7 places to be this summer half-term in Devon

This time of year I’m usually content to wing it and hope that the weather is good and we can just potter around the garden and go for the odd trip to the park or beach. But it’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve, like rainy day back up plans or a special family day out.

What’s on your half-term wish list?

1. The fair

River Cottage Spring Food Fair, 27-29 July, Axminster
River Cottage Spring Fair

10am-6pm, free park & ride or park on site for £5, tickets £17.50, kids under 16 go free
I’ve always wanted to experience River Cottage and this sounds like the ideal way to do it with kids in tow. There are going to be all sorts of activities for children like felting and pottery workshops; the chance to learn all about bees and make beeswax candles. There’ll be good old-fashioned welly wanging, hula hooping, face painting and ferret racing. You can go on a farm tour, watch falconry displays and enjoy a donkey ride.

Grown ups can get involved in cookery masterclasses and watch demos by guest chefs. There’ll be a gardening stage where I’ll be hoping to pick up some tips.

And, of course, there will be all sorts of scrumptious food, including a pop up restaurant in the famous farmhouse.


2. The museum

Sea life: Glimpses of the Wonderful, RAMM, Exeter

Two boys dressed up as sea creatures

Photo: Matt Austin

The new Sea life exhibition is open at RAMM (from May to September) and there are going to be some fantastic activities and events for children and families, inspired by our coastline and the world underwater.

Haven’t been yet – but apparently you can dress up as sea creatures. Got to be done. Happy days.

Here’s what’s happening in half-term:

Life on the Ocean Floor, 27 May
10.30am -12pm, 
free, drop-in
Get ready for a sensory treat of colour, pattern, movement, texture and sound, as you voyage under the sea.  Take off your shoes and socks and paddle with the naturalist and artist Philip Henry Gosse to glimpse life on the ocean floor. For under 5s and their families.
More info…

The Good the Bad and the Slimy, 1 Jun
10.30am – 12.30pm & 1.30 – 3.30pm
, drop-in

Tickets £2.50 per child, adults free, from RAMM garden reception
Suitable for 5yrs+
Touch, smell and examine seaweed and its slime with experts from the Marine Biological Association. Take part in an experiment involving ‘gelatinous alginate’ and taste edible seaweed.
More info…

Curious Coastal Creatures, 2 Jun
10.30am – 12.30pm & 1.30 – 3.30pm
, drop-in
Tickets £2.50 per child, adults free, from RAMM garden reception
Suitable for 5yrs+
Experts from the North Devon Coast ANOB will help you to identify specimens using microscopes and identification keys in the science lab. Who can identify the most creatures or find the most unusual?
More info…

3. The forest

Exeter & Exmouth Forest School, 30 May, 31 May & 1 June

Light through trees in forest with group of children

Photo: Exmouth Forest School’s Nick

For 5-13 year olds, 10am-3pm
£21 per day, sibling discount, childcare vouchers accepted
If you’re a freelancer like me, holiday clubs like Exeter & Exmouth’s Forest School are a life-saver. Children can disappear into the woods for an adventure, while you can get on top of work. At Forest School, your children will learn how to make a fire, get involved in activities like building a den and enjoy a day outside in the fresh air, exploring the forest.


Other places we might be heading

4. The Miniature Pony Centre, Dartmoor

Toddler next to miniature pony

So much to do here from hanging out with ponies to soft play to trampolines and horse riding. It’s convenient for us so great for a last minute day trip.


5. Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, Budleigh

Boys on ride on tractors at Bicton
You can keep your children entertained for a whole day in this beautiful park – there are ride on tractors in a shed for toddlers, a big out door play area, a pirate ship, little houses to explore and a soft play if the weather turns (although might be pretty busy in half-term). This is quite a drive away for us now but the season ticket is such good value, we think it’s worth the journey if we want a cheap, easy family day out and a treat for the kids.


6. The beach

Rockfish activity pack for kidsWe’re either going to head to Exmouth for fish and chips at Rockfish. Not only because the views are stunning and food tasty but because they have the best kids activity pack, which will buy you enough time to enjoy a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio or ice cold beer with your fish. We also love Ness Cove, Shaldon and stopping at Cafe Ode.

Further away

7. Beautiful Bude, Cornwall

We’re going to be visiting my mum in Bude – looking forward to some rock pooling, climbing and paddling on the beach. Bude is just over an hour away from Exeter – and there’s even a bus link (although it’s obviously faster to drive). Easily do-able in a day. My new favourite place for lunch is Rosie’s on Crooklet’s Beach. It is has such a relaxed family atmosphere and the outdoor play area means you can actually sit (for more than 2 mins) and enjoy your drink or food while watching your toddler play.

Have a great half-term!


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