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37 family-friendly things to do near Barnstaple, Devon

37 family-friendly things to do near Barnstaple, Devon

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Barnstaple in Devon then I’ve got lots of ideas for you.

Whether you want to check out the surf on a North Devon beach, have a fun-packed day out at a family attraction, or save some pennies with free days out in and around Barnstaple, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve even got ideas for things to do near Barnstaple on a rainy day.

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Looking for ways to entertain your family in North Devon? There's loads of things to do near Barnstaple - days out, beaches and wet day fun #Devonwithkids #thngstodo #North #Devon #England #Barnstaple #daysout #family #kid #friendly #beach #attraction #UK

Things to do in Barnstaple

If you’re looking for free things to do in Barnstaple you’re in luck. This North Devon town is a hub of budget-friendly places to visit:

1. Rock Park in Barnstaple

Need somewhere to let the kids run off steam? Rock Park has a children’s adventure playground as well as an outdoor gym and sports pitches.

Take a picnic and enjoy some free fun on a sunny day.

You can find Rock Park using the postcode EX32 8LS.

2. Barnstaple Pannier Market

This 150-year-old covered market is open from Tuesday to Saturday showcasing local produce and makers. There’s also seasonal and family-friendly events throughout the year.

Find out what’s on on the Barnstaple Pannier Market Facebook page.

3. Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

This free to visit museum and a greta place to visit on a wet day shares the story of North Devon’s people and places, demonstrating their part in shaping the UK’s culture.

Permanent exhibitions include displays about North Devon in the 20th Century, local pottery, the natural world and the role of the Royal Devon Yeomanry and Devonshire Regiment in World War I & II.

Visit during the school holidays for extra family-friendly activities.

Find out more about what’s on at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

More things to do in Barnstaple

Here’s some other places to go in Barnstaple that your family will love:

4. Let’s Go

Wet day? You can still find plenty to keep the kids entertained ay Let’s Go in Barnstaple. Activities include bowling, an arcade and an airlift shooting area.

Find out more about activities at Let’s Go.

5. Queens Theatre Barnstaple

This North Devon theatre is the place to see shows that the whole family will enjoy all year round. It even hosts music events including family raves.

Find out what’s on at Queens Theatre Barnstaple.

Things to do near Barnstaple – attractions in North Devon

Below are the family attractions and days out you will find near Barnstaple in North Devon.

I’ve also given you an idea of how long it takes to get to them by car. Times are approximate and depend on traffic.

6. Quince Honey Farm

Find out all about the life and work of honey bees at Quince Honey Farm at South Molton. Explore more than 8,000 years of bee keeping in the museum, hit the soft play and meet some creepy crawlies in the critter cabin.

During school holidays you’ll find themed activities for kids.

Quince Honey Farm is 15 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about Quince Honey Farm.

7. The Big Sheep – a North Devon theme park

Animal shed at The Big Sheep theme park in North Devon
The Big Sheep

This is a full-on North Devon day out for the whole family with outdoor adventure play, animals, Devon’s biggest rollercoaster and even a brewery. 

The Big Sheep is also an ideal place to visit on a wet day as it boasts Devon’s largest indoor play area. It is also one of our recommendations for accessible days out in Devon.

There’s also an indoor show arena, pets corner, electric quad bikes, pony rides and combat laser tag games. Also check out the Big Sheep’s event calendar which includes music festivals, fireworks and Christmas markets.

The Big Sheep is less than 20 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about visiting on The Big Sheep website.

8. Arlington Court National Trust and the National Carriage Museum

Carriage in the National Carriage Museum at Arlington Court in North Devon

This delightful North Devon National Trust property is home to the National Carriage Museum including horse drawn vehicles of all shapes, sizes and purposes.

In the house you can see collections of pewter plates, trophies and period costumes, and step down into the cellars. The grounds are perfect for wildlife spotting, den building and adventure play.

There’s often themed activity trails in the gardens and its a great place to see Spring flowers in full bloom.

Arlington Court is 20 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about visiting on the National Trust website.

