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South Devon is the perfect playground for adventuring with the family. With beaches, countryside and woodland to explore, not to mention award-winning attractions, there are endless activities to pack into your family break. We know that family holidays can be expensive at times, so with this in mind we’ve compiled a list of our favourite free things to do in South Devon with children (aside from travel, food and parking costs of course!). So digout the boogie board, dust off the walking boots and stock up on art supplies ready for some old-fashioned fun.

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Our top 10 free things to do in South Devon with children:

Nature hunt

Little people (and secretly grown-ups too!) love nothing more than the challenge of a treasure hunt. Within this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty you will find natural treasures at every turn, so get creative and set the children a nature hunt. Include activities such as cloud spotting, hunting for animals tracks, drawing pictures of wildflowers and bird watching. The children will adore the excitement of feeling like ‘Bear Grylls’ on an expedition. 


It’s no secret that family holidays are a time of indulgence, and naturally, normal food related ‘house rules’ slide a little! Long breakfasts, hearty puddings, cream teas, and pre-dinner snacks (not to mention sumptuous wine!) are all part of the South Devon experience, and we encourage you to fill your bellies until your hearts content during your family break.

Why not use your break to ensure family meals become the anchor of your day, and encourage the children to become involved in the process of cooking; from recipe ideas and sourcing local ingredients to table laying and cooking up a feast for the family. Inject a little fun into this by having a themed meal, or play games around the table. We love food at Coast & Country Cottages, and have compiled a South Devon cookbook, so if you’re short on recipe ideas, then have a browse.

Download our South Devon cookbook

Free things to do in South Devon scone

South Devon seaside

In South Devon, you’ll never find yourself far from the water, be it by the coast, river or estuary and you will find many free family friendly activities to enjoy. From wild swimming and body surfing to stone skimming, crabbing and rockpooling, there is a water based activity to suit everyone, and you don’t even have to get wet if you don’t want to!

Free things to do in South Devon sea swim

Dartington Gardens

Dartington Gardens are a firm favourite amongst those visiting South Devon. With colourful blooms in abundance, and a rich sense of history and exciting features to explore (from a Henry Moore sculpture to a yew tree that is at least 1,500 years old!) the gardens are open from dawn till dusk, 7 days a week, with free entry. Furthermore, The Dartington Estate is 1,200 acres in its entirety and includes several riverside wild swimming spots, a natural playpark, a deer park and many walking trails of varying lengths.

Free things to do in South Devon dartington garden

South Devon tales

Everyone loves a good story and South Devon is steeped in heritage with many tales etched in its landscape. From country houses, castles, forts and towns to caves, lighthouses and beaches, be sure to set aside both time and brain power for a little culture during your break. Head to Bantham to learn about the Saxons and smugglers that once invaded the village, or visit Slapton Sands to see the Sherman Tank from the D-Day Landing. A firm favourite amongst local children is learning about the ‘village that fell in the sea’ at Hallsands, where 37 homes were lost to the sea, along with a village store and pub.

Eat ‘al Fresco’

Dining in the great outdoors is exhilarating, whatever the season. From beachside eateries and secluded picnic spots to luxury self-catering properties with balconies overlooking the water, South Devon has something to suit every al fresco diner. Throughout South Devon you will find many local farm shops and even restaurants offering excellent takeaway menus. If you’re feeling really brave then light up the camping stove and cook up a feast. There is something special about cooking outdoors, so pack the sausages, marshmallows and stove and get sizzling. If you would rather be a little closer to home enjoying the luxuries of your self-catering property then bring your Devon delights home with you and dine outdoors.

Go adventuring

Stretching from the coast to the Dartmoor National Park, South Devon boasts a varied landscapes with rolling countryside, patchwork farmland, river valleys, wooded hills and a dramatic coastline, all of which are ripe for exploration. Pack a picnic and try geocaching in the countryside, explore the rock-pools at low tide, or go dolphin, seal and basking shark spotting from the cliff-tops. Simplicity is key when it comes to exploring with children, so strip your adventures back to basics and let the exploration unfold naturally.

Free things to do in South Devon adventure

Make crafts in South Devon

Crafting is a great way to spend a few hours and is often voted a firm family favourite. Both children and grown-ups relish the chance to brandish a paintbrush and let their creative skills flourish, even if it does sometimes gets a little competitive! Collect pebbles from the beach for painting, or gather driftwood and seashells to make a dreamcatcher. Many of our family friendly properties boast stunning views, so be sure to sketch your holiday outlook as a South Devon keepsake.

Sandcastles and seashells

With over a 60 mile stretch of coastline to explore, and sandy beaches and coves in abundance, there is ample opportunity to build sandcastles, search for seashells and collect tidal treasures, such as driftwood and seaglass. Be sure to bring beachcombing treasures home with you, and keep them safe ready for a crafty project during or after your holiday.

Photograph your holiday

Family holidays are all about making memories, and often, so much fun is had that we forget to take any pictures. A great holiday project the whole family can get involved in is to create a travel diary, perfect for sharing stories of your holiday when back home. With mobile phone cameras and digital cameras so readily available, it’s so easy for all the family to snap away whilst on your South Devon holiday.

Free things to do in South Devon beach

For those looking to enjoy a short break or a longer holiday in stunning surroundings with the family, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a fabulous location. Coast & Country Cottages have a fantastic range of family friendly properties to enjoy, so book your South Devon holiday now!

Book your family break now