Where to Stay in Devon With Kids: All You Need to Know
Devon is one of the best parts of the UK to visit with children, but where should you stay? Here's our guide to the best areas for the whole family
Devon is the perfect place for family holidays in the UK, with a plethora of child-friendly activities including fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast, miniature villages, zoos, castles and a wealth of wide, open green spaces (they’ll burn off all that unfathomable excess energy in no time). Though not everywhere’s going to meet the sky-high standards we hold here at Plum Guide (we are always striving for perfection, after all). That's why we tasked our travel experts with finding where to stay in Devon with kids, and have curated this guide especially for you (you're welcome).
Lynton & Lynmouth
Nicknamed Little Switzerland, this quaint spot by the sea got its name from Romantic poet Robert Southey, who picked up on the surrounding area’s slightly Alpine vibes. Take a walk through the lush, dramatically named Valley of the Rocks, and ride the defyingly steep water-powered cliff railway that connects Lynton (at the top of the cliffs) and Lynmonth (by the sea). There are British seaside vibes in spades, with a small harbour, fudge shops (brace yourself for the inevitable crash after the sugar high) and even a brass rubbing centre. Nearby is wild, rugged Exmoor, with plenty of green space to tire them out in; Exmoor Zoo, where there are a pair of black leopards (you can blow their minds with tales of similar creatures being spotted roaming wild on the moors); and the Exmoor Pony Centre, which hosts its own national teddy bears’ picnic day. And nearby Watermouth Castle is in fact a theme park, with water shows, toboggan runs and other rides for kids.
When it comes to where to stay in Devon with kids (or where to stay in Devon in general, for that matter), this classic seaside town on the English riviera (yes, England has one too) has something to suit everyone. There’s culture, including an Agatha Christie literary trail (Torquay was her birthplace). Highlights include a display devoted to the crime writer at Torquay Museum, including Poirot’s desk and other props from the TV adaptations, and her holiday home, Greenway, where she set two of her crime novels (its boathouse set the scene for one of her fictional murders). For the kids there’s an aquarium, the Kents Cavern prehistoric caves and all manner of watersports. Not too far away is the Babbacombe Model Village and Paignton Zoo - the latter with 2,000 animals, including big hitters like tigers and rhinos, along with lemurs, toucans and orangutans. All of that plus gardens to explore, a stylish seafront - oh, and sandy beaches (enough said).
Make Devon’s beautiful capital city your base for exploring. In Exeter itself, you’ll find a pretty cathedral green, underground passages and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, which is filled with history spanning prehistory to the modern day. Rent bikes to explore the cycle trails along the River Exe or take a canoe out onto the Exeter Canal. Or you’ll find Powderham Castle just outside town, with its own deer park (also 600 years’ worth of history, if you can hold their attention spans). You’re also well positioned for the Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth. Plus, if your kids are enjoying a dinosaur phase, East Devon is the start of the Jurassic Coast - so you’re on the cusp of one of the world’s best fossil-hunting spots.
If Devon to you is eating ice-cream and building sandcastles in a beautiful setting, head to Salcombe (it’s part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Stay in Salcombe town for access to plenty of beaches, from quiet coves to vast swathes of sand. North Sands should do the trick for young ones who love brandishing a bucket and spade, Limebury Beach has the perfect terrain for rock-pooling, while South Sands has you covered for watersports. And then there’s the South Sands Ferry if you’re looking for a boat trip. It’s definitely the top spot for one of those 'simple pleasure holidays' that’ll stick in the mind for years to come. Oh and Salcombe Dairy is one of the best for that ice cream, with its pleasingly named Salcombe Mud ice cream. So, that's our guide to where to stay in Devon with kids done. And if you're planning a trip to Devon with the grandchildren, our guide to gramping should be next on your reading list.