We’re thinking ahead here, looking at 10 Top Family Attractions In Devon. With the country in lockdown these are uncertain times for all of us but we can all hope that one day in the not too distant future life will return to normal. We’ll still be here for you and we look forward to much happier days when we can welcome you to Stonehayes Farm for well deserved holidays in Devon.
If you’ve already got a booking with us and aren’t covered by holiday insurance we are more than happy to move your booking forward and fortunately, this is a solution that most of our guests don’t mind accepting. So we are keeping positive and looking ahead to people enjoying their stay at our Devon holiday cottages. In the meantime, we thought we’d tell you a little about the area around Stonehayes Farm, about things to do here, places to visit and the best places to eat.
Stonehayes Farm is tucked away around the quiet lanes of East Devon, overlooking the beautiful Otter Valley. Just up behind us is Dumpdon Hill, an iron age hillfort with staggering views across the landscape, and a mile or so down the road is the nearest town – Honiton, with supermarkets, shops, an arts centre, art gallery and good cafes, pubs and restaurants. Within easy travelling distance are some fantastic places for days out, so with more time than usual on our hands, we’ve made a list of 10 Top Family Attractions In Devon that you can look forward to visiting.
We love this place! It’s so much fun – and it’s open year round! The woodland setting is gorgeous, with winding paths, sunlit glades and beautiful flowers, and it’s home to several species of native or once native wildlife that live in a natural habitat in the woodlands at Wildwood Escot. There are lynx, otters, wild boar, wildcats, and even elusive red squirrels; you can learn all about them from the daily talks and feeds. Kids will love the woodland playgrounds, all made out of timber from the estate and including a pirate ship, a tree house, a rope swing and a giant’s chair. Oh, and there’s more fun in the form of a beech maze, a drop slide, an indoor play barn, nature trails, and believe it or not, a Saxon Village with a working forge and hands on activities. Great, eh? Take a picnic or go to the Coach House Restaurant for lunch.
Axe Valley Wildlife Park
This small wildlife park is a lovely place to visit for all ages, but it’s aimed primarily at families with children under 12. There’s a lot more to it than you first think and most visitors agree that it’s full of surprises. Have a leisurely wander round and see the animals; among them are lemurs, meerkats, zebras, wallabies, armadillos, llamas, flamingos, goats, guinea pigs, and several species of birds and reptiles. In the summer they have daily keeper talks and animal encounters, so you might be lucky enough to help feed the birds, handle a snake, or even a tarantula (yikes!). They’re well geared up for families here - they have a picnic barn, a play area, baby changing facilities and a small but well stocked café serving light lunches and snacks. Treat your little ones to a one hour Animal Experience, or if they’re at least 7 they can be Keeper For A Day.
The Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary is home to hundreds of donkeys who have been rescued or rehomed here. You can see them all happily cavorting in the fields or contentedly munching the grass. The setting is wonderful, a quiet corner of the East Devon countryside close to the coast; explore the trails, venture into the woods to the Nature Centre and see the hermit’s cave, wander over the fields and have a stroll along the South West Coast Path. You can find out everything you ever wanted to know about donkeys in the Understanding Donkeys Zone, see the wonderful work that The Donkey Sanctuary does in the Exhibition Barn, and step inside the hut where Dr Svendsen, the founder of The Donkey Sanctuary worked. Kids will love the farm themed play area, you’ll all like the Kitchen Restaurant, and there’s even a gift shop where you can buy all sorts of donkey related things – slippers, tea towels, pencils, cross stitch, mugs…. The good news is that The Donkey Sanctuary is open all year, dogs are welcome, and they have a land scooter and wheelchairs you can borrow subject to availability. Group visits can be arranged, as can Donkey Experience Days, and if you can resist adopting one of the donks, well you’re tougher than us!
Firstly, we must say that Pecorama isn’t JUST about trains. It’s a lot about trains and if that’s your thing you’ll be in your element here, but there’s so much more and it makes for a fantastic family day out. The setting is awesome, high up on the hill above the seaside village of Beer on the East Devon coast. Pecorama is home to the award-winning Beer Heights Light Railway, with a miniature steam train you can ride through the 8 acre landscaped gardens. There’s also the world famous Peco Model Railway Exhibition, and if you need anything for your own set, pop in the shop because you’re bound to find whatever it is you’re looking for. Trains aside, the young ‘uns will love the Pirate Ship and the outdoor and indoor play areas, you can all have a game of crazy golf whilst you’re here, and anyone who’s brave enough can have a go on the zip wire. The gardens are lovely for a stroll around, with scented walkways, water features, and those astonishing sea views. There’s even a nature trail and a Crawlie Hall Bug Hotel, and for when you’re peckish, no less than five places to eat, including the sophisticated Orion Pullman Carriage for adults and older children. More tea anyone?
