15 Best Things to Do in South Devon- In Summer and Beyond

Too often pigeon-holed into just a summer hotspot, South Devon is one of the best areas in the UK with many hidden attractions – free and otherwise. This county has attractions and other points of interest that can be explored all year round. You could head out on one of South Devon’s walks, plan a beach day, or even visit an unusual museum like the Dartmoor Prison Museum.

This ultimate guide contains the best 15 things to do in South Devon, solo or with family and friends. South Devon is anything but boring outside of the summer season, as you are about to find out.

1. Take Part in the Walking Festival

Who wouldn’t be enthusiastic about a walk along the English Riviera? The English Riviera Walking Festival passes beautiful towns like Paignton, Torquay, and Brixham.

This festival runs every autumn, and a knowledgeable guide leads each walk. Unless, of course, you want to go on an independent self-guided walk. All walks either cling to the coast of South Devon or cut through its dense, rain-drenched woodland.

Each guided walk charges a small participation fee. However, self-guided walks are free and can be completed as slowly as the walker wishes – great on a budget.

Click Here for more details and to take part.

2. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

It doesn’t get much more romantic than hot air ballooning over Devon’s countryside. Those in a relationship planning an ultimate date activity take notice. This is the perfect activity if you fancy floating in the clouds and viewing South Devon from above. Hot air ballooning provides the most beautiful views of South Devon.

The surrounding hills show themselves as the balloon begins its journey to the clouds. The ancient woodlands and tiny castles will come into view as the balloon floats over the landscape below. This is undoubtedly one of the most extreme ways to avoid the crowds at popular attractions in this area of England – but why not? Hot air balloons fly from various locations in South Devon, including Plymouth, Torbay, and Kingsbridge.

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3. Witness a Miniature Pig Race

This attraction may not precisely be like seeing swimming pigs in the Bahamas, but it certainly comes close in our books. Instead of watching these miniature pigs swim, you can watch them race around a track at Pennywell Farm. Adults and kids will love this attraction in South Devon.

These pig races occur at 12:30 pm, providing a ruckus of excitement, especially when someone backs a winning pig. The race track, known as ‘Bacon’s Brook’, is designed to test their endurance and speed. Once the race is over, the kids can spend some spare minutes hugging the pigs in a quiet barn.

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4. Feel the Heat at the South Devon Chilli Farm

A passion for all things chilli is needed to visit South Devon’s very own chilli farm. But if you are ready for a challenge, this is one of the most hilarious things to do in South Devon. After being welcomed by the team, all visitors have the fortune to sample as many chilli products as they can physically manage.

For six days a week, From May to November each year, this chilli farm welcomes visitors to learn about how their chillies are grown. They can also buy chilli plants in the harvest season between March and October. As well as challenging your taste buds, it’s interesting to hear more about growing this unusual plant. Just ask the staff for extra info – they have plenty of chilli-based knowledge to share, including how to look after the perfect plant.

If the kids aren’t ready to take the heat, the play area there will keep them entertained. Dogs be bought along, too, even though their tolerance to chilli may not be up to par (read: do not feed your dog’s chilli).

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5. Visit the Babbacombe Model Village & Gardens

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a giant? Visiting Babbacombe’s Model Village & Gardens will instantly give you that feeling.

Outside Torquay, this model village displays Britain through the ages. Walking through this village for a couple of hours – honestly, visitors soon appreciate how hard people have worked to make these figures because of all the fine detail and the pure scale of the village. The attention to detail has no end, and the village includes vehicles and well-known attractions in the greatest likenesses.

There is a café and garden here should you wish to feel like a normal size again around people. And make sure you keep an eye out for the fire-breathing dragon on display in this model village.

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6. Go Underground in Exeter

It wouldn’t be right not to include something that can be done in the county capital of Devon, Exeter. Below Exeter lies a massive maze of tunnels that locals and tourists can explore. Visitors can learn about the history of the only tunnels of its kind in Britain, from Medieval times to today’s world.

Only 25 minutes are given to those visiting these tunnels. However, before taking this tour, visitors can take a moment to observe the artefacts found within the tunnels, extending the experience a little. Some suitable footwear and willingness to be in enclosed spaces are required here.

Tickets for this activity are relatively cheap, and the tunnels can be visited from Thursday to Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm.

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7. Visit the UK’s Largest Marine Aquarium in Plymouth

Aquariums provide a particular enchantment; this aquarium in South Devon is no different. Immediately after entering, thousands of marine life appear behind the glass. It is the perfect thing to do in South Devon on a rainy day (or a cold day) as you can appreciate some time indoors.

There are areas in this aquarium that offer plenty to see, including the Great Barrier Reef, Seagrass Shores and Eddystone Reef. Children will be amazed at the sights of marine life, whether they visit with family or on a school trip. A learning centre is provided for school kids as a space to learn more interesting marine facts.

Many events are also held here, such as behind-the-scenes tours and sleepovers with sharks. It will also be worth stopping off to meet Heidi, the sea turtle, as she swims past her visitors.

Click Here for more details and to book tickets.

8. Take Up Kayaking Lessons and Kayak Along Dartmouth Coast

Kayaking is another example of getting away from the crowds correctly. And kayaking along South Devon’s coast is a brilliant way to escape the crowds and keep the county to yourself. Many kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding training providers offer lessons in improving skills in these areas, including Sea Kayak Devon.

As well as providing kayaking lessons, the option to go on a proper kayaking trip is there. Most of these trips occur along Dartmouth’s coastline for half a day or the entire day. Sea Kayak Devon also offers overnight trips, bushcraft skills sessions, and a chilled evening around a campfire. Experienced kayaking guides with relevant qualifications give out these tours, so you will be in good hands.

