The joys of spending time outdoors in Devon, England are indisputable. With delectable beaches, fantastic surfing spots at Croyde Bay, Bantham and Woolacombe, and horse riding or hiking trails through Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks, Devon’s a feast of outdoor fun. It’s well set up for visitors, and there are plenty of gorgeous places to stay in Devon. But even in the summer months, here in the UK we’re never blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine. Luckily, there are plenty of Devon attractions that make a good shelter on those drizzly days. Here are some ideas for things to do in Devon when it’s raining. They include some things to do in north Devon when it’s raining, things to do in east Devon, and places to visit in south Devon. Do you have any more suggestions?
Things to do in Ilfracombe
Experience beautiful local sea creatures, like pink sea fans and squat lobster, in this compact aquarium, established in 2001. It’s worth a visit if only to discover the fantastic names of fish and marine life that dwell in the rivers and warm gulf stream seas in and around Devon. Tompot blenny, anyone?
Ilfracombe Aquarium is open from 10am. Depending on the time of year, closing time varies from 3-5.45pm.
Address: The Ilfracombe Aquarium, The Quay, Ilfracombe EX34 9EQ
Watermouth Castle Theme Park
Although Gnome Land, the Thunder Luge toboggan ride, Adventure Land and Merry Go Land are all outdoors, if you’re looking for places to go on a rainy day, then a lot of Watermouth Castle Theme Park is under shelter. Inside the castle children can explore a Victorian kitchen, dairy and antique toys. The Dungeon Labyrinths include fairytale creatures, craft shops, a Hall of Mirrors and antique arcade machines.
Watermouth Castle opening hours vary depending on the time of year. The earliest admission is 10am, and in peak summer season the theme park closes at 6pm.
Address: Watermouth Castle, A399, Ilfracombe EX34 9SL
Another suggestion for what to do on a rainy day in Ilfracombe is to go to Ilfracombe Museum.
Days out in Plymouth
National Marine Aquarium
Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium is the UK’s largest aquarium, so it has more than enough to keep children happy on a rainy day. With pacific octopus, clownfish, rays, turtles and tiger sharks, it’s a good place to learn more about the ocean, and endangered species.
The National Marine Aquarium opening hours are daily from 10am to 5pm, except Christmas and Boxing Day.
Address: National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF
A half-hour’s drive from Plymouth, Buckland Abbey’s a 700 year-old manor house that lists Sir Francis Drake as one of its previous owners. If the rain lets up there’s a beautiful estate to explore, with bluebell woods. But visitors will find plenty of things to do when it’s raining at Buckland. It’s a National Trust property, and family activities during school holidays include crafting, portrait trails and storytelling sessions inspired by Sir Francis Drake’s seafaring adventures.
Buckland Abbey opening hours are from 11am to 5pm, or 4pm in winter.
Address: Buckland Abbey, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6EY
Another National Trust property, Saltram is a stunning white Georgian house with elegant interiors, including detailed Chinese wallpaper depicting classic scenes, and ornate, twinkling chandeliers. Despite the grandeur, the house is family-friendly, with fun trails and a chance to dress up in period costumes.
Saltram House opening hours are from 12-4.30pm
Address: Plympton, Plymouth, Devon PL7 1UH
Things to do in Croyde when it’s wet
Croyde Deckchair Cinema
Showing family-friendly films during the school holidays and at weekends, Croyde Deckchair Cinema is exactly that: a cosy collection of deckchairs, set up around a screen in the village hall. The cinema’s been running as a charitable enterprise since 2007, and booking is essential.
Address: Croyde Village Hall, 1 Jones’s Hill, Croyde, North Devon EX33 1LX
Things to do in Torquay when it’s raining
Living Coasts is a zoo/aquarium with seals, penguins, otters and fish. An aviary houses over 300 sea birds, including waders, guillemots, tufted puffins and Inca terns. Visitors can feed the seals, get close to the otters and prepare food for the rays.
Living Coasts opening times are from 10am until 5 or 6pm, depending on the time of year.
Address: Living Coasts, Torquay Harbourside, Beacon Hill, Torquay TQ1 2BG
Torquay’s Dinosaur World
Torquay’s Dinosaur World is completely indoors. The fun, interactive exhibition features full size and scaled dinosaurs, fossils and quizzes.
