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A local’s guide to East Devon

A local’s guide to East Devon

I’m lucky enough to live in a holiday hot spot in east Devon along the Jurassic Coast. This brings its advantages (jobs, diversity and holiday makers with money to waste) as well as it’s disadvantages (highest water rates in England, 2nd homes and city drivers not use to our narrow roads.) So I thought it would be helpful to write a post on what we, the locals would deem a good day out or place to eat as a guide to East Devon.  There are the usual places, advertised in the 1000’s of leaflets adorning every pub, cafe and B&B, for a tourist visiting our little corner of Devon it’s a mine field of where to go and when.

It’s not a big area to cover but here are some of my favourites.


Days out for families

  • Pecorama, in Beer, is a train enthusiast’s dream, but thats not all. Apart from the model railway museum, which kids will love, there’s a large play area which, over the last few years, has undergone lots of modernisation, a newly built indoor soft play area (which serves great coffee) stunning gardens and a ride on miniature railway. If you don’t mind hills, a trip down to the village and the beach is well worth it. Pop down to Kenno’s beach cafe for afternoon ice creams on the left of the beach, if it’s not ice cream weather then Osbourne’s coffee and wine bar do the best caramel lattes and the decor and free wifi back a perfect backdrop for a lazy, hot drink refuel.
  • The Donkey Sanctuary, by Sidmouth, is charity run and more importantly free! Aside from the donkeys (obs) there are some really nice walks. You might struggle to get a whole day out of it. We like to take a late afternoon walk (there are several),  my favourite is the sea bound one through a couple of donkey fields, past an old hermits hide away, where the smell of wild garlic under the trees is a full sensory experience for the kids.
  • Sidmouth beach, Jacobs Ladder side. This is situated on the far right side of Sidmouth. There’s a car park nearby and you can take a walk round Connaught Gardens where you’ll find a small cafe called the Clock Tower overlooking the sea which serves huge slices of cake along with the stunning view. This beach is great any time of the year, I prefer it on not so warm days as it’s not as busy and the kids can splash around in the rock pools at low tide. Wander along the seafront into the town too as Sidmouth has some really lovely shops and ice cream bars.
  • The Byes riverside walk, Sidmouth, is fab for taking a picnic, rug and footballs and just chilling while the kids let off steam. If you’re a dog walker, this is a doggie dream as they are free to run around and can cool off in the river Byes. We park the car in Sidford, there’s a small free car park by the Social Club or a pay-one behind Sidford Spar, and walk down to the town, stop off for coffee and stroll back. It’s all flat and paved so you can take bikes, skateboards, scooters, push chairs or anything else that help little or big legs cope with a walk. You can easily kill a few hours there and back with a few small bridges to stop and throw sticks in the water or sit and rest your legs.
  • The Wetlands, in Seaton, is a lovely nature fuelled walk. Make your way to the hide to do some bid spotting or go pond dipping. There is usually a seasonal timetable of activities that can be found on the link.
  • Where to stay and visit in east devon

    The Byes in Sidmouth

Places to eat

  • The Sea Shanty, Branscombe – park up at the village hall and walk down to the beach ( approx 20 minutes), it’s a little off road in some places so take your sling or 3 wheeler buggy if you’ve got little ones, you’ll work up an appetite en-route. The Sea Shanty is situated right on the beach and is open Weekends November to Easter and 7 days a week high season.
  • The Loft, Sidmouth, we discovered this quirky restaurant completely by luck in the search for Saturday brunch. Delicious food and a warm welcome, thorough;y recommend the brunches and they do child’s portions.
  • Bay View, Beer. The best cooked breakfasts in East Devon and great lunches. Grant, the manager / chef also holds Paella evenings on the beach in the summer which are advertised in the windows in Bay View.
  • Steamers restaurant, Beer. For an evening meal, you can’t beat the local, quality food cooked by owner, Andy. My favourites are his scallops and bacon and Baileys creme brûlée.
  • Ottertonmill, Otterton. If you’re looking for quality, then the food here is divine. I’d go on a day when it’s warm enough to sit out side though as there isn’t much indoor seating. We park up and go for a walk along the river then come back for something to eat. For kids there are spots along the way where you can paddle in the river on a warm day.