9. Pebble Ridge Adventure Golf & Go Karts

Find pirate-themed adventure golf, go karts and other rides at next to the slipway on Pebble Ridge beach at Woolacombe.

Pebble Ridge is 20 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more on the Pebble Ridge website.

10. Exmoor Zoo

If you’re looking for things to do near Barnstaple with toddlers then a day at the zoo is a real crowd pleaser. Exmoor is a small zoo with its fair share of rare animals that you may not see elsewhere in the country.

There are animal talks and chances to find out more about the zoo’s residents throughout the day.

Exmoor Zoo is 20 minutes from Barnstaple in North Devon.

Find out more on the Exmoor Zoo website.

11. RHS Rosemoor – gardens near Barnstaple

Children and parents  walking and playing through daffodils at RHS Rosemoor near Barnstaple in North Devon
Credit: RHS Garden Rosemoor (and featured image)

Rosemoor is a wonderful place to go and appreciate captivating horticulture in the heart of the Torridge Valley. There are exotic blooms, prune-perfect hedgrows and ornamental gardens to explore.

For kids there are two play areas and plenty of interesting features hidden around the gardens. Don’t miss the Hobbit Hole or Mr McGregor’s Shed.

RHS Rosemoor is about 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about visiting on the RHS Rosemoor website.

12. Watermouth Castle – a North Devon theme park

Exterior of Watermouth Castle in Ilfracombe, North Devon

This real-life castle hosts attractions and theme park fun for families whatever the weather. It’s also an accessible Devon attraction.

Explore the maze-like dungeons, marvel at the underground fountain show, enjoy fair ground rides and discover the secret life of gnomes. Watermouth Castle and the attractions in its grounds offer a full family day out.

Watermouth Castle is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about visiting on the Watermouth Castle website.

You might also like to check out my guide to things to do in Ilfracombe with kids.

13. Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park

This Devon wildlife park combines every kid’s favourite things (well most): animals and dinosaurs. Visit Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park in North Devon to see lions, wolves, sea lions, primates, meerkats and penguins.

Plus there’s life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, botanical gardens, a miniature railway and a gigantic indoor soft play area for wet days.

Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about visiting Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park.

14. H2Outdoor

If you’re looking for high energy activities in North Devon challenge your family to a day of high ropes fun at H2Outdoor in Woolacombe.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, H2Outdoor can also take you kayaking and coasteering on the Atlantic Coast.

H2Outdoor is just under 30 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out ore about activities and booking on the H2Outdoor website.

15. Ride the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway

Steam train at Woody Bay station in North Devon
Woody Bay Station

This picturesque North Devon narrow gauge railway is being restored by a team of volunteers. One mile of the 1/50 gradient route between Woody Bay and Killington Lane Halt is open.

You can use your ticket to travel along the route as many times as you’d like in a day.

Lynton and Barnstaple Railway is 30 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about visiting on the Railway’s website.

16. The Milky Way – a North Devon theme park

Kids on the Cosmic Caterpillar rollercoaster at The Milky Way theme park in North Devon
Cosmic Caterpillar ride

This top Devon family attraction is a great day out whatever the weather. There are literally shed loads of activities to do indoors and out. Ride rollercoasters, have a go at archery, see one of the UK’s best bird displays and live shows by illusionist Merlin as seen on Britain’ Got Talent.

The Milky Way is 30 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about visiting on The Milky Way website.

Our visit to The Milky Way Adventure Park

17. Funder Island Woolacombe

There’s adventure golf, fairground rides and seaside amusements at Funder Island on the seafront at Woollacombe.

Funder Island is 30 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more on the Funder Island Facebook page.

18. Take a ride on the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway

View down Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway

For wonderful views of the North Devon coast a ride on the funicular at Lynton and Lynmouth is a must. It’s the highest and the steepest totally water powered railway in the world.

No visit would be complete without a Devon Cream Tea 500ft up at the top of the railway.

Find out more about visiting Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway.

The cliff railway is 35 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more on the Lyton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway website.

