Half term a-go-go! Where to take the kids this June
Museums, theme parks, aquariums and more! Here are 20+ family-friendly places, for teenies to tweens and hard-to-please teens.
Dartmoor, Paignton and Exmoor Zoos have all been open since 12 April or if farm animals are more their bag, head to Pennywell Farm for the world’s cutest micro pigs, Rare Breeds at Totnes or the Miniature Pony Centre on Dartmoor. The animal-handling sessions and pony rides aren’t back on yet, but hey, we’re not complaining – they’re OPEN – as are the below from 17 May:
National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
Inspired by Netflix’ Sea-spiracy? Head to Plymouth’s harbour for the UK’s largest aquarium, with sharks, rays, octopus feeding-time and fascinating jellyfish. They’ve made some changes to their pricing so all tickets now come with a year’s free pass, and locals with a PL postcode always pay the cheaper Saver price, regardless of what time you visit. All 3-15 child tickets are HALF the price of an adult and under 3s go free. Booking essential.
The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth
Devon’s much-loved donkeys are back on the agenda, with the Kitchen, Gift Shop, Play Area and wider walks are open along with opportunities to interact with the resident donkeys. (The Maze and Hermitage Woods are still closed). Free entry, and no need to book.
THEME PARKS & RIDES
Rowlands Funfair, Cranbrook, nr Exeter, Fri 7 – Sun 23 May
Ah, the thrill of the dodgems, the smell of the candy floss, and the sieving of fivers through your fingers like there’s no tomorrow. Love it or hate it, the kids are mad for it, and the funfair is back in town, with over forty exciting family rides and special fun days.
Story Tram, Seaton Tramway, Seaton
All aboard the story tram, perfect for an adventure with the very littlest of littlies. A different theme each month (Our Precious World for May) stories and action songs brought to life by puppets and props followed by fun and games on arrival at Colyton.
Outdoor Barbecue at The Winking Prawn, Salcombe
For family-friendly al fresco BBQ dining at its best, head to this beachside eatery – every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 3.30-7.30pm. Fish, meat and vegan options on the menu. No booking needed, just turn up and wait to be seated.
Sunday Lunch at River Cottage, Axminster
Sunday lunch is a laidback family affair for all ages at TV chef Hugh’s, with the chance to explore the grounds, then sit up at a long trestle table and tuck into a delicious home-cooked menu (and, yay, not in your home!) curated and served up by the talented RC chefs.
Surf South West, Croyde
If you fancy tiring your mudlet out this half term then get them on a surf board – with a trained professional of course. Surf South West offer half-day lessons with all the gear included – just enough time for you to top up your tan, er, I mean, smile and encourage them from the super beautiful beach…. Ah, perfect half term activity! £35pp.
River Dart Country Park, near Ashburton
Fancy a local camping getaway where you can let the kids off the leash? Set in 90 acres of parkland within Dartmoor National Park, the River Dart Country Park is packed with activities, including zip wires and low ropes for littlies, an outdoor play lake with a pirate ship for leaping off, and from May 17 you can camp, stay and play.
Go Ape!, Haldon Forest
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 this is the day out for your monkey.
The Lodge Skatepark, Newton Abbot
Got a young skateboard freak in the family needing some help with their ollies? Pack them off to the only indoor skate park in the area for some coaching.
Winding River Canoe, Stoke Gabriel, Sun 23 May
A leisurely afternoon canoe down the delightful River Dart along the banks of the Sharoham Estate in a shared canoe, so bring your bubble and a picnic. Canoe, paddle, life vest and qualified guide provided. Adults £40, children (under 13) £20.
THEATRE, INDOORS & OUT
Circus of Horrors, Addams Family-Friendly Matinee, Palace Theatre, Paignton, Fri 4 Jun, 5pm
Celebrating 25 fangtastic years, Circus of Horrors are slapping back on the blood, gore and skimpy costumes to return with a Covid-safe, death-defying array of high-flung trapeze, sword-swallowing, hair-hanging, fire-juggling and freaky acrobatics. If you’ve not been yet, go, so, as Graham Norton wisely said, “One day something will go wrong and you will be able to say ‘I was there’.”
Mr Stink, Dartington Hall, near Totnes, 3pm, 2-3 Jun
Pack a picnic for Heartbreak Productions’ production of the David Walliams’ bestseller, performed on Dartington’s Great Lawn, where you’re invited to help celebrate Annabelle’s 10th birthday, hosted by everyone’s favourite MP candidate, Janet Crumb. (Almost) everyone is welcome…everyone apart from Chloe’s smelly new friend, Mr Stink. Family ticket £50, £16pp, under 16’s £12.
The Three Musketeers, Theatre Royal, Plymouth
The award-winning Le Navet Bete have created an utterly silly and hilarious version of Dumas’ classic taking d’Artagnan to Paris armed only with a baguette – sacre bleu!
Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain, Northcott Theatre, Exeter
Far more fun than home schooling, let this barmy lot introduce your children to Boudicca, the Magna Carta, Henry VIII,Dick Turpin, Queen Victoria and many more figures from history with all the nasty bits left in. (Socially distanced in the theatre.)
Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter
Exeter’s brilliant RAMM museum flings open its doors on 18 May, with two floors of discovery, and lots of stuffed animals and birds – and what child can resist those? – including the full-sized Gerald the Giraffe and an African bull elephant. Plus, an Egyptian mummy, a shell gallery and loads of interesting local stuff about Devon.
The Box, Plymouth
Plymouth’s multi-million pound museum has oodles of cool, interaction going on for young kids and teens, including a 3-D reel of the city’s history, a chance to be a TV presenter, a life-size wooly mammoth replica, and a choice of family trails to help bring the collections to life which you can download before you go.
And, littles are invited to play a noisy counting game, Hubbub, as part of the touring Wampanoag exhibition, showing how the indigenous people who welcomed the Mayflower 400 years ago, stitched incredibly detailed ceremonial beaded belts crafted from shells. Ends July 11, so get in quick!
ART & CULTURE
The Golden Hind, Brixham
Step on board this full-size replica of one of the most iconic ships from the age of exploration. This is history brought to life, where you can walk the plank, explore the cramped living conditions the galleon’s 16th century crew would have endured on the high seas and observe the views from the poopdeck. Open from 17 May.
Your Face, My Face, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Exeter
Fancy getting your portrait done? Here’s a chance to work in pairs to capture your little darling (and vice versa) in charcoal and collage, led by practising ceramics and fine artist Sarah John. Downstairs loo decor sorted! Ages 8+.