Devon, a county in southwest England, is full of sandy beaches, fossil cliffs, medieval towns and moorland national parks. Devon is often known as The English Riviera, due to its series of picturesque, south-coast harbour towns including Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.
For us it’s a long way to travel to get there, but when you are there you don’t want to leave. There’s tons to do for all ages so you could easily fill a week or more if you had the time available.
Lots of Devon’s attractions are very family-friendly and great fun for everyone. Even those attractions that aren’t marketed as especially family-friendly, still tend to cater for their younger visitors really well. Devon has a good reputation for being suitable for families, making it a great trip with toddlers or indeed children of any age.
I find one of the best places to be with toddlers is the beach. They can run and jump, and play in the sand and water for hours. Take a bucket and spade and a picnic and you can set up for the day.
Devon is not short of beaches. One of the most popular beaches in Devon is Watcombe Beach. It has a cafe and toilets but be aware that dogs are allowed and there is no lifeguard. Bantham Beach does have a lifeguard service and dogs are not allowed between May and September.
If you want to get the sand out from between your toes for a while, why not take the little ones to Exmoor Zoo, in North Devon? Winner of the best small attraction in Devon, this is well worth a visit. Exmoor Zoo is home to Ebony the black lady leopard, who is, amazingly, just one of five left in captivity in Great Britain.
A low cost day out still involving animals would be a trip to The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth. Entry and parking are free, although they welcome donations. You can meet and touch the donkeys, although feeding isn’t allowed, and there is a cafe and shop on site.
When the weather turns rough
I always think that a walk on the beach when the weather is a bit wild can be lots of fun and very exhilarating, so I wouldn’t be put off heading to the beach if the weather was less than ideal – I just might ditch the picnic. If that isn’t your thing though, there are a number of activities in Devon you could do as a family.
There’s The Milky Way with tons of indoor fun to be had, as well as an outdoor area should you get some bright spells during your visit. There is The Playdome for an alternative playcentre, with onsite cafe. Toddler entry is only £2.00 per child.
If you fancy something different, you could head to Waves Leisure Pool for some fantastic family fun. This is ideal for toddlers as the water is heated to 30 degrees, so you avoid all the shivering you often get in other pools when swimming with little ones. The pool has a unique sloping floor, flume, wave machine and friendly, qualified lifeguards on duty at all times you are guaranteed a safe, enjoyable visit. They have activities for all ages including a water-play activity centre and toddler slide, featuring water jets, fill ‘n’ spill buckets, hand wheels and water wheels. What’s more, under 3’s are free of charge.
Where to stay
When it comes to looking for somewhere to stay in Devon, you are spoilt for choice. I always find with little ones self-catering is the way to go, as having access to a kitchen can be really helpful and if they aren’t the best at going to bed, or they wake up early, you don’t worry about disturbing anyone else. It’s much more stress-free.
There are tons of stunning yet practical self-catering properties in Devon. I am totally in love with Meadowside Barn, Meshaw it looks pretty toddler friendly and child friendly in general, with plenty of space to run around. The only thing that slightly concerns me is the coffee table in the lounge, but this looks like it would be easily moved. Does anyone else do that? Arrive at a rental property and start moving the furniture and covering sharp corners with cushions?
Marsdens Devon Cottages have tons of lovely properties to choose from depending on your group size and requirements. Complete with high chairs and cots and stair gates of course, so all your needs are catered for.
Have you been to Devon? Where are your favourite places to go with little ones?