Many of us grown-ups are never happier than when our schedules are cleared, and all we have in front of us is a week of relaxation: leisurely strolls, beautiful views, tasty meals, and sometimes that’s all we need.
Kids, on the other hand, tend to need more constant stimulation. Luckily, in South Devon we can provide that too, and it won’t mean spending half your holiday in the car.
Here are some of the best things to do in South Devon with kids.
And if you’d like even more options:
Animal attractions of all sizes
From Salcombe or Dartmouth you can be at either Dartmoor or Paignton Zoo in well under an hour (based on average driving conditions), but there are plenty of smaller and some would say ‘cuddlier’ animal attractions even closer to home.
It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that if you can pet it, you’ll find it at Pennywell Farm. From cuddly little critters like rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and chicks all the way up to horses, the farm has enough to keep kids entertained for the day. They also put on regular events, so keep an eye on Pennywell’s website for news.
Pennywell Farm is just south of Buckfastleigh, off the A38.
Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies
Next to the Buckfastleigh Station of the South Devon Steam Railway (another great attraction for families), you’ll find Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies.
For a really packed day, you can purchase a triple ticket which includes:
- tickets for the South Devon Steam Railway (between Totnes and Buckfastleigh)
- admission to Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies
- admission to Totnes Rare Breeds Farm
Totnes Rare Breeds Farm
Like Pennywell Farm, this popular attraction lets kids and adults get up close and personal with a range of adorable animals. Meet red squirrels, hedgehogs and little Ouessant sheep, not to mention the star of the show, ‘Wizard’ the European Eagle Owl.
Totnes Rare Breeds Farm is a short walk from Totnes mainline railway station and is also easily accessible from the Steam Railway stop.
Mare and Foal Sanctuary
The Mare and Foal Sanctuary’s Visitors Centre at Coombe Park is about five minutes’ drive from Totnes. Admission is free, although donations are gratefully received, and there is a café and gift shop. The Visitors Centre is only open during the summer, from 10 am to 4 pm.
This a great place to bring children where they can see and learn about horses, although it is not a petting zoo – the animals must not be touched unless under the direction of a staff member.
Some of Britain’s best beaches
With two Blue Flag Beaches, 17 designated bathing waters, countless beautiful coves and around 80 miles of Coast Path to explore, some of the most enjoyable things to do in South Devon with kids involve being by the water. Here we’ve put together some comprehensive information about the best beaches in South Devon and their facilities.
Some beaches, like Thurlestone Sands, South Milton Sands, Hope Cove and many more, have excellent rockpools that kids just love exploring. Or back in Salcombe or Dartmouth, how about going crabbing? You can entertain the kids with hours while you enjoy the fresh air and beautiful harbour views – that’s assuming you won’t be getting caught up with the crabbing yourself!
Older kids might want to dip their toe in with some watersports. You’ll find great facilities, particularly for surfing and stand-up paddleboarding at Blackpool Sands near Dartmouth, South Milton Sands, South Sands near Salcombe, Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham beach, amongst others.
All smiles at South Devon’s soft play centres
Had enough time out in the sun? Spend a couple of hours at one of South Devon’s soft play centres.
- Kidz and Co Soft Play Café in Salcombe, just a short walk from our office on Island Street
- The Playstation Totnes, next to the mainline railway station
- Bumble, on Fore Street in Kingsbridge.
At all three of these soft play centres, you can enjoy sitting back with a drink while the kids let off steam.
Don’t forget we also have Devon’s largest family theme park on our doorstep. A few miles from Dartmouth on the A3122 you’ll find Woodlands Theme Park. As well as plenty of indoor attractions, his huge complex actually has the largest indoor adventure centre in the UK – five floors, each the length of a football pitch. It’s not just one of the best things to do in South Devon with kids – it’s one of the most popular family attractions in the South West.
Calming – if messy! – things to do in South Devon with kids
If you’re on the lookout for more calming things to do in South Devon with kids, why not take them somewhere they can develop their artistic sides – and don’t forget you can join in too!
- Paper Bird Island on Salcombe’s Island Street is an inspiring art space just a stone’s throw from our Salcombe office. Here, kids and adults can decorate a range of papier mâché animal and box shapes to take home.
- Head to China Blue’s Ceramic Studio in Totnes, where you can paint some pottery or even try throwing it yourself.
- At the Art Café on Fore Street in Kingsbridge, adults and kids alike can paint and try their hands at crafts.
So there we have it: there are more than enough things to do in South Devon with kids to keep your family smiling every day of your holiday.
Bringing a big family group on holiday? Take a look at our range of large holiday homes in Devon so everyone can join in the fun!
For even more options, have a look at our A-Z guide to things to do in South Devon during your break.
As well as all the activities you could need in the area, the accommodation options are extensive enough to mean you’ll be able to find your ideal holiday base with ease. Why not take a look at our range of family-friendly holiday homes and take your next break in comfort?