The summer holidays are in full swing and it can get expensive keeping the children entertained. But we have put together a guide to free and cheap days out in Devon – most of the attractions listed below have no admission fees, leaving some spare change for the all important ice-creams!
And in keeping with Playmapp’s passion for playgrounds, every attraction featured has a play area!
Once you’ve exhausted these days out ideas, remember, there are over 700 free-to-visit play areas in Devon listed on Playmapp – find play areas near you here, or view them all on a map here (can take a couple of minutes to load).
Read on to find plenty of ideas for free or low cost days out in Devon, featuring farm shops with cafes, country parks, animal parks, ice cream parlours, marble mansions and more…
Brokenbury Quarry, Dartmouth Road, Nr Brixham, TQ5 0LL
Churston Farm Shop, Garden Centre and Café is a Child and Dog friendly place to visit. The Play area is right outside the Café so Mums & Dads can enjoy coffee and cake as the kids play happily outside in a safe environment. This has swings and slide, and its under-cover so come rain or shine the children can play.
Cockington Court, Cockington, Torquay, TQ2 6XA
Cockington Court Country Park has large grounds to wander in, with wild woodlands and more formal gardens. The walled art garden features hidden artwork, a story-telling area and lots of hide-and-seek opportunities. The play area is designed for all abilities and includes a wheelchair seesaw, water feature with pump and fountain, and slides and a turning stone. There are tea rooms on site, and the attractive, densley thatched village of Cockington is worth a look too!
Darts Farm Shopping Village, Topsham, Devon, EX3 0QH
Voted ‘Best Farm Shop in the UK’ in 2015, Darts Farm has a lot to offer for a family outing. As well as the shopping experience of the large farm shop, toy shop, gifts, homeware, outdoorware, cafe and more, there is plenty of outside fun to be had for free. There are animals to visit, a play area, fishing ponds, a bird hide, the Maize maze and a farm walk. And if you are feeling really active, you can hire bikes and explore the Exe Estuary. Just be the aware – to access the toilets you have to go through toy shop! Free parking.
Decoy Road, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 1EB
Decoy Country Park has a large children’s play area with water play feature. The wet play area is open from the early May bank holiday to the end of September. Along with a BMX race track and dirt jumps, Wildlife discovery centre, trim trail, woodland walks and more there is plenty to entertain the whole family on a day out at Decoy. The refreshment kiosk is open at weekends, and there are toilets on site.
Totnes Road, Ipplepen, Newton Abbot, TQ12 5TN
Fermoys has a garden centre, farm shop and cafe, has plenty of free parking, and is wheelchair and pushchair accessible. There is an outside play area and shaded woodland garden. Fermoys is home to the Devon Bird of Prey Centre (free entry but donations welcome), where you can see the extensive collection of birds and see flying demonstrations.
National Cycle Rte 27, Fremington, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 2NH
Fremington Quay has a heritage centre, cafe and a wooden play galleon. Located on the Tarka Trail, there are ample opportunities for walking and cycling along the old railway line, with the option for bird-watching on the RSPB reserve Isley Marsh.
Buller’s Hill, Kennford, Devon EX6 7XR
Haldon Forest is a Forestry Commission Park with plenty of free activities on offer (after you have purchased your car-parking ticket!). Whether you explore the forest on foot, by bike, or swinging through the canopy, you’ll find something just around the next tree!
You can enjoy peaceful strolls into the quiet of the forest, with easy-going trails that reward a short walk with spectacular views. Or if you’re feeling more energetic you can hire a bike and explore the cycle trails, or try out the play features on the Discovery Trail. Thrill seekers can sign up for Go Ape, the tree top adventure course, and experienced mountain bikers can try our more challenging routes. And when you’re done with all that, pop in to the Ridge Cafe for a well-earned treat.
The Old Pottery, Pottery Rd, Bovey Tracy, Devon, TQ13 9DS
The House of Marbles has free parking and free entry – though you may end up buying a marble or two before you leave! There are plenty of exhibits in the glass museum, pottery museum, marble museum and games museum to have a look at, but for children the main attractions are the giant marble runs and the games garden. The games garden features skittles, chess and marbles, along with a new play structure. You can enjoy lunch or drinks and cakes in the garden from the onsite fully-licensed restaurant while your children play
Clyst St Mary, Exeter, Devon, EX5 1AQ
Kenniford Farm has a cafe with a lovely outside dining area in the covered courtyard, where you can keep an eye on your children as they play in the play area, ride-ons or sandpit. There are also some animals to see. It’s a very pleasant spot to spend an hour or two.
Ladram Bay Holiday Park, Otterton, Devon, EX9 7BX
The car-parking charge at Ladram Bay Holiday Park gives all the car’s occupants access to the free facilities on offer at Ladram Bay – which includes a great adventure playground with pirate ship, zip wire, agility course and separate area for the little ones. There is also a soft play in the arcade, and the beach which is great for rock-pooling at low tide. There is a brilliant indoor swimming pool with an interactive water play area and slides (charges apply), and a dinosaur-themed mini-golf (also chargeable). The cafe/restaurant overlooks the beautiful bay and there is also a fish and chip shop, a kiosk and picnic tables.
