12 things to do in Devon this winter
Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone but Devon isn’t just a summer destination. In fact there’s plenty to do outside of the main holiday season – take it from a local! But let’s keep this our secret – the 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.
Enjoy Christmas in Devon
Search for Polar Bears in Plymouth
Between 1 December 2019 and 1 March 2020 there’s a fun activity trail along Plymouth seafront. Spot 20 polar bears and find out how climate change is threatening the environment. There’s also the chance to win prizes if you seek out all the bears.
Find out how to take part in the Polar Bear Explorer trail.
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Visit a theme park
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 New Year and close in January. When they reopen some have great winter ticket deals.
Devon’s theme parks are also where you’ll also find some of the best Christmas days out in Devon including Santa’s grotto, shows and other festive activities.
Ride a train
Devon has several steam railways which chuff along former branch lines. These run services at the weekends in the run up to Christmas.
One to look out for is the Train of Lights run by Dartmouth Steam Railway between Paignton and Kingswear and its Santa Express complete with panto-style entertainment. We went a few years ago:
Embrace the season and head outdoors
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.
Please gauge the situation wisely and stay safe. If you don’t have 4×4, don’t attempt to go deep into the National Park as it is very easy to get stuck in drifts, causing problems for yourself and others.
Haldon Forest is an easier part place to access and has paths and cycle routes overlooking Dartmoor and Exeter.
You’ll also find the latest Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler trail here which is an easy and fun activity with kids whatever the weather.
Another fun place to grab some fresh air in the winter is River Dart Country Park. There’s plenty of adventure playgrounds and a bike pump track open all year round.
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.
Go under the sea
The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is ideal for wet days in the winter. The whole attraction is undercover and is home to the country’s largest tank.
Paint some pottery
My kids have really got into crafts in the past year and love painting pottery. Our closest pottery painting workshop in Devon is China Blue in Totnes.
You can also find pottery paining at:
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.
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Go indoor climbing
A great activity for teens in Devon is climbing. Here’s where you’ll find climbing walls in Devon:
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:
Brace yourselves and head to soft play
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, here’s some other places where you’ll find soft play in Devon:
One of our favourite days out in Devon in the winter is swimming at the Waves Pool at the Riviera Centre in Torquay. There’s a wave pool, flume and water feature for kids.
Here’s where else you’ll find indoor swimming pools in Devon:
What about things to do in Devon at other times of year?
Here are some more handy posts on things to do in Devon with kids:
You’ll also find plenty of Devon inspiration in my big Devon family holiday guide.