Top 10 family days out in Torquay
We may have had one of the soggiest summers on record but with forecasters predicting better weather for September there is still time to enjoy some of Torquay’s array of great family days out.
From its beautiful beaches to zoos and waterparks there is something for children of all ages – and their parents – to enjoy.
One place that is a guaranteed good day out come rain or shine is the mysterious underground world of Kents Cavern.
Combining stunning geological features, prehistoric artefacts and fun activities for younger visitors it is well worth a visit.
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Hospitality manager Claire Preece said: “We are a family attraction but we get visitors of all ages. Some people come because of the geology and history, others because it is a bit of an adventure for the family and others turn up without knowing much about us but they all leave having had a great time.”
Highlights of a visit to the caves include the woodland trail featuring Cavog The Caveman’s Stone Age village and a chance to become an archaeologist for a day.
Children can also have-a-go at brass rubbings and cave paintings.
But the main attraction is of course the caves themselves.
Claire said: “All the tours are guided, they take about an hour but they are fairly easy walking so they are suitable for children and adults.
“The guide starts off talking about all the caves’ famous visitors like Agatha Christie and Beatrix Potter through to its earliest visitors, the prehistoric men. They show you some of the bones that have been found there like cave bear skulls and other artefacts you can touch. They then allow you to experience complete darkness but they do this in a progressive way so it isn’t too scary.
“They start off showing you how it would have been lit in Victorian times, then how the cave men would have seen it, through to how it was when cave bears lived there.”
For more information on Kents Cavern and our pick of the other top family days out in Torquay check out our list below.
1. Paignton Zoo, Totnes Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EU, 0844 474 2222.
Special Events/Highlights: Keeper talks and badger watch (every other Wednesday).
Open: 10am-6pm daily (last entry 5pm).
Tickets/price: Adults £14.45, concessions £11.90, children (3-15) £10.20, family £45.40 (all prices include Gift Aid).
With more than 2000 creatures spread across six specially created habitats, a visit to Paignton Zoo remains one of the South West’s most popular days out.
From giraffes to gorillas and cheetahs to crocodiles the attraction boasts an awe-inspiring collection of animals.
These include meerkats, monkeys and four rare Asiatic lion clubs that were born in May.
Other highlights include daily keeper talks, a ride on the jungle express train and an indoor play area.
2. Babbacombe Model Village, Hampton Avenue, Torquay, TQ1 3LA, 01803 315315.
Activity/attraction: Miniature attraction.
Special Events/Highlights: Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Trail (September 9-16).
Open: 10am-5.30pm daily (throughout September).
Tickets/price: Adults £9.50, seniors (over 65s) £8.50, children (3-14) £7.50, family £32.
Your little ones will love feeling like a giant for the day at the famous Babbacombe Model Village.
The miniature attraction features thousands of tiny buildings, people, vehicles and animated scenes set in four acres of award-winning gardens.
Popular models include the castle - complete with fire-breathing dragon – and the indoor Victorian snowy village.
You can also wonder through a village inspired by English life over the last five decades and check out a football stadium, a house on fire and a haunted tower.
From September 9-16 the attraction is holding a special Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Trail, ideal for keeping adult sleuths occupied while the children enjoy the village’s usual miniature charms.
3. Rainbow Fun House, Torwood Gardens Road, Torquay, TQ1 1EQ, 01803 296926.
Activity/attraction: Indoor play centre.
Special Events/Highlights: Go kart track and soft play areas.
Open: 10am-5.30pm daily.
Tickets/price: Parent and toddler (1-3 years-old) £2.50, children (4-12) £4.25, teenagers (13-17) £4.75, adults £0.50.
If the soggy summer continues into September this indoor play centre offers a great wet weather day out.
With 13,000sq ft of fun under one roof there is plenty to keep the kids occupied.
Favourite features include flumes, slides, ball pools, climbing frames and a race track.
4. Splashdown Waterpark@Quaywest, Tanners Road, Paignton, 01803 555 550.
Special Events/Highlights: 10 different water slides from the 15m Devil’s Drop to the Submarine and Tiddler Toddler Splash.
Open: 11am-4pm until September 9.
Tickets/price: Over 5s (all day) £12.50, (two hours) £9.80, under 5s (all day) £6.30, (two hours) £5.30.
The UK’s largest waterpark, Splashdown@Quaywest is a great place to make the most of any late-summer sunshine.
Combining 10 exciting flume rides with spectacular views of the English Riviera it is a fantastic day out for visitors of all ages.
For thrill seekers there’s the heart-stopping plummet the 15m Devil's Drop or the white water tyre ride, Raging Rapids.
Younger visitors will love the Submarine Splash and Tiddlers’ Fun Pool, while adults can relax with a sip in the pool or a sit on a sun-bed.
