Best South Devon Days Out
South Devon is a great place for a holiday. Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned visitor, you’ll soon discover there’s something for everyone. You may be taking the kids for a few days by the seaside, a couple looking for a romantic bolthole to hunker down in or planning a walking holiday along the South West Coastal Path. From sipping wines at the local vineyards to paddle boarding, visiting zoos and historical houses or taking a luxurious yacht charter, there’s something for all whatever the weather!
We know South Devon like the back of our hands so we’ve rallied round to produce your ultimate guide to the Best South Devon Days Out.
South Devon sits between the rugged southern slopes of Dartmoor and the charming coastal towns and villages which hug the shoreline. In between are the rolling hills, woodlands and beautiful countryside.
It’s all in the planning
If you’re looking to get out and about and explore during your stay, we suggest you start planning… our guide is divided up into sections to make it a little easier.
Alternatively, simply chill on the terrace overlooking the sea. Dine on the freshest seafood or relax with a good book on the beach
Top spots for a day on the beach
South Devon beaches are amongst the best! There are beaches for building sandcastles, beaches for rockpooling, beaches to swim, paddleboard, surf, kayak and fish from.
- Sandy beaches
The most popular beaches for families are Thurlestone and South Milton Sands, Bigbury, Bantham, Hope Cove (actually has 3 beaches). Salcombe’s beautiful sandy beaches of North Sands, South Sands and Mill Bay beach are perfect for children with facilities nearby. ie. Toilets and somewhere to get a drink and a snack or a lunch
- Shingle and pebble beaches
The Award Winning Blue Flag beach at Blackpool Sands is in fact a fine shingle. Nevertheless it’s a lovely spot for children with a sheltered horseshoe bay. The beach is privately owned so there is a daily charge but it’s lifeguarded during the summer season and has a great beach cafe too. Torcross, Strete Gate and Slapton beaches are all quite steeply shelving but the sea is gin clear and perfect for wild swimming, fishing, paddle boarding and sailing. These beaches are vast and rarely get packed even during the summer months.
Who doesn’t love a rockpool! A lovely fun way to spend a few hours on the beach with the kids. We recommend North Sands and South Milton Sands so don’t forget to go prepared with your bucket in hand!
Top spots for Watersports
With its rich sailing history, majestic Dartmouth is a great place for watersports easy access onto the River Dart and out to sea. You’ll find full details of Dartmouth’s watersports here from powerboating, rib charter, sailing and kayaking to river trips – Dartmouth ticks all the boxes with something for everyone.
You can’t beat this stunning coastal hotspot for sailing, powerboating, dinghy sailing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, kayaking etc. etc.… In fact, you name it, chances are you can do it in Salcombe! Full details of all watersports in Salcombe here.
- South Milton Sands
For kayaking and windsurfing. We suggest hiring a paddle board from Adventure South (they’ll even deliver to your Finest Stay holiday home!)
Wild swimming in South Devon
South Devon has some of the cleanest beaches in the UK and it’s perfect for a spot of wild swimming. This rapidly growing sport is excellent for your health and (although some of us may prefer to stick to the summer months for a dip in the ocean), those hardy souls amongst you won’t be able to resist plunging into the gin clear waters. For a fun swim, seasoned swimmers should check out the Bantham Swoosh. This annual event attracts swimmers from all over the UK, the course starts in Aveton Gifford and follows the River Avon on its journey to the sea – some 6 kms.
Whatever the weather, when you visit a beach in South Devon you’ll see surfers in the waves. If you haven’t surfed before, now’s the time to get a lesson or two and if you’re a seasoned surfer, get out with your board! North Devon may have claim to the best surf spots but head to the beaches at Bantham and Bigbury and you won’t be disappointed!
Coasteering in South Devon
Calling all adrenaline junkies… if clambering over rocks, jumping into deep waters and negotiating the rugged coastline floats your boat.. Coasteering is for you! This epic total adventure offers a chance to discover amazing scenery and ocean wildlife. Go Coasteering are the guys to use.
Best spots for crabbing
South Devon’s top spots for crabbing are Salcombe and Dartmouth. In both towns you’ll see adults and children hanging over the harbour wall with line and bucket, all waiting patiently for the crafty crustacean to nibble the bait. Plenty of hints and tips on best crabbing techniques here . Be prepared for a fun and competitive day with the kids!
