Summer holidays in Devon are bliss and we are so lucky to have so many wonderful things to do in and around Exeter. I do believe in giving kids lots and lots of time to breath over the summer so we plan on having a mixture of exciting and low key days out. Either way, summer holidays can be an expensive time for families so here is our list of Fabulous free or nearly free things to do in Exeter with your family this summer.
11 Fabulous free or nearly free things to do in Exeter with your family this summer – part 1
Home of Gerald the giraffe and a million thoughts, we are loving this summer’s Sea Life Exhibition. Lots of great activities for the kids and beautiful art works for the grown ups.
Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & art gallery (RAMM), museum of the year 2012. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm. Closed Mondays & bank holidays
Visit a splash park
We’re so lucky to have 2 fab water plays area in Exeter, St Thomas Splash park and Heavitree paddling pools. Read more on our Play Parks in Exeter page.
Go bird watching
The River Exe Estuary is a haven for native and visiting birds, with tens of thousands arriving each year. The RSPB have 3 nature reserves near Exeter, with the easiest to get to being Matford Marsh. Follow the Exe Estuary trail and you will see the wooden peep fences. Or if you fancy a trip to Topsham there are easily accessible hides at Bowling Green Marsh.
Take a book and pens and paper to draw and record your findings or a library book to help you identify your spots.
The RSPB has more information on their site at Exe Estuary.
Hop on your bike!
There are lots of great cycle routes in and around Exeter. One of the easiest to access is the route under Exe Bridges and onto the Quay and then head as far as you like! You could get to Exmouth or Teignmouth if you fancied it or just stop at Double Locks for a lemonade and a play. Details are on the Exe Valley Cycle Route.
Climb the canon on the Quay
The canon and the globe on the Quay are a nod to Exeter’s more violent and seafaring past. Ride the canon and invent new far off lands to visit then head home and write up/draw your adventures.
Forage at Leaf Land
And while you are down there, you can go for a forage in the woods. Depend on the season (and who got there before us) we find baskets of blackberries, cherries, nettles, hazel nut, walnuts, sloes, elder and more. Do make sure you know what you are eating!
There are lots of woods to explore, spaces to stop for a picnic or watch the water go by. If you look hard enough in the woods, you’ll even find the remains of a wooden play fort we helped to build years ago.
Head to the beach
There are so many to choose from but Exmouth, Teignmouth and Dawlish are the easiest to get to, especially if you are going by public transport. We prefer the quieter ends of the beaches (like the river beach in Teighnmouth) and there’s less to tempt you to buy there too! Remember to treat our beautiful coast gently and take all your rubbish home with you – in fact you could even do a 2 minute beach clean while you are there.
Follow the Sculpture Trail
The University grounds are beautiful at any time of year and are the perfect spot to have a wander through the trees, find the duck ponds and admire the views over the City and rolling hills. You can either download the Sculpture Trail map and follow it or just take your own route and have the fun of discovering works of art as you come across them.
This time of year is perfect for taking an Autumn walk in Exeter. One of our favourite places to visit is the University Stretham Campus with its beautifully planted grounds. There are amazing colours to…
Go to a water carnival
We always have great fun at Shaldon Water Carnival. Beach competitions, boat races, stalls, sand sculptures, crab collecting, ice cream, BBQ on the beach, fancy dress and so much fun.
It’s a lovely community event in aid of local clubs and charities and is the perfect reason to head to Shaldon if you’ve not been before.
Click to join Shaldon Water Carnival on Facebook to be kept up to date with news and events
Visit a valley park
Mincinglake Valley Park is a really interesting example of how man has dramatically changed the landscape around us. Years ago the area used to be owned by the nuns of St Katherine’s Priory, who built a dam over Mincinglake stream to create a lake to power a water mill. In the 1970s the area was used as a landfill site and the remediation works of capping and planting completely changed the naturally steep valley walls.
Now there are woodland walks, meadows and green lanes to explore, as well as the stream to walk beside. Take a picnic and have a chilled day enjoying the different areas and wildlife spotting. Personally, we don’t let the children or the dog into this stream but I know lots of families go paddling there.
The park is easy to get to by public transport and I think there are carparks too.
Explore Exe Bridges
The space at the bottom of Fore Street is actually a lovely place to explore. You find ancient ruins, raised walkways, towers and grassy spaces to run around it. Despite being next to one of the busiest roads in Exeter, it can be quite peaceful and it’s a fantastic place for role play.
Nearby is the house that moved, the remains of one of the old City Gates and Stepcote Hill, so you can really imagine how the area would have looked before the 1960’s redevelopment. There’s also the last remaining panel of the mural celebrating the Westgate Festival. If you are interested in the history of the bridges, Exeter Memories have a great page detailing the river crossings from 1238.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this selection of free or nearly free things to do in Exeter with your family this summer. There are so many fabulous things to do that I’ll be adding another post next week so don’t forget to look out for it.