19. Walk the Valley of Rocks

Children and dogs on bench at the top of the Valley of Rocks

Devon isn’t short of dramatic landscapes and towering rock formations, but The Valley of Rocks in Exmoor National Park is something special.

The Valley runs parallel to the sea and is topped by rocks that look like they’ve been dropped there by giants.

The geology is quite amazing and the views speak for themselves. 

The Valley of Rocks is 35 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more in my post about walking the Valley of Rocks to Lynton.

20. Visit Clovelly Village

View of Bideford Bay and Clovelly Harbour

The picturesque fishing village of Clovelly is one of my favourite places to visit in North Devon. Admire the pretty cottages as you amble down the steep cobbled street and reward yourselves with a cream tea or ice cream on your way to the harbour.

Clovelly is a 35 minutes drive from Barnstaple.

Find out more about Devon’s car-free village by the coast.

Things to do in Barnstaple when it rains

The sun doesn’t always shine in Devon – sad but true. If you do get caught by a patch of bad weather, here’s some things to do near Barnstaple on a rainy day in addition to the places I’ve mentioned above with indoor attractions:.

21. North Devon Martime Museum

This small North Devon attraction tells the story of the area’s maritime community from its fearless smugglers and fearsome pirates to its ship building heritage. The North Devon Maritime Museum has interactive displays and quiz sheets for kids.

The Maritime Museum is 20 minutes from Barnstaple.

Find out more about the North Devon Maritime Museum.

22. Soft Play in Barnstaple, North Devon

Here’s some places where you’ll find soft play in Barnstaple:

23. Cinemas in Barnstaple, North Devon

Fancy catching a flick? Here’s the cinemas in and around Barnstaple:

24. Bowling in Barnstaple

Are the kids asking to go bowling? Here’s where to head in Barnstaple:

25. Trampoline Centres in Barnstaple

What better way to burn off excess energy on a rainy day in Barnstaple than at a trampoline centre? Here’s where to go:

Stuck indoors? Why not order my Devon Colouring Book for Kids that includes 15 beautifully illustrated scenes for your little ones to colour while you plan your next adventure.

Devon Colouring Book for Kids cover with pencils fanned out below
£5.95 +P&P *Supporting Devon Air Ambulance Trust*

26. Free things to do near Barnstaple, North Devon

If you’re on a budget or would just prefer to keep things simple then there’s lots of free things to do near Barnstaple:

  • Hit the beach – check out the suggested beaches near Barnstaple below.
  • Go crabbing – North Devon has some fab places to drop a line. Here’s my full guide to where to go crabbing in Devon
  • Visit the adventure play ground and splash park in Victoria Park, Bideford. There’s more information join my post about adventure playgrounds in Devon.
  • Explore Exmoor National Park – Exmoor straddles North Devon and Somerset. From its highest point at Dunkery Beacon you can see across both counties and Wales.
  • Cycle the Tarka Trail – this figure of eight trail covers 180 miles with plenty of starting points from Lynton on the coast to Okehampton on the edge of Dartmoor.

North Devon beaches near Barnstaple

Heading to the beach is a great way to entertain kids of all ages. Grab your body boards and seek out one of the amazing North Devon beaches below.

I’ve also given you an idea of how long it takes to get to them by car. Times are approximate and depend on traffic.

27. Saunton Sands – a dog-friendly Devon beach

Beach Huts at Saunton Sands, Devon, UK.
Beach Huts at Saunton Sands, Devon, UK.

If you love sand, beach huts and dunes then you’ll adore Saunton Sands. This beach has 3.5 miles of sand that dogs can enjoy all year round.

There is a section from the slipway where they must be kept on leads before they can run free.

Saunton Sands is 20 minutes from Barnstaple.

28. Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! is a two mile stretch of sand and shingle beach that is ideal for swimming and water sports. Why not take the plunge and learn to surf there?

There’s parking and toilets. Dogs are not allow at certain times of year.

