Whether you’re up for a bracing walk along the Jurassic Coast, want to hand-feed deer or see historic landmarks there’s plenty of great places to visit in East Devon between Axminster and Exeter.
We’ve had short holidays in East Devon a couple of times in recent years and have really enjoyed spending time here on the border with Dorset, rarely being stuck for things to do. Below are some of our favourites days out we can personally recommend if you’re looking for East Devon attractions.
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Top places to visit in East Devon
Go native at Wildwood Escot
If you’d like a rare glimpse of some of Britain’s native animals in their natural habitats then head to Wildwood Escot at Ottery St Mary. We visited on a cool Spring day and found plenty to do. From watching red squirrels forage for nuts to exploring the woodland walks and playing Saxons in the recreated village, it was a full day.
New to the park soon after our visit was a park of grey wolves who can now be seen roaming the forest. You’ll also find playgrounds, a trampoline, a beech maze and a soft play barn for younger kids.
Read our full review of Wildwood Escot for more reasons to visit this East Devon attraction.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | No dogs | Free parking
Take a ride back in time on Seaton Tramway
This vintage tramway has been transporting tourists through some of Devon’s finest countryside since the 1970s.
We chose the perfect day to appreciate the scenery from the top deck. During the three mile trip you can hop off at Colyford to have a snack at the pub next to the line. Or we can recommend continuing to Seaton for lunch and an ice cream on the seafront. This really is one of our top things to do in Easter Devon.
Here’s our full review of Seaton Tramway.
Visitor snapshot: Open February to October. Check the timetable for other dates | Dogs allowed | Free parking at Colyton and pay and display in Seaton
Here’s more great things to do in Seaton with kids.
Wander with dinosaurs along the Jurassic coastline
East Devon’s Jurassic Coastline is a feast for your eyes. But not only is it scenic; buried in its coves and cliffs are 185 million years of history. The Jurassic landscape stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset.
Along this coast you can find some characterful seaside towns and beaches. We’ve enjoyed wanders along Seaton and Sidmouth seafronts. They are great places to appreciate Devon’s seaside vibes, grab an ice-cream and hunt for fossils along the red cliffs.
Seaton harbour is also a great spot to go crabbing in Devon.
If you’re looking for somewhere to refuel in Sidmouth we can recommend The Clocktower. This is at the top of a cliff just outside Sidmouth. You’ll not be disappointed by the cakes!
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | Dogs allowed in designated zones on beaches | Pay and display parking
Meet the characters at the Donkey Sanctuary
If you are looking for free things to do in East Devon then here’s one of the best. A visit to the Donkey Sanctuary is a wonderful way to get acquainted with these beautiful creatures and support a brilliant charity. Entry to the Sanctuary at Sidmouth is free. But there are plenty of ways to donate during your visit, from collection boxes to a trip to the lovely new restaurant.
Children will love wandering between the fields to say hello to donkeys and mules, exploring the maze and finding out about the residents’ important role working with youngsters with additional needs.
Read about our visit to Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | Check the website | Dogs allowed | Free parking (donation welcomed)
Take a boat trip with Stuart Line Cruises
Stuart Line Cruises offer cruises all along the red cliff and sandy East and South Devon coast from Sidmouth to Brixham.
We climbed onboard the Pride of Exmouth on Sidmouth beach for a 50 minute tour of the bay. This is an extraordinary part of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There was commentary throughout the trip. And the crew came around taking orders for the bar so there was no need to miss a moment of the scenery.
A highlight of the trip for me was when we turned around at Ladram Bay. This is where there is a series of sea stacks that have been created by erosion. They are eye-wateringly beautiful.
Read my full review of our Jurassic Coast cruise.
Visitor snapshot: cruises run seasonally | Check the website | Dogs allowed
All aboard at Pecorama
If you are a train enthusiast then one of the very best things to do in East Devon is a visit to Pecorama. It’s the home of the Beer Heights Light Railway and the makers of PECO railway kit.
As well as the railway and model exhibition there’s play areas, gardens overlooking the Beer coastline with secret nooks and a shell-lined grotto.
If you’re visiting during the summer, complete your day with a proper Devon cream tea in the restored Orion Pullman Carriage.