Rainy Days

  • Sidmouth has an old style cinema showing the latest releases as well as old classics.
  • Pecorama Playstation is perfect for wet weather fun.
  • Swimming pools at Axminster and Sidmouth have fun sessions in the afternoons with a huge inflatable and floats.
where to stay and visit in East Devon

Beer beach

Places to stay

Aside from the big Victorian hotels in Sidmouth and a few caravan parks dotted around, this is where my knowledge is pretty limited as I don’t need to stay any where other than home but for self catering holiday cottages in Beer I can recommend the following;

  • Midships is a 1st floor 2 bedroomed flat in the heart of the village with its own private parking. It’s comfortable, modern and furnished with high quality furniture and appliances, perfect for a family of 4 with older kids (age 4+)
  • Hogscliff is a large terraced house perfect for a large family, just a short walk from the village and parking directly outside.
  • Gulls Rest is a large, detached house over looking the village, great for a large family or 2 small families. This is a luxury 4 holiday home where the view alone is a feast for your eyes while the sauna is an added bonus!
Where to stay and visit in East Devon

Hogs Cliff cottage

*****This is purely my own ‘how to do East Devon as a family’ holiday guide.*****




  1. 10th March 2015 / 12:41 pm

    I love hearing about what ‘locals’ recommend to do in their area and give it their stamp of approval- you know it better than anyone! So thank you – Great family ideas & very informative. It looks beautiful where live! We have friends I have promised to visit in Devon so really need to get down there. #pocolo

  2. 10th March 2015 / 10:02 pm

    This is great Ali – I love Devon & Cornwall but I’m not familiar with East Devon, more the Torquay sort of area (and we stayed in Bude a couple of years ago so we saw that top west bit of Devon too). I think word of mouth recommendations by the locals will always be better than tourist guides so I’ll bookmark this post for future trips out that way! #thetruthabout X

    • 10th March 2015 / 10:06 pm

      Thanks Sam. I agree, much better to get a locals view. East Devon isn’t so commercial as Torquay so you’ll get a completely different holiday experience

  3. 11th March 2015 / 8:35 pm

    Fantastic list. I love Devon, have been there several times and you have made me want to visit again soon, especially Beer. Thanks 🙂 #sharewithme

    • 12th March 2015 / 6:24 am

      You must! I know I’m biased but I think our country has so much to offer and see (when the weather’s good!)

  4. 13th March 2015 / 2:17 pm

    Great advice, thank you. I love Devon but haven’t been Sidmouth way for many years. I remember the donkey sanctuary from when I was little, I’m sure my children would love it too #thelist

    • 13th March 2015 / 2:19 pm

      It’s getting better and better, always worth a visit (both of them)

  5. Jenny
    13th March 2015 / 2:22 pm

    Oh yes you really are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place like that. And what a great post to write from a locals perspective. I have been there once or twice but would love to come down south more. Beaches look amazing. Kids look happy all the time. lol Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  6. 14th March 2015 / 6:03 pm

    I am so jealous of where you live, but this is a really helpful post thanks for sharing. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

  7. Ally Messed Up Mum
    31st March 2015 / 8:35 am

    I was lucky enough to live in Salcombe for 2 years. I couldn’t believe the beauty that was surrounding me! X

    • 2nd April 2015 / 8:40 pm

      Salcombe is stunning, I haven’t been there for years though. May have to pay a bank holiday visit

  8. 31st March 2015 / 9:47 am

    I’m definitely going to make a note of this – I used to come to Devon on family holidays and would love to come back with my daughter, so it’s great to have the recommendations, especially places to eat. #triedtested

    • 31st March 2015 / 9:49 am

      If you need any more info just shout, I didn’t want to overload the blog post

  9. 31st March 2015 / 10:57 am

    A great collection of suggestions. Devon is on my list of places I must visit!
    Thanks for joining us on #TriedTested this week 🙂 x

