Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

As far as UK holidays go, Dartmouth, Kingswear and the surrounding area is one of the prettiest, most family-friendly, activity-packed and tastiest places to go. For several years now we’ve been holidaying in Kingswear on the Dart Estuary and it’s never grown old. Miles of stunning coastal walks, beaches, boat rides, steam train rides, fabulous sea food, jaw-dropping views, picturesque towns and stunning countryside mean it’s a joy to re-visit old favourites, but there’s always something new to do each time. Here are my top family-friendly things to do near Kingswear.

Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

DARTMOUTH, south devon, UK, Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

Kingswear, south devon, UK, Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

1. Dartmouth Steam Railway

Travel back in time to 1950’s England and the golden age of steam travel. A proper choo choo, classic train carriages and Brunel’s engineering delights both little ones and Grandpas. The train leaves regularly from Kingswear and chugs along a scenic route to Paignton, although you can get out at stops along the way. I highly recommend going all the way to Paignton, then hopping off at Greenway Halt on the return journey to visit Agatha Christie’s former holiday home – a short walk from the platform. If you’re feeling fancy, or just want an extra good seat, shell out an extra £2 to sit in the ‘Devon Belle‘ – an observation carriage with wall to wall glass – to make the most of the views.

Dartmouth steam railway, Kingswear, Devon, UK Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

Dartmouth steam railway, Kingswear, Devon, UK Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

2. Living Coasts Sealife Centre, Torquay

Described as a ‘coastal zoo’ and aquarium this is a great day out for families whether it’s bucketing down or sunshiney. Penguins waddle at your feet in Penguin Beach – a habitat designed to replicate the birds’ South African colonies (and with the view of the English channel just behind, it does a sterling job). Other highlights include Fur Seal Cove with its underwater viewing windows, Mysterious Mangroves – a dark, neon-lit underworld – and fantastic interactive displays. Crawl under a tank of starfish, boulder along a wall, brave a sunken ship with its lurking inhabitant and tons more. There’s also a restaurant (whose staff will happily heat up your baby food) with lovely views and a great gift shop underneath.

living sealife coasts aquarium devon torquay UK: Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

living sealife coasts aquarium devon torquay UK: Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

3. Pennywell Farm

If it rains during your visit to Pennywell, you can return for FREE within 7 days. You almost want it to as there is so much to see and do. The farm is a total delight, you can cuddle and feed practically everything there – guinea pigs, miniature pigs, rabbits and big pigs. A miniature train skirts around a small track, a look out tower gazes over stunning views, there’s a great toddler play area, complete with a miniature classic Devonian house, tons of tractors, a soft play area, bouncy castle, horse-rides (which you need to book), tractor-rides, ferret racing, shire horses, Go Karts and more…fun fun fun.

pennywell farm devon uk: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

pennywell farm devon uk: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

4. Go exploring on family-friendly transport

Go on a transport adventure and travel by steam, boat and bus on a Round Robin ticket from Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company. Cruise the River Dart to Totnes for a spot of lunch, ride a Double Decker bus to Paignton before hopping aboard a steam train to Kingswear. Perfect for little vehicle-lovers.

For shorter journeys, boats also buzz up and down the river to Dartmouth Castle, Dittisham and Greenway – an exciting venture for a little’un and a convenient way of getting from A to B, especially if you’ve walked one way and want to get back a bit quicker.

Passenger and car ferries also cross the estuary regularly between Kingswear and Dartmouth. If you are planning to use these a lot, make sure you buy a book of tickets – it’s much cheaper.

View of Kingswear, dart estuary : family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

ferry crossing dartmouth kingswear, dart estuary : family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

ferry dartmouth dittisham Devon Uk, family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

5. Head to a park near Kingswear

The best thing about the play areas dotted around the Kingswear area are the gorgeous views. My favourite park is located next to grassy Coronation Square on the Dartmouth side, just a stone’s throw from the pretty seafront. Here you’ll find a giant sandpit complete with digger, swings and so many slides, plus a great view of the boats tinkling in the estuary and the steam train choo-ing back and forth. There’s also picnic tables and a refreshment hut – perfect for snaffling an ice cream or bacon sarnie afterwards.

