Devon’s Top Attractions have a fun-packed Summer of fun waiting to be enjoyed and the businesses cannot wait to welcome visitors through their doors. Much work has been done behind the scenes in readiness for the rightly forecasted year of the great ‘staycation’. The 36 top attractions in Devon are ready for the main summer school holidays and the arrival of holidaymakers flocking to Devon. With overseas travel still not an option for most families and Devon listed as one of the most popular UK holiday destinations, it is no wonder accommodation providers have reported a huge surge in bookings and visitors to the county.
The county’s award-winning attractions will be offering a great selection of family fun and wonderful Devon days out and experiences, plus some special seasonal events too which are now back on the events calendar.
The Chairman of ‘Devon’s Top Attractions’ and South Devon Railway PR manager, Dick Wood, said:
“Our member attractions are ready and waiting for this great Summer of holidaying at home. They have been working hard to make sure that both their visitors and staff are kept safe but, at the same time, making sure everyone can escape from this Covid ravaged world and also enjoy a fun-packed Summer.
“Most of our member attractions have taken the sensible decision to keep many of the Covid restrictions in place post 19th July. So, some are recommending and encouraging the wearing facemasks indoors and in enclosed places; keeping one-way systems; social distancing measures; Perspex screens; extra sanitising and keeping other Covid protocols in place.
“Other attractions are still limiting visitor numbers at reduced levels in order to enable them to effectively manage social distancing. This move to keep some of the restrictions is in response to considerable visitor feedback and also to keep their own staff safe. We hope this will give people the extra confidence needed to have enjoyable days out this summer and for everyone to feel safe.”
36 Top Things to do in Devon with the kids this Summer!
Visit a Devon Zoo
Head for Exmoor Zoo, home of the Exmoor Beast. There’s full day out there waiting to be enjoyed with keeper talks, Spider Phobia and Snakes Alive. Catch the animal encounters and animal feeding times. Experience wildlife from around the world from creepy crawlies of the Amazon to the wobbly wallaby joeys of Australia. There’s plenty of hands-on activities and a children’s playground and picnic area too.
Visit a Wildlife Park!
Head to East Devon to Wildwood Escot and let the kids go wild. Meet the wolves, Lynx, wildcats, red squirrels, otters and wild boar. But that’s not all as there is so much more to do. Enjoy the adventure play, indoor soft play, the amazing maze, Saxon Village, 40-metre zip-line and trampoline. With 220 acres of parkland there’s plenty of space to explore and have a full family day out.
Take an Island Adventure to Lundy Island
There’s a unique island adventure experience waiting in North Devon. Why not take a trip to Lundy Island. The adventure starts in either Bideford or Ilfracombe where you depart on your sailing onboard the MS Oldenburg as you take the two-hour crossing to this amazing island. On arrival, you have four to six hours to explore the island and immerse yourself in a place of wide spaces and big skies. A place without roads, cars or pollution. Walking and wildlife watching are key, so do not forget your binoculars. The rugged cliffs are home to important seabird colonises included Puffins and Manx Shearwaters, Guillemots, Razorbills and
Lundy Island has a thriving population of resident Atlantic grey seals. A day trip or longer stay on the island will be a memory making experience like no other.
Get Active and Outdoors at a Devon Activity Centre
Head to River Dart Country Park and get active. Packed with outdoor fun for all ages and over 90 acres to explore, there’s excitement around every corner in this extensive adventure playground. Explore the activities and test your balance on the agility trail, check out the stunning views from inside the treetop tower and get to the top of the climbing pods. Let imaginations run wild aboard the Pirate Shop or inside the play fort. Let the kids take the assault course or try out the bike pump track. For those wanting a quieter experience, there are scenic walks along the beautiful River Dart and the rugged woodlands. There’s a licensed café bar and if that’s not enough, you can stay too at their award-winning campsite which includes free entry to the extensive playgrounds.
Head for a Top Devon Beach
Fancy a top beach day, then head to Blackpool Sands near Dartmouth. This award-winning blue flag beach lies in a stunning picturesque bay, surrounded by evergreens and pines and is one of South Devon’s most beautiful natural treasures. With clear turquoise waters, you could be anywhere on the Mediterranean. The beach offers a range of water sports and a beach front café, serving delicious hot and cold food and takeaway service. You can also visit Blackpool Gardens, situated close by.
