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With autumn fast approaching, you will find an array of exciting family-friendly events to enjoy during October half term in South Devon. From taking part in Halloween activities to exploring spooky caves, or visiting exciting animal extravaganzas, the local region has plenty going on to keep both adults and children entertained.
Use the quick links below to find out about a particular activity, or continue reading for an overview of what’s on over the half term period…
Kents Cavern is a prehistoric cave system in Torquay, well-regarded for its archaeological and geological features, and as one of South Devon’s top attractions. When you visit, you can explore the caves and get up close to weird and wonderful stalactites. This October half term, from Saturday 23rd – Sunday 31st October, Kents Cavern invites you to bring your little witches, wizards, ghosts and ghouls to the caves for a fun-filled pumpkin hunt! Find the right number of pumpkins and you could win a Spooktacular prize.
With over 2,500 animals across 80 acres of land, you’re in for a wonderfully wild day out when you visit Paignton Zoo. Explore specially designed habitats, from the savannah to the wetlands and tropical rainforest, where you can get up close to amazing animals at every turn.
Learn more about the huge variety of fabulous creatures at the zoo by listening to the many fun talks, taking place throughout you day at the various animal enclosures. There are plenty of outdoor exhibits as well as indoor play areas should you want a change of activity. Or, why not pop in and visit the Wizard Workshop, running from Saturday 23rd – Sunday 31st October, where with a bit of hocus pocus, wizard kids can make their very own spooky spell book marker to take home!
If you’re staying in Dartmouth, be sure to enjoy a jam-packed day and journey to the zoo on the Dartmouth Steam Railway. They are taking bookings for fantastic scenic rides from Kingswear to Paignton during October half term. Once you’ve arrived in Paignton, you can either hop aboard a route 22 or 66 bus from the bus station next door, which stops opposite the zoo, or take a relatively easy 20-minute walk along Totnes Road to the zoo.
Grab your broomsticks for a ghoulishly great day out at the Halloween Fair, taking place at The Old Market in Dartmouth on 30th October from 10am – 3pm. Gather your little monsters and get them dressed up in their Halloween finery for a children’s fancy dress competition. Enjoy a jam-packed day filled with prizes, balloon sculpting and lots of stalls selling lovely crafts. The best bit is all proceeds from this family-friendly afternoon are in aid of Children’s Hospice South West.
A feast of frighteningly great fun awaits at the HQ Escape Rooms in Dartmouth and Torquay! You’ll need to think quick, act smart and work as a team if you want to make it out in time. A race against the clock, uncover hidden clues, crack tough codes and solve challenging puzzles to get to that “aha” moment that brings you closer to completing the mission.
The games by their nature are thrilling, but there’s nothing scary to worry about. Whether you choose the ‘Hideaway Hotel’ inspired by the James Bond novels, or ‘The Captain’s Study’ immersing you in local history, the team of designers and game masters have created a selection of rooms perfect for everyone. The fun begins with trying to find the venues, both of which are hidden in plain sight…so get your thinking caps on for a fabulous day of fun!
October half term fun at Pennywell Farm is all treats and no tricks this autumn. Expect an exciting day of hands-on animal activities, as this fantastic South Devon attraction offers a wealth of outdoor things to do for toddlers and young children. Enjoy tractor rides and seeing the animals up close, including snuggling miniature piglets and exploring the farm. To make the experience as safe as possible, Pennywell Farm has introduced various new systems, including temperature checks on arrival and a one-way system around the farm. Most notably, the number of tickets on sale each day is now limited and all visitors, including season holders, must book their tickets in advance. There are now two daily sessions with morning (9am – 1pm) and afternoon (2pm – 6pm) visits available.
Ready your sea legs and climb aboard the Golden Hind, where swashbuckling buccaneers invade Halloween for October half term fun in South Devon! This fabulous family attraction in Brixham combines the treasure of living history with plenty of ‘yo-ho-ho’ pirate fun.
Adventure and history are brought to life on the decks of this magnificent galleon with many hands-on exhibits, giving a genuine insight into life aboard this historic vessel. This tribute to an extraordinary ship is now in the hands of a team of modern day pirates who will tell you what life was like onboard. Below decks you’ll discover the captain’s cabin, the crew’s sleeping quarters and some of the weapons, cannons and artefacts from this intriguing age of discovery. Find out more about the Golden Hind opening times and ticket prices.
