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Mile upon mile of rolling green countryside, charming little fishing villages and two incredible unspoilt coastlines; we are lucky enough to have some of the most beautiful scenery here in Devon. But if you need to take a break from exploring this vast landscape, or the weather has taken a turn for the worse, then you might like to visit some of our top attractions in Devon. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, a family day out or a bit of culture, you’ll find it here.
To help you plan your holiday in Devon, we’ve chosen 12 of our favourite Devon attractions. Take your pick from a choice of award-winning theme parks, relaxing gardens, mysterious castles, nostalgic steam train rides and spectacular natural sights. There’s plenty to get excited about – just see for yourselves!
1. The BIG Sheep, Bideford
Guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your Devon holiday, The BIG Sheep in Bideford offers heaps of fun for all ages. Tots can enjoy the all-weather Ewetopia Indoor Playground, while older children can delight in the swoops, turns and drops of Devon’s largest rollercoaster. There’s plenty of animal magic in the barn and pets’ corner, and there's even an on-site brewery for the adults! And no visit to this sheep-themed family amusement park is complete without placing your bets (using ewe-ros obviously) and cheering on your favourite woolly friend in the world-famous sheep racing - it truly is a sight to behold.
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2. RHS Garden Rosemoor, Torrington
A wonderful source of green-fingered inspiration, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Torrington welcomes keen gardeners and budding horticulturalists to explore its 65 enchanting acres of gardens, woodland and floral displays. One of only four RHS gardens open to the public nationwide, this colourful and heavenly scented oasis features the largest rose gardens in the South West, as well as a fruit and vegetable garden, an exotic garden with tree ferns, bananas and ginger lilies, natural flower meadows and bluebell carpeted woodlands. There are events, workshops and courses throughout the year and plenty of family activities including adventure trails and natural play areas which will keep the little ones busy for hours.
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3. National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
From the shores of Plymouth to the coral reefs of the tropics, the National Marine Aquarium takes you on an underwater journey where you will encounter a multitude of fish and mysterious marine life that you’ve probably never even heard of before! Huge rays, charismatic turtles, menacing sharks and smiley pufferfish take the whole family deep into the world of Nemo. As you dive deeper into the UK’s largest aquarium, you’ll discover incredible daily shows and feeding demonstrations where you can learn more about their important conservation work to help protect the marine environment.
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4. Stuart Line Cruises, Exmouth
Stuart Line Cruises is a multi-award-winning, family-run passenger boat business, operating from the traditional seaside town of Exmouth, in Devon. As proud members of Devon's Top Attractions and winners of 'Best Small Attraction in Devon', Stuart Line Cruises have been running for over 50 years and operate year-round, offering scenic cruises of the River Exe and magnificent East and South Devon coastlines. As well as a wide selection of special events scheduled throughout the year, Stuart Line Cruises offer the unique opportunity to discover England's Only Natural World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast, as well as regular day trips to The English Riviera. During winter, Stuart Line Cruises take advantage of the calm and sheltered waters of the River Exe, with regular River Exe Cruises, Guided Bird Watching Cruises and their famously spectacular Sail with Santa experience!
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5. Babbacombe Model Village, Torquay
Set within 4 acres of award-winning gardens, Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay is a unique miniature world with more than 400 tiny buildings, inhabited by around 13,000 even tinier people. Feel like a giant as you wander amongst humorous animated scenes which capture the essence of England’s past, present and future. Within this Lilliputian attraction, you’ll find a small-scale Stonehenge, a castle under attack from a fire-breathing dragon, a football stadium and even a naturist beach (summer months only of course!). Plus, on selected evenings in June, July and August, it's open for stunning night-time illuminations.
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6. South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh
What could be more magical then chugging your way through 7 miles of the captivating River Dart Valley on a gleaming vintage steam locomotive? Hop aboard the South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh station and delight in a picturesque journey to Totnes, jumping off at the sleepy riverside village of Staverton if you fancy. One of the West Country’s best-loved tourist attractions, you can purchase a three-for-one ticket which provides admission into two further attractions; the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm with its hedgehogs, pygmy goats and squirrels, and the Buckfast Butterfly Farm & Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary where you can spot otters underwater and walk through sub-tropical butterfly enclosures.
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7. Plymouth Gin Distillery, Plymouth
A Devon attraction for adults, the Plymouth Gin Distillery is the oldest working gin distillery in England. Having been concocting this refreshing spirit to the original recipe since 1793, this is arguably one of the best places to learn about the process and heritage of gin. Take a guided tour of the distillery and discover the distillation process, before heading to the Tasting Room where you can touch and smell the botanicals and enjoy a tutored tasting. You’ll soon understand why the world-famous Plymouth Gin has been the British Royal Navy’s favoured spirit for more than 200 years! For the ultimate ginophiles, there is a Master Distiller’s Tour where you can create your own hand-crafted gin and take it home as a unique memento of your visit.
