Devon is a fantastic holiday destination at any time of year – but even we have to admit that the summer months can get a bit crowded. At a certain point in the summer, we all find ourselves dreaming of crisp mornings, crunchy leaves and cosy nights… there’s nothing quite like autumn in Devon. If you’re looking to beat the crowds with an autumn stay, here are some of the best family-friendly things to do in the county this season.
As one of the greenest counties in Britain, it’s not surprising that many of Devon’s most popular attractions take place in the great outdoors. These are just a few of the best open-air activities for kids and adults alike.
This wildlife park in Ottery St Mary is jam-packed with things to do for an all-day excursion: wander through the woodland trails and spot wild boars, wolves and otters, or get lost in the magnificent beech hedge maze. For the more adventurous, there are drop slides, zip lines and climbing walls, as well as an indoor soft play area to keep the kids entertained for hours.
Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary
Let the little ones experience the wonders of the natural world at the Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary. Get up close and personal with dozens of species of butterfly from all around the world, or learn about the three resident types of otter! The hands-on otter-feeding experiences for kids are unmissable and are available by pre-booking.
Another one for the wildlife lovers among us! Paignton Zoo is home to over 2500 animals, and with the park spread across 80 acres, there’s enough to fill the whole day. Watch the giraffes being fed, pay the tigers a visit, or walk across the wobbly bridge through the lemur woods.
For Rainy Days
An autumn staycation wouldn’t be complete without the odd rainy day… but never fear, there’s still plenty to do in Devon when it’s wet. Check out this selection of weather-proof days out for when the great British weather is looking a bit – well, British.
Although it’s not all technically indoors, there’s so much to do at Crealy Family Theme Park (located just off the M5 near Exeter) that you won’t even notice the rain. With the largest number of rides at any theme park in Devon, as well as indoor and outdoor play areas, animal attractions and live shows, Crealy can brighten up even the most miserable of wet weather days.
Royal Albert Memorial Museum
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter showcases hundreds of historical, archaeological and natural artefacts, and makes for both a fun and educational day out. With plenty of activities tailored especially for young visitors, the museum has something for the whole family.
National Marine Aquarium
The historical port city of Plymouth hosts the UK’s largest aquarium, where you can see all kinds of ocean creatures – from species you might find in Plymouth Sound all the way to the inhabitants of the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t miss the Atlantic Ocean exhibit: Britain’s deepest aquarium tank, home to sea turtles and massive sand tiger sharks. There’s a soft play area for small children and several cafés and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat.
The fun in Devon doesn’t stop when the summer does! There’s plenty going on all over the county this autumn: why not take the family along to one of these local events during your stay?
Sidmouth Science Festival (8-17 Oct)
Curious kids and adults alike will love the myriad activities on offer at Sidmouth Science Festival. Learn about dinosaurs, stars, rockets and more with hands-on experiences to inspire the next generation of scientists! Started in 2012, this festival has since grown to a 10-day event and is beloved for its family-friendly approach to all things scientific. The best part? It’s all completely free.
Disclaimer: Sidmouth Science Festival 2021 is planned to go ahead as an in-person event, but is dependent on up-to-date COVID-19 restrictions.
Dartmouth Food Festival (22-24 Oct)
Foodies rejoice! This three-day festival is a celebration of the best food and drink the South West has to offer. After its cancellation in 2020, Dartmouth Food Festival is making a comeback this Autumn, and aims to be bigger and better than ever before. The festival comprises showcases by producers from all over Devon, demonstrations, competitions, tastings and seminars to delight any food lover. For kids, the family area includes face painting, biscuit decorating and various art and craft activities, while the Flavel Church hosts pizza- and bread-making sessions where kids are invited to get stuck in and get their hands dirty.
Brixham Lanterns, Lights and ‘Luminations (27 Nov)
Start the holiday season early in Brixham. This event celebrates the switching on of Brixham’s Christmas lights display, with festivities running throughout the day in the lead-up to the lantern parade, lights switch-on and culminating in a grand firework display.
With all this going on, there’s really no better place to be this autumn than in dreamy Devon. Don’t miss out: book your off-peak getaway at Lady’s Mile now with only a £50 holding deposit.