The Best Things to Do in Plymouth With Kids
Heading to Devon with the kids? There’s something for everyone here in Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City.
Travelling with kids doesn’t always have to be a tribulation. The secret to a tantrum-free holiday is simple: take them to the right places (yes, sometimes iPads and sweets help too). Devon is a diverse county: you have everything from coast and countryside to world-class attractions and cities like Exeter and Plymouth.
So, what are the best things to do in Plymouth with kids? Here at Plum Guide, we know exactly where to go, what to do and where to stay. Keep reading for a range of ideas to suit every family vacation.
National Marine Aquarium
Nothing screams ‘child friendly’ more than the largest aquarium in the UK. The National Marine Aquarium is an Ocean Conservation Charity filled with fun and engaging activities. Take a trip across the world’s oceans, from the UK’s shores to the tropical coral reefs of Australia. The kids can come face to face with over 4,000 animals, from sharks and stingrays, to octopuses and turtles. If that’s not enough, there are also talks, workshops, animal feeding and the well-loved interactive Dive Show. Got kids who are too young for talks? The Loola Land soft play area is an ideal spot for little ones. If it’s a warm day (something Plymouth has plenty of), catch some sun in the garden area, complete with outdoor games and views out to sea.
Devon's seaside towns make the county a great choice for a family vacation, so of course we're going to mention the beach. The city is surrounded by golden, sandy, kid-friendly beaches which are perfect for rockpooling and swimming. The closest sandy beaches to Plymouth are Bovisand Beach and Wembury Beach, both of which are a 15-20 minute drive from the city centre. Bovisand is a sheltered bay surrounded by cliffs on either side. When the tide is out, the large stretch of sand is perfect for ball games and sandcastle building. Wembury Beach is owned by the National Trust and is home to exciting cliff walks, plenty of wildlife and some of the best rock pools in the country. Want to make a day of it? A stone’s throw across Plymouth Sound from the Barbican is Batten Bay, a sand and shingle beach with rock pools, walks and far reaching views. If you want to avoid a circuitous route, the easiest way to get there is by water taxi from the Barbican.
It would almost be criminal to come to Plymouth and not try your hand at water sports. Plus, your kids are going to love you for suggesting it. The main water sport activity centre in Plymouth is the Mount Batten Centre. If you’re feeling a little silly about how amateurish you might look on a surfboard, now’s not the time to worry - they have something for beginners and experts alike. The centre offers a choice of RYA sailing, powerboating, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding. Depending on how long you want to get rid of the kids, there are half day sessions to week long courses (ouch). Perched on the tidal estuary of The Sound, it’s an ideal and safe location to leave your kids (while you take a tour of the Plymouth Gin Distillery).
Fingers pruning and need a break from the water? The centre also offers land based activities like rock climbing, orienteering and gorge walking. You can even do a mix of land and water activities with the multi adventure days option. Right across the water from Mount Batten is Flow & Meander, one of our properties. Okay, technically it’s in Cornwall, but it’s as close to Plymouth as you’ll get. And with a terrace looking over the Tamar Estuary and a private pontoon, it’s well worth the journey.
Yes, this is another water-based activity. But this is Plymouth. If swimming isn’t on your list of things to do in Plymouth with kids, then why are you even heading there? Tinside Lido is a salt water swimming pool set at the tip of Plymouth Hoe and overlooking the sea. Built in 1935, this art-deco style, Grade II listed pool is frequently voted one of the top 10 of Europe’s outdoor pools. Though we think the outdoor pool at Plum Guide property Enchanter’s Nightshade is quite the contender. There’s also a well-stocked games room and plenty of outdoor spaces to relax in peaceful, countryside surroundings. Perfect for family vacations.
The Mayflower Museum
While they may protest with the classic ‘it’s boring!’ spiel, the Mayflower Museum is genuinely one of the best things to do in Plymouth with kids. The good people at the Mayflower Museum have made it friendly for kids of all ages, so boredom really isn’t an option. The museum explores the story of the Pilgrims, who back in 1620, set sail from Plymouth for the New World. Set over three floors, there are plenty of engaging exhibitions and hands-on displays, making the most of cartoons and sound effects. There’s even dress-up and role play for younger kids. Something for dad – one of the highlights is a metre high 1:11 inch scale model of the model of the Mayflower.