Feel Like a Giant in a Miniature World
Step into a miniature world at Babbacombe Model Village and explore the four acres of award-winning gardens showcasing hundreds of model scenes, vehicles, and people. The Village is famous for its miniature landscaped gardens and is one of Europe’s premier model Villages. Marvel at some of the scenes of icon landmarks and famous places, including Stonehenge and the recent addition of a model of the famous Royal Crescent in Bath. New for summer 2021 are the evening illuminations. The light effects will surround you in a spectacle of enchanting colours as you journey round the site, giving a magical and enchanting experience.
Glorious Gardens – Visit one of Devon’s top gardens
Devon is full of gorgeous gardens to explore and to enjoy and Bicton Park Botanical Gardens is definitely one to pay a visit. With over 64 acres to explore, this is a true gardeners delight spanning 300 years of gardening history. The park is home to many rare and beautiful species collected from around the world. See the stunning Italian Garden, see the tropical house, Arid House and the Palm house which was built 20 years before the Kew Gardens Palm House. Ride on the Bicton Woodland railway for an overview of the whole site. Then visit the Countryside Museum containing a huge collection of bygone days artefacts. Let the kids enjoy the indoor and outdoor play areas and picnic in the grounds or enjoy a bite to eat in the Temple Orangery restaurant.
Head to the magnificent gardens of RHS Rosemoor in North Devon and get some inspiration for your own garden. Rosemoor is run by the Royal Horticultural Society and the gardens are set in over 100 acres of woodland with the River Torridge running along the western border. Rosemoor is a beautiful place whatever time of year you visit, and blends formal and informal plantings to magically stunning effect. They also offer seasonal family activities, workshops and events and their Christmas glow event is something not to be missed where the gardens are illuminated to stunning effect.
Take a Devon Tour
A visit to North Devon’s Dartington crystal and Visitor Centre will not disappoint. It is a super mix of a factory tour, visitor centre and factory shopping experience. As the UK’s only remaining glass factory, a visit here is a unique and fascinating experience. Discover the story and development in the exhibition centre, watch skilled glass makers in action on the factory floor and the master engravers, then make your way to experience the factory shopping and the relaxing café and restaurant. Dartington Crystal offers several family activities and events throughout the year.
Visit Plymouth – Britain’s Ocean City
A visit to Plymouth will please with a vibrant waterfront city packed full of attractions and sights to see. Steeped in history and heritage and a great mix for a day out or short break, Plymouth is in a beautiful location sandwiched between the incredible southwest coastline and the wild beauty of Dartmoor National Park. Plymouth is a both a fashionable and cultural city with great food and drink, shopping, arts and entertainment. The city puts on a number of large seasonal events throughout the year including the famous annual British Firework Championships which lights up the city on two evenings in August.
Buzz over to North Devon and Find Out About the Bees!
Make a bee-line for Quince Honey Farm in North Devon. It is a working honey farm based in South Molton and offers a full day out for the whole family to enjoy. Learn about how bees make honey, enjoy a honey tasting session and roll your own beeswax candle. You can join a tour and get a close up look at how honey is extracted from the hive and then bottled and then you can buy it in their well-stocked shop. See the Bee Shed and the interactive hives and see millions of bees at work safely behind glass. They offer several workshops, including beekeeper taster sessions and have seasonal events on throughout the year. There is plenty for children too, they can buzz around in the Play Hive indoor adventure park. The centre piece of the attraction is the beautifully landscaped Nectar Gardens where you can wander through the hexagonal plots, each with a different theme.
Farmyard Fun – Visit a Devon Farm Park!
If you are looking for some farmyard fun, then visit one of Devon’s Top Farm Parks. Head to South Devon to
Pennywell Farm and cuddle one of their world-famous miniature pigs. With over 150 friendly animals, tractor trailer ride, miniature train ride and much more, there is always a fun packed day out waiting with a new activity every half an hour, just listen for the bell. Popular activities include the hilarious pig racing, goat milking, deer feeding and egg collecting as well as pond dipping. The animals come in all shapes and sizes, such as Connery a retired horse from the Household Cavalry, to the miniature ponies and donkeys and the friendliest of rabbits.
