Rainy day activities in Devon: 8 great things to do

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth (c) Toby Mack,Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth (c) Toby Mack,Flickr (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

If the sun hasn’t got his hat on, don’t worry. There are lots of places to entertain the family here in Devon. CHRISSY HARRIS goes in search of wet weather fun

Never Rains But It Pours

Summer holidays. The kids are off for six whole weeks. It's raining. Cue massive meltdowns, tantrums and arguing over the television channels - and that's just me. I've learnt (the hard way) that we're all far better out than in, even if it's chucking it down.

Thankfully, Devon is not short of rainy day fun, with a wealth of indoor attractions across the county. Some of these places have become our go-to destinations when the weather and my kids' behaviour both start to deteriorate at an alarming rate.

Most of these family favourites won't cost the earth and will suit young kids, teenagers, parents and grandparents. Then you can all go home and argue over the television.

Here are some top raining day ideas:

Torre Abbey

1) Torre Abbey, Torquay

Quentin Blake's touring exhibition, The BFG in Pictures is on here all summer. The event features around 40 reproductions of illustrations that weren't used in Roald Dahl's classic tale about a friendly giant when it was first published in 1982.

Once you've seen that, Torre Abbey Museum (kids and teenagers get in for free) is a great place to explore, with interactive exhibits, dressing up and crafts. The gardens are spectacular and you can hide out in the palm or cactus house if it's raining.

Coldharbour Mill

2) Coldharbour Mill Museum, Uffculme

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Set on the banks of the River Culm, the museum is one of the best-preserved working woollen mills in the UK.

The steam exhibits occasionally get fired up so visitors can enjoy the full experience. On 26 August, the Lancashire boiler will be lit and the fire stoked to recreate a time when water and steam powered the industrial revolution in Victorian times.

Other collections include a look at the production of 'puttees', part of the World War One military uniform.


3) Milky Way, Higher Clovelly

Boasting 110,000 square feet of indoor fun, there should be plenty to keep the kids entertained at this award-winning theme park.

Slides, dodgems, ball pools, archery and laser shooting are bound to induce much excitement, whatever age you are.


Some other things to do in Devon:

Exeter Cathedral - The Nave


4) Exeter Cathedral

If you're in the city, it's definitely worth taking a look around one of its greatest assets. The cathedral (children get in free) is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture anywhere.

Older children can take part in a special roof tour (booking required). For younger kids, there is a special 'fairy door' trail this summer from 27 July and drop-in crafts sessions.

A summer music series will feature performances from world-renowned musicians.

Dartington Crystal-11

5) Dartington Crystal, Torrington

A building stacked full of expensive crystal things is not usually a place you'd think of taking the kids to visit but there is plenty for them to do in the UK's only remaining glass factory.

Watch the skilled glassmakers and engravers in action and browse the exhibits showcasing Dartington's 50-year history.

Creative activities are also on offer for all ages to try, including hand casting and glass painting.


6) Devon Railway Centre, Bickleigh

Tiny trains remain the source of much delight for all ages. There are 14 layouts and 40 trains in motion here at the Devon Railway Centre, near Tiverton.

Many of the scenes have been built by some of Britain's top modellers, with extraordinary attention to detail.

Indoor play coaches and a soft play area in a former goods shed will ensure the children let off some steam power. And if it brightens up, there are train rides and outdoor playgrounds to enjoy.

{Aquarium} (Plymouth)

7) The National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth

No wet school holiday would quite be complete without a visit to the aquarium. The attraction is celebrating Ocean Giants this summer, with exhibits and information about past and present creatures from the deep.

As well as all that, gaze in wonder at the deepest tank in the UK, full of marine life, such as rays, nurse sharks and sand tiger sharks, plus the star of the show (in my opinion) Friday the Green Turtle.


8) Bygones, Torquay

You have to see this treasure trove of 100 years of British history to believe it. More than three floors packed full of 'authentic curiosities', interactive displays and quirky memorabilia, plus a 27-tonne steam engine are waiting to be explored.

Have fun spotting blasts from the past and hankering back to a simpler, screen-free time.


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