Seven days a week, visitors of all kayaking abilities are welcome to complete either a kayaking lesson or a trip.

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9. Visit Cofton for the American Car Show

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines if you want to drive to Cofton to check out this Classic American Car Show. Taking place annually, it goes on for an entire weekend and presents America’s most classic cars.

The show has a massive display of cars, including Mustangs, Chevrolets, Cadillacs and Jeeps. Visitors of this show can sit in any vehicle they wish and have pictures taken of them pretending to drive it. For those who aren’t massive petrol heads, live music will also be played throughout the afternoon and evening. Activities such as face painting and balloon modelling will keep the kids entertained for the show.

Tickets for this show are very reasonably priced, be it if you want to visit for the day or pitch up a tent for the weekend.

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10. Sample the Most Delicious Wines at Sandridge Barton Vineyard

Wine lovers don’t need to look hard for some of South Devon’s best wines; Sandridge Barton Vineyard has lots to hand. This vineyard offers delicious wine tastings – either self-guided or with a professional wine connoisseur.

Tours of the vineyard and winery occur every year from March to December. This seasonal system means those wishing to complete a tour have a ten-month window to book an experience. As well as these tours, the on-site Circa Restaurant provides an excellent selection of dishes for lunch and dinner. A walking trail leads to the vineyard for those wanting to walk off any tipsiness from sampling the delicious wine.

Properties on this estate are also available to stay in should visitors wish to stay the night after some heavy wine tasting.

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11. Take a Prehistoric Journey to Kent’s Cavern Prehistoric Caves

Aspiring time travellers and cave explorers will be up for visiting these caves. As soon as you enter, there’s a dramatic drop in temperature, especially when visiting on a hot day. So if you are tempted to visit South Devon in summer (or even get a scorcher in spring), Kent’s Cavern Prehistoric Caves are the best option.

The tour guides here provide interesting Stone Age-related facts about the caves and add entertaining elements along the tour. Visitors alternate between areas of total darkness and areas of hundreds of illuminated stalagmites and stalactites. And once the caves have been explored, families and friends can explore the woodland trail on site.

Cave tours are available for most days throughout the year. However, they can be busy on wet days. You don’t need to pre-book, but it is advised that you do to avoid a nightmare spanner in the works.

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12. Stop Off for a Visit to Agatha Christie’s Former Home

Dame Agatha Christie was a well-renowned English writer of some of the best novels known to the literature world. Greenway House, located not too far away from Brixham, was her holiday home in South Devon.

In the present day, her home is discovered and visited by thousands and thousands of her fans. It has become a National Trust property, but the entry fee isn’t so expensive. A ticket here will include access to the house, including the library, Agatha’s bedroom, drawing room, boathouse and gardens. A car park is on-site here and self-catering accommodation for those wanting to stay close by.

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13. Sail from Dartmouth to Totnes (or Vice Versa)

The River Dart welcomes many boats sailing between Dartmouth and Totnes. A river cruise is one of the best things to do in South Devon for relaxation and peace, providing 90 minutes’ worth of tranquility.

This river cruise departs from Dartmouth every day, apart from over the Christmas period. The cruise has 9 miles worth of sightseeing nature along the river bank. It is one of the most romantic ways to appreciate South Devon. Slowly arriving in Totnes, passengers can see the town coming into view before departing from the ship. From this point, there is the option to take an optional bus from Totnes to get to Paignton. However, those who wish to return to Dartmouth can do so with their return ticket and enjoy the nostalgia once again.

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14. Sample One of South Devon’s Best Cream Teas

As you know, food and drink thrive well in South Devon. Cream teas are everywhere, and you won’t struggle to find tea rooms offering them.

Want a little bit of extra direction, though? A fantastic example of one of these tea rooms is the Angels Tea Room. It offers various scones, including chocolate, cheese, and ginger flavours. All scones have tea to accompany them – as you’d expect in England. Some cream teas may have a speciality aspect, including sparkling cream tea, where scones accompany a glass of prosecco.

If you fancy treating yourself, you can upgrade a cream tea to a full-on afternoon tea. This will include a selection of sandwiches, scones, cakes and other pastries.

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15. Get Lost in Dartmoor National Park

What better way to round off this list than by including this beautiful area? Dartmoor National Park takes up a massive proportion of Devon, covering over 360 square miles of wilderness. This national park is perfect for visitors who love hiking, waterfalls and – bizarrely enough – prison museums. Dartmoor Prison Museum is a fun spot to add a bit of history to your South Devon holiday. After all, who doesn’t love a bit of incarceration Q&A to end a trip in rural England.

This is truly the best place in South Devon to escape busy crowds. Camp there for the night or just visit for the day. Dartmoor National Park has walking, cycling, horse riding, and even accessibility-friendly routes, so you’ll have lots to do.

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Conclusion… 15 Best Things to Do in South Devon

As much as people might believe that summertime is when South Devon truly comes alive, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dartmoor National Park is fabulous in winter with snowy hikes. And the little South Devon tea rooms become magical in December, with mince pies to accompany the cream tea experiences. The English Riviera Walking Festival kicks off in autumn, and Sandridge Barton Vineyard opens in spring. South Devon is one of the top all-year-round destinations in the UK. Have a fantastic stay, and tick off as many of these best things to do in South Devon as possible.

By Louie Amos

Louie Amos is a freelance travel writer currently operating in the UK. Having achieved his BCJ Diploma in Travel Journalism, he regularly posts articles on his website The Travelling Foodie, as well as Everything UK Travel

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