Free things for kids to do this summer in North Devon

Family Building Sandcastles On Beach Together

We understand the struggle – you’re on a family holiday and the kids are “bored” or what they really want to do will somehow involve things like a helicopter, pirates, a pony, electronic games, a TV, mobile phones, unrealistic dreams, and more money than they can comprehend.

But don’t be disheartened! One of the main reasons North Devon is a fantastic place to visit as a family with children of all ages is the fact there’s so many ways to spend the day for free, or using minimal pennies at least – to avoid those “I’m bored” moments whilst saving money but still having lots of fun!

We list some of the free things for kids to do this summer in North Devon below…

Go to the beach

Yes, you may have to pay the parking fees to be as close as possible to the sand if you’re not staying close by, but the beach itself provides a free day full of fun. Once there, you know the drill. Sunbathing, surfing, splashing in the waves, sports on the sand, building castles and mixing with other families as the kids make new friends – it’s the classic British holiday and we wouldn’t have it any other way in North Devon.

Plus, there’s rockpools, especially at places like Ilfracombe and Lee Bay (below) – where a bucket and net can be used for catching crabs and whatever other wildlife the little ones can find exploring the rocks with you.

Have a look at North Devon’s beaches, and prepare to get sandy!

Lee Bay

Explore the region and have a picnic

Image courtesy of Marie Allen

Arrange this in advance by gathering up the food and drink from the supermarkets and preparing items whilst cooking main meals, and you’re good to go to find a secluded spot and enjoy food as a family in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Place like Crow Point – Braunton BurrowsThe Northam BurrowsHartland – the green countryside around Great TorringtonLynton and Lynmouth – anywhere in Exmoor – we could be here all day listing places… you’ll find a spot that suits you, complimented with a beautiful North Devon landscape as a backdrop. Bliss!

Discover the secrets of the Tarka Trail

Tarka Trail

This one is mainly for those who bring their bikes to North Devon. Start in Braunton and head off along the signposted Tarka Trail for Barnstaple. You’ll soon discover a manmade reserve on the left and lots of friendly ducks and wildlife. From Barnstaple you’ll reach Fremington Quay and enjoy the views, and then it’s on to… well we can’t tell you it all now can we? You’ll have to visit and finish the journey of discovery yourself! The Tarka Trail is free, so anyone can use it, perfect for family walks and rides.

The great outdoors

Phrases like “follow your nose”, “see where this leads”, “where does this go”, “what’s up this hill”, “walk and see where we end up” are all very relevant in North Devon. You can literally throw a dart at a map for your starting point, and then let your feet lead the way in any direction. Wherever you wander you’ll take in breathtaking views, taste the sea air, experience wildlife and natural wonders as well as history and remote spots to enjoy fantastic views. It’s not possible to be bored when you’re in the North Devon wilderness regardless of your age!

Treasure hunt

treasure hunt

How about this as an idea when staying in the selection of North Devon campsites, B&Bs, cottages, farm yards and holiday parks – set up treasure hunts. Why should this idea be left for Easter? Get creative and have fun hiding treats around the area and then let the children have fun searching for the treasures. Plus, for something different, have a go at geocaching – a digital form of treasure hunting, with many caches to find around the area.

Water fight

Another great idea for when enjoying the grounds of your accommodation – water fights! When it’s been a busy day and the children need to cool down but won’t switch off, a couple of buckets, a load of balloons and access to a tap is all that’s required to turn games like tag or hide and seek into a fun family water fight they’ll always remember. Question is: who in your family would win?

Make use of accommodation facilities

Park Hotel swimming pool Barnstaple

The other side of accommodation we haven’t mentioned yet is the number of hotels there are in North Devon. Many of the hotels in the area offer facilities that are free to use for guests – like this swimming pool at Park Hotel, Barnstaple. For rainy days, a splash in an indoor pool is in order, or perhaps a game on the snooker table is more your thing. Also, places like Trimstone Manor have tennis courts to satisfy sporting fixes.

Go to the park

Finally, is there anything more enjoyable than going to play in the park – apart from the beach, perhaps? Notably the parks in Barnstaple and Bideford, as they offer swings, slides and fun equipment for younger children, with skate parks and bike trails for the older ones.

READ NEXT: The Best Playgrounds and Parks Around North Devon


What have we missed? How do you keep the whole family and kids of all ages amused in North Devon? Let us know your thoughts with a comment or message via social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too!

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