We have listed below a small selection of things to do while you are on your Devon or Dorset cottage holiday in the Lyme Bay area. If you think there are other attractions or activities we should include, please let us know.
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Dorchester – museums, galleries, exhibitions
Spend a day discovering the county town of Dorchester packed with history and excellent family attractions as well as contemporary cafes and shops. Many thousands of years of history can be discovered here – from the Dinosaur Museum to the Iron Age hill fort at Maiden Castle to the County Museum or the Keep Military Museum - there is plenty to keep the family entertained whatever the weather. This is Casterbridge to fans of Thomas Hardy and there are many interesting links to his life to be found in the town and surrounding countryside.
Abbotsbury Swannery, Subtropical Gardens and Childrens’ Farm
Having been voted the Best Family Attraction in Dorset you can be sure that the Swannery offers a great day out. The hatching season from May to early July gives the opportunity to walk among the many nests of hatching signets but there is plenty to see and do year round including a wander through the Grade One listed Subtropical Gardens with visit to the coffee house or let the kids cuddle and feed the animals in the Childrens’ Farm and let off some steam in the play area.www.abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk
Chesil Beach – Portland Castle & Lighthouse
Every school geography teacher talks at some point about the amazing natural phenomena that is Chesil Beach and the Fleet tidal lagoon, but it is still breathtaking when viewed from the lookout on the Isle of Portland. Portland Castle, one of Henry VIII’s strategic stongholds is now managed by English Heritage and hosts a series of events throughout the year. The picturesque red and white lighthouse on Portland Bill offers guided tours in the summer months.www.chesilbeach.org
The Broadwindsor Craft and Design Centre
The Broadwindsor Craft and Design Centre is situated in the heart of West Dorset`s beautiful rolling countryside. Redundant farm buildings on the edge of the village were the starting point in 1986 for this unique venture. Today, The Craft Centre is renowned for its excellence and quality. The Centre underwent a major transformation in 2002 when an extension was built from locally quarried stone. This allowed the addition of two dedicated rooms:- The Toy Room and The Garden Gift room. The Gallery was also opened at this time displaying framed prints and a range of woodburning / multifuel, oil and electric stoves, together with iron fire grates, fireside tools, fire guards and products from Lyme Bay Forge (traditional blacksmiths). Meals and refreshments are served in the relaxed atmosphere of the Restaurant and Conservatory.www.broadwindsor-crafts.co.uk
The Heritage Coast Centre Charmouth
This part of the South Coast is known as The Jurassic Coastline and its wonders can best be discovered at the Heritage Coast Centre on Charmouth beach. As the cliffs erode the shoreline reveals fossils that were formed 200 million years ago. Fossil hunting can be enjoyed by those of any age and guided walks from the Heritage Coast Centre are led by knowledgeable wardens who can offer advice on where to look and what you might find.www.charmouth.org
South West Coast Path – Golden Cap and The Undercliff
Although the South West Coast Path stretches for over 600 miles the 100 miles or so that run along the West Dorset and East Devon coast World Heritage site are some of the most glorious. There are the stunning views at the top of Golden Cap (the highest point on the South Coast) to the shady jungle-like flora of the Undercliff walk between Lyme Regis and Axmouth, and so much more. This magnificent section of coast path can be enjoyed all year round.www.southwestcoastpath.com
Lyme Regis – Shops, galleries, the Town Mill, museum and the Aquarium
A day enjoying all that the attractive seaside town of Lyme Regis has to offer is a must for any visitor to the area. As well as the historic Cobb harbour wall, beautiful seafront gardens and lovely beaches there are plenty of attractions catering for all age groups and many special events organised throughout the year. Why not just while away an afternoon exploring the variety of independent shops and galleries, then enjoy a glorious cream tea at one of the seafront cafes. If you are staying near Lyme Regis you can take full advantage of the lively seafront theatre, small cinema and the large number of restaurants, bars and cafes serving this delightful seaside town. Attractions well worth visiting include the Town Mill, the museum and the aquarium on The Cobb.www.lymeregis.org
Seaton Tramway, Seaton
Seaton Tramway operates narrow gauge heritage electric trams between the seaside town of Seaton, and the delightful small town of Colyton in East Devon`s glorious Axe Valley. This is a fun journey for young and not so young alike. Travelling alongside the River Axe estuary through two nature reserves the tram rides also offer wonderful views of the beautiful countryside and varied wading bird life.www.tram.co.uk
Forde Abbey and Gardens
This former Cistercian monastery has been a private home since 1649. The impressive house and beautiful gardens have been formally open to the public since the 1950s. The gardens are now open daily throughout the year with the house open five afternoons a week during the warmer months. Forde Abbey has been named as a Silver Award Winner in the Small Visitor Attraction category of the Enjoy England Award for Excellence.
Perched on the hillside above the pretty fishing village of Beer in East Devon, Pecorama offers a family day out that everyone will enjoy. The site includes beautiful landscaped gardens, Beer Heights light railway, a permanent model railway exhibition, children’s play areas, crazy golf and family entertainment during the summer season. There are stunning views across Lyme Bay and a restaurant for refreshment.
Escot is just off the A30 near Ottery St Mary – it’s a place for people who love nature with paths, trails, places to picnic and play areas. The original gardens were set out by Capability Brown and have been magically brought to life by television gardener Ivan Hicks. There is much to enjoy for both young and old including natural play areas, bird of prey displays, wild boar, exotic plants, otters, wetlands and waterfowl. The amazing Beech Tree Maze features five hedge-leaping bridges and a dramatic central lookout tower, there are four hidden switch-gates that can change the pattern of the maze completely and provide 10 possible levels of difficulty. Great fun for the whole family. The Education Ranger and his team provide childrens’ Escot Nature Days at the weekends and during school holidays. Activities include nature rambles, slug hunts, bush craft courses, marshmallow toasting (and tasting!), woodworking and much more.
Crealy Adventure Park
Visit East Devon’s Crealy Adventure Park for unrivalled family fun whatever the weather. From wild rides to fun events, entertainment and characters, this is East Devon’s biggest indoor and outdoor adventure park. Children will also love the animals in the 100 acres countryside park and enjoy delicious locally-sourced food at the many cafes and restaurants. This is also the perfect destination for a wet day with loads of indoor play areas and activities.
World of Country Life – Exmouth
From toddlers to grandparents there is something on offer for everyone to enjoy at the World of Country Life. Take a pygmy goat for a walk, play on the Giant Slides, challenge the family to a game of crazy golf or jump on the deer train for a ride out to the fields to hand feed the deer. You can see the largest collections of vintage vehicles, motorcycles and steam engines in the South West here too. With over two acres of activities under cover the World of Country Life is a great day out for all the family.