Top Holiday Destinations in Devon

South Devon is a holiday destination renowned for its natural beauty, rich cultural history and fantastic local food– all tantalising draws for adults looking for a restorative break away. However, did you know that South Devon is also home to an abundance of amenities and attractions that make for the perfect family staycation too?  

Here are our Top Five hotspots in South Devon that your whole family will enjoy: 

1. Paignton 

Widely considered to be the family hub of the English Riviera, Paignton is a great base for an enjoyable family holiday in Devon. With favourites like Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Splashdown Quaywest, and Goodrington Sands on offer, you’re spoilt for choice here when it comes to keeping the kids busy. 

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park 

With dozens of different animals across 80 acres of beautiful, spacious grounds – you’re in for a really wild time at Paignton Zoo with lots to see and plenty to do. Discover all your favourite species, big and small, including gorillas, orang-utans, giraffes, lions, tigers, crocodiles, cheetahs, flamingos, red pandas and rhinos, and really make a day of it at one of Britain’s top zoos.  

Find out more about this fantastic zoo here

Other Things to Do 

If you’ve exhausted the numerous activities at the zoo – don't panic! There’s still an abundance of other attractions to visit in Paignton.  

Paignton Beach is a well-known and popular beach in Torbay, which offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing and picnicking. The sand is a nice golden colour, and the water is safe for children to play in. There are several cafes and arcades close by as well as hire shops if you need anything else from beach toys to parasols. 

Nearby, Torbay Velopark offers safe family cycling with bike, helmet and baby trailer hire on offer. Another ‘must-do’ is the steam train that runs from Paignton to Kingswear along the stunning English Riviera coastline. There’s also crazy golf, go karts and a state-of-the art cinema complex showing all the latest movies. At Goodrington Beach you’ll find Splashdown Quaywest, the UK’s biggest outdoor waterpark with spectacular views of the beach and the bay. 

With so many quality attractions right on your doorstep, Paignton really is the perfect family holiday destination for those families with plenty of energy to burn!  

Take a look at our list of where to stay in Paignton here.  

2. Teignmouth 

Those with fond recollections of the quintessential British seaside holiday will be charmed by the prospect of a family break in Teignmouth. With striped deckchairs, pastel-coloured beach huts, slot machines and ice cream kiosks aplenty, Teignmouth is the ideal holiday destination for families looking for a little slice of old-fashioned fun. 

Located on the main South West train line, Teignmouth is an easy journey from London, along the most spectacular coastal train route in the country. Dartmoor National Park, Exeter and Torquay are just a few miles from Teignmouth, making it an ideal central location to explore the rest of South Devon. 

Things to Do  

In fact, the proximity of the railway station itself adds to the traditional charm of the town. Children will love eagerly waiting alongside the railway line for trains coming in and out, where friendly drivers may even reward you with a blast of the horn in exchange for a cheery wave.  

As well as the railway, Teignmouth boasts a multitude of other simple seaside pleasures. While away a few hours (and a good amount of pocket money) at the arcades on the Victorian Pier, build a sandcastle on the town’s distinctive red sand beaches and even challenge the kids to a round of Dinosaur-themed crazy golf down by the seafront.  

If you’re looking for activities to keep older children entertained too, paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing on Teignmouth’s calm waters are popular sports to try your hand at. Alternatively, take a look at the performances currently showing at Teignmouth’s events hub, ‘The Pavilions’, for a whole host of entertaining live shows and workshops. 

Where to Stay 

With all these activities and amenities, it’s easy to see why Teignmouth has been a steadfast holiday favourite with families since the Georgian times. As such a well-loved destination, you’ll be spoilt for choice regardless of party size or budget when it comes to finding accommodation. For family stays, there are plenty of Holiday Parks and Campsites in and around Teignmouth with great on-site facilities and amenities to keep everyone happy.  

Take a look at our list of where to stay in Teignmouth here

3. Dawlish 

The traditional seaside resort of Dawlish sits at the mouth of the Exe Estuary on the south coast of Devon. Just 15 miles from the city of Exeter, it’s known for its long sandy beach and welcoming family-friendly atmosphere. 

This coastal town, with its beautiful early Victorian and classic Regency style, is centred around The Lawn, an open green space which is a focal point for visitors and locals alike. Home to a wide variety of wildlife, it’s the place to look out for the town’s famous black swans and take a stroll along the brook, where children will delight in spotting fluffy ducklings at the hatchery. 

Things to Do 

If the wildlife here has really piqued your interest, Dawlish is also home to Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve, which is a fantastic place to take the kids to learn all about the varied flora and fauna of the area. Keep adventurous little minds busy with a guided warden walk, various nature trails and even a spot of amateur birdwatching! 