Over in East Devon you can pay a visit to World of Country Life, an award-winning family day out for the whole family. They have an amazing mix of animals, play areas, museums and entertainment and acres of fun to explore. Daily activities not to be missed are the goat walking, ferret racing and Deer Train Safari. They have a wide variety of animals to interact with and a fabulous on-site restaurant. Head for their transport museum and see the wonderful collection of vintage cars, motorcycles and working machinery. You can even see the Charabanc used in the filming of Downton Abbey.
Bring out the best in your herd and take the family to the The Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth. A magical place like no other and home to hundreds of donkeys — rest assured you will fall for these adorable creatures. The free to visit attraction has much to offer including an award-winning restaurant and a well-stocked gift shop as well as plenty of outdoor space and activities, trails and talks and its dog friendly too.
Visit a Devon Theme Park!
There’s some world-famous fun over in North Devon at The Big Sheep where big fun and big smiles await you at this top family attraction. It’s both a farm park and theme park. There are rides to thrill and adventures across the park. See the animals up close, watch the hilarious live shows and much more. With a massive EWEtopia indoor play area, it can certainly boast being an all-weather attraction. This Summer they have a brand-new area called Ewe-nion where you can enjoy daily live shows and entertainment outside while staying safe and they have a whole calendar of live entertainment, gigs and outdoor theatre as well as seasonal events in the park.
Still in North Devon we have another family theme park that is out of this world! Head to the Milky Way Adventure Park for some multi award winning fun! Check out their recent additions, the Ninja Stars games arena with tag scoring and another new, and already firm favourite, is Ziggy’s Blast Quest — a brilliant interactive ride for all ages where you to pilot a cyber scooter and use your Blasteroid laser to destroy rogue asteroids and meteors before they destroy the planet. Plus, there’s rollercoaster fun if you ride on the Cosmic Typhoon or whizz down the huge gravity rider donut slide. Find your way out of the maze or bump around on the Droid Destroyer dodgems. It’s a full day of family fun on offer there.
Head to Crealy Theme Park & Resort for another top Devon day out. Set in 100 acres of glorious Devon countryside this multi-award-winning family attraction. It has over 60 indoor and outdoor rides and attractions, over 200 animals and 75,000 square feet of undercover play and extensive outdoor adventure areas for visitors to explore. Plus, you can stay and play at Crealy Meadows, their own holiday resort for the ultimate staycation break. They have a swashbuckling Pirate Adventure setting sail this Summer with their brand-new Pirates – The Curse of Mermaid’s Cove family show. It’s fast paced and fully loaded with acrobatic gravity defying stunts and enough action to sink a ship! So, gather your shipmates, it’s time to choose a side and set sail with this notorious Captain Jack Scuttle and his motley crew.
Head to Woodlands Family theme Park in South Devon but don’t just play, you can stay too at their onsite caravan and camping site and make a holiday out of it. Woodlands offers a wonderful family day out and is suitable for all ages. Boasting the biggest indoor play centre in the South West, full of slides, play areas, soft play and climbing adventures, it really does not matter what the weather is doing. They have an incredible Zoo-farm with 5 huge indoor barns full of wild, exotic, and cute animals. With 10 play zones full of rides, attractions and a falconry centre spread over 100 acres, it is truly a kid’s fun paradise. This summer they have a super events calendar packed full of special themed days and character days. Meet Rex a real-life dinosaur and some other lovable favourites like Paddington Bear, Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig, Hey Duggee, Marshall from Paw Patrol, all of whom will all be making an appearance on selected dates throughout the summer holidays.
Museum Magic – Visit one of Devon’s Top Museums
Head to the Exeter based world-class Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). This free-entry, all-weather attraction is an ideal stop this summer with some stunning displays and galleries, fabulous exhibitions, and modern amenities. They have a whole host of activities and exhibitions going on over the summer holidays and a new museum trail.
