England, UK, Wanderlust

Best places to stay in Devon with kids

There’s something incredibly relaxing about even the thought of a family holiday in Devon. Which means when I’m looking for the best places to stay in Devon with kids, my thoughts instantly turn to chilled-out cottages and quirky self-catering rather than the formality of hotels, however luxurious.

Bright beach huts on the sand in Devon against dunes and a blue sky - the best places to stay in Devon with kids, including my top places to stay in south Devon and north Devon

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After long days on the beach building endless sandcastles, I want space to sprawl – in a sun-filled garden with a glass of something cold in summer, or with hot chocolate on a comfy sofa out of peak season. I don’t want to be worrying that we’ve tracked sand into the lobby, or feel shoehorned into one room as I relax.

And while the county has some beautiful countryside, the coast does always top my list – even visiting Devon on a rainy day or in winter, I want the waves within a few miles. Helpfully, these holiday cottages by the sea from Stay in Devon are all guaranteed to be a maximum of five miles from a beach.

This is what’s on my wishlist of places to stay in Devon by the sea…

A view out of the boats silhouetted on the estuary at Topsham in Devon - we followed a treasure hunt around the town, a great way to explore Topsham with kids

Best places to stay in south Devon

It’s easy to think you have to steer clear of cities when you’re travelling with kids – but not far from Exeter, Kenniford Cider Steps (great name!) is set on a working farm with a café, play area and pets corner including ponies, piglets, sheep, ducks and chickens.

Inside, the converted barn still has wooden beams; outside there’s a private patio as well as plenty of space for kids to run around – and the coast along from Topsham just a short drive away.

Things to do in Exeter and nearby

Wander underground tunnels which date back centuries – this one’s for over fives only, or head to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, with displays telling the history of Devon from the prehistoric to the present, plus natural history and an Egyptian tomb.

The tower of Exeter cathedral seen through the trees - - the best places to stay in Devon with kids, including my top places to stay in south Devon

If you don’t fancy going into the city itself, the pretty old port of Topsham is a lovely spot to wander, as well as Powderham Castle with its deer park and family-friendly activities and the golden sandy beach at Exmouth. Or head to Crealy Adventure Park for rides, attractions and indoor play, as well as the donkey sanctuary at Sidmouth for more animals – all three are on my top 30 things to do in Devon with kids.

Best places to stay in north Devon

If you’re having trouble choosing whether to stay on Devon’s coast or in the countryside, heading to the north of the country around Lynmouth helpfully lets you do both from one holiday cottage.

Set in Exmoor National Park, The Hoe Cottage overlooks Lynmouth Bay but you can also go walking on some of the routes right on the cottage’s doorstep, with the area known as ‘Little Switzerland’.

Then you’ve got your own pizza oven to refuel afterwards (and a wine cellar!) as well as an Aga and woodburner if you need to defrost. Or when the sun shines, the dining room opens out onto a balcony to enjoy some of the fabulous views out across the cliffs.

Things to do in north Devon

As well as walking, there are some less strenuous things to do with kids in north Devon – Exmoor Zoo is home to a string of smaller animals, plus the ‘Exmoor Beast’, a pair of black leopards (legends have been inspired by reported sightings of similar big cats on the moors but you’re guaranteed a look here).

Children walking along a cliff path near Lynmouth with the sea and cliffs in the distance - the best places to stay in Devon with kids, including my top places to stay in north Devon

Or hop on the water-powered funicular at Lynton and Lynmouth as you gaze across to the coast (and have a cream tea at the top to restart the endlessly entertaining ‘jam or cream first’ debate), go rockpooling at Lynmouth beach before a wander across the shingle, or ride on the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, including a stop at England’s highest narrow gauge railway station.

There’s history to discover as well – Watermouth Castle is actually a theme park, based around a 19th century castle-style house. As well as the rides and attractions, you’ll find a dungeon labyrinth and an underground fountain show.

Nearby National Trust property Arlington Court houses the National Carriage Museum, along with the usual expansive grounds and activities for kids. Scroll down for more tips on things to do in Woolacombe and Croyde too

Best luxury places to stay in Devon

Not just my dream place to stay with kids, The Cliffs is possibly my dream home – a penthouse apartment looking out across the sea, you can take the cliff railway down to the beach. Now how cool is that?

As well as the huge windows with a wonderful view, you can also walk along the South West coastal path – even as far as unspoiled Oddicombe Beach – before sinking into a king size bed, while the well-equipped kitchen means you won’t spend your evenings washing up.

Things to do near Torquay

Don’t miss the views from the English Riviera Wheel in Torquay or head to Babbacombe model village, around 10 minutes drive away. If it’s rainy, spot prehistoric monsters at Torquay’s Dinosaur World or step inside Kent’s Cavern, a cave which dates back 2.5 million years and home to ancient humans. For more tips on things to do in Torquay with kids, check out this post from Tin Box Traveller.

View of the harbour in Brixham, Devon, where you find the Golden Hind - the best places to stay in Devon with kids, including my top places to stay in south Devon

It’s also a short drive from Paignton Zoo, one of many things to do in Paignton along with the Pier, or hop on the Western Lady Ferry Service to Brixham, where we went rockpooling, explored Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind and ran around Berry Head nature reserve.

Best quirky places to stay in Devon

It doesn’t come much more unusual than staying in a converted chapel – and tempting though the idea of Shepherd’s huts always is, Lee Chapel also has a lot more room when you’re staying with kids. If you’re looking for a multigenerational holiday in Devon, you can book the neighbouring property too, which gives you space for seven.

There are still stained glass windows in the open plan living/dining room, plus bedrooms under the eaves and a patio to relax on. The secluded beach on Lee Bay is walking distance, with sand enough for a whole string of fortresses, and beautiful Woolacombe, on the North Devon Heritage Coast is only 15 minutes away.

View onto Woolacombe beach with a sign for the coast path in the foreground - the best places to stay in Devon with kids, including my top places to stay in north Devon

Things to do in Woolacombe

The beach at Woolacombe has been voted the top in the UK several times – and a little further down the coast lies more golden sand as well as more things to do in Croyde. If you love theme parks, The Big Sheep and Milky Way Adventure Park are both about an hour’s drive away – and two of my top 30 things to do in Devon with kids.

Or head to Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, 28 acres with lifesize dinosaurs roaming, soft play, animals and more. Discover what My Travel Monkey thought on her visit.


The best places to stay in Devon with kids, from Torquay and the Exe estuary to Woolacombe, Lynmouth, Croyde and Exmoor. Includes my top places to stay in south Devon and north Devon and quirky options for self-catering holiday cottages. Created in collaboration with Stay in Devon. #stayindevon #devonholiday #devonwithkids #devonbeaches

Disclosure: Compiled in association with Stay in Devon – I am being compensated for my time, but all opinions, cottage choices and unending desire to be by the beach are my own.

Brixham and Topsham images copyright MummyTravels, all others courtesy Pixabay and Depositphotos