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens covers 64 acres and 300 years of garden history; needless to say, it’s beautiful. There’s something here for all ages so pop it on your list for a family day out when you’re on your holidays in Devon. Those gardens, what a treasure! Home to some very rare plants and the famous Palm House, made from 18,000 individual panes of glass! Stroll around every inch of the grounds if you can, see the Tropical House, the Arid House, the Italian Garden, the Shell House in the Fernery, and the Arboretum. Have a ride on the woodland railway with the kids, play crazy golf, let them have a kick about on the Astro Turf football pitch and a ride on the pedal tractors. Then you can all go to the Countryside Museum which is packed full of rural life history, including a hand operated fire engine that once operated on the estate. Round off your trip with a bite to eat in the Orangery or Bicton Restaurant. Brilliant!
Crealy Theme Park & Resort
No list of 10 Top Family Attractions In Devon would be complete without Crealy on it. What started off many moons ago as somewhere to go and stroke a few baby animals has grown and grown to become one of the West Country’s biggest days out. Crealy Theme Park & Resort has won several awards but that’s not surprising considering there are over 60 rides and attractions – there’s stacks of entertainment, live shows and over 200 animals! So, take your pick from rides like Tidal Wave Log Fume, Maximum Rollercoaster, Vortex and Crealy Grand Prix; fun, fun, fun all round. Have a pootle on the Safari Express, a turn on the Victorian Carousel, a bounce about in Re-Bound and let the tinies have a play in Buddy Bear’s Kingdom. Say hello to the feathered, furry and otherwise covered creatures in Crock Creek, Meerkat Manor, Tortoise Town, Bugz Unlimited, and Animal Land. Don’t worry about food – there are several eateries at Crealy, among them Blackbeard’s Chicken Shack, Hotdog Highway and Route 66. One supersized day out for all ages.
This had to be on our list of 10 Top Family Attractions In Devon, after all, where else would you get the chance to ride, drive and operate REAL diggers? They have rides for all ages at Diggerland but height restrictions apply to some, and of course, you need to wear sensible shoes. So, what will it be? Spindizzy, Skyshuttle, Robots or Joyrider? That’s only a few mind, there’s a lot to choose from and you can get behind the wheel of some seriously big earth movers, like giant diggers, dumper trucks and JCBs. For the younger folk there are Mini Tractors, Go Karts, Dig-A-Round and the Diggerland Train, and there’s even Little Tykes toys for the under 5’s. Take a picnic or buy hot or cold food from the café. Bucket loads of fun!
Tiverton Canal Co.
Tiverton Canal Co’s strapline is ‘A Little Bit of Heaven In Devon’ and they’re not wrong there. If you head down to the canal basin you’ll find this is a place where you can slow down and enjoy the open air and charming setting. Perhaps one of the best things to do is get a ticket for the horse drawn barge then sit back and enjoy an unhurried trip along the canal on a traditionally painted narrow boat; there’s even a bar and refreshments on board. If you’d rather explore at your own pace you can hire rowing boats and Canadian canoes from the end of May to September; otherwise just cycle or stroll along the canalside, watching out for swans gliding along, moorhens scooting about and ducks dabbling. Of course, there are several good spots for a hearty picnic, but the other temptation is to find a table in the Canal Tea Rooms & Garden, or to clamber on board Duck’s Ditty Floating Bar for a hot Devon pasty and a glass of lemonade. Perfick.
Babbacombe Model Village
Now this is FUN! It’s a bit further away, but we had to include it on our list of 10 Top Family Attractions In Devon because it’s such a brilliant day out and you can tie it in with a coastal stroll or a visit to one of the other attractions nearby. Babbacombe Model Village is Britain’s biggest model village and what they’ve done here is so clever! Peek inside the little houses, see the medieval castle with a fire breathing dragon, the English village green, the railway and the riverside village; there’s a scaled down cityscape, a miniature Stonehenge, a football stadium, stately home and zoo. It’s all so pretty and when it’s all illuminated at night it’s magical. Have a game of mini golf, watch a 4D movie and tuck into a Devon cream tea at Gulliver’s Tearoom. Well worth the drive.
World of Country Life
Plan a day trip to Exmouth on the beautiful Jurassic Coast and allow time for a visit to World of Country Life nearby. We’re not exaggerating when we say there’s heaps to do here so you’ll certainly need a few hours. Explore the undercover Victorian road with shops, a pub, and a garage, see the huge collection of steam engines, vintage cars and motorcycles in the Hall of Transport, there’s working farm machinery, you can ride on the Deer Train Safari, and stroke the animals in the farmyard and the animal nursery. World of Country Life is somewhere you can play big time, with an Amazing Maize Maze, indoor and outdoor play areas, a massive Snakes ‘n’ Ladders, crazy golf, orbiters, raceway Electric Cars, a giant air bouncer, pirate ship, and a Tower of Slides. There’s even a Bird of Prey Centre where you can see flying displays and have a falconry experience. Phew! Take your own food to enjoy in one of the outdoor or indoor picnic areas, or buy something from one of the food outlets. Much excitement in store!
So that’s our list of 10 Top Family Attractions In Devon! There’s loads more of course, and Stonehayes Farm is only a short drive from the beautiful beaches of the Jurassic Coast, so you won’t be short of things to do when you stay in one of our Devon holiday cottages. If you need inspiration for more family days out take a look at our Things To Do pages where you’ll also find activities, beauty spots, places to eat and independent shops. Something to look forward to – a holiday at Stonehayes Farm!
All information correct at the time of writing.