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8. Kents Cavern, Torquay
Delve underground and wend your way through an extensive labyrinth of prehistoric caves at Kents Cavern in Torquay. Entertaining guides will lead you into a maze of atmospheric passageways, rock galleries and chambers where temperatures dip to 14°C and spectacular stalactites drip water on your head! One of the top attractions in Devon for families, you’ll explore the most ancient human dwelling in Britain where Europe’s oldest human fossil was excavated: a 41,000-year-old jawbone. There’s also plenty going on outside the cavern too with a Stone Age-themed woodland trail, kids' archaeological dig, hands-on cave art and regular appearances by Cavog the Caveman during school holidays.
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9. Clovelly Village, Clovelly
You may think it peculiar to have a village on this list of the best attractions in Devon, but Clovelly isn’t any normal village. This timeless honeypot is steeped in maritime atmosphere and history, and was once owned by the Queen of England. A modest admission charge allows you to explore the ancient fishing village’s craft workshops, museums and visitor centre. Make sure you stop for a cream tea or some freshly caught lobster in one of the two welcoming inns, explore the beautiful gardens and see the famous Clovelly donkeys which are the only form of transport here. This very special private estate is particularly known for its steep cobbled main street which is lined by flower-strewn cottages and tumbles down a 400-foot cliff to the 14th-century quay below.
Read our ‘local’s guide to Clovelly’ for more information or find a place to stay near Clovelly
10. Becky Falls, Newton Abbot
Becky Falls is an iconic Dartmoor landmark and a must-visit attraction on a Devon holiday. Pull on your walking boots and navigate over 50 acres of woodland and streams rich in wildlife, with a choice of trails to suit all ages and abilities. Choose the Blue Trail for a gentle stroll along the Becka Brook, the Red Trail for a more challenging hike or visit the Main Falls with its dramatic 70ft drop and, for those who fancy a real Swallows and Amazons-style adventure, try the Purple Trail and Lower Falls. Also included in the entrance fee are a wonderful array of family activities including animal encounter shows and feeding sessions in the petting area, and a stamp trail with a prize for every child.
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11. The Milky Way Adventure Park, near Clovelly
One of the top days out in Devon for families has to be The Milky Way Adventure Park which features North Devon’s biggest indoor play area of assault courses, slides and acres of thrilling outdoor activities. Ride the hair-raising Cosmic Typhoon rollercoaster, take on the huge death slides in the Time Warp, have a bumping good time on the Droid Destroyer dodgems and save the planet by piloting cyber scooters armed with blasteroid lasers on Ziggy’s Blast Quest. There’s also a plethora of live shows and fun activities such as pottery, golf and archery to enjoy.
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12. Powderham Castle, Exeter
If you’re searching for historical attractions in Devon, then Powderham Castle in Exeter is sure to be a hit. Over 600 years of stories and secrets are yours to discover within the walls of one of Devon's oldest family homes. Choose one of the entertaining guided tours to see some of the grandest rooms of the castle via secret doors, winding staircases, long libraries and even a hidden ballroom. Outside, you can hop on a tractor and ride through the deer park, see the blacksmiths at work in the forge, wander the flower-filled walled garden and meet a donkey, pot-bellied pigs, goats and guinea pigs in the pets’ corner.
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13. World of Country Life, Exmouth
It’s not every day you can handfeed a deer or a llama, walk a pygmy goat or watch ferrets racing, but you can do all of this and more at the multi-award-winning World of Country Life in Exmouth. Originally a working farm, visitors can now experience a range of hands-on activities as well as a variety of play areas, museums and entertainment, both outdoors and undercover. After meeting the animals, kids can clamber around the pirate ship play area and step back in time along the Victorian Street with its thatched cottages, pub, dress shop, blacksmith’s forge, and the Hall of Transport which features vehicles from Downton Abbey.
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Stay in Devon with us!
After long, fun-filled days discovering Devon’s top attractions, you’ll be needing somewhere to relax and recharge your batteries. Whether you’re travelling as a couple, a family or bringing the dog, you can plan the rest of your trip from the comfort of one of our holiday cottages in Devon.
Wake up to the sound of the waves from one of our beachfront properties just a few steps from the sands or retire to one of our peaceful and secluded rural retreats deep in the delightful Devonshire countryside. Have a look at our collection of self-catering cottages in Devon and start planning your next adventure today.
For more great inspiration for days out in Devon, have a read of our ‘ultimate Devon bucket list’.