As well as plenty of outdoor activities, Dawlish also boasts a whole host of fun things to do if the weather isn’t too kind. If it’s too wet for the beach but you still fancy a bit of seaside fun, why not keep everyone entertained with a trip to the arcade? Here, you have the choice between Harrisons Amusements in the town of Dawlish or you can head to the Pavillion Amusements, a mile or so up the coastline, in Dawlish Warren. Both are under cover and will provide you and the kids with hours of entertainment. 

If it’s more a spot of creativity you’re after, ‘The Paint Hub’ in Dawlish Warren also offers fun, all-weather entertainment for the whole family. Offering a fantastic pottery painting experience, The Paint Hub has a diverse range of shapes and figures to choose from, with heaps of examples to inflame your imagination. What's more, if you want something to take home that very same day, they also offer a teddy bear building service which you and the kids can use to create a perfect holiday souvenir! 

Come rain or shine, Dawlish is a brilliant destination for your next family adventure. Amid golden beaches and sand dunes, stunning nature walks and more traditional family seaside entertainment than you can shake a bucket and spade at, Dawlish really is the perfect base for a fun-packed family holiday on the south coast of Devon. 

Take a look at our list of where to stay in Dawlish here

4.  Dartmouth 

The beautiful town of Dartmouth situated on the mouth of the River Dart is one of South Devon’s most popular and enchanting towns. With its charming historic streets, scenic river location and surrounded by South Devon countryside you have to go a long way to find a town as pretty.  

Perhaps not an immediately obvious choice for a family holiday destination, the small town of Dartmouth may surprise you with just how much it has to offer holidaymakers of all ages. 

Things to Do 

Starting at the River Dart, Dartmouth is the perfect location for those who want to try their hand at water sports. Sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, boat trips and more are all on offer – you can even learn to surf at one of the nearby beaches, or just spend a lazy day enjoying the views. We recommend trying a family taster session with Sea Kayak Devon for those looking for a little guidance as well as a lot of fun out on the water.  

As for the more kid-focused attractions, you really can’t go wrong with a trip to Woodlands Theme Park. The largest theme park in Devon, Woodlands is home to one of the largest and best indoor play areas in the South West, amazing water rides, a zoo farm and much more. The park is packed with opportunities for kids of all age groups to tire themselves out.  

If your little ones are more interested in exploring nature, activities such as crabbing are a very popular pastime in Dartmouth. Bring your crab line and bait (or buy them from a shop in town), find yourself a spot along the quayside and settle in for day of dangling the line! 

With all these activities and amenities, it’s easy to see why Dartmouth is a bit of a hidden gem for fun family holidays that everyone will enjoy. As well as great things to do, places to eat and adventures to be had Dartmouth also offers a wonderful choice of accommodation. 

Take a look at our list of where to stay in Dartmouth here

5. Salcombe 

Last but by no means least on our list is Salcombe!  

Despite being a bit off the beaten track when it comes to the big family attractions, it’s hard for children and grown-ups alike to get bored in Salcombe. If you’re a family that enjoys a good trip to the beach and plenty of active excursions, Salcombe is certainly the holiday destination for you. 

Things to Do 

With its estuary location, Salcombe is a water sports haven - whether it be sailing, kayaking, surfing or paddle boarding - everyone wants to get in the crystal blue waters. The beaches here are often to be found in small sandy coves that offer sheltered and shallow paddling for young children and plenty of opportunity for sandcastle building and water sports for the older ones. 

In Town, Salcombe South Sands and North Sands are ideal family beaches, and just across the estuary you will find East Portlemouth, best accessed via ferry from Salcombe. To the west lies the beaches of Bigbury on Sea and Bantham and the famous Burgh Island which is accessed at high tide via a sea tractor – a wonderfully unique experience for kids! 

Events in Salcombe run throughout the year - but highlights are during the summer months when the town celebrates with fairs, regattas and festivals. Salcombe Crabfest in April is known to draw celebrity chefs to the town and features brilliant free children's entertainment and activities. Additionally, the town regatta in August celebrates all that is great about the town, with family fun, sailing events, fireworks and lots more.   

Packed full of sporting fun and boasting multiple, beautiful beaches, Salcombe is a fantastic destination for those looking for a little lively adventure to keep the whole family entertained. To top it all off, when it’s time to rest those weary legs, Salcombe has a wide range of accommodation options on offer too.  
Take a look at our list of where to stay in Salcombe here


In 2023, it looks like UK holidays and the increasingly attractive ‘staycation’ will be as popular as ever. We hope our guide to the Top Family Holiday Destinations in the beautiful region of South Devon has given you plenty of inspiration for your next adventure!  

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