Head to Torbay to Bygones Museum, to bring the past alive, with three floors of pure nostalgia. Wander back in time, visit the authentic life-size Victorian street, including forge and sweetshop and find the unexpected as there were no supermarkets for our great grandparents! Take a thought-provoking walk through their recreated WW1 trench, and imagine your ancestors on the front line or taking cover in a WWII Anderson Shelter.
Head to Coldharbour Mill, near Cullompton. The Mill Museum is one of the last surviving Victorian woollen mills and has been in production since 1879. Discover the story of power generation, looking at the waterways and waterwheel, steam engines, retort house and chimney! Explore the factory floor and learn about the heritage of spinning and weaving. Relax at the Grist Mill Café bar and take a stroll around the Mill Pond and wildlife meadow discovering the flora and fauna of the glorious Devon countryside. They have summer events, including an outdoor summer theatre event, a summer craft fair and a Summer and Autumn Steam-Up events where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of their steam complex in full swing.
Heritage and History at the heart of Devon
History is always on your doorstep in Devon, and you don’t have to travel far to immerse yourself in it. Head to Exeter and be wowed by the iconic sight on Cathedral Green of the impressive Exeter Cathedral. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful Cathedrals in England. Located in the centre of the city, there has been a Cathedral on the present site for nearly one thousand years. You can explore the building, take tours, as well as use it for quiet prayer and reflection. They also have family events and exhibitions on throughout the summer.
Clovelly Village in North Devon is a picturesque, historic, fishing village, steeped in maritime atmosphere and history, and was once owned by the Queen of England. The village has a quintessential English feel to it with its cobbled street and flower-strewn cottages tumbling down a 400-foot cliff leading to the ancient fishing harbour and 14th century quay with glorious views along the way. Clovelly is traffic-free, and donkeys and sledges are the only means of get supplies to the village. You can stay there too at the Red Lion Hotel and get a feel to what living in this unique village would be really like.
Visit a Devon Castle
Devon has castles too, head to Powderham Castle and learn about their 600-year history and the Courtenay family who still live there today. The castle is located in a unique, picturesque setting within an ancient deer park beside the Exe Estuary, just south of Exeter. Visit the walled garden and let the children see all the animals and play on the adventure play equipment. Wander through the rose garden, take a ride on the deer train and enjoy a cream tea in the Castle’s courtyard. A beautiful day out for all ages.
Head north for another Devon castle. This time Watermouth Castle near Ilfracombe but this isn’t just a castle this is also a family theme park like no other. The site is an enchanting mix of children’s activities and nostalgic blasts from the past and takes you back in time to the simple pleasures of Victorian Life. With animated scenes, a must-see patriotic water show, mechanical instruments and many curios around every corner. There is a dungeon labyrinth and a whole host of rides and outdoor family fun. Popular rides are their hill side toboggan ride and the big river ride.
Devon Railways – Ride on a steam train!
The multi-award-winning South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh is one of Devon’s and the West Country’s best loved tourist attractions and is the longest established steam railway in the South West. Enjoy the extensive grounds, gardens and linked attractions at each end of the line. Take a ride on a real steam train and experience the stunning scenic, seven-mile line as it hugs the beautiful River Dart almost all the way from Buckfastleigh to Totnes. Let yourself be transported back in time to a bygone era. Enjoy the fantastic views along the valley and take in the unmistakable sights, sounds, and smells of a journey on a real steam train. They run steam trains with heritage rolling stock and offer a wonderful all day, all weather attraction experience for families and people of all ages. Special events include the popular ‘Days out with Thomas ™’ and NEW for this Christmas 2021 is the Polar Express ™.
Head to Devon Railway Centre and Model World near Tiverton where they pride themselves on offering a warm welcome and great value for money. Visitors can ride on two different railways and children clip the tickets and wave the flag to start the train. The model railway exhibition and Edwardian model village incorporates push buttons and I-Spys to add to the fun! Explore the fantastic railway themed indoor soft-play area and indoor play coaches which provide a delightful experience for the children. Just the ticket for a family day out.
