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13 things to do in Devon this winter 2023

13 things to do in Devon this winter 2023

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone but Devon is not just about summer fun. In fact there’s plenty to do outside of the main holiday season, even in winter – take it from a local! But let’s keep this our secret – the wide, open beaches are bliss! If you’re wondering what to do in the South West between Autumn and Spring then here’s our top things to do in Devon this winter.

Get a while to stay? Check out my full guide to family holidays in Devon.

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1. Enjoy Christmas in Devon

Crealy Mascots Buddy and Blossom Bear on ice skates

If you are looking for festive things to do in Devon this winter then take a look at my Christmas in Devon post for all the best wintery days out.

In 2023 there’s Santa’s grottos, Christmas lights, festive trains and The Polar Express, Christmas markets and pantomimes – oh yes there is!

And for that most awkward times of year – that bit between Christmas and New Year – check out my guide to Twixmas in Devon.

Also take a look at what’s on in November, things to do in January and events happening in February half term. I update all of these posts throughout the year.

If you’re looking for stocking fillers I have a very Devonly suggestion for you.

Child's hand picking up one of the Devon with Kids colouring books
£5.95 each +P&P

2. Visit a Devon theme park

Children looking through face holes in farm scene

All of Devon’s theme parks have large indoor play areas and attractions that are open in the winter months.

Most are open on the weekends in the run up to Christmas with special festive events and some open in on selected dates in January. As winter in Devon is a quieter time for visitors you can some great winter ticket deals.

Here’s a full list of all Devon’s theme parks and here’s the ones that are open over this winter:

Check exact open days and times with each attraction as these may vary.

3. Visit a Devon Zoo

Children with giraffe at Paignton Zoo in South Devon

Devon’s zoos are open all year round and are a top option if you are looking for somewhere to visit in Devon on a week day.

Here’s where to find zoos open throughout the winter in North, South and East Devon:

  • Paignton Zoo in Paignton, South Devon – open every day apart from Christmas Day.
  • Dartmoor Zoo in Sparkwell, South Devon – open Friday to Monday and school holidays excluding 24 to 26 December
  • Exmoor Zoo in Barnstaple, North Devon – open every day excluding 24 to 26 December
  • Wildwood Escot in Ottery St Mary, East Devon – open every day excluding 25 and 26 December
  • Shaldon Zoo near Teignmouth, South Devon – open every day (check website for Christmas opening information).

You can book tickets online for Devon’s zoos.

Take a look at opening times for other wildlife days out in my guide to Devon zoos.

4. Go under the sea

The Great Barrier Reef tank at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Devon
The Great Barrier Reef tank

The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is ideal for wet days in the winter and is open every day apart from 25 and 26 December.

The whole attraction is undercover and is home to the country’s largest tank.

Book your visit online in advance.

Find out more about visiting the National Marine Aquarium.

Find more things to do in Plymouth.

5. Go underground in Devon

People silhouetted against the Rocky Chamber in Kents Cavern
Kents Cavern

Kent’s Cavern is at a constant temperature of 14°C all year round making it an ideal Devon attraction for winter and wet days. It’s open everyday.

Please book online in advance to secure your place on a tour.

Find out more about visiting Kents Cavern.

6. More Devon family attractions open all year

Gerald the giraffe at RAMM in Exeter
RAMM in Exeter

Here’s more family attractions in Devon that you will find open this winter:

Devon attractions open during the week this winter

Here are the days out in Devon you can do whatever the time of year:

  • The Box, Plymouth, South Devon – open Tuesday to Sunday. Entry is free.
  • RAMM museum and art gallery, Exeter – open Tuesday to Sunday. Entry is free.
  • Torquay Museum, Torquay – open Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday.
  • Torquay Dinosaur World – open Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Bygones – open seven days a week
  • RHS Rosemoor in Great Torrington, North Devon – open daily, excluding Christmas Day.
  • Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay, South Devon – open daily, excluding 25 and 26 December, and 1 January. Book online in advance to save money.
  • House of Marbles in Bovey Tracey, South Devon – open daily, excluding 25 and 26 December. Entry is free.
  • Quince Honey Farm in South Molton, Mid-Devon – open daily. Entry is free for gardens, play areas and shop. Book factory tours online.
  • Bear Town, Cullompton, Mid-Devon – open daily, advance booking required.

What to do in Devon at the weekends and over the school holidays

Child on zip wire Go Ape Exeter
Go Ape at Haldon Forest

Here are some Devon attractions you can go to when school is out:

  • Go Ape at Haldon Forest, near Exeter, open weekends and school holidays throughout the winter. Book online.
  • The Donkey Sanctuary, East Devon – open daily.
  • Seaton Tramway in Seaton, East Devon – open for its Christmas event in November and December and again between Christmas and New Year. Book online.