Kids park Dartmouth Devon family travel UK: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

View of Kingswearfrom Dartmouth side, Devon family travel UK: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

6. Hit the beach near Kingswear

If the weather is fine, there are some beautiful beaches around. Four miles away, you’ll find one of the UK’s most beautiful beaches, Blackpool Sandsa sheltered shingle beach with Mediterranean vibes, lifeguards, plenty of water activities, sand pits and a café right on the beach. Sugary Cove, at the mouth of the river Dart is a bit more hidden away, just along from Dartmouth Castle and down quite a few steps – pack a picnic or pick up a treat from the Castle Tea Rooms before you descend and enjoy this little nook of joy. The family-friendly Goodrington Sands near Paignton has rock pools, a long stretch of sandy beach and quaint coloured beach huts giving it a lovely dose of quintessential Victorian England. Dartmouth Steam Railway running alongside does nothing to detract from this (head to the beach by steam train – Goodrington Sands is one of the stops). There’s the lovely Salcombe (with its own gin distillery!), the extraordinarily picturesque Slapton Sands and Scabbacome Sands are all nearby and there’s plenty more coastal exploring to do…

Paignton - Dartmouth steam railway Devon family travel UK: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

Goodrington sands Paignton Devon Kingswear Dartmouth UK: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

7. Go walking near Kingswear

If you can still fit your little one in a sling or backpack of some sort, there are some fantastic coastal walks around. You might need to do a little training beforehand however, as I wouldn’t say they were particularly flat – we don’t call it Cardiac Hill (on the walk back from Dittisham) for nothing you know…Following this particular incline I had to drag my husband up the hill from the lower Kingswear ferry after he carried a stone and a half of toddler (plus her milk, books, water and food…which he might not have known about) for two hours along the coast path. Not for the faint-hearted! However, the jaw-dropping views over multi-coloured houses and bottle-green battenburg-esque hills tumbling down to sparkling cobalt waters are totally worth it.

Kingswear near Dartmouth UK: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

Dartmouth Kingswear coastal walk Devon UK: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

8. Coleton Fishacre, National Trust near Kingswear

If you’re National Trust members I highly recommend a visit here. And if you’re not, definitely fork out for the entrance fee as the setting is quite incredible. Oh to be the current owner of this place! The house inside is interesting, fairly austere in its decoration with strong Art Deco influences. One room is dedicated to dressing up which is great for kids, but just watch them on the antique pots!  It is the gardens that are truly special though – all 24 acres of them. From the house they drop down all the way to Pudcombe Cove where a tidal sea water pool awaits. Vivid flowers brighten walkways, bamboo thickets tower, trees loom, plants boom and a stream is guided artfully to the ocean through ponds and pools. Beautiful.

coleton fishacre national trust Devon Kingswear Dartmouth : family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

coleton fishacre national trust Devon UK Kingswear Dartmouth: coleton fishacre national trust Devon: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

9. Greenway near Kingswear

Agatha Christie’s beloved holiday estate, now property of the National Trust is one helluva country pad. Tucked away on the Dart Estuary amidst woodland and vivid springtime blooms, it’s little wonder Christie felt inspired here. The house is well worth a peek for its trinkets and treasures and beautiful views and the well-tended gardens are great for exploring. Plants are cultivated in old-fashioned greenhouses, pathways lead down to the water’s edge and there’s even a pet graveyard in memoriam of long gone doggies. As with most National Trust places the facilities are excellent and very family-friendly. You can walk here all the way from Kingswear, or if that sounds too strenuous, the Dartmouth runs to Greenway Halt from Kingswear and then it’s just a short stroll from the station. There are also a number of ferries from Dartmouth, Torquay, Brixham, Totnes and Dittisham, or ample parking if you choose to drive.greenway national trust Devon Dartmouth dart estuary dittisham: Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