    • 31st March 2015 / 11:02 am

      You must, it’s a beautiful county (I know I’m biased )

  10. 31st March 2015 / 10:04 pm

    Great round up Ali. Going to share on the Mumsnet Devon account 🙂

    • 1st April 2015 / 8:09 am

      Thanks Gina! I think it helps visitors to know what we as the locals like to do so they have the best break here possible

  11. 1st April 2015 / 3:28 pm

    Great places to visit – I agree with all of them. We do live in a beautiful part of the world don’t we? Thanks for linking up with #TriedTested

    • 2nd April 2015 / 8:30 pm

      Glad you agree Kate, so much I have to discover in our lovely little county

  12. 1st April 2015 / 6:27 pm

    East Devon isn’t a spot I know well but it sounds like all of the South West, there is plenty to do! #triedtested

    • 1st April 2015 / 6:31 pm

      We’re lucky in this part of the country that there is so much, we might not have the facilities of big cities (or the pizza delivery services!) but there’s enough to keep us occupied

  13. 3rd April 2015 / 7:34 am

    Thanks for this, we have a weekend in Devon planned next weekend and have booked marked this to remember – I have a train enthusiast who will adore Pecora

    • 3rd April 2015 / 8:51 am

      So glad it’l come in handy. I’m sure you’re little one will love Peco. Have a fantastic weekend!

  14. 8th April 2015 / 10:17 am

    Oh what fun – so much to see and do. The Donkey place would go down well will my brood #travelwithkids

    • 8th April 2015 / 3:54 pm

      It’s a great little day out and all for a good cause.

  15. Angela
    8th April 2015 / 10:31 am

    Some really great tips, thanks for sharing. I have pinned for the future in case we visit. #travelwithkids

  16. 8th April 2015 / 9:46 pm

    Oh it all looks so pretty! I’ve not been to Devon since I was a child and would love to take my little ones back. As soon as we have a car, we will be right on over 🙂 Thanks for linking up #travelwithkids

    • 11th April 2015 / 10:20 am

      There are so many beautiful places to discover in our country, we have lots of stay-cations

  17. 8th April 2015 / 10:11 pm

    We stayed in Sidmouth a few years ago now, and loved it. It was pre-N though, so many of these weren’t applicable. Although we did have some great meals in Beer.

    • 9th April 2015 / 10:46 am

      Small world, are you planning on coming back? I can definitely recommend a few more places for you.

  18. Mummy to boyz
    8th April 2015 / 10:44 pm

    We are to Devon next week so I’m glad I came across this post 🙂 #travelwithkids

    • 9th April 2015 / 10:44 am

      Have a fantastic time. Hoping the weather stays like it is, it’s lush at the moment

  19. 11th April 2015 / 8:30 am

    This is a great post I would love to host it on Mini Travellers, do let me know if you would be interested. It’s fab to have a locals insight into these places. This is a great link up. #travelwithkids

    • 11th April 2015 / 10:12 am

      Thank you. I’d be more than happy to see it on Mini Travellers, I’ve got a few more locals guides and days out in Devon I can to share. let me know if you’d like the links.

  20. 11th April 2015 / 10:17 pm

    I live in a holiday hotspot too, in Pembrokeshire! Great post, thank you for linking up to #travelwithkids

    • 12th April 2015 / 7:26 am

      Fab linky, real useful especially for this time of year.

  21. 4th February 2016 / 8:10 am

    Love Sidmouth beach. Use to go there with my mum as a child and have take my little ones there a few times.
    You’ve really done it justice with such a lovely post and photos given me some inspiration to do more on my travel part of my blog :). #ThrowbackThursday #6th commenter

  22. 2nd March 2016 / 4:38 pm

    I love this! Really takes me back, we used to go to Sidmouth every summer when I was growing up. So many happy memories from Jacobs ladder beach and Pecorama! We also took our little boy on his first holiday there when he was a baby, I’d love to go back with him again. Xx

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