One of the sunniest spots in the whole of the UK, the county of Devon is an obvious choice when it comes to a seaside staycation. With a plethora of picturesque beaches, wild coastline and quaint fishing villages, this is the perfect area for sun-worshippers. What’s more, there’s still plenty to do over in the South West, even when the weather isn’t looking so great. From exploring atmospheric castles to getting stuck into some arts and crafts, you’ll find plenty of rainy day activities to suit every taste and budget in Devon.
Best for: A slice of local history
Price: Adults £12.95, children £10.95, children under four go free.
Opening times: Open from March to November, 11:30 am – 4 pm, Sunday through to Friday.
Step back in time with a trip to Powderham Castle, over in Exeter. Built in the 14th-century by Sir Philip Courtenay, Powderham Castle is home to the Earl and Countess of Devon, and their children. Bearing the Courtenay name, of French origin, the family has over a thousand years of traceable history, predominantly situated in Devon.
Powderham comes from the Dutch word Polder, meaning ‘the hamlet of the reclaimed marshland’. The original building was the manor house and the architectural impression of a ‘castle’ would have been added around the 17th-century. Guided tours of the castle and gardens are available throughout the year and the castle hosts various events from music to food festivals.
National Marine Aquarium
Best for: Fans of Baby Shark.
Price: Adults (16+) £16.95, children (3-15) £12.95, students £14.50.
Opening times: Open daily 10 am – 5 pm.
Boasting over 4,000 animals, the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is the biggest aquarium in the whole of the UK. Home to clownfish, jellyfish, barracuda and, of course, sharks, you’ll be able to discover all about the fascinating underwater world here.
The aquarium is split into different zones, which take you on a journey through what lives in certain waters. Beginning in the local waters of Plymouth Sound, you’ll venture into the Atlantic Ocean and Great Barrier Reef. As well as a full collection of mesmerising underwater creatures, you’ll also find a Loola Land soft play area here. Ideal for keeping the little ones entertained.
The Paint Hub
Best for: Unleashing your inner artist.
Price: Dependent on what you paint.
Opening times: They can vary so best to check here.
This fantastic pottery painting studio in North Devon is simply perfect for a rainy day. Gather up the gang and head to The Paint Hub, for a fun-filled afternoon of creativity. Painters of all ages are welcome here, no matter how big or small, and the staff are lovely and encouraging.
Once you’ve finished painting your new masterpiece, it will be glazed and fired in the on-site kiln, ready for you to pick up later. Once your piece of art is ready, you can take it home and use it yourself. The perfect excuse to show off your new-found creative skills to your friends.
The Milky Way Adventure Park
Best for: Kids who just can’t keep still.
Price: Adults £11.95, children (3-17) £11.95, children (1-2) £6.50, under ones go free.
Opening times: The times vary dependent on weekends and school holidays so best to check here.
Situated in Bideford, North Devon, the award-winning Milky Way Adventure Park is the ideal spot to head to with the kids on a rainy day. Filled with a wide range of attractions to suit all ages, everyone will have fun here, no matter the weather!
Inside, you’ll find over 11,000 sq ft of indoor activities, featuring dodgems, ball pools and slides. The perfect solution to keep the kids happy and entertained throughout a drizzly day. What’s more, they’ll burn off so much energy playing that they’ll fall straight asleep in the evening.
Best for: Thrill-seekers and young explorers.
Price: Adults £12, children (3-15) £10, under threes go free.
Opening times: Nov to March, 11:30 am – 3:30 pm. April to October, 10:30 am – 4 pm.
Discover a whole new world deep beneath the ground at Kents Cavern. Located in the seaside resort of Torquay, this incredible cave system is a great option if the rain starts to fall. One of the most important Stone Age sites in the whole of Europe, these caves once housed ancient humans who were seeking shelter from the elements, much like you!
As well as the caves, there’s also plenty of activities for kids here, giving them the opportunity to have fun and learn at the same time. If the weather clears up while you’re underground, then there’s a woodland trail you can follow. Follow the footsteps of a caveman going about his daily life, while making sure you keep an eye out for any Stone Age animals hiding in the woods.
Royal Albert Museum
Best for: Anyone who loves to learn.
Price: Admission is free.
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm.
Set in the bustling city of Exeter, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum holds a diverse collection of over a million objects including examples of zoology, anthropology, fine art, local and overseas archaeology.
Founded in 1868, the museum is housed in a Gothic Revival building that has undergone several extensions during its history. The museum was re-opened in December 2011 after a redevelopment lasting four years and costing £24 million. Since its re-opening, the museum has received several awards including ‘Museum of the Year’ by The Art Fund charity in 2012. The museum is open 10 am to 5 pm every day except Mondays and bank holidays. Entry is free.