With hundreds of years of fascinating history, a visit to Dartmouth Castle will transport you back through time for and is a great family day out no matter the weather. Often referred to as ‘The Guardian of the Dart’, the impressive artillery fort was built to protect Dartmouth harbour and the townsfolk in the Middle Ages.
Some of the earliest parts of the castle date from the 1380s, so as you can imagine, it’s steeped in tales of old. Highly educational, there is plenty to do inside the castle. If the weather prevails, make a full day of it with a river boat trip from the town quay up to the castle.
Once you’ve explored the castle, why not head to Sugary Cove for a fresh sea swim, or if you’d rather keep your feet on dry land, navigate the nearby South West Coast Path and woodland walks where you will find an abundance of wildlife and birds.
Dartmouth Castle is currently open on selected day throughout the week, and similar to other attractions, you will need to book your tickets in advance and your session will be timed. To help adhere to social distancing measures, there is a limit to visitor numbers and you won’t be able to visit the castle without your booking confirmation.
South Devon is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and as you would expect, stunning views are found at every corner. From opulent dream homes to cultural properties and their bountiful gardens full of autumn colour and wildlife, the National Trust Properties in South Devon; Overbeck’s in Salcombe, Greenway in Kingswear, Saltram House in Plymouth and Coleton Fishacre in Kingswear are perfect places to explore. Not only are they family-friendly but they also offer an immersive opportunity to learn about the local history – fun for both kids and adults. Be sure to take a look at the National Trust’s downloadable Autumn Activities to take with you on your visit to help experience magic seasonal moments.
Although many of the National Trust properties in South Devon no longer require pre-booked tickets, some of the smaller attractions like Overbeck’s in Salcombe still require you to book ahead. Please check the National Trust website to check availability and to purchase tickets.
Plymouth Aquarium, the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) is the largest of its sort in the UK, located in Plymouth. Run by the Ocean Conservation Trust, the charity is dedicated to connecting people with the sea and marine life, so expect a highly interactive experience with something for all the family to enjoy. The aquarium is made up of four zones which include ocean discovery (you will get up close with stingrays, sharks and luminescent jellyfish!), animal husbandry, conservation and also research projects, so it really does provide a jam-packed day out.
The NMA have reintroduced a range of covid-safe immersive events and experiences, such as ‘Toddler Thursday’ and ‘Aquarium Lates’, enabling visitors to connect with the ocean and learn about this precious resource. To help adhere to Covid-19 guidelines, entry is timed and tickets must be booked online with a time slot chosen in advance. Book your visit to Plymouth Aquarium.
With a host of frighteningly fabulous activities to choose from, get your walking boots on and head for the wilds of Dartmoor. Steeped in history and famously the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s hair-raising ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, the rugged tors and legendary landscapes add a dramatic thrill to the atmosphere.
Test your mettle by taking part in a three hour Rock Adventure Session at the eerie Hound Tor, which includes rock climbing and abseiling. Alternatively, ‘weaselling’, where you have to crawl and squeeze through tunnels around the Tor, is especially fun for younger children. However, if you are looking for more of a challenge for adults and older children, check out their Rock Climbing Taster Sessions.
After scaling the craggy tor, finish off the day visiting the delightful Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterfly Sanctuary. Keepers give talks at each of the enclosures during the day and you can also see butterflies and reptiles in the butterfly house. There are loads more things to do in this part of the world, so head over to our blog and read more about some of our favourite Dartmoor day trips.
Attractions aside, there are plenty of things to do this October half term in South Devon, especially if you enjoy spending your time outdoors. Download our free South Devon walking guide to navigate spectacular trails that tread both coast and countryside, or head to Dartmoor for some wild and rugged Dartmoor walks. If you’re keen to get amongst the elements, plunge into the best wild swimming spots in South Devon, or try surfing, sailing, kayaking or even stand up paddleboarding – the list is endless. For even more ideas and inspiration, read our blog on things to do in South Devon, and for seasonal activities, read our guide to autumn in South Devon.
Book your October half term break in South Devon with Coast & Country Cottages, but be quick as availability is limited! We have an enviable collection of family friendly holiday cottages that are simply perfect for an autumn break. From traditional coastal cottages to country escapes and sea and river view properties, we have the perfect property to suit your holiday requirements. Choose a holiday cottage with a hot tub or an open fire for a little luxury on those crisp autumn evenings, or perhaps a luxury holiday cottage with a pool, games room or snug, should you want to hunker down in colder weather. We also have plenty of dog friendly properties suitable for your canine companion on your October half term adventure.