East Devon days out for free – summer fun without breaking the bank

School summer holidays are looming and parents will soon be wondering what they can do to entertain the kids, without breaking the bank.

There is so much to do in East Devon; there is plenty of free fun to be had on your doorstep if you know where to look.

To help, TripAdvisor has compiled a comprehensive East Devon guide of free days out and things to do and see  in Exmouth, Sidmouth, Honiton and the surrounding areas.

The Donkey Sanctuary, Slade House Farm, Sidmouth.
Say hello to hundreds of donkeys, explore outdoor farm trails and a maze; there are guided tours, a nature centre, visitor centre, gift shop and family-friendly restaurant.
The Donkey Sanctuary charity was founded in 1969 by Dr Elizabeth Svendsen and is a working farm and home to scores of donkeys, mules and hinnies.
It is open 365 days a year, parking is free and dogs on leads are welcome.

See donkeys like these all year round for free at The Donkey Sanctuary, near Sidmouth.
Photo: Erwan Hesry

The Byes riverside park, Sidmouth, between Sidford and the Old Tollhouse.
Riverside walk, fields and meadows, about 2km, for pedestrian and cyclists. Well-behaved dogs welcome. There is a dog-free community orchard.

South West Coast Path – Hooken cliffs. Beer Head. Seaton
A four-mile moderate ramble along the South West Coast Path through the Hooken undercliff, a haven for wildlife.
Returning along the clifftops above, where there are spectacular views in either direction; the walk links the villages of Beer and Branscombe.

Connaught Gardens. Jacobs Ladder. Sidmouth
Connaught Gardens are at the western end of the Esplanade part of the way up Peak Hill.
The gardens lookout over the coastline and out to sea; they are planted with a range of plants, herbaceous borders and lawns.
They lead to Jacob’s Ladder and the Clock Tower café.

East Devon has plenty of public parks and gardens to visit for free.
Photo: Freestocks

Exmouth and Orcombe Point walk.
A moderate five and a half-mile circular walk from Exmouth railway station out to Littleham Cross, through countryside out to the South West Coast Path.
It passes Orcombe Point and the Geoneedle, overlooking Exmouth beach, along the cliff top.

Beer Beach, Seaton
Family-friendly Beer’s shingle beach is ideal for swimming, surrounded by limestone cliffs and close to Seaton town.
The South West Coast Path runs along the top of the beach with stunning views along to the Jurassic Coast and towards Dorset. Described as a picture-postcard village, Beer, has a shingle beach, a small fleet of working fishing boats and picturesque white chalk cliffs.

Seaton Wetlands Nature Reserve is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Set alongside the River Axe, it is home to wildlife, with marshland and reedbeds; plus five bird hides, around 4km of level trails and boardwalks suitable for wheelchair, cyclists and pushchairs.
There are four main sites – Seaton Marshes, Black Hole Marsh, Colyford Common and Stafford Marsh.
Assistance dogs only.

Exmouth beach.
Exmouth Beach boasts two miles of golden sand and, when the tide is out, rock pools.
It is the gateway to the UNESCO Jurrasic Coast World Heritage site and part of the South West Coast Path.
Dogs are welcome, with seasonal restrictions.

East Devon’s beaches are an outside playground for free fun.
Photo: Kelly Sikkema

Sidmouth, valley ridge, and Jurassic coast walk
Set off from the Bedford Hotel, Station Road, Sidmouth
A moderate five-and-a-half mile, dog-friendly, walk. No stiles; the route climbs on the South West Coast Path from sea level to 200m/650ft at the ridge top, a long and steady climb, rather than steep.

Exmouth to Lympstone walk.
This is one section of the Exe Estuary Trail, suitable for walkers and cyclists.
The route, around two miles long, is flat and surfaced, with a train station at each end.
Set off from Imperial Road, close to Exmouth Leisure Centre

Jacobs Ladder beach, Sidmouth.
The sand and shingle beach takes its name from the wooden steps that lead down from Connaught Gardens.
The beach can also be accessed by walking around from the town’s main beach, via a level path.

Walking, beach fun, wildlife – East Devon has plenty of free fun to offer.
Photo: Dave Robinson

Otterton Mill.
Otterton Mill is set beside the River Otter and has working watermill.
Visitors can experience the ancient traditions of flour milling and bread baking; as well the mill and bakery, there is a cafe-restaurant, local food shop, gift and craft shop, art gallery, wildlife shop, live music, and other events.

Manor Gardens, Exmouth.
Public gardens with borders, lawns and a bandstand.

Sidmouth Museum.
Hope Cottage, Church Street
Displays and exhibits set over two floors.

