Whether you’re on the hunt for day trips, something to fill a few hours or an action packed week of adventure, there are a host of things you can do with the kids this autumn in Devon. You might think that all the fun ends with the summer season but that’s just not true! With adventure activities like rock climbing, canoeing and archery all the way through to pottery making, theme parks and museums, there is something for everyone here.
You don’t even have to worry if you’re on a budget, you can find a host of free activities and low cost too – here are a couple of suggestions to help you plan an autumn of fun for the whole family.
If you fancy making your own fun, why not spend some time crabbing? You can find a host of interesting creatures at this time of year, especially in places like Appledore or Shaldon – rockpooling is another great activity that won’t break the bank and can really hold the kid’s interest. Plus, during the autumn months, the beaches are much quieter and many of them have lifted restrictions on dogs, so you can get them involved too. If you are fans of the coast, the South West Coast Path is a great way to explore and many towns have now introduced passports and stamps, adding a new way to discover the region’s history. There are a host of walking and cycling routes too. One place you can explore is at Haldon Forest Park. Run by Forestry England, there are 3,500 acres of woodland, just outside of Exeter. Open all year around, there are miles of trails for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders and there is no entry fee! The majority of the trails are accessible and there are all terrain mobility scooters available to hire, as well as bikes, so everyone can join in the fun.
Similarly, Tamar Trails is a great option for families who love being outdoors. You can explore the network of woodland trails for free and there are a host of outdoor activities to get involved with including Tree Surfers and Canoe Tamar. Tree Surfers has tree top activities suitable for all ages as well as a host of other activities, while Canoe Tamar provides a whole new way to view the River Tamar and the surrounding valley, which changes with every season.
Image: Roadford Lake
If you like the idea of being out in the natural world creating your own adventures, check out Roadford Lake. Located in the Wolf Valley, between Okehampton and Launceston, this stunning area has a host of activities available including den building, exploring the woodlands and more. Find out more here. Another great option set within fabulous surroundings is Becky Falls. With 50 acres of woodland to discover and of course the famous waterfall, it is a lovely place to spend a dry day. Onsite you’ll also find a small zoo and exotics house and a children’s nature trail with a guaranteed prize at the end!
We’re all agreed that Devon’s natural beauty is a big draw, but sometimes you want something a little more thrilling – in which case, why not spend some time at one of our theme parks this autumn? Woodlands Family Theme Park Dartmouth is the largest family theme park in Devon and has some of the county’s largest watercoasters, as well as the South West’s largest indoor play area – perfect if the weather takes a turn! Alternatively, the best known theme park, Crealy can be found on the outskirts of Exeter making it easy to get to. This year, the park opened Sooty Land which features four new rides, as well as indoor attractions and live performances. In North Devon and home to the biggest family rollercoaster in the county is the Big Sheep where you can also enjoy the world famous and hilarious sheep racing! Many of Devon’s animal parks feature rides and additional activities, including World of Country Life which can be found near Exmouth and allows you to get up close and personal with a wide range of furry and feathered creatures and Wildwod Escot in Ottery St Mary. As well as fun animals, there are also challenging tree top slides and zip lines too. For those of you who like a gentle day out where you can get hands on with loads of activities but without the daunting rides, check out Pennywell Farm where there are different events and activities happening every 30 minutes. Or for those of you who just want to make friends with animals, head to Paignton Zoo. Next year will be their centenary and there will be a host of celebrations taking place, but even if you can’t make it next year, you’ll still find plenty to entertain you this autumn.
As you might expect from such a historically diverse county like Devon, there are a host of National Trust properties to explore. If you’re a member, you’ll get free entry for your visit but even if you aren’t you’ll find additional activities taking place, especially if you plan your visit for half term. In South Devon, you can visit the former holiday home of Agatha Christie, Greenway House or in Kingswear you can find Coleton Fishacre. Other National Trust properties in the region include Saltram among others. Make sure to check out their website for what activities they are hosting during the autumn months.
For the curious, there are a host of museums, many of which offer free entry. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery has an ever changing programme, so no two visits are the same and you are welcome to visit as often and for however long you like! House of Marbles provides a different museum experience – as well as a shop where you can pick up unique gifts there is also four museums full of games, pottery, glass and, as the name suggests, marbles to explore, there’s no admission charge to visit here either! To truly experience the life of yesteryear, visit Coldharbour Mill, one of the oldest woollen mills in the UK. It has been in continuous production since 1797 and is largely untouched so you can really see the impact of the industrial revolution. Or for a museum visit with a difference, check out Dingles Fairground Museum where you can wander around the 25,000 sq ft space and introduce the kids to the fairgrounds of your childhood.
Image: Coldharbour Mill