There are so many options for days out in Devon at this time of year, it can get a bit overwhelming. Whether you’re new to the area on holiday or – like us – live here, the sheer amount of options for fun family days out in Devon can make choosing just one place to visit seem like a daunting task.
Aside from the obvious beaches, cute towns and stunning rugged moorland, there are also plenty of destination places set up for family days out – parks, gardens, farms, amusement parks etc – and it’s these types of places I’ve been reviewing in my Days Out in Devon series (check out our previous trips to Bicton Park Gardens, Wildwood Escot and River Dart Country Park to see more). Pennywell Farm is next up on our list and, for the sake of honesty, I’ll tell you now – it’s already been a firm a favourite with us since we moved here back in 2013.
My first trip to Pennywell was a couple of months after we moved to Devon, when Frog was a tiny three years old. We immediately loved it, because it seemed to have everything you needed for a day out with young kids – animals, trampolines, a toddler play area and bouncy castles, not to mention the child-friendly cafe. Since then we’ve visited a few times, including at Christmas for the farm’s famous interactive nativity play featuring real animals (this gets booked up aaages in advance!).
Our last trip to Pennywell was when Baby Girl was a baby, so it was really interesting to see what she made of the place as a toddler. She’s very different to Frog at this age, more fearless and less focused, so seeing her take on the place was a good indication of the appeal of Pennywell – i.e. is there enough there to keep all sorts of kids involved and entertained?
The answer is a resounding yes. From the minute we arrived, Baby Girl’s head was on a swivel stick, running around to look at all the different animals, play equipment and activities. She was like a pinball, bouncing from one thing to the next in a state of increased excitement.
The great thing about Pennywell is that it’s so hands on. You can buy food to feed the animals, for example, can help milk the goats, bottlefeed the baby animals and cuddle them. The staff are all really friendly (in fact, the farm’s tagline is “Devon’s friendliest day out”) and this definitely adds to the atmosphere of the place. There’s a huge board packed with a timetable of the day’s activities that you can opt in or out of, so there’s no time to get bored. Not that you would anyway, what with the indoor play barn, rocket racer tractor, tractor rides, pony rides, mini train etc etc.
It’s worth checking out the website before you go, to see if there’s a special themed day taking place because this can really affect how busy it gets. We didn’t do this and ended up visiting on “Dino Day”, a day full of dinosaur themed activities some of which even included a very realistic interactive dinosaur! It was really busy, but luckily Pennywell is big enough to cater for the crowds, so although it was hectic it didn’t feel overwhelming.
There’s a great cafe serving tasty food which we’ve eaten in before, but this time we opted for a picnic as the sun was shining. There are lots of grassy areas and picnic tables to enjoy a picnic of your own – including a covered seating area near the cafe if you don’t fancy sitting under the sky.
After a typically chaotic family picnic we threw ourselves into various activities, including the train ride, cuddling the teeny tiny piglets, a play in the indoor barn, a dinosaur treasure hunt, tractor ride and plenty of trampoline action.
After a few weeks of horrendous bedtimes (see my video on toddler sleep regression to find out more about that), bedtime that night was smooth sailing, proving that a day at Pennywell is the answer to pretty much all parenting woes of the sleep variety. I kid you not.
Seriously though, if you’re looking for a fun day out in Devon jam-packed with activities and things to see and do with young kids, then Pennywell Farm needs to be on your list. It’s a Devon institution and multiple winner of various tourism awards for a reason.
You can see a behind-the-scenes view of our day in my latest YouTube video here:
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