Rolling countryside and pristine beaches, unique wildlife and rustic villages – Devon is the jewel in the South West’s crown. Holidaymakers are spoilt for breath-taking scenery; with dramatic stretches of hills in Exmoor, and sublime surf spots across the beaches of Croyde and Putsborough.
There is plenty on offer for families of all ages. Whether you’re looking to sample the local clotted cream or horse ride in picturesque surroundings, Devon is sure to keep you busy.
Llama and Alpaca Trekking
For a truly unforgettable experience, why not try llama trekking? Situated on East Devon’s spectacular Jurassic Coast, Walking with Llamas gives visitors the chance to experience the great outdoors in peculiar fashion. Walk side by side with these friendly and gentle animals through meadows and ancient smugglers’ tracks, immersing yourself in spectacular surroundings.
Their woolly cousin, the alpaca, can also be spotted climbing the steep tracks of the Roncombe Valley. Bear House Alpacas is a company that offers keen walkers the chance to hike through the East Devon Countryside with the Huacaya and Suri alpacas; all of which are bred onsite. Treks can last from 1 to 2 hours and walkers are welcome to bring a picnic along – just make sure to keep it away from the hungry mouths around you!
If you’re looking to get off your feet, there’s always the East Devon Riding Academy; a small horse riding centre situated a stone’s throw from Sidmouth. Offering high-quality riding and horsemanship tuition to children and adults, here you’ll find tiny ponies for tots, and larger horses for more competent riders.
Canoeing / Kayaking
The winding canals of Devon are a real spectacle – from the 16th century Exeter Ship Canal to the industrial Rolle Canal in the north, these stunning routes meander through quiet villages and olive green countryside.
If you want to see the historical and charming landscapes of Devon, hiring a canoe or kayak is the perfect way to relax with family. As you gently wade through the calm waters, why not stop off for a picnic or food at a local pub?
Saddles and Paddles is a rental shop that provides everything you could need to start paddling – basic tuition, a range of different kayaks and canoes, buoyancy aids and more. For those who prefer land to water, this independent business also offers a bike rental service, so visitors can explore the picturesque cycle routes of the Exe Estuary.
As I’m sure you’re beginning to realise, Devon is jam-packed full of wildlife. So it should come as no surprise that one of the best things to do in the South West is to visit a farm.
However, if you’re looking for a bog standard acre of land with a couple of cows and chickens, you’ve come to the wrong place. Situated a mile from the town of Buckfastleigh, Pennywell Farm is the go-to tourist attraction for kids, and for good reason. From 10am onwards you can expect pig cuddling, ferret racing, pony pampering and even a spot of pond dipping!
With a new activity, show or display every half an hour, the farm has something for everyone. If you’re the sporty type, why not try your hand at racing in the ‘rabbit go carts’, or test out your precision on the crazy golf course? Looking for something more relaxing? Head over to the animal crèche and have a go at bottle feeding the hungry orphan lambs and goat kids.
Make sure not to miss the miniature pigs!
Hele Corn Mill and Tearoom
What’s a trip to Devon without sampling the local scones and clotted cream? Hele Corn Mill is a foodie’s heaven. With savoury cream tea and homemade sandwiches on offer, this 16th century mill won ‘best tearoom’ at the Devon Life food and drink awards two years in a row. Their speciality is sweetened bread, which can be eaten with black treacle or jam – known as ‘Thunder and Lightning’.
With options of High Tea for groups of four or more, this venue is well-suited to anyone who wants an afternoon of indulgence. But if you’re looking to make your trip extra special, why not spend an evening at the Miller’s Cottage? Adjacent to the tearoom, this stunning two bedroomed cottage is available for holiday bookings all year round.
Model Village and Gardens
Some of the most unusual landmarks in Devon are the model village and gardens of Babbacombe. Showcasing hundreds of models scenes, vehicles and people, families can discover thousands of structures set in the architectural styles of the Medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian periods.
This mesmerising model village is situated over four acres of beautiful award-winning gardens, including streams, waterfalls and lakes, where tourists get to behave like a real-life giant! Depending on what time of year you visit the model village, there are regular events: including illuminations of the miniature buildings and carefully manicured gardens.
With lots of hidden secrets, a visit is sure to excite younger children in the family.
Exploring the labyrinth of caverns scattered throughout Devon is a great way to get active with the family, no matter what the weather is like. Devon is home to cave formations that run through the eastern side of Dartmoor, all the way through to Buckfastleigh and Brixham.
One of the most visited caves is called Kents Cavern; situated in Torquay, it is the location where several archaeological finds were made. As one of the most important Stone Age sites in Europe, Kents Cavern is over 400 million years old and is home to spectacular stalagmites and stalactites. As a showcave, there is plenty on offer to keep children entertained. Depending on what time of year you visit, you can experience Stone Age trails, tribal face painting, ghost tours and even excavations.
If the weather is nice, you may want to take advantage of the amazing coastal areas that are on the doorstep of the cave. Families are able to partake in the UNESCO Geopark Coastal Walk – a tour of the limestone layers that make up the picturesque landscape. As you will learn, after the land was raised to Ice Age beaches, it eventually gained gold-infused rock, so keep your eyes peeled!
For adrenaline junkies who want to see Devon head-on, renting a quad bike is hard to beat. Wheel-spinning through woodland and manoeuvring over marshland, thrill-seekers can look forward to a memorable (and muddy!) experience.
One of the most popular rental companies can be found at the Exeter Quad centre. Based on the Escot Estate, visitors are sure to be blown away by the mammoth lengths of track that are on offer (around 10 miles!). With on-site tuition and even a safari style adventure available, this fun-packed day out offers families the chance to unconventionally explore Devon’s hidden treasures.
Whether you’re looking to clamber up testing terrain, or glide down one of Devon’s undulating hills, Exeter Quad Centre have different packages and a range of bikes to suit. The minimum age for quad biking is 14 years old, and those who would rather keep their feet fixed on terra firma can also find access to clay shooting, paintballing, Segways, laser tag and archery.
With so much to do in Devon, it’s not hard to stay busy. What’s your favourite place to explore in the area? Let us know the sites that you most enjoy.