5. Living Coasts, Beacon Quay, Torquay, TQ1 2B, 0844 474 3366.
Activity/attraction: Coastal zoo.
Special Events/Highlights: Daily talks and feedings featuring everything from seals to penguins.
Open: From 10am-6pm daily.
Tickets/price: Adults £10.90, seniors and students £8.50, children (3-14) £8.15, family £34.60 (prices include Gift Aid).
From puffins at Auk Cliffs to ray in a mangrove swamp, Living Coasts offers you the chance to see an array of coastal wildlife in enclosures adapted to replicate their natural habitat.
Visitors can also get close-up views of everything from wading birds to seahorses and fur seals.
Many of the animals take part in keeper talks and daily feedings with the cheeky otters and personality-filled penguins among the most popular.
Throughout September Living Coasts is offering a special deal for visitors - pay once and return free for a whole week.
6. Beaches, Various locations including Maidencombe, Torre Abbey Sands, Goodrington Sands and Paignton.
Special Events/Highlights: Blue Flag award-winning beaches.
Torbay boasts an array of fabulous family attractions but the biggest draw for visitors and locals alike remains its beautiful beaches.
For the second successive year the area has topped the charts of Britain’s beaches scooping 15 different awards.
The prestigious Blue Flag for cleanliness flies over over Oddicombe, Meadfoot, Paignton, Broadsands and Breakwater while 11 of the 15 designated bathing waters in Torbay recommended the Marine Conservation Society's Good Beach Guide.
In total there are 20 beaches and coves along the 22 miles of English Riviera coastline from wide, sandy beaches, to secluded coves.
As well as swimming and sandcastle-building there is also plenty of wildlife to check out.
Many of the beaches are also linked by the South West Coast Path offering excellent and varied walking with spectacular sea views.
7. Kents Cavern, 91 Ilsham Road, Torquay, Devon TQ1 2JF, 01803 215136.
Activity/attraction: Coastal zoo.
Special Events/Highlights: Children can become an archaeologist for the day and take part in a range of cave-themed arts and crafts.
Open: 9.30am-5pm daily (last tour 4.30pm).
Tickets/price: Adults £8.95, concessions and children (3-15) £7.95, family £31.
For an unusual day out in Torquay head underground for a subterranean adventure at Kents Cavern.
The prehistoric caves were created around 2million years ago by water action and are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an award-winning visitor attraction.
Guided tours take place from 10am and are suitable for people of all ages.
There are also a wide range of activities for younger visitors to try their hands at including an archaeological dig and cave painting.
Other highlights include a woodland trail featuring Cavog the Caveman and his Stone Age tribe and the Ancestors exhibition built around a 41,000 year old jawbone, the oldest human fossil found in Britain.
8. Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company, Queens Park Station, Torbay Road, Paignton, TQ4 6AF, 01803 555872.
Activity/attraction: Steam train and boat rides.
Special Events/Highlights: See the stunning coastline and countryside of South Devon via steam train, boat and bus.
Open: Train for Round Robin trip leaves Paignton at 10.30am (September 2 and daily from September 7).
Tickets/price: Round Robin: adults £21.99, concession £19.99, children (3-15) £12.99, family £59.99.
The Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company offers a wide range of great trips starting from numerous locations including Paignton and Totnes.
One of its most popular routes is the magical Round Robin.
The day-long trip offers stunning views of the coastline and countryside between Paignton and Kingswear onboard a steam train before you board a foot passenger ferry between Kingswear and Dartmouth.
You can then discover some of Devon's most secret landscapes on a peaceful cruise between Dartmouth and Totnes before a bus takes you back to Paignton.
9. Agatha Christie Fete, Harbourside (opposite the Pavilion), Torquay.
Activity/attraction: Traditional fete.
When: September 9, 10am-4.30pm.
Kicking off the Agatha Christie Festival this traditional fete is far more family-friendly than the great author’s murder mysteries might suggest.
Rooted in the 1920s it offers traditional games, rides, sideshows and stalls manned by people in period costume.
Things to look out for include a Punch and Judy show, homemade sweetshop and a coconut shy.
All this set against a backdrop of live music provided by live jazz, barbershop singers, Morris Men and the Torquay Brass Band.
10. Waves Leisure Pool, Riviera International Centre, Chestnut Avenue, Torquay, TQ2 5LZ, 01803 299992.
Activity/attraction: Swimming pool.
Special Events/Highlights: Flume, wave machine and inflatables sessions.
Open: Daily 9am-5pm (6pm Thursdays).
Tickets/price: Adults £4.20, junior (5-15) £3.40, over 50s £3.90 (all prices for non members).
For a great day out come rain or shine take a dip in the Waves Leisure Pool.
Located at the Riviera International Centre it offers a sloping floor, water heated to 29°, a flume and wave machine.
On selected dates the pool also offers fun inflatables sessions.