We visited when Tot was less than a year old. I don’t have a specific post about it but you can find out more on the attraction website.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round – check website for train running times | No dogs | Free parking
Fill a day at World of Country Life
For an all-weather, full family day out we can recommend The World of Country Life at Exmouth. The name suggests an attraction packed with rural fun. And it certainly has that with animal feeding, small pet handling and a country town experience.
But we also found vintage cars, numerous indoor and outdoor play areas. Plus a tractor ride into a deer park where you can hand feed the animals. The falconry display, walking kid goats and life-size pirate ship were also highlights for us.
Find out more about our visit.
Visitor snapshot: Open February to October. Check the website for the dates | No dogs | Free parking
Find more things to do with kids around Exmouth.
Visit Seaton Wetlands
This relatively new nature reserve is teeming with wildlife. Go pond dipping in the Wildlife Garden, met the Dormice in the Discovery Hut and spot Swallows, Herons and Moorhens from the hides.
Find out more about Seaton Wetlands.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round | No dogs | Free parking
Find more things to do in Seaton.
Crealy Adventure Park & Resort
If you’re a fan of rollercoasters, log flumes and go-karts then Crealy Adventure Park & Resort near Exeter is a great theme park in Devon.
This award-winning family attraction has 60 rides, as well as a farm, adventure play grounds, a splash park and indoor play to satisfy kids of all ages. It’s also one of my recommended accessible Devon attractions.
We’ve been visiting since my kids were three and one-years-old, and have never been short of things to do.
Some of their favourite rides include the carousel, the Flying Machine and, more recently, the Maximus rollercoaster. There are height restrictions on some of the bigger rides.
Once children are over 92cm they can have a go on most attractions, but there are some that toddlers can do from 80cm high.
Each Devon school holiday there are themed events including shows in the Big Top arena.
Take a look at our full guide to days out at Crealy Adventure Park.
Visitor snapshot: Open all year round (check website) | book online | cafe | free parking
Don’t miss out on more things to do in Seaton, Devon.
Shop local at Darts Farm
This farm and shop in Topsham is more than somewhere to pick up locally grown produce. It’s a day out in itself.
Darts Farm’s Food Hall is brimming with local goodies. There’s more than 50 different types of fruit and vegetables, as well as a butchers, deli, local drinks and gifts. You can sample some of its produce in the restaurant, at its two takeaway places and at its gelateria.
The Cow & Cacao cafe is one of the best places for ice cream in Devon.
On the farm estate you can meet its hens all year round. In the summer, say hello to cattle, sheep and pigs. You can also walk the nature trail and visit the wetland nature reserve where there’s a bird hide all year round.
In the summer head to Darts Farm to pick your own sunflowers and in October you’ll find a pumpkin patch.
Visitor snapshot: Topsham | open all year round (check what’s available via the website) | free parking | Darts Farm
Find more farm shops in East Devon and around the county.
Soft play in East Devon
If the weather fails you soft play is a greta way to keep young children entertained for a few hours.
Here’s where you’ll find soft play places in East Devon:
For even more options, check out my guide to soft play in Devon which includes centres in neighbouring Exeter, Mid Devon and South Devon.
A day out in Exeter
Exeter isn’t actually in East Devon but is a part of Devon all on it’s own. But as it’s connected to the East it’s well worth a mention
This is a beautiful historic city with its fair share of extraordinary architecture and interesting places to visit. Here’s our recommended things to do in and around Exeter.
But I know a lot of people worry about the expense of visiting a city. Well, I have just the guide for you.
Take a look at our itinerary for a budget day out in Exeter including free museums, inexpensive places to soak up history and open spaces where you can chill and watch the world go (or float) by.
What about other Devon attractions?
Dartmoor National Park is also not far away.
Here’s some more places to explore in Devon.
Where to stay in East Devon?
We have stayed at a few different East Devon campsites that we can recommend as bases for exploring the area. Here’s our East Devon campsite reviews:
- Caravanning at Andrewshayes Holiday Park near Seaton
- Glamping at Oakdown Holiday Park near Sidmouth
- Glamping and touring caravans at Crealy Meadows new Exeter
Download the 101 Days out in Devon with kids ebook
Grab your copy of this guide to family-friendly things to do across the county, from coast to coast, in the cities, on the moors and whatever the weather.
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If you’re looking for more inspiration for things to do in East Devon then check out my friend Clare’s blog, Flipflops or Wellies. She’s based in East Devon. So is the authority on events, school holiday activities and what to do on wet or dry weekends.
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