Afterwards, if you come out of Greenway Estate and drop down to the water’s edge you’ll find a quintessentially English thatched cottage, that’s pretty as a picture. It sits behind a café with a ‘make your own Mr Whippy’ machine – happiness in mechanical form! From here you can cross the river by boat to Dittisham – just ring the bell to grab the Captain’s attention if he’s on the other side. There you’ll discover the yummiest seafood restaurant on the water’s edge, The Anchorstone, which I highly recommend you factor into your trip.

greenway greenhouse national trust devon agatha christie: Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

anchorstone dittisham Devon greenway UK dart estuary: Family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

Devon greenway UK dart estuary gardens vintage bus national trust: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

11. Brixham Pirate Festival near Kingswear

If you’re headed to South Devon over the May Day Bank holiday then don your most swashbuckler-ish outfit, summon your inner sea dog and head for Brixham’s annual pirate festival. Sea shanties, pirate rock, street performers and pirate ships fill the town over the course of the three-day event, there are also historical re-enactments as well as lots of other family-friendly activities. Savvy?

brixham pirate festival Devon UK: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

brixham pirate festival Devon UK: family-friendly things to do near Kingswear

12. Dartmouth Castle near Kingswear

On the river mouth, looking out to sea, this impressive fortress has guarded Dartmouth Harbour for over 600 years. Now looked after by English Heritage, you can walk or boat right up to the castle from Dartmouth. Pay the entrance fee and delve further into the castle – there are passageways, guns and cannons to explore. Have a nosy around nearby St Petrox Church or stop into the neighbouring Castle Tea Rooms for a Devonshire cream tea.

Dartmouth castle Devon UK family travel blog: family-friendly things do near Kingswear

13. Becky Falls Ancient Woodland Park, Dartmoor

Waterfalls, magical woodland and animals await at this lovely park in Dartmoor, a short drive away from Kingswear. Keep your eyes peeled on the journey there as Dartmoor ponies wander freely and often aren’t afraid to get up close and personal! Get little legs walking with a fun stamp card trail around the ancient woodland and cross stepping stones at the bottom of the waterfall, before bouldering back up hill. There’s also a nature-themed arts and crafts room plus a whole host of furry, feathered and scaly creatures to say hello to. Take a picnic or grab something from the onsite café.

becky falls Dartmoor Devon UK: family-friendly things do near Kingswear

Becky falls Dartmoor Devon UK family travel: family-friendly things do near Kingswear

What are your favourite family-friendly things to do near Kingswear? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Kingswear Dartmouth Devon Uk family travel: family-friendly things do near Kingswear

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6 Comments

  1. Ben Whitehead
    April 15, 2018 / 6:50 pm

    This is a brilliant blog Harri. Photos are amazing too, the colours are so vibrant. Reminds me of all the great places the South Hams have to offer.Shame my Mum and Dad have left Slapton. Pennywell Farm is great,and Coleton Fishacre is stunning. What a beautiful part of the world!

    • April 15, 2018 / 5:26 pm

      Wow! Thanks so much Ben, massively chuffed you liked it 🙂 thanks so much for reading & for commenting xx

  2. pigeonpairandme
    October 18, 2018 / 10:06 am

    Oh my goodness – a pirate festival?? If you didn’t already have me at the gin distillery, you’ve got me now! I love this part of the world, and it’s far too long since we’ve paid a visit. #MondayEscapes

  3. October 21, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    One of my friends lives in Devon and takes her kids to the pirate festival every year, it sounds brilliant. Really need to go before my boys get any bigger! So many lovely things to do down there, my kids would love the steam trains. #Mondayescapes

  4. October 26, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    This is such a great selection of family-friendly ideas. My mum, who runs a trip boat in London, would LOVE the pirate festival! The town is so pretty and colourful, and I love the look of visiting Greenway.
    Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

  5. October 28, 2018 / 5:48 pm

    Wow what stunning views. I love the sound of Pennywell farm and I love that you can return for free within 7 days if it rains. Brixham’s annual pirate festival sounds awesome too! Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

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