17 places to take the kids over the Easter hols
Chocs away! Egg hunts, zoos, theme parks and drive-in theatre - it's all opening up at last. Here's what's happening in Devon for kids this Easter.
From Monday 12 April a host of outdoor attractions have got the government green light to re-open, from theme parks and zoos to gardens offering Easter egg hunts – in short more adrenaline opportunities than the kids have had in yonks.
You know the drill; pre-book asap, check the website before you set off, don’t forget the face masks (and maybe the ear plugs). Brace yourselves! We’re going in…
EASTER EGG HUNTS
Thank the lord, the National Trust have re-booted Easter egg hunts for 2021 so you don’t have to, from 29 March to 4 April while chocs last.
Killerton House have a buggy-friendly adventure trail with an activity pack to encourage kids to spot the sights and sounds of Spring with the lure of a chocolate egg (or an allergen-free alternative). Costs £3pp, and while you need to book your visit there’s no need to book the trail.
Other NT go-to’s include Coleton Fishacre, Saltram House at Plymouth and also Buckland Abbey, where kids are set various Spring-time challenges, from shaking like a squirrel to bouncing around like a bunny.
Buckland Abbey’s volunteers have also created a cute ‘Easter Tree’ in the kitchen garden covered in hand-painted eggs or you can wear kids out at their Rabbit Racecourse on the Abbey lawn, jumping the grasshopper hurdles and doing a bunny hop race.
For North Devon Easter egg hunters, there are trails at Baggy Point, Woolacombe and Heddon Valley with a variety of buggy-friendly and dog friendly options.
Over at Plymouth’s Royal William Yard, talented indie chocolatier Nick of Domea Favour is rustling up hand-crafted Easter egg kits for to take home and decorate, including a handmade chocolate egg, sprinkles, a piping bag and chocolate callets (buttons to you and me). Available in store (with maybe a takeaway brew and brownie for you?) every day except Monday.
Crealy Theme Park & Resort is back with all the usual options for thrill-seekers, including the Flying Machine, Maximus rollercoaster, two themed pirate ships, the Dino Jeeps and the Safari Express train. Plus, for animal lovers there’s an outdoor zoo and farm animals including meerkats, goats, ponies and cute alpaca. Pack the raincoats as indoor areas and soft play remain out of bounds till 17 May.
For littlies aged 1-7 years and rainy days, or just if you fancy somewhere shiny and new, the role-play venue Bear Town near Cullompton has thrown open its doors but be quick as it’s so in demand it’s already sold out for some of its Easter slots.
Old-fashioned but in a good way, Babbacombe Model Village (above) has nailed the art of keeping little ‘uns fascinated for hours with their miniature houses and figures, plus they’re working on a new 2021 attraction of a teeny golf course, not one to play on but full of the little folk, at 1/12th scale.
One for would-be builders, aged 4 – 14, Diggerland is conveniently located just off the M5 at Cullompton, and always proved a huge hit with my two boys when they were young, as you get to sit in and operate real static diggers (even teenies provided they’re with an adult). Plus, there are dodgems and digger-themed rides. Open for the second week of the hols, from 12 April.
Talking of small things – there’s the new baby Goeldi’s monkey born in January during lockdown to see at Paignton Zoo, too cute to miss, along with big cats, elephants, giraffes and train rides around the park, all there to enjoy from 12 April.
The Big Sheep in Bideford is also back, where kids can see cute lambs being fed and watch animal races, or ride the rollercoaster. There’s also the added reassurance of their recent nomination as finalist in the Devon Tourism Awards for their Covid-safe innovations.
Family-run Exmoor Zoo near Barnstaple is smaller than Paignton so good for little legs, with some unusual species like wolves, jaguar, puma and the only pair of black leopards in the UK. Animal handling sessions are off for now but they’re running a full programe of informative talks from 12 April.
While RAMM in Exeter aren’t planning to re-open until May, kids are invited to join their Growing Together Project. It’s a kind of grow-alonga-with-RAMM with six seed activities – one a week in April and May – where they can get growing at home and learn some intriguing and fun facts along the way. Seeds and activity packs are available from the online RAMM shop from 3 April, and include tasty aromatic herbs, bright and bold flowers and magically medicinal blooms, all bee-friendly and easy to care for in the garden or on your windowsill.
Little monkeys been missing the zip slides? Go Ape! on Haldon Moor near Exeter are taking bookings from 29 March. Book the brave into the Treetop Challenge (min age 10 years) which lasts 2-3 hours and culminates in a hair-raising 200m slide over the Scot’s pines, or for under 10s (over 1m tall) it’s the one-hour Treetop Adventure where you can walk through the tree canopy and take a free-fall on the Tarzan Swing. Bring your bikes and a picnic as there are cycle trails through the woods to explore too.
Tired of the same old stomps? Book yourself in for a tiptoe through the, er, daffodils now in full bloom at RHS Rosemoor at Great Torrington. The play areas are open and there are takeaway options too, open every day from 10am–4pm Monday to Sunday with pre-booking.
Seaton Tramway, Seaton
The Vintage tram track is back open from the 12th, with restricted capacity and trams running every 30 minutes, from 10am-5pm. Loads of developments here if you’ve not been in a while, including a big cafe and visitor centre, plus in 2021 they’re extending their existing three halts to two more so visitors can stop off and access the Axe valley wetlands (above).
The Horrible Histories thesps are bringing their Car Park Party drive-in to Exeter Racecourse on Thurs 15 April, this time with silly puns and amusing tales of Gorgeous Georgians & Vile Victorians. Tickets cost £42 per car or £62 for front-row parking.
Kids still bored? Find lots more things to do here.