Last Updated on November 8, 2023 by Suzy
There’s no need to leave your four-legged friends at home when you head off on a family holiday to Devon. One of the UK’s holiday hotspots, attracting millions of visitors to its beautiful beaches, coastal towns and glorious countryside, delightful Devon offers boundless of things to do with kids and dogs – from sightseeing walks to scenic train rides and even theme parks. Plus, there are plenty of dog-friendly family cottages where you can retreat, refuel and relax between adventures.
Here are ten of our top days out in Devon that are child, and dog-friendly.
Cycle the Tarka Trail
If your kids and canine companion need to run off some steam, why not explore under peddle and paw power and set off along the Tarka Trail? We love the flat six miles from Braunton to Barnstaple, where you can Tarka-hunt along the banks of the River Taw, and the stretch from Bideford Instow, with plenty of beach stops for ice cream along the way. All in all, there are 180 miles of trails to choose from, taking in dramatic countryside and coastline along the backdrop of Henry Williamson’s classic children’s story.
Nestled in steep, greenery-clad cliffs that careen down towards the sea, the car-free cobbled streets of Clovelly are the perfect place for a dog-friendly dawdle with the kids. Lap up the scenery, listen to smugglers’ tales, wend your way to the harbour where fishermen unload the catch of the day, and pause Cornish cream tea on the steep climb back up the hill.
Step back in time with hands-on activities and a ride on the underground railway at the award-winning Morwellham Quay Museum, which tells the story of this Victorian port that served as a transportation hub for local mines. Dogs must be kept on leads while you’re in the visitor centre but situated on the banks of the River Tamar, it’s a lovely location for waggy-tailed walkies before or after your visit. Find Out More
Babbacombe Model Village
Your dog will feel like Digby (the ‘Biggest Dog in the World’) at this model village near Torquay. Babbacombe Model Village is a wonderful family attraction, where you can see miniature replicas of classic English scenes such as thatched villages, Stonehenge, fishing harbours and railways. Babbacombe also happens to be the area’s top garden attraction, thanks to its award-winning miniature gardens. Find Out More
Milky Way Adventure Park
Looking for something a little more thrilling? Devon’s home to an array of theme parks where families can enjoy all levels of rides from white-knuckle rollercoasters to twirling teacups. Dogs are welcome to join you at the Milky Way, although they might not enjoy the amusement rides quite as much as the rest of the family members will. Find Out More
Step foot into the deepest gorge in the South West and experience the force of nature from the foot of the 30-metre-high White Lady Waterfall. Trails of varying lengths and gradients take you to the highlights of Lydford Gorge: stand above the bubbling water of the Devil’s Cauldron, follow the River Lyd as it tumbles through wild woodland, play pooh sticks from the bridges and discover giant caterpillars and fungi carved from fallen trees. Dogs welcome on a lead.
Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway
Sitting on the lip of Exmoor, the towns of Lynton and Lynmouth are torn between the wild beauty of the moors and the towering sea cliffs of North Devon. Take in the scenery on a coast path stroll with your pooch, then let the train take the strain on the Victorian water-powered cliff railway that lifts you up the 500ft cliffs between the two towns. At the top, you can squander pocket money at souvenir shops, but you’re better to lap up the British seaside from Lynmouth’s picture-perfect shingle cove, which is a fine spot for rock-pooling, crabbing and eating fish and chips on the seafront.
Dartmouth Steam Train & Riverboats
Explore some of Devon’s most picturesque coastal towns and countryside on a scenic train and riverboat ride with the Dartmouth Steam Train & Riverboat Company. Dogs are welcome on board for a nostalgic day trip on a steam train from Torquay to Kingswear, via Agatha Christie’s former home at Greenway Halt, followed by a paddle steamer across the river to Dartmouth.
With three miles of sweeping, dog-friendly sands, Woolacombe is worth a visit on any family trip to North Devon. And if you and the kids want to hit the water, why not join the throngs of surfers and tap up the local surf school for a lesson? Or, if you want to escape the crowds, swap the surf lesson for a coasteering trip and scramble, swim and rock-jump your way around the coastline.
If you fancy a day out without getting sandy toes, head to the historic Powderham Castle, nestled on the banks of the River Exe in an ancient deer park. Discover over 600 years of history within the walls of one of Devon’s oldest family homes, whilst dipping into fun family activities, the Secret Garden and Pets Corner. Dogs welcome on a lead. Find Out More
Ready for some family-friendly, dog-friendly fun in Devon? Check out these amazing Dog-Friendly Retreats in Devon in some of the best coastal and countryside locations throughout the county.