Things to do in Sidmouth
Built at the mouth of the River Sid, Sidmouth is an ancient town mentioned in the Domesday Book and remains a popular tourist draw to this day. With a pebbly beach, scenic cliffs and hillside, and an attractive seafront, it’s well worth a day trip.
Located just 10 miles from our Devon Cliffs Holiday Park, Sidmouth offers a treasure trove of activities waiting to be discovered. Here are the best things to do in Sidmouth.
1. Stroll Sidmouth's beaches
No trip to Sidmouth is complete without a beach day. Although the main section is pebbly, a sandy stretch can be found at the western side of the beach, where there are rockpools at low tide for kids to explore.
Cafes, restaurants, and places to grab an ice cream are close at hand, providing an escape from the elements, or a cure for hungry stomachs after a swim.
2. Connaught Gardens
Established in the 1820s, these ornate gardens are magnificent. They can be reached via the South West Coast Path, heading up the cliffside to the west of the seafront. From the top of the hill, you’ll see wonderful views of the Jurassic Coast.
Wander among vibrant flowers, lush lawns, and quiet places to sit. The elegant Victorian park can also be reached from Peak Hill Road or if you’re feeling energetic, via Jacob’s Ladder.
3. Sidmouth Museum
After all this outdoor activity, let’s turn to some of Sidmouth’s indoor attractions. The town’s museum is top of the list.
Dive into the rich history, geology and biodiversity of Sidmouth and the surrounding area. Learn about the town's prehistoric settlements, its Victorian roots, shipwrecks, smugglers and more.
A visit to this well-curated and interactive museum is a great indoor option for the all the family.
4. Jacob’s Ladder
Adventurous souls looking to burn some calories climb this historic set of wooden steps leading from the western beach to the gardens and coastal path on the clifftop.
Climbers are rewarded with panoramic views of Sidmouth's coast, including the red cliffs and green hillsides that make this stretch of the coastline so photogenic.
5. Norman Lockyer Observatory
Stare into the depths of space and gaze at the light of stars from millions of years ago at the Norman Lockyer Observatory. Far from a big city’s light pollution, the stars are clearer in Sidmouth, and this community-run facility holds regular public sessions.
Featuring a miniature planetarium, a 19th-century orrery (which is a clockwork model of the solar system), and three historic telescopes dating back to 1871, the Normal Lockyer Observatory provides fascinating insights into stargazing across the ages.
6. The Byes riverside park
Looking for Sidmouth things to do outdoors? The Byes riverside park scores highly on a sunny day, or in autumn when the leaves are turning.
Stretching 1.5 miles from Sidmouth to the north, down to Salcombe Road, the riverside park is a picturesque walkway with dropping willows, rippling weirs, and wildflower meadows.
7. The Donkey Sanctuary
Donkeys and the English seaside have a long history and this wonderful facility continues that tradition. As well as rescuing local animals, the sanctuary does international outreach work, supporting campaigns in Africa, South Asia and Latin America.
A hit among kids and adults alike, the sanctuary is home to hundreds of rescued donkeys. Visitors can meet the animals, learn their stories, and support a great cause. You can even adopt an animal and check in on its welfare via their 24-hour webcams.
8. Try a Devon Cream Tea
When considering things to do in Sidmouth, indulging in a traditional Devon Cream Tea should be high on your list. There’s no shortage of venues on Fore Street in which to sample the local scones and tea.
If you’re not planning to cause a ruckus, bear in mind that locals apply the clotted cream before the jam, unlike their quirky Cornish neighbours, who favour the opposite approach!
9. Manor Pavilion Theatre
Another great indoor option, this intimate local venue hosts a range of events including tribute bands, talks, musicals, variety shows and kids' events. There are weekly shows year-round, but book early, since the auditorium has less than 280 seats.
10. Shop at Sidmouth's markets
Sidmouth’s backstreets are home to a mix of big-name brands, charity shops, and boutiques. Pick up a bargain, hunt for souvenirs, or check out local crafts. Unique shops include clothing designers inspired by the sea, bookshops, homemade Devon fudge, and surf wear.
For local produce, head to the Farmer’s Market at nearby Kennaway House on Coburg Road every Friday, where you’ll find vegetables, mushrooms, locally grown meats and loads more.