Raising children is very expensive and it’s easy to spend a fortune on days out for the family. This roundup includes some of our favourite Free Things to do in Exeter with a Toddler.
Take a trip to the Quay and the Riverside Park
The Quay is truly the jewel in Exeter’s crown when it comes to family life. There is so much to see and do that a walk becomes a whole day out.
Starting at the Custom House, you can find out about the history of the the Quayside and how the wool industry has helped to shape Exeter. The building itself is beautiful and there are lots of displays and a small shop. (Please note the Visitor Centre is open Spring to Autumn only).
Outside the Custom House is a pair of cannon, reputed to have been used in the battle of Waterloo. They are a perfect play space and are great for climbing on. Just next to them is the intricate sundial.
You can then walk down the cobbled streets and over the Cricklepit Bridge and head down to Piazza Terracina. This is a great place to watch boats/canoes/sailing dinghies and chill out. The big circle in the ground is a favourite of ours – it was once a turning circle for trams and you can still see some tracks – perfect for toddlers to follow.
Continue alongside the water (passing the Haven Banks climbing tower) and cross the bridge to the big red and white buoy. This is another great climbing, going round in circles and imaginative play space for toddlers.
Then depending on little legs, you might get all the way down to Riverside Park – the new flood defence scheme has created lots of ramps and places to get close to the water and the wildlife. Count how many types of birds you can see!
Visit Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral is awe inspiring for anyone and children in particular seem to respond to the amazing architecture, the vast ceilings and the huge organ pipes.
Keen to encourage family visits, the Cathedral provide Explorer Backpacks, including binoculars, magnifying glasses and compasses which are free to use while you are in the Cathedral.
There are also free Activity Trail booklets to help you explore and engage your child with this stunning building.
The Cathedral is running the Big LEGO® Build fundraising project with aims to raise £250,000 to help protect the building itself, so for £1 you can donate a brick.
There are also lots of spaces to explore on Cathedral Green. There are several brass plaques and engraved stones on the paths to find and read. We also enjoy counting gargoyles and saints and walking endlessly up and down the wide, shallow steps in front of the Cathedral.
If you are resident in Exeter (EX1-EX4), bring proof of your address with you and your entry will be free. Admission charges apply for non-Exeter residents.
Marvel at the Exhibits at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum
The RAMM is a favourite of ours. Since its rebuild, the museum has worked hard to encourage family visitors. There are bee bags for little ones and explorer bags for slightly older children, both with a range of tools to help you get the most of your visit. The coloured plastic paddles are much loved – everything looks better in yellow apparently!
There is a good range of interactive exhibits, including dressing up, mosaic making, Devon Long House dolls house, the butterfly and bug room and of course the telescope to get up close to Gerald.
The children’s play area is thoughtfully designed, with space to chill and lots of interesting toys to play with. Some are very much inspired by the collections in the museum, others, like the plastic tea set, more prosaic.
The exhibits themselves are varied and interesting to children as well as being presented in a very accessible manner and spark all manner of conversations. The RAMM is our go to rainy day Free Things to do in Exeter with a Toddler.
Central Library/Rougemont Gardens
The refurbished Children’s Library is a lovely bright space that is so welcoming for families. As well as lots and lots of books (of course) there are several seating areas which encourage families to sit and read books actually in the library.
There is also a small range of toys and my daughter loves climbing on the rounded seating area or hiding in the cut out circles. Moving the squashy seats is also great fun as is hiding under the book bins (I assume they are designed to allow this to happen?).
The lovely wooden rocking horse is still there and there are also several tables with colouring and drawing paper and there never seems to be pressure to talk in whispers. Children are able to explore and interact with the books in a relaxed manner.
The library plays host to very popular bounce and rhyme sessions, the Carousel Project and one off events, all designed to develop children’s interest in stories and books.
In the summer, the gardens at the back are a lovely place to let off steam. Not as formal as the neighbouring Northernhay Gardens, there are trees to climb, banks to run up and down and City walls to explore. Can you find the rainbow sunburst too?
I hope this has given you some ideas for your next day out with your family – do you have any other suggestions for Free Things to do in Exeter with a Toddler?