Also check out my post about what’s on in Devon this weekend.

7. Visit a National Trust place in Devon

Father and daughter walk towards Greenway House along footpath
Greenway National Trust

National Trust properties are always a great place for a walk, slice of cake and maybe even some den building.

Here’s what’s usually open during the week and on the weekends over the winter in Devon:

  • Coleton Fishacre in Brixham, South Devon – open weekends and school holidays until the end of December
  • Greenway House in Churston, South Devon – open weekends and between Christmas and New Year. Book parking in advance as this is limited.
  • Lydford Gorge in Okehampton, West Devon – Waterfall trail and car park open daily
  • Parke near Bovey Tracey – grounds open for walks daily
  • Buckland Abbey in Yelverton, South Devon – open weekends in November, then daily in December excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Open weekends only in January
  • Saltram in Plymouth, South Devon – grounds and gardens open daily until the end of December. House open daily from 24 November with exception of 25 and 26 December.
  • Killerton in Exeter – gardens and grounds open daily. House open daily from 1 December to 2 January with exception of 25 and 26 December
  • Castle Drogo near Exeter – gardens open daily with exception of 24 to 26 December. Castle open Saturday and Sunday in November, and Friday to Sunday and school holidays in December. The castle and gardens will be closed between 9 and 22 January 2024
  • Arlington Court near Barnstaple, North Devon – the estate is open daily. The house and gardens open Saturday to Monday in up until 17 December 2023.
  • Knightshayes near Tiverton, Mid-Devon – gardens and grounds open daily except 25 December. The house is open weekends in November, then daily from 3 to 23 December and again from 27 to 31 December 2023.

Please check the National Trust website before visiting as open days can change.

8. Embrace the season and head outdoors

Snowy road on Dartmoor in Devon
Dartmoor in January 2019

It’s rare to find snow on the coast, but with the highest peak of Dartmoor measuring 621m this is where you are most likely to find the white stuff.

HOWEVER!!! Please gauge the situation carefully and stay safe. If you don’t have 4×4 or winter tyres don’t attempt to go deep into the National Park on a snowy day as it is very easy to get stuck in drifts, causing problems for yourself and others.

Be aware of the weather forecast and the latest information from Devon County Council and Dartmoor National Park.

Haldon Forest is an easier place to access and has paths and cycle routes overlooking Dartmoor and Exeter.

Other fun places to grab some fresh air in the winter are these country parks in Devon:

Find more adventure playgrounds in Devon.

And who could forget Devon’s beaches. These are just as amazing in the winter as in the summer.

In the off season you’ll find many deserted. You’re also more likely to find free parking and that dogs are allowed to scamper on the sand.

Red sand of beach in Paignton, Devon in winter

You’ll find some lovely beaches in South Devon, as well as North Devon. There are also plenty of hidden gems along the north and south coasts.

9. Paint some pottery 

Child painting pottery at China Blue in Totnes

My kids are really into crafts and love painting pottery. Our closest pottery painting workshop in Devon is China Blue in Totnes. Book your table in advance.

You can also find pottery painting and crafts at:

Check with each venue when they are open and whether booking is necessary.

10. Go indoor climbing

Child on climbing wall at Clip 'n Clim Plymouth

A great thing to do in Devon with teens is climbing. Here’s where you’ll find climbing walls in Devon:

Check with each venue when they are open and whether booking is necessary before you travel.

11. Visit a Trampoline Centre in Devon

In indoor activity bound to tire the kids out is bouncing. Here’s where you’ll find trampoline centres in Devon:

Check with each venue when they are open and whether booking is necessary before you travel.

12. Brace yourselves and head to soft play 

Children sliding down yellow and blue slide in soft play in Devon

When all else fails young kids, and some big kids, love soft play. And as you’re in Devon it’s very likely you’ll find a decent coffee and slab of cake on offer too!

Our favourite ones are at the Woodlands and Crealy theme parks as we can include them as part of a bigger day out.

However, if you just need a quick fix, take a look at my full guide to places where you’ll find soft play in Devon.

Check with each venue when they are open and whether booking is necessary before you travel.

13. Go Swimming

Here’s where you’ll find indoor swimming pools in Devon:

101 days out in Devon with Kids cover and pages

Download the 101 Days out in Devon with kids ebook

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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.

What about things to do in Devon at other times of year?

Here are some more guides to things to do in Devon with kids that I update throughout the year:

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If you are planning things to do in Devon this winter then why not save this post on Pinterest.

Looking for things to do in Devon this winter? Here's our go to list of activities to do with kids including days out, soft play, pottery, events & swimming #devonwithkids #winter #activities #December #January #February #March #thingstodo #family #travelblog #UK #England #cold #wet #rainy #daysout

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