A favourite holiday destination for pretty much as long as there have been holidays, there's more to Devon than just great beaches.
Devon is a gorgeous place to visit at any time of year. Whether you're going for a romantic staycation, a fun-filled family day out or a solo walking holiday, you're in for a real treat. Whilst you may have already booked yourself a luxury hotel or sweet little cottage, do you know what you're actually going todoin Devon during your visit?
We all know that a Devon cream tea is a must, but if you need a little more inspiration than that, here are some great things you (and the kids) can get up to on your Devonshire holiday.
Blackpool Sands Beach, Dartmouth
Devon has plenty of sandy beaches to enjoy, but this one is easily the best. It proudly holds Blue Flag status and is well maintained, as it is cleaned every day. Dog owners, unfortunately, will only be able to bring their pooches onto the beach between November and March; the rest of the year the beach is dog-free.
It is, however, perfect for young children. There are sand pits the little one can play in, making it easy for you to keep an eye on them. Adults, meanwhile, can go snorkelling, boogie boarding and kayaking, should sunbathing get a little bit boring. After burning all that energy you'll want to grab a bite to eat at the Venus Beach Café, which serves local, organic food.
Exmoor Zoo, Barnstaple
If you're an animal lover, you've probably been to a fair number of zoos in your lifetime, but Exmoor is a little different. It's family-run, meaning your visit feels a lot more personal, and you're able to get much more hands-on than you normally would at a city zoo. Conquer your fears and handle a spider, or release some stress by stroking an alpaca. You may even get the chance to feed some of the animals.
One creature that's not to be missed is the famous Exmoor Beast, which is actually a rare female black leopard - she's one of only five in captivity in the UK. You can also see wallabies, penguins, snakes, ducks, chameleons and much more in the park.
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, Exeter
These Grade I listed gardens span over 60 acres, and are truly a sight to behold. Bicton Park is one of the most visited attractions in the South West of Devon, and it's easy to see why. It's probably best to pick a sunny day to enjoy this attraction, as you'll spend a lot of time walking around the woodlands, lakes, streams and the secret garden (if you can find it!).
There are informal gardens too, so the kids will undoubtedly have a great time running around. If they're still full of beans, there's plenty more for them to see and do, including a miniature village, mini golf, and Bigfoot maze - just don't lose them in it on purpose!
Watermouth Castle, Ilfracombe
This attraction is a combination of a Victorian castle, theme park and landscaped gardens. It may seem a strange mix, but it does give the kids an opportunity to learn something, as well as run around and have some fun. Several rooms inside the castle are made up to show what life was like in Victorian times, including the old dairy and kitchen. If you're feeling brave, you can even delve into the Dungeon Labyrinth.
Once you've explored the castle, you can spend the rest of the afternoon playing crazy golf, taking the Snail Trail ride and running around the adventure playground with the little ones.
Kents Cavern, Torquay
Kents Cavern is Britain's oldest known human settlement and one of the top Neanderthal Ice Age caves in Europe. People of all ages will love seeing the staggering stalactite and stalagmite formations, whilst kids in particular will take pleasure in digging up artefacts in the specially-created archaeological dig site.
The Ghost Tours held in the summer evenings are not to be missed. You'll receive a full tour of the caves, but with the lights turned down low it will be spookier than usual. Prepare to be scared.
There is so much to see and do in Devon you won't be able to pack every activity into your holiday, but hopefully the above suggestions will start to get you excited for your staycation, or even inspire you to book one. Worst case scenario; you could spend your entire trip lazing around on the beach with an ice cream in your hand. That sounds like a good trip away to us.
image credit: steve p2008 | Gerry Labrijn | Warwick Conway via Flickr