Torquay’s Dinosaur World opening hours are from 11am to 5pm. It’s open every day in the summer, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturday and Sundays in the winter.
Address: Torquay’s Dinosaur World, 3 Victoria Parade, Torquay, Devon TQ1 2BB
Other things to do in Torquay with kids when it’s raining include visiting Torquay Museum, Bygones Torquay and Kent’s Cavern, a prehistoric cave.
Things to do in Bideford
The Big Sheep
With a Ewetopia indoor playground and an indoor animal barn where children can meet puppies, pigs, goats or ducks, there’s plenty to do indoors at the Big Sheep. If visitors wanted to brave the rain, there’s a vintage carousel, and the Rampage Rollercoaster whisks people round during the summer months.
The Big Sheep’s opening hours are daily from April to October, 10am until 6pm. Off season, it’s open from 10am, till 5pm at the weekend, and 4pm during the week.
Address: The Big Sheep, Abbotsham, Bideford, North Devon EX39 5AP
Other places to visit in Devon near Bideford include Milky Way Adventure Park, Clovelly.
Places to go on a rainy day in Dartmouth and nearby
Woodlands Family Adventure Park
Woodlands is Devon’s largest family theme park. If it’s too wet to try the thrilling Vertigo ride, fairytale Fantasi Forest and Marines Commando Course, there’s an indoor circus railroad, an Acrobats Funderland with nets to climb, rope swings, ball pools and slides; and Big Top Soft Play. A whole Indoor Sea Dragon Zone offers rides, slides and five floors of netted towers. It’s the biggest indoor venture centre in the UK.
Woodlands Family Adventure Park opening times are from 9.30am to 5 or 6pm, depending on the time of year.
Address: Woodlands Leisure Park, Blackawton, Totnes, South Devon TQ9 7DQ
If the Devon UK weather lets you down when you’re in this part of the county, there’s also Dartmouth Castle.
Indoor days out in Exeter
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
RAMM is a world-class museum and featues an Egyptian coffin, as well as objects from Mesopotamia, ancient Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and the Roman Empire. Ceramics from west Africa and Aztec clay stamps sit among the other fascinating objects from across the globe in the World Cultures gallery. Children can have fun with RAMM’s Explorer bags for 7-14 year olds, quizzes, and Bee Bags for younger children, which include toys and ideas for exploring.
Royal Albert Memorial Museum opening times are Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 5pm.
Address: Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Queen St, Exeter EX4 3RX
Exeter’s a large place with other options for where to go on a rainy day. These include underground passages that used to house the pipes that brought clean drinking water into medieval Exeter; and Powderham Castle.
Things to do in Barnstaple and nearby
Arlington Court and the National Carriages Museum
If you’re a horse-and-carriage lover, days out in Devon don’t come better than a visit to Arlington Court, where over forty vehicles include elegant coaches used for state occasions all the way down to humble servants’ carts. If the twenty-mile estate’s really too sodden for a walk, there’s an eclectic collection inside the house, ranging from elegant antique silks and tiny model boats to an original William Blake illustration, mysteriously found on top of a wardrobe.
Arlington Court opening times are from 11am to 5pm, but it sometimes closes in the winter months, so check before setting off.
Address: Arlington, near Barnstaple, Devon EX31 4LP
Rainy days out in Devon: things to do in Paignton
Paignton Zoo caters for rainy days. Visitors can see crocodiles, gorillas, orang-utans and giraffes indoors. A covered boardwalk snakes through Reptile Tropics, a steamy rainforest environment that’s home to poison dart frogs and free ranging birds. The Desert House is also indoors, with succulent plants and parakeets.
Paignton Zoo opening times are from 10am to 5 or 6pm, depending on the time of year.
Address: Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Totnes Rd, Paignton TQ4 7EU
If you’re looking for places to go when it’s raining in other parts of the UK, check out our guide to what’s on in London. There are a lot of wet-weather activities in the capital.
Do you have any suggestions for what to do in Devon when it’s raining? Do let me know in the comments.
This is a collaborative post. All views are my own. All images are from Pixabay.
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