Best walks in South Devon
Stroll along quiet country lanes stopping for a pub lunch, wander through pretty waterside towns or hike along the coastal path? South Devon ticks all the boxes. So whether you’re planning a holiday in Hope Cove, Dartmouth, Salcombe, Kingsbridge or Strete or looking for a dog friendly beach to give the pooch a run, you’ll the best walks right on your doorstep.
Top family attractions in South Devon
- Paignton Zoo
A great educational and fun family day out,. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a member of BIAZA and is highly acclaimed for its wildlife conservation efforts. With an amazing collection of 2,000 plus animals all set in a vast 80 acres of landscaped grounds, it’s going to get the thumbs up from the kids!
- Pennywell Farm
Perfect for younger children. Pennywell Farm is home to a huge number of farm animals of all breeds and sizes but it’s probably most famous for its miniature pigs! Kids can cuddle a piglet and watch the ‘teacup pigs’ race. It’s sure to delight all ages!
This adventure park is just a few miles from Dartmouth and has the largest indoor play area in the south west. There’s something for children of all ages with amazing water rides and a farmyard zoo.
- National Marine Aquarium
(NMA) is in Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City and it’s the largest Aquarium in the UK! Discover an underwater world with 5,000 ocean animals including sharks plus inspiring exhibits. A great option for a rainy day..
- The Box
Visit Plymouth’s award winning museum and art gallery. Admission into The Box free and there are some really beautiful paintings including Stanhope Forbes’ Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach. The Box also has links to The National Gallery.
- The South Devon Railway
This charming steam train chugs alongside the River Dart as it travels through the beautiful south Devon countryside. You can hop on the train between Totnes, Littlehempston and Buckfastleigh.
Best National Trust days out
- Saltram House
A majestic property overlooking the River Plym. Saltram House is set in 18th century landscaped gardens and comes complete with an orangerie, a chapel tea room and a gallery. There’s also beautiful parkland for dog walking and cycling
- Overbeck’s Garden
Overbeck’s Garden is a tropical hideaway tucked away on a clifftop above the Salcombe Estuary. This botanical oasis benefits from the south Devon micro-climate and is planted with a stunning collection of exotic plants. The views across the mouth of the estuary and along the coast are awesome!
- Coleton Fishacre
A beautiful Art Deco style house set in tropical RHS-accredited gardens with woodland, herbaceous borders and exotic plants.
- Greenway House and Garden
Former holiday home of Agatha Christie. This stunning Georgian house with its 1950’s style interiors is a little gem and well worth a visit. The grounds are beautiful with a walled garden and sweeping lawns. Stroll along the woodland to the River Dart and the boathouse for fabulous views.
Grown up days out
- Sharpham Vineyard
Escape for a few hours and learn about the wine production process at this much acclaimed vineyard and winery. Sandridge Barton is the home of Sharpham Wines and they offer a self guided trek and taste option, wine flights and wine and cheese tasting experiences…simply perfect!
- Salcombe Gin Distillery
Get ready for a unique experience and learn all about the art of gin distillation. Create, develop and distil your very own bottle of handcrafted gin using a beautiful mini copper pot still. Take a tour of the amazing distillery and round off the day with a G & T overlooking the stunning Salcombe Estuary. Definitely one for the ‘to do’ list!
- Golf courses in South Devon
South Devon has three excellent golf courses, all with outstanding views. The golf courses at Bigbury and Thurlestone sit right alongside the coastal path and offer a challenging round in spectacular landscapes. Designed by Harry Colt, the Thurlestone Golf course is a combination of links and rugged cliff top terrain to Thurlestone Rock and Burgh Island. The Dartmouth Golf Club was designed by architect Jeremy Pern. Set in 225 acres of countryside, the course is a fusion of undulating terrain and water features. Book your tee time here
- Pamper days
We all need to relax and rejuvenate so why not kickstart your holiday with a day at the spa. Indulge yourself with luxurious treatments or a massage. We have some excellent spas in Dartmouth and Salcombe plus in house pampering available in your luxury holiday home.
- Boutique Yacht Charter
Sailfunk Yacht Charter operates an incredibly luxurious yacht which can be chartered in Salcombe during the summer months. With Sailfunk you can be as hands on as you like or you can be waited on and simply chill with a bottle of bubbly on the deck. Dine on a fabulous buffet lunch and sail around the beautiful bays and coves. This luxury yacht charter is perfect for celebrations with friends and family or perhaps just a romantic escape!