One of the (many) joys of holidaying in Devon is that fun things to do needn’t cost the earth. Thanks to our beautiful beaches and countryside, award-winning museums and historical treasures, and great community spirit, you’ll find free things to do in Devon this Easter for the whole family.
Follow the free trail
Devon’s packed with beautiful and interesting places to explore, from historic cities to nature reserves, and picturesque woodlands to stunning coastal vistas. But some clever (and very generous) people have come up with free trails to make visits to these special places even richer.
Dartmoor audio walks can be downloaded onto your mp3 player or mobile phone, and will guide you along a choice of five walks, with commentary about what you’ll see along the way. The North Devon World Biosphere Reserve is an internationally important site of beauty and scientific interest on the rugged north coast, and it too offers audio guided trails. And the English Riviera Geopark trails will help you discover the park’s 400 million years of unique geology along 22 miles of coastline.
Fancy a farm tour? A number of Devon farm shops offer trails around their grounds, including Riverford Field Kitchen near Totnes. Or prefer to stick with the city? Exeter’s themed itineries offers loads of ideas for different days out – some in the nearby countryside too – and the Plymouth Wildlife Trail offers a natural take on our largest city. Really caught up with this idea? Then try geocaching, otherwise known as digital treasure hunting. Geocachers use their mobile phones to track down a hidden treasure, often somewhere picturesque – read our Expert Guide to Geocaching in Devon or read about Geocaching in South Devon.
Celebrate St George’s Day
Ok, it’ll be a little early – but Plymouth is staging its free annual St George’s Day festival on Saturday April 19, and as always it promises to be a blast. From 10am-5.30pm there’ll be live music, comedy, food stalls (with more freebies!), fancy dress, ales, and children’s entertainment. The event’s even run by two guys named Chaz (Singh) and Dave (Saunders)! Find out more
Go rockpooling – or crabbing
It’s been a traditional seaside pastime for generations – and we’re yet to see a child (or adult) that’s not excited by their collection of aquatic minibeasts at the end of a hard day’s crabbing or hunting through rockpools. All you need is a bucket and net or a crab line and some bacon – plus sandwiches and a flask – and you’re all set. Of course, some places are better for these activities than others: read about South Devon’s crabbing hotspots, good spots for crabbing and rockpooling in North Devon, and rockpools at Coryton Cove near Dawlish, and Wembury near Plymouth. You can actually go on guided Rockpool Rambles at Wembury (there is a small fee), and if you really want to learn more about the sea’s inhabitants, visit the Seashore Centre in Torquay; it has all sorts of fascinating exhibitions and displays – and is also free!
Go to the Offshore Model Boat Race
All the fun of speedboat racing – in miniature. On Sunday April 6 there’ll be an offshore model boat race at the harbour in Paignton. A group of enthusiasts will pit their amazingly well-built (and fast) model powerboats against each other on the sea, providing a free show for all at the water’s edge. Find out more
Go back in time …
Lots of Devon’s town museums are free to visit – and provide a great day out.
Try Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery which is particularly good for families and children, the RAMM in Exeter (named Museum of the Year in 2012) which has excellent hands-on exhibits, or Barnstaple Museum in North Devon (read the children’s classic Tarka the Otter before you visit and it will come to life).
If you prefer a historical building, there are plenty of those too. The House Of Marbles near Bovey Tracey is a fascinating place – an old pottery which now makes traditional toys, and which also has a toy museum, marble runs, cafe and shop. Buckfast Abbey near Totnes is a working monastery that makes a variety of products and welcomes visitors to its beautiful church, grounds, shops, restaurant and exhibition. And Hound Tor on Dartmoor combines an impressive walk and gorgeous views with the discovery of the remains of a medieval village.
Free arts and crafts
Lovely Cockington Court is Torbay’s regional centre for quality arts and crafts, set in an award-winning country park and manor house with craft studios, tea rooms, art gallery and children’s play area. On Easter Sunday and Monday it’s offering a free Easter bonnet making workshop for children, and an egg trail to follow – there’s no need to book, just drop in and have a go. Find out more