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16 family-friendly things to do in Devon

School's out and right on time, here's our pick of the fun stuff to do over the summer for you and the fam, from meeting the Exeter Chiefs, to dolphin spotting and fireworks.

 1/ Hunt for fossils

Ammonite at Lyme Regis, Mark Godden, Shutterstock

The Jurassic coast is famed for its fossils – ammonites (above), belamnites, ichthyosaur verterbra and the like – but for the richest pickings head to Seaton, or just over the border to Charmouth which has a Heritage Centre where you can see fossils, find out more about them and book a guided fossil walk, and Monmouth Beach or Church Cliff Beach at Lyme Regis (birthplace of Mary Anning who discovered the first ichthyosaur skeleton).

2/ Find a fairy

Pic credit The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum

There really are fairies at the bottom of the garden at The Garden House in Buckland Monachorum this summer, in fact they’re hidden all over the woodlands and dells in a new Fairy Trail Adventure created by Fairy Trails UK, a team of talented Devon willow weavers. There’s also a wishing tree where you can tie on a ribbon and make a wish. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm until Sunday 11 September, adults £12/Kids £6, under 5s free.

3/ Catch an outdoor movie

people sat outside with blankets
Credit: Dom Moore

Pack a rug and a hamper full of popcorn, and head to Plymouth’s Saltram House for a spot of outdoor cinema, including the bespectacled heroine, Encanto on Sat 3 Sept. So much more fun than being cooped up indoors. See everything that’s on around Devon here.

4/ Meet the Chiefs

Here’s one Muddy met earlier…

Exciting news for Exeter rugby fans! On Thursday 4 August, some of the players from Exeter Chief’s men’s team will be at the city’s RAMM museum. You can have a chat, get their autographs and have a photo taken with some of the team. (As yet it’s unconfirmed if Jack Nowell – above -will be there – exact players to be confirmed nearer the time.) Free.

5/ Hit the high wires


An adrenaline pumping day out with options on two treetop adventures, aimed at 10+ and younger kids over 1m. If leaping, sprinting and zipping across the tree tops (at about 14 metres) gets them squealing, then a day at Go Ape! at Haldon Forest is the perfect day out for your little monkey.

6/ Book a sea safari

Give ’em the thrill of bouncing along in a 10m Humber RIB boat, Devon Sea Safaris with dolphins leaping alongside (or at least trying to spot them) while enjoying the amazing geology of the South Devon coastline. You set off from Teignmouth Fish Quay Pontoon which just so happens to be conveniently close to a number of rather good eateries. A day out beckons.

7/ Go family forest bathing

Kids love to make and do? Head to Dartington Estate near Totnes for a Family Creative Journey (Weds 10 and Sat 27 Aug 10am-12.30pm). It’s billed as a sensory adventure into the woods, where you can discover trails and create nature art together. Brilliant for stoking their imaginations and letting your hair down together as a family. £8.50pp

8/ Do the Round Robin

Go sightseeing for the day on Dartmouth’s Steam Railway‘s bestselling day trip, which takes you from Paignton to Totnes and Dartmouth (and back again) via steam train, river boat and bus. Family ticket £98.

9/ Go island hopping

Fancy making like Robinson Crusoe with a boat trip to an uninhabited island? Book a short ride from Mountbatten in Plymouth to Drake’s Island (above), a sea fortress since Tudor times, more recently a kids adventure playground and now a good place for a heritage tour with creepy underground tunnels, tales of smuggling and amazing views over Plymouth Sound. Adult ticket £15.50/child £6.50.

10/Make a splash

Undeniably quaint, the Shaldon Water carnival has been held on the first Saturday of August for over 60 years. Expect children’s fancy dress ,stalls, games, a lifeboat demo, magician and decorated boats followed by a barbecue and a live band on the green. Not near you? Check out our Round-up of Devon’s Regattas for one close by.

11/ Explore a historic castle

Powderham Castle does guided tours and an excellent cream tea

Nothing like running around the ramparts to let off some steam and Devon isn’t short of spooky ruins and towering turrets. Powderham Castle have a Secret Garden with a 4m high play fort where kids can play at being knights and princesses. Or try these fabulous forts around Devon instead.

12/ Ooh at the fireworks

Take your seats around Plymouth Hoe on Weds 17 and Thurs 18 August for two nights of sky-high pyrotechnics as six professional firework companies battle it out to be the best in the British Fireworks Championships. Plus music, fairground rides and refreshment stalls on the Hoe.

13/ Scale the cliffs by rail

So much easier than climbing too…Devon does a good line (‘scuse the pun) in cliff railways – the one that connects the villages of Lynton and Lynmouth (above) is powered by water from the river Lyn which weighs one carriage down the cliff then splashes out to let it back up again, or if you’re in South Devon, hop on Babbacombe’s cliffside rail to get to lovely Oddicombe Beach.

14/ Take a llama for a walk on Dartmoor

Ancient tors not enough to tempt the family up on Dartmoor? What if they get to do it on a guided llama walk? They’re great walking companions and, bonus – they can carry your cream tea while you hear about the history and landscape of the moors from your knowledgeable tour guide from Dartmoor Llama Walks.

15/Make a magical marine park

Plymouth is home to the UK’s first National Marine Park – a unique project designed to celebrate and promote the history, habitats and industries of Plymouth Sound. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during the summer hols, The Box are running kids’ activity sessions (suitable for 4-11 year olds) where they can discover special it is, meet some of its most inspiring organisations and have lots of creative fun. Plus, the free family trails around the museum are running as usual.

16/Explore a classic story book

Celebrating 40 years since the publication of Rod Campbell’s classic storybook, Dartmoor Zoo at Sparkeswell is partnering with Macmillan Children’s Books to host Dear Zoo, a sweet animal-focussed trail where you can interact with a giant storybook, listen to the story being told, of course say hello to some of the animals from the story in real life. Free with normal admission, until Mon 5 Sept.

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