Babbacombe Model Village
Be a giant for the day in this vast miniature world, with its pun-tastic exhibits, fire-breathing dragon, and masses to do. Bring a picnic to eat on the terrace overlooking the village, and best of all entry gives you the opportunity to come back again during the week, maybe for the late night opening on Thursday nights or all week during summer.
Right in the centre of Torquay, this brilliant concept combines dino facts, models and fun to keep any tiny palaeontologist busy for hours. Kids can unearth fossils, play with toy dinosaurs, ride on them, draw them, and much more, then receive a certificate at the end. Look out for our full review coming soon. After your visit to Dinosaur World, explore the rest of Torquay harbour, maybe take a ride on the big wheel, or sample the local ice cream - delicious.
Hit the Beach
No seaside holiday is complete without several trips to the beach. One of our favourites is beautiful Blackpool Sands, a bit of a misnomer as the beach is actually fine, gravelly shingle, but there are sandboxes if they're desperate to build castles, and the beautiful setting and delicious gourmet food at the Venus Cafe more than make up for it.
The beach at Bigbury on Sea is another firm favourite, with a sea tractor ride to Agatha Christie's favourite Burgh Island adding a thrilling dimension to a day at the beach. The 700 year old Pilchard Inn makes a fine stop before taking the sea tractor back to dry land, will you be smugglers or pirates? Preston Sands in the heart of the Riviera at Paignton is the perfect family beach for sandcastles and fun, with great rock pools at low tide, and if you have four-legged family members with you, head to Goodrington Sands, half of which welcomes dogs all year round. (For ideally located accommodation, try Blue Chip Holidays who have a range of properties located right by the beach.)
The lovely town of Teignmouth is a great place to spend a day. Wander round the shops and pick up a pasty, eat it at the harbour watching the boats, head round to the beach with buckets and spades to play on the dark red sand, and don't miss the brilliant playground right on the sea front, with its array of apparatus and a great splash park. The car park at the far end of the sea front offers all day parking, and don't miss the lovely ladies in the tiny RNLI shop!
|Sophia's swimsuit c/o Platypus @ House of Fraser|
Nearby Dawlish, famous for its black swans, is also a lovely place to visit. The spectacular train ride from Exeter to Plymouth, through Dawlish's red sandstone rocks, is now fully open following the devastating storms of 2014, and makes a fun trip. The town itself has a range of shops, a fun play cafe, and a lovely river walk with ducks, geese and those black swans. The adjacent Dawlish Warren is a holiday resort with lovely beach, play area and amusement park, and lots of accommodation.
Berry Head Nature Reserve
Guarding the southern end of Tor Bay, Berry Head is an internationally-acclaimed heritage site and one of the gateways to the English Riviera Global Geopark. With stunning views, a restored fort dating from the Napoleonic War (now boasting a cafe), and a plethora of wildlife, plants and birds, this stunning site is 400 million years old and well worth a visit. Open all year, it is free to visit.
National Marine Aquarium
A bit further afield at Plymouth, the National Marine Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the UK, with vast tanks full of wonderful marine animals and undersea life. With four zones: Plymouth Sound, British Coasts, Atlantic Ocean and Blue Planet, the aquarium's layout and collection takes you from the local waters just outside the doors to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. It is a fascinating place, our girls loved it. Look out for our full review coming soon.
Why go through all the rigmarole of ferries or Eurostar, the extortionate cost of passports for all, and possible petrol crises, delays and cancellations to get to the French Riviera when we have one right here on our door step? If you're still not convinced, have a look at this comparison of the two.