North Devon is a beautiful region of glorious contrasts – and that extends to the weather too! For every period of dazzling sunshine, there are days when the weather’s a little more… wet.
But the joy is that there are still lots of things to do in North Devon when it’s raining – from encounters with the natural world to days filled with culture and history.
Check out our guide below for our top 10 things to do in North Devon in the rain, or browse our North Devon cottages by clicking the button below.
The Milky Way Adventure Park: best for families
The Milky Way Adventure Park is possibly the biggest of the all-weather days out in Devon, and enjoyed by all ages. Even when it's wet outside, there are so many things to do indoors, with over 10,000 square metres of indoor activities in North Devon. All the rides and attractions are designed for adults as well as children – and all for one entry fee. Adults and older children can ride the indoor Droid Destroyer Dodgems and Clone Zone, relax and watch one of the undercover live shows (including birds of prey – yes, indoors!), take part in sports and crafts including archery, laser target shooting and pottery (there is an extra charge for this), or hurtle round the enormous adventure play.
Young children will particularly love the innovative Little Stars play centre, with its space-themed soft play, sensory room for babies, dressing-up and role-play pizzeria, and the balloon room.
Dartington Crystal: best for craftmanship
One of the more unique indoor attractions in North Devon, Dartington Crystal’s visitor centre and factory tour takes you behind the scenes of the renowned home of British crystal. See for yourself how Dartington Crystal handcrafts its beautiful glassware in the blowing room, where it’s mouth-blown by the talented workers in the factory. You can also find out about the history of this traditional business.
Then find yourself in the visitor centre and shop where the fruits of the workers’ labour are on offer and available to purchase. If you’re peckish after your tour, the Pavilion Café offers a wide range of tempting treats.
Barnstaple Pannier Market: best for variety
This is one of the UK's largest, most historic and prettiest indoor markets – and there's something for everyone at the Pannier Market. Largely unchanged in over 150 years - and more than just a Devon farmers' market - you can expect to find everything from fresh local produce, flowers and crafts, to prints, pictures, toys, collectables and antiques at this brilliant Barnstaple market.
There’s also a great mix of national and independent shops nearby, including those at the recently refurbished Green Lanes Shopping Centre, and more artisan finds at Butchers Row. If you want to make a full day of it, eat at one of Barnstaple’s many town-centre cafes, then take in a film - Scott Cinema on Boutport Street has five screens.
Arlington Court: best for history
Nestled on the fringes of Exmoor National Park, Arlington Court is a family estate that is more than 500 years old. When the rain is lashing down, step into the 19th-century family home and learn more about the Chichester family, before exploring the Carriage Museum and its array of horse-drawn vehicles.
If you plan your visit for a showery day, you can make the most of the sunny spells by exploring the formal garden, lake and miles of footpaths too. When the rain makes its return, take shelter in the tearoom and tuck into some treats made with produce grown on the estate.
Ilfracombe Aquarium: best for nature lovers
North Devon is famous for its abundance of nature, but it can be difficult to track it down on a rainy day. Even on a dull day, you can discover all manner of aquatic creatures at Ilfracombe Aquarium with up to 75 species calling this water wonderland home, including octopi, crabs and fish.
Kids can follow the quiz trails to learn more about the underwater world, take part in feeding demonstrations, and have fun with interactive exhibits. Situated on Ilfracombe Harbour, it’s a great rainy-day destination that you could combine with a walk around this beloved town if the weather improves.
The Big Sheep: best for little ones
It’s tricky having little ones to occupy when the rain is pouring down outside. Despite being home to a large variety of farmyard animals, The Big Sheep is a family-friendly attraction with plenty of all-weather activities that kids will adore!
Let them run wild in EWEtopia which has an array of soft play, ball pits, slides and bridges guaranteed to tire out your tot, with a separate area for 2 to 5-year-olds where they can play in (relative) peace away from the big kids, and a baby sensory room for the littlest ones too.
Tarka Leisure Centre: best for the energetic
Just because it’s raining, there’s no excuse not to stay active; in fact, you might have even more fun indoors! Tarka Leisure Centre in Barnstaple is one of the best indoor attractions in North Devon and has everything you need to get active while on holiday – you might have so much fun, you’ll forget it’s even raining outside. Choose from swimming, tennis, table tennis, badminton, basketball and even skiing and snowboarding, as well as a gym and a wide range of exercise classes, with all timeslots and facilities needing to be booked in advance.
The leisure centre is close to Barnstaple town centre so after working up an appetite, you can combine your active day out with some lunch or dinner in one of the many mouth-watering places to eat nearby.
Watermouth Castle: best for an eclectic day out
Set in a Victorian castle, Watermouth Castle is one of the more unusual indoor things to do in North Devon, and it offers a day out like no other. Explore the castle where you’ll discover antique games and machines, historic toys, musical delights and costumed models depicting Victorian life. Listen to robots playing in a band, watch the model railway and admire the suits of armour.
Descend into the dungeon if you dare to come face to face with fairy-tale creatures, visit bygone craft shops and navigate a maze. There is also a 1920s organ with synchronised water jets and lights, as well as plenty of outdoor rides and attractions too if the sun does put his hat on – it’s a day out that has to be seen to be believed!
The sea: best for thrillseekers
Well, you’re going to get wet anyway! In North Devon, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to water sports and places to enjoy them – as well as the vast, family-friendly beaches of Woolacombe, Saunton and Westward Ho!, you’ll also find tiny and often deserted coves with stronger waves to test your skills.
The area around Woolacombe offers opportunities for surfing, paddleboarding, kitesurfing, kayaking, coasteering, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, diving, wild swimming and many more exciting water sports. If you’re a beginner, you want to improve, or you need to hire equipment, then contact one of the many instructors that operate around Woolacombe, such as Woolacombe Surf Centre or Nick Thorn Surf School.
Pubs and restaurants: best for foodies
A wet day is a great excuse to enjoy North Devon’s fantastic food and drink, whether you’re into fine dining, relaxed meals or pub lunches. Fans of fine food – or those looking for a special occasion meal – should try Noel Corston in Woolacombe, Maiden Arch in Barnstaple, or Number 8 in Bideford.
Prefer things a bit more laid-back? Try Beachside Grill at Saunton, or Blue Groove in Croyde which is a great spot for a cool, surfy atmosphere. For brilliant food in a relaxed pub atmosphere try The Instow Arms or The Boathouse in Instow, The Royal George in Appledore, The Grove Inn at King’s Nympton, or The Rock Inn at Georgeham.
Enjoy a holiday in North Devon
Come rain or shine, there’s so much to do on a holiday in North Devon. Browse our full range of cottages to find the perfect base for your next getaway to this wonderful region.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.