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Our favourite things to do in Devon
Devon gives you access to sights and sounds that few others can. The county is home to everything from lush countryside and colossal coastline to quaint villages and incredible attractions.
Less talked about than neighbouring Cornwall, it’s a much shorter drive from major population centres and is home to some historical places of its own. The city of Exeter acts as it’s county town, home to historical sites, delicious eateries and even the narrowest street in the whole country. Exasperating experiences continue as you drive around the county that’s home to the most roads in Britain. On many you’ll find you’re the only car, with enticing spots to stop and admire the view along every stretch of the way. Wherever you’re staying in Devon, have a look at our quintessential list of things to do and start making plans!
Crealy Theme Park and Resort
Known as the South West’s number one family day out, Crealy Theme Park and Resort hosts over 60 rides and attractions. Located just outside Exeter, it’s also handy to tie in with a coastal escape. Exmouth is a fantastic seaside town that’s just a short drive away. A multi-award winner, it’s surrounded by acres of lush countryside which you’ll have a split second to admire when you take a spin on the park’s biggest rides, between the adrenaline rush and the gust of wind of course. We're huge fans of the maximus rollercoaster- it's a favourite that keeps us coming back here time and time again!
Interestingly, Crealy has a sister park over the border in Cornwall. Camel Creek Adventure Park in Wadebridge attracts 200,000 people a year is a great thing to do following Crealy, even if you’re holiday base is in Devon.
Dartmoor National Park
One of the country’s finest National Parks, Dartmoor has enjoyed this status since 1951, becoming one of the first to receive this watermark. Covering a huge part of the county, the park is home to wild, open moorlands and deep river valleys that never fail to impress. They’re just part of the reason that the park attracts an estimated 11 million visitors every year. Stunning views from Dartmoor’s hills will take your breath away, with ample flat land for a brisk walk. There are plenty of cycle paths if you fancy bringing the bike too.
Over 30,000 people are lucky enough to live within the park’s borders, with picturesque villages like Moretonhampstead and Princetown encompassing the beauty and culture of the area in human-made form. If you want to head for a specific area, try a stroll to the River Meavy. The view towards the Leather Tor and Sharpitor hills is stunning.
Exeter Cathedral is one of the most stunning inland sites that Devon has to offer. A magnificent thing to do in the heart of the city, it stands tall around the centre of arguable Devon’s most vibrant location. Perfect for tying in with a bit to eat or a drink in one of Exeter’s many magnificent restaurants and pubs, this cathedral is one of the country’s great religious sites. If you’re into architecture, this is one of the best examples of the Gothic style you could find.
Whether you’re a deeply religious person or an atheist, you’ll appreciate the great lengths the builders went to in creating this structural masterpiece. It’s founding dates all the way back to 1050, the cathedral suffered a direct hit from a German bomber during the Second World War. What’s been rebuilt since is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Visiting here is a fantastic thing to do when you’re staying in Devon.
Located along the English Riviera between Torquay and Brixham, the zoo is one of Paignton’s stellar attractions that attracts visitors year after year. There are plenty of things to do here, and with the zoo home to dozens of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, all four corners of the earth are represented here. Consistently talked about as one of Britain’s best zoos, it’s set across a generous 80 acres of beautiful grounds just inland from the coast.
You needn’t worry about bringing your own refreshments. The zoo is home to handy cafes and food stalls so you can grab a bite to eat and refuel. You’ll leave safe in the knowledge that your proceeds are going to a good cause, with the zoo a registered charity that’s renowned for its funding of conservation, education and scientific research into rare and endangered species around the world.
South Devon Railway
Things to do don’t come better than a ride on the South Devon Railway. Stretching from Buckfastleigh down to Totnes, the line runs through six miles of lush south west countryside. The first passenger train ran on the line as far back as 1872. The tracks were closed to passengers as part of the infamous Beeching cuts of the 60s, condemning the route to freight trains only.
1969 marked the start of its heritage area, and steam chug ferry merry passengers along the route to this day. The carriages cater for all generations of train enthusiasts, with most opting for a day out in Totnes and a ride back to the railway’s headquarters. Such is its reputation; the line has been used for filming a wide variety of TB programmes. It was the prime location in the early scenes of the highly rated BBC TV series And Then There Were None.
No trip to Devon is complete without a visit to one of the county’s stunning beaches. It has to be said that Woolacombe Beach on the north coast is right up there at the top of the tree, not only within Devon but in the entire country. If there was a national competition of beaches, Woolacombe would be one of the title contenders. It sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
A vast expanse of sand overlooks a naturally beautiful headland that extends out to the Atlantic Ocean. Incredible views attract those due a spot of relaxation and rejuvenation, and the conditions generated by the wild seas make this area a surfing mecca. Hard to imagine today, the beach played host to the US Army in preparation for their infamous landings at Normandy during the Second World War. A visit here at any time of the year is a great thing to do on your stay in Devon.