Westward Ho! Beach is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

29. Putsborough Sands

View Putsborough Sands beach with child sat on rocks
Putsborough Sands beach

This stunning three mile stretch of sand is often quieter than the much lauded Woolacombe just around the corner making it a great place to head for a beach day in the busy summer months. It’s popular with swimmers, surfers and canoeists.

There’s parking and shops close by. There is a dog free area during the summer months.

Putsborough Sands is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

30. Croyde Beach

Beautiful golden sandy beach at Croyde - a North Devon beach in England UK

This award-winning Devon beach is a popular tourist hang out in the summer months and has a RNLI Lifeguard station to oversea the water. Croyde can be found at the end of a drive down proper North Devon roads – keep going, the beautiful stretch of sand and great surf is worth it.

Dogs are banned during the summer months.

Croyde Beach is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

31. Wildersmouth Beach – a dog-friendly Devon beach

This sheltered shingle beach is surrounded by rugged cliffs and is one of the less busy places for a day at the seaside near Ilfracombe.

There’s parking, public toilets and a cafe near by. Dogs are welcome all year round.

Wildersmouth Beach is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

32. Combe Martin Beach

This small shingle cove opens out on to wide flat sands at low tide – great for sand castles, water sports and relaxing.

Combe Martin beach holds the Seaside Award and has plenty of facilities to help you make a day of your visit including parking, cafes, toilets and nature trails.

Combe Martin Beach is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

33. Tunnels Beach

Tunnel through rock looking out onto the beach
Tunnels Beach

Tunnels at Ilfracombe is spot where holidaying Victorians used to come to bathe. Walk through hand carved tunnels in the rock to reach this secluded cove where you’ll find tidal pools and rock pools.

There are admission charges for Tunnels at Ilfracombe and dogs are not allowed.

Tunnels Beach is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

34. Hele Bay Beach – a dog-friendly Devon beach

If you’re looking for a smaller cove to spend time making sand castles and exploring rock pools than Hele Bay is ideal.

Dogs are welcome all year round and there’s a cafe for light snacks.

Hele Bay is 25 minutes from Barnstaple.

35. Barricane & Combesgate beaches at Woolacombe – dog-friendly Devon beaches

To the South West of Ilfracombe is Woolacombe where you’ll find a long stretch of golden sand as well as the coves of Barricane and Combesgate beaches.

Shell hunters will love a visit to Barricane Beach. Shells from a far off Caribbean island have somehow floated all the way to this small rocky cove. It’s a phenomenon that has made it a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

There’s a small cafe here famed for it’s Sri Lankan curries.

Combesgate, just around the corner, is a great place for rock pooling. Be aware that this beach is accessed via steps and there’s very little sand at high tide.

Dogs are permitted all year but must be kept on a lead in the summer months. There are shops and parking not far from these beaches.

Barricane and Combesgate beaches are 30 minutes from Barnstaple.

36. Woolacombe Beach – a dog-friendly Devon beach

Woolacombe beach in North Devon, UK
Woolacombe Beach

Woolacombe Beach has been named in the top five beaches to visit in Europe. And when you see it’s miles of sand and brilliant surfing conditions you’ll understand why. How could it not be on your bucket list of things to do in North Devon when you visit?

There’s an RNLI lifeguard station which is manned during the summer season plus cafes, restaurants and public toilets close by.

Dogs are allowed in two zones on the beach and must be kept on a lead.

Woolacombe Beach is 30 minutes from Barnstaple.

37. Lynmouth beach – a dog-friendly beach near Barnstaple

Lynmouth Beach is a shingle beach on the edge of Exmoor National Park. This beach is dog-friendly all year round and has good surfing conditions at low tide.

There are public toilets and you can pick up an ice cream or more substantial meal at the shops overlooking the beach.

Lynmouth Beach is 40 minutes from Barnstaple

Find more North Devon beaches.

So that’s all the things to do near Barnstaple in North Devon. If you’re venturing further afield then you might want to check out…

101 days out in Devon with Kids cover and pages

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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.

More things to do Devon with kids

Here’s some more reading about fun things to do in Devon:

What’s your favourite things to do in Barnstaple? I’d love to add some recommendations to this list.

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