There is another great railway adventure at Pecorama in Beer. One of East Devon’s leading visitor attractions and which is home to the famous PECO Model Railway Exhibition and the Beer Heights Light Railway. The Exhibition Hall displays wonderfully detailed railway layouts in many different gauges. Venture outdoors and you will find a fleet of miniature steam locomotives which pull passenger trains on a mile long route through the stunning grounds, over bridges, through steep sided cuttings and a long dark tunnel! Pecorama also features the Millennium Celebration Garden, a series of five celestially themed garden rooms which is really impressive and worth a look.
Enjoy a Ride on a Narrow Gauge Tram
There is an electric day out in East Devon at Seaton Tramway. Get a top-deck panoramic view on a narrow-gauge, half-size heritage electric tram of the glorious Axe Valley and the estuary. The Tram journey travels through two nature reserves alongside the Axe estuary to historic Colyton. Ride on enclosed saloons in wet weather and your dog can travel with you too. Find out about history and journey back in time to a golden age of travel. Summer events include the popular Twilight Trams where you can experience the Axe Valley at night by tram light. Visitors can travel to Colyton by tram and experience the trip by moonlight! Meals can also be booked to be enjoyed at Colyton Station before returning to Seaton. These trams will run on selected dates throughout August.
Set Sail on a Devon Boat Cruise
Join Stuart Line Cruises on board one of their two striking vessels, the ‘Tudor Rose’ or the ‘Pride of Exmouth’, their flagship vessel. Both painted in their striking yellow, blue and red company colours that’s has become something of an emblem of what they offer. Cruise on the calm and sheltered waters of the River Exe and along the World Heritage Site Jurassic Coast during the Summer Months. They have many different cruises; favourites include their Cream Tea River Cruise or Mini Coastal Cruises as well as their bird watching winter cruises.
Discover Devon’s Top Natural Attractions
Head into the Teign Valley on the edge of Dartmoor and you will find Canonteign Falls. There are over 90 acres of estate land, woodland lakes and waterfalls with breath-taking views from the top of the falls. These can be reached by climbing the 90 original Victorian steps which lead up through the Victorian fern garden and onto the top. A perfect way to enjoy a family day out with added fresh air and exercise. Canonteign Falls have an events calendar which will be running throughout the Summer and Autumn.
Becky Falls on Dartmoor is a beautiful place to spend a day. Explore the 50 acres of stunning ancient woodlands and the waterfall which sits at the heart of the park in a stunning boulder strewn valley. Marvel at one of Dartmoor’s iconic landmarks and its unique natural beauty. All the shows and activities are included in the admission price and its dog friendly too. They have a varied animal collection and zoo with free animal shows, plus a woodland café and picnic area. A super day out for all the family.
Step into the Stone Age
There’s a ‘Mammoth’ day on offer at Kents Cavern. Take one of the entertaining cave tours which will tell the story of the 15-year-long Victorian excavation which uncovered some of Britain’s most ancient secrets. The caves are at a constant 14 C temperature and a lovely escape from the heat on a blazing summer’s day or if the weather is wet outside. You will be led through the large caverns, following in the footsteps of the early adventurers who unearthed an array of early bones and artefacts. As you journey through, you will see the spectacular stalactites and stalagmites which line the cave walls, and experience total darkness. New for this year is the Woodland Trail where you can hunt for Ice Age beasts. Kents Cavern run a series of seasonal events throughout the year which take place inside and outside of the caves.
Travel 200 Million Years Back in time!
Travel back in time at Seaton Jurassic in East Devon. They will take you on a journey like no other. Share the excitement of the discoveries made by local fossil hunters, geologists, and evolutionary thinkers as they uncovered the stories of life on Earth. Travel aboard the time-shop back to the Jurassic World and experience the fight for survival as you land in a giant rockpool! There are loads of hands-on activities and a fun garden to explore and you will have a super day out whatever the weather.
PLEASE NOTE: Devon’s Top Attractions may still have Covid 19 measures in place to keep you safe, and many will require advance online booking. Attractions may also have changed opening times and procedures. Please check online before venturing out.
To find out details of special events see www.devonstopattractions.co.uk/events
To find attractions and to book tickets see here