Allhallows Museum of Lace and Antiquities, High Street, Honiton.
Allhallows Museum boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of Honiton Lace in the world.
Two galleries feature examples of 16th to early 20th century Honiton lace.
There are also local history displays, plus lace making demonstrations during summer months and children’s activities and competitions.

Sandy Bay Beach, Exmouth.
Award-winning beach close to Devon Cliffs Holiday Park. Privately-owned with access permitted by foot.
Can be reached by walking from Exmouth beach at low tide.

Exmouth Lifeboat Station, Marina Way.
Guided tours of the lifeboat station are available; there is a visitor experience and a shop.

Visit Exmouth RNLI lifeboat station, on the seafront.
Photo: Rob Pumphrey

Greenfingers Garden Centre, Pound Lane, Exmouth.
Selling plants and gardening sundries, plus on-site café

Otter Nurseries garden centre, Gosford Road. Ottery St Mary.
Family-run garden centre stocking a wide range of garden supplies, plus on-site café-restaurant

Brook Gallery, Fore Street, Budleigh Salterton.
Launched in 1997, it sells limited edition and original prints in a wide range of styles.

Orcombe Point; the Geoneedle, Exmouth.
The Geoneedle marks the official site of Orcombe Point, just to the east of Exmouth; it marks the official western end of the World Heritage Site. It was unveiled by The Prince of Wales in 2002 to launch the World Heritage Site.
The Geoneedle was created from stone and rock that can be found along the Jurassic Coast.

West Down Beacon Walk.
Inland from Budleigh Salterton, this moderate walk of almost four miles is along the route of the old railway line and through woodland.

Explore East Devon’s many walks and public footpaths.
Photo: Jill Dimond

The Vintage Shed, Colyton. Stations Yard
Browse the eclectic mix of vintage and retro finds, clothes, tools, furniture, ornaments and lots more, plus vinyl records.

Blackbury Camp, Southleigh, Colyton.
A hillfort built during the 4th century BC. It was used by an Iron Age tribe.
It is now surrounded by woodland and is popular with visitors. Dogs on leads welcome. Free car park.
Visit in spring to see a carpet of bluebells.

Branscombe beach, National Trust and Coastal Walk Way, Branscombe.
Branscombe Mouth, a shingle beach which forms part of the East Devon and Dorset Jurassic Coast, stretches over a mile and boast views of the Jurassic cliffs.
It is a popular starting point for walks on the coast path.
During the summer months, from Easter, National Trust beach rangers are on the beach on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, helping families with kite making, creating wild art, or scrambling around the rock pools.

See carpets of bluebells at Blackbury Camp.
Photo: Sarah Doffman

Upottery Airfield Nissen Hut Heritage Centre, Slough Lane, Cherry Hayes Farm, Smeatharpe, Honiton.
WW2 Heritage Centre. Displays, photographs and artefacts tell the story of this airfield’s role in D-Day. The centre is open from Good Friday until the end of October.

Colyton Heritage centre, Market Place, Colyton.
Colyton Heritage Centre, run by volunteers from Colyton Parish History Society.
Activities including talks on local history, town walking tours, exhibitions and research projects. Tearoom.

Seaton Hole, Seaton.
Seaton Hole Beach is at the most westerly end of the beach and is easiest to reach when the tide is low. At high tide, walk along the Old Beer Road, part of the South West Coastal Path.
At low tide there are dozens of rockpools.

Spend the at day at the seaside in East Devon.
Photo: Dallas Reedy

Seafield Gardens, Seafield Road, Seaton.
The park has outdoor gym equipment, bowling green, adventure golf, tennis courts, children’s play area, hot houses and lilypond.
Trinity Hill Local Nature Reserve, Axminster
A network of footpaths to explore and a large area of heathland set among conifer plantations.

Seaton Museum, Fore Street, Seaton
The museum is on the top floor of the town hall. Opening times: Monday-Friday, 10.30am-12.30pm, 2.15pm-5pm, late May to the end of October.
Has an extensive collection of old photographs.
The museum champions the lower Axe Valley; Beer, Axmouth, Branscombe, Colyton and Colyford.

Allan Williams turret, Exmouth seafront.
This relic of WW2 defences was relocated from Exmouth docks. The steel turret would have been used to protect a Home Guard member armed with a machine gun.

Explore East Devon’s coastal path and Jurassic coastline.
Photo: Luke Porter

Salcombe Hill walk, Sidmouth Salcombe Hill, car park.
Moderate walk of almost three miles, starting from Salcombe Hill, high above Sidmouth, dropping through woodland to the path beside the River Sid.
It zigzags up the hill, above the cliffs; breath taking views out over Lyme Bay and the Jurassic Coast.


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