If your children are good hikers, you can avoid the car parking charge by parking for free at Mutters Moor Car Park just east of Sidmouth (EX10 oNW) and walking about 2km on the South West Coast Path, which takes you through Ladram.
Roadford Lake, Broadwoodwidger, Lifton, Devon PL16 0RL
Lakeside at Roadford Lake is the South West Lake’s Trust main venue, with Cafe, Visitor Centre, Children’s Play Area, Walks and Cycle Paths, Bird Hides and more.
Gatedown Lane, Weston, Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 0PT
Relax with a drink at the Coffee House at Oakdown while your children enjoy the play area, then take a walk along the field trail, a level walk lined with trees and Devon banks through meadows to the Donkey Sanctuary (also free entry!). Or have a go at family golf on the 9 hole pitch and putt course at Oakdown (charges apply).
Occombe Farm, Preston Down Road, Paignton, TQ3 1RN
Occombe Farm is a working farm with free parking and free entry, with community and wartime gardens to explore. During August, the play barn at Occombe is open and is free of charge. It includes ride-on tractors, dens to play in and activities. The play area is situated outside the café, so kids can enjoy themselves whilst mum and dad have a cuppa. Theres a 2km nature trail to walk along and some animals in our paddocks to say hello to including alpaca, chickens and sheep.
There is also a Whodunnit trail at just £2.50 per child – kids follow clues along the nature trail to find out which naughty creature has been up to no good!
Taverners Farm, Lower Brenton, Kennford, Exeter, Devon EX6 7YL
Taverners Farm is a working dairy farm that milks its ‘orange elephant’ cattle (so nick-named because of their colouring and big ears) to make delicious ice-cream to sell in its on-site ice cream parlour. The orange elephant ice cream parlour offers a large range of ice creams as well as drinks and cakes. In the summer meadow (small entry fee applies of 50pence per child and £1 per adult), you can play in the adventure playground and sand pit and see the animals. There is also a Maize Maze open through the Summer. Opening times vary – seven day opening finishes on the 31st August 2015, and then Orange Elephant will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the end of September when it closes for the winter. Check their website for details.
Home Farm, Newton St Cyres, Exeter, Devon, EX5 5AY
Quickes is a farm famous for cheese-making located on outskirts of Exeter. On their farm, there is a farm shop selling their own cheeses and other artisan produce, along with a cafe. A play area opened in 2015 with ride-on tractors, a play house and balancing and climbing objects. A nice spot for an outing rather than a full day out, enjoy a drink while your children have a play!
Wigford Cross, Loddiswell, Devon, TQ7 4DX
The South Devon Chilli Farm is a ten acre farm growing about 10,000 chilli plants every year! Visitors are very welcome and there is ample free parking, free entry, and free samples daily. The cafe caters for all tastes and has indoor and outside seating, and there are plenty of chilli-related products to tempt you in the farm shop! Children are very welcome, and there is a play area with a chilli tractor with slide, and basket swing, along with activity sheets and a dressing up bag so children can get a feel for the Mexican theme. There is also a show tunnel and a plant nursery.
Berry Down, Combe Martin, Devon, EX34 0PW
Stowford Farm Meadows is a Camping and Caravanning Site, open to day visitors. The car-parking charge of £5.50 allows all the car’s occupants access to the free facilities on site, which includes outside play areas, woodland walks, a nature trail, a soft play area in the Barn Bar and a sports field. Further facilities are chargeable, including the indoor heated swimming pool, ‘Petorama’ where you can feed and play with a variety of animals, kiddie kars where children can pretend to be racing drivers, pitch and putt and crazy golf. Along with a choice of places to eat, there is plenty on offer for a cheap family day out at Stowford Farm Meadows.
Stover, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6JD
Trago Mills Newton Abbot is a huge shopping complex – but there is plenty of outside fun to be had there too in the Family Fun Park. Entry is free, with access to play areas and the Theden Animal Park included. Some extras have a charge, for which you can either pay-as-you-go with tokens or buy a day ticket (£4 under 8s, £5 over 8s). Chargeable activities include a ride on the steam railway, visit to the model railway, bouncy castle, trampolines, go karts and plenty more! Read our review here…
Zeal Monachorum, Crediton, Devon, EX17 6DF
The Waie Inn is set deep in the Devon countryside, and has plenty to offer families. With free parking and free use of the excellent adventure play area, you can enjoy drinks or a meal and explore the grounds. There is also a great soft play and a swimming pool on site (charges apply). Read our review of the Waie Inn here.
You may also find out article on Devon pubs with Play Areas useful.
We have made every effort to produce accurate information, but recommend checking opening times etc with the attraction before setting off, and please do let us know if any information in this article needs updating.
If you would like to leave a review of any of the places mentioned here, or have a suggestion of somewhere else great to for a cheap family outing in Devon, please comment below!