Great family days out in Devon & Dorset
Devon and Dorset are wonderful parts of the UK to visit, and what better way to spend a day than at a National Trust property? They’ve moved towards putting children at the heart of many of their locations, with plenty to see, do and explore. From country houses and estates to parkland and adventure playgrounds, there’s something for all to enjoy.
If you’re looking for ideas on where to go, here’s our list of National Trust days out in Devon & Dorset.
Arlington Court is an intriguing regency house with peacocks roaming the picturesque gardens. There is plenty here for children to enjoy, from the hands on carriage museum to the forts and mudslides in the outdoor play areas.
Louise, from A Strong Coffee, says: “The flyers just talk about the carriage museum. We didn’t even make it there as the grounds were so lovely. Peacocks roamed around the gardens and we went on a long trail. Best of all was the children’s playground area. Woods stepping stones, ropes to climb up hills. We could have stayed here for hours”
Find out more about Louise’s family day out at Arlington Court.
Brownsea Island is the largest of the islands in Poole harbour and is famous for it’s diverse habitats and amazing wildlife, especially the red squirrels. The island is perfect for budding bird watchers with five bird hides, most of which are accessible for wheelchair and pushchair users.
Louise, from The Life of Spicers, says: “With the recent bad weather, there were some trees that had been felled, and chopped up after falling. It gave the children lots of opportunity to climb and explore between the trunks. Some of the larger trees were stamped with their dates of approximate planting and fallen date”
Read Louise’s review of Brownsea Island.
Burton Bradstock is the ideal place to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Children will love following the Jurassic trail, building dens or simply enjoying a picnic on the beach.
Kara, from Are We Nearly There Yet? visited Burton Bradstock during the annual Spring Tide Festival. She says “No trip to Burton Bradstock would be without exploring the delights of the beach and we spotted a break in the clouds and some glorious sunshine that we had to take advantage of, so wandered down to explore the almost empty beach. The kids enjoyed a spot of stone throwing and wave chasing before deciding they wanted to build a stone tower which was soon converted into a mermaid, complete with sea weed hair and stone jewels”
Discover more in Kara’s Burton Bradstock review.
Corfe Castle is a thousand years old castle which has been shaped by warfare, the outer walls still bear the scars from the English civil war. The surrounding countryside offers walks suitable for everyone, from gentle strolls to all day treks.
Amy, from Everything Mummy says “The girls were given a trail card to complete as we arrived, it was free and something easy and fun for them to focus on as we walked around. We had to find the Knights shields and answer the questions”
Read Amy’s review to discover why Corfe Castle is a great family day out.
Castle Drogo offers a perfect day out for all the family. There are walking trails, with free spotter sheets available, or why not try out a bit of orienteering (maps can be downloaded and printed off before hand). The castle itself is under renovation but tours are available during the school holidays.
Emily, from Confessions of a Slummy Mummy says: “We haven’t been yet this Spring and it was so lovely to see the flowers out and the building looking so much closer to completion”
Find out more about Emily’s family day out at Castle Drogo.
Golden Cap gets its name from the golden colour of the cliff faces. The unspoiled countryside contains miles of coastline and footpaths, there are walks suitable for all abilities. Enjoy a bit of orienteering or geocaching while you explore.
Hayley, from Devon Mama, says: “The estate is basically a huge expanse of cliff top that can be walked via various different paths. It’s worth a visit if you want to do some coastal walking with stunning views”
Find out more in Hayley’s review of Golden Cap.
Killerton At a whopping 6,400 acres there is plenty of room to stretch your legs. There’s plenty on offer around the estate to keep the children entertained with den building, swings and a fantastic play area build around a huge fallen red oak tree!
Jo, from Organised Jo says: “Another nice touch was the wooden garden toys that were scattered around the garden for anyone to play with. My two had a fab time after our picnic playing on the wooden hobby horses pretending they were their princess steeds”
Read Jo’s review of Killerton.
Kingston Lacy‘s 8,500 acre estate a staggering 72 miles of footpaths, cycle trails and bridle paths! Kids will be in their element building dens and searching for bugs, plus there’s plenty of room for running around or even flying a kite.
Kara, from Chelsea Mama, visited so her children could take part in the annual Easter egg hunt, she says: “All the eggs were made with materials from the gardens which they were positioned in and the kids had to identify what they were made from which helped them learn about the world around them.”
Find out more in Kara’s Kingston Lacy review.
Knightshayes is a quirky, 19th century Gothic revival house set in acres of stunning gardens and parkland. There are trails to follow both inside the house and outside as well as activities laid out to keep kids entertained.
Louise, from A Strong Coffee says: “To keep the boys interest when walking around we purchased a tree rubbing sheet for 50p each. The boys spent time finding the correct trees to take rubbing off and it certainly helped keep their interest on our walk. Their prize at the end was a badge. There was a small playground but the boys were tired so we didn’t get to see this”
Read more about Louise’s family day out at Knightshayes.
Ringstead Bay is on the Jurassic coast. The unspoiled beach and the cliffs really are a hidden gem of Dorset’s coastline. The beach is perfect for a family day out, with plenty of space to picnic, swim, throw pebbles into the sea. There is also a geocache hidden for your little treasure hunters to find.
Alice, from New Young Mum says: “We spent about two hours walking about and Amelia throwing stones into the water and attempting to throw some giant rocks! I love that this keeps her entertained, I think this will be something that I tell her in years to come when she’s asking for expensive things and super expensive days out”
Read Alice’s review of Ringstead Bay.
Studland Bay‘s sandy beaches makes it perfect for both leisurely summer days in the sun as well as winter walks. The nature reserve offers plenty to keep children entertained, like searching for wildlife and following the nest box trail.
Kate, from Dark Tea says: “On calmer days, the water can be surprisingly clear so you can often see fish without a snorkel, just looking down into the water, this means children with a net can catch all sorts of sea life. This summer B caught crabs, small fish, sea eel and shrimps”
Find out more in Kate’s Studland Bay review.
More great family days out
Plan your next family adventure with the help of my guide to 100 amazing National Trust days out with children.