Best for: History buffs.
Price: Adults £7.20, children (4-17) £4.30.
Opening times: Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm.
If the rain starts pouring then take the chance to be inspired by Dartmouth’s amazing history by paying Dartmouth Castle a visit. Situated in the most scenic position on the water’s edge of the River Dart, you can arrive in style along the river or walk from the town and take in the wonderful views. The castle has acted as a fortress for over 600 years, guarding the entrance to the narrow Estuary.
An array of heavy artillery is on display, giving the visitor an impression of how the castle operated. You can climb up the gun-tower for incredible views over the river and after your visit, there are plenty of options for lunch in nearby Dartmouth.
Best for: Architecture aficionados.
Price: Admission is free.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm; Sunday, 11 am – 4 pm.
Exeter Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral and the seat of the Bishop of Exeter. Built between 1112-1400, the cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and an immense amount of skill and craftsmanship is evident. It has the longest uninterrupted gothic vaulted ceiling in the world, two Norman towers and impressive front carvings.
It is home to some fascinating artefacts; including the Exeter Cathedral Astronomical Clock and a library containing the Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. The cathedral remains today an active parish and is prevalent in the surrounding community of Exeter.
The Golden Hind
Best for: Gripping tales of seafaring adventure.
Price: Adult £7, children (3+) £5.
Opening times: May to September, 10:30 am – 4:30 pm.
Where better to hide from the rain than aboard a ship? Originally built in 1963 for filming purposes for the BBC, The Golden Hind Museum Ship is now a permanently anchored feature of Brixham’s harbour. The Golden Hind is a replica of the original ship that belonged to the famous navigator Sir Francis Drake. The ship remains an accurate representation of life on board an Elizabethan ship in the age of exploration.
Sir Francis Drake is best remembered as an explorer. In his most famous ship, the Golden Hind, Drake became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe in an epic expedition of plunder and discovery over 435 years ago, covering over 360,000 miles.
Best for: Learning about local art and history.
Price: Adult £8, concessions £7, under 19’s go free.
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm.
Torre Abbey, established in 1196, is a museum of history and art housed in an Ancient Scheduled Monument on the beautiful South Devon coast. Founded as a monastery for Premonstratensian canons, it is now considered the best-preserved medieval monastery in Devon and Cornwall.
Torre Abbey is renowned for its art collection, regular exhibitions and tranquil walled gardens containing a multitude of exotic plants. This natural haven is beautiful and perfect for walking or picnicking. The Torre Abbey Tearooms offer coffee and an assortment of light meals and cakes. The perfect remedy for a gloomy day.
St Nicholas Chapel
Best for: Incredible views of the countryside and coastline, even if it is raining!
Opening times: N/A.
St Nicholas Chapel was built in 1321 by monks to keep the ancient mariners safe from crashing onto the rocks on the north Devon coast, using the lighthouse to help guide the way. As well as a working lighthouse, St Nicholas Chapel was also built as a place of worship for the people of Ilfracombe.
The chapel today is regarded as an iconic landmark overlooking the harbour where the occasional services are held. St Nicholas Chapel has stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside, coastline and is steeped in fascinating history.
Best for: A dose of retail therapy.
Opening times: N/A.
If you’re struck by a rainy day and fancy a bit of shopping to cheer you up, then head to Newton Abbot in South Devon. This historic market town is filled with a collection of great shops, both independent and High Street, as well as the popular Newton Abbot Indoor Market and Food Hall.
Sample some local produces, pick up some vintage treasures and bag yourself a bargain or two. This is the perfect spot to spend a lazy afternoon, not worrying about anything except what you’re going to buy next.
Plymouth Pavillions Ice Rink
Best for: When the kids just have way too much energy.
Price: Adult £9.20, children (under 15) £7.70, under fives £5.20.
Opening times: The timetable changes daily so it’s best to check online here.
Skate the rainy day blues away at Plymouth Pavillions Ice Rink. No matter the weather, ice skating is always a fun activity for all the family. Never tried it before? No worries! With a variety of sessions suitable for people of all ages and ability levels, you’re sure to find the perfect beginners slot for you at Plymouth Pavillions.
If you don’t fancy a turn on the ice then you can sit back on the sidelines and let the kids do their thing. It’s always great fun watching the ice skating pros practising their pirouettes and jumps, gliding over the ice elegantly. Who knows, if you watch them for long enough, maybe you’ll automatically start picking it up…