of space to play. Many of them are also manned by lifeguards at this time of year too and have everything on offer from ice cream sellers to watersports instructors.
As you might expect, the beaches can get busy at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid spending time by the coast – why not explore by following some of the trails along the South West Coast Path? The trust behind the path have just launched its South West Coast Path Passport, which adds a whole new level to your coastal adventures! Each place you visit earns you a stamp, so if you decided on Devon rather than spending time in an airport this summer, you can still get stamps in your passport.
Alternatively, you can have all the fun of the beach without having to fight for space on the sand by visiting the North Devon Wake Park. Located just a stone’s throw from the award winning coastline, the wake park is full of water based activities suitable for the whole family. It’s also a great option for those of you who want to give paddleboarding or kite surfing a try in a more controlled environment.
While you’re in North Devon, you can also spend some time in a historic harbour, enjoying the coast while also basking in some nostalgia by visiting Clovelly. This village is completely car free, with deliveries made by the resident donkeys and has a lovely harbour and cobbled streets to explore. It’s perfect for those of you who want a coastal visit with a difference.
Have an adventure
Devon isn’t just known for its coastlines and countryside views – it is also home to two national parks and a host of fantastic attractions making it the perfect destination for anyone wanting an adventure this summer. For the active among you, take a trip to Dartmoor and book a session with the team at Crag 2 Mountain.
Image: Crag 2 Mountain
They offer a variety of different activities including climbing, mountaineering, orienteering and caving across the National Park and pride themselves on making their adventures accessible and affordable, so each activity can be easily adapted to suit each person’s individual abilities and budgets. They have a team of expert instructors too, so even if you’ve never tried it before, you’ll be scaling tors in no time! Dartmoor isn’t your only option for adventure activities, there are a host of things to do in the Tamar Valley. One option is Tree Surfers. Enjoy a tree top experience complete with rope bridges, zip lines, walkways, Tarzan swings and more, with plenty for the whole family. On the same site, you can also explore the Tamar Trails and take to the waterways with Canoe Tamar. In North Devon there is Skern Lodge which has a huge array of family adventure breaks throughout the summer holidays, as well as family activity days, giving you the chance to try a host of different activities, including archery, climbing and more.
If you have kids that love being messy, The Bear Trail is a must. It’s the county’s muddiest family assault course, with over 30 obstacles to navigate it’s something everyone can get involved in. Families can also get involved with a bit of Axe Throwing with the Celtic Tossers in Exeter. You’ll get the chance to throw a variety of axes and even have a chance to learn a few tricks!
Image: Celtic Tossers
Another way to enjoy an adventure in Devon is by visiting one of the region’s theme parks. In Exeter, you’ll find Crealy Theme Park and Resort, which is constantly voted the south west’s number one family value day out and has the most rides in Devon and an exciting calendar of events, particularly during the school holidays. In Dartmouth there is Woodlands Family Theme Park where you can find some of the largest watercoasters in the region and an incredible zoo farm full of cute animals, meaning there is something for everyone. While in North Devon there is Milky Way Adventure Park, another award winning theme park. There are rides for all ages, including a Little Stars centre, perfect for the youngest members of the family. Or if you’d like to cause a splash, book tickets to Splashdown Quaywest, the UK’s largest outdoor waterpark in Paignton. With 8 adrenalin pumping rides and slides, there is plenty of opportunity to get the heart racing.
Image: Splashdown Quaywest
If you’re the kind of family that considers discovering new sights and views an adventure, there’s plenty for you to enjoy too. Book a cruise with Stuart Line Cruises for a chance to see Devon from the water, you might even come across a dolphin or two on your voyage! For those of you who want to stay on dry land, visit Canonteign Falls, a stunning natural attraction in the heart of the county where you can discover walks and activities for all ages and abilities.
Learn something new
School might be out but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop learning! Devon is full of fascinating attractions to pique your curiosity all while being fun and entertaining. Plymouth’s newest attraction, The Box is a state of the art museum and gallery with a rotating programme of displays and exhibitions, giving you not only the chance to learn more about the city’s history but also to experience some of the best contemporary art from across Europe. Another museum that offers fun activities is Bicton Countryside Museum. Showcasing Devon’s agricultural history, there is plenty for the kids to get their teeth into here. Alternatively, head underground at Kent’s Cavern, a series of Stone Age caves that are accessible and open daily. Similarly, there is Beer Quarry Caves, where you can unpack over 2000 years’ worth of history. The stone from these caves went towards making Exeter Cathedral and St Paul’s in London!
One of the best things about coming to Devon is the chance to meet some furry new friends. In both Exmoor and Dartmoor, you can spot the wild ponies that live on the moor no matter where you are. Exmoor is also home to a herd of feral goats that like to hang out near Valley of Rocks. If you like the idea of finding some new friends, there are loads of ways you can get up close and personal with animals from all over the world, all while learning more about them, in Devon. To meet some adorable otters, head to Otters and Butterflies in Buckfastleigh. Here you can walk among the butterflies in a purpose built habitat or visit the otters, many of which have been rescued and are usually very entertaining, especially around feeding time!
There is also Paignton Zoo which is hugely popular with visitors and places like Pennywell Farm and The Big Sheep, where you can watch the famous sheep racing and meet baby mini pigs! Or for a free day out, head to Sidmouth and visit the donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary. With free entry and a host of additional activities during the summer holidays, this is a lovely place to spend a few hours befriending the herd of rescued donkeys and enjoying the Jurassic Coast.
Looking for a bit more inspiration? Check out our friends at Devon’s Top Attractions for a whole portfolio of attractions and activities across the county.
If you want more ideas of things to do when in Devon this summer, you can find more things to do here.