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Wondering what to do in Paignton, Devon? Well, look no further! If you’ve never been to this gorgeous coastal town, rest assured there are plenty of things to do in Paignton to keep you and your family/friends thoroughly entertained for the duration of your stay. Take it from me, I used to live there and in Torquay, so I know all the ins and outs of the place. For the most part, I’ll be focusing on the hotspots central to Paignton. However, Ive also included a few other nearby attractions for the sake of completion, in case you feel like taking a drive. Let’s get started!
Things to do in Paignton Devon – A Guide
Boasting some 2,500 animals spanning 80 acres, Paignton Zoo is certainly one of the larger attractions in the South West. While not the cheapest of activities (£19 for an adult day pass, £14 for children ages 3 – 15 years old) you can take comfort in knowing that through Paignton Zoo’s registered charity, you help support conservation programs for critically endangered and at-risk species. Many attest that the sheer number of animals and variety of free shows to enjoy make the admission worthwhile – you could nearly spend a full day there to see all the exhibits. Younger children will enjoy the outdoor and indoor play areas, as well as the “Jungle Express” train for a quick tour of the zoo’s highlights. As mentioned, events are held throughout the day, so be sure to consult the Paignton Zoo website for the complete schedule of events and other things to do, like seasonal bird shows and charming “animal talk” sessions.
Steam Train Paignton
What better way to enjoy the scenic coastal sights than a ride on a classic steam train? Paignton railway station is one of three landings for the Dartmouth Steam Railway, a 10.8 km stretch of breathtaking views crossing the English Riviera. With concessions and witty commentary provided aplenty, the Paignton steam train is both a luxurious and convenient way to explore the Devon countryside. Whether you’re booking one of their trademark tours in advance or simply purchasing your tickets on the spot at the Paignton steam railway office, expect a pleasant voyage from start to finish.
Get Fish And Chips
There are so many great fish and chip restaurants in Paignton, so you owe it to yourself to indulge in some fresh fish wrapped in golden batter during your stay. Just make sure you keep an eye out for hungry seagulls trying to poach your dinner. Mariner’s Fish and Chips is a great spot for a fish dinner and very reasonably priced. When it comes to places to eat in Paignton, Scoffs was my favourite spot (they had the best chips) but unfortunately it burnt down recently and has yet to re-open. Fingers crossed it’s back soon! Regardless, there are plenty of fish and chip shops along the main Torbay Road and the Esplanade so you’ll be spoiled for choice.
No proper list of things to do in Paignton would be complete without mention of the local beach! Aside from the obvious joys of having clean sand and blue water by which to while away those hot summer hours, Paignton Beach is dotted with several points of interest very much worth exploring. While each of them undoubtedly deserves their own subheading, for the sake of brevity I’ve compiled a small list of a few highlights here:
- Roundham Head
A 1.4 km paved walk friendly to both dogs and wheelchairs, Paignton’s Roundham Head offers an excellent view of Tor Bay and an opportunity to enjoy the fresh saltwater air.
- Paignton Pier
An entertainment centre with all the fish & chips, ice cream, and fairground rides one would expect of a pleasure pier. Entry is free, thus allowing you to spend that much more on the arcade claw machines scattered throughout.
- Geoplay Park
A lovely little play-park that offers a variety of swings, slides, and even climbing frames for that daring and adventurous middle child. Its strategic location between the beach and shoreline restaurants make for a convenient option to entertain your kids for an hour or two.
- Pirate’s Bay Adventure Golf
For the mini-golf fanatics out there, this themed course offers a challenging but fair game for the whole family. (Pro tip: If you make the last putt in the centre ring, you get a free game!)
Toted as the UK’s biggest outdoor water park, Splashdown features 8 water slides, as well as swimming pools and toddler pools – so no one is left out! Its shoreside location also offers a fantastic view should you wish to just sit and soak up some sun. Admission will cost you £16 per head (under 5s being £7 for an all-day ticket) however admissions past 2 PM will see a modest reduction to £13.50. Although the water is heated, a wet suit is available with a refundable deposit for those days when the weather is leaning on the nippier side. As to be expected, facilities such as lockers and changing areas are also available. Crowding can be an issue, especially during the peak summer months of July and August – therefore those hoping to avoid the masses should aim for either the off-peak season or before the 2 PM price cut.
BMAD (Bikers Make a Difference) Festival
If you’re lucky enough to be in Paignton in May then make sure to attend the BMAD festival. It’s held every year and will be running May 3rd-5th in 2019. There will be live bands, food, beer, cider and A LOT of motorbikes. I’ve been a couple of times and it’s actually a really fun, wholesome event. All the locals bring their dogs down, browse the stalls, have a drink and donate to various charities.
Things to do in Paignton When it’s Raining
OK, this is a bit limited as it’s a seaside town, but aside from nipping into one of the many bars and restaurants in Paignton, there are a couple of things you can do on a rainy day.
There’s a great cinema in Paignton; the Vue Cinema Torbay. It’s a big, modern cinema showing all the latest movies. They do discount ticket prices on Mondays. The perfect rainy day activity.
The main road leading to the beachfront, Torbay Road, is lined with arcades and amusements like Enterprise Amusement and Leisure 2000. This is the perfect place to entertain the kids, or yourself, for an hour or so while the rain passes.
Things to do Near Paignton
Need a little break from the beach and sun? Located just a short 10-minute coastal drive or bus ride from Paignton, Torre Abbey functions as a museum of history and art. Established in 1196, Torre Abbey perfectly captures the rich historic nature of Torquay in the museum exhibition, which can be explored at your leisure for a mere £8 entry fee – a bargain compared to some other historic sights, considering that it’s valid for two days. Up to four children (19 and under) can visit free per adult entry fee, and are sure to stay engaged with the modernized interactive displays and historical dress-up, not to mention a few neat little easter eggs to search for, such as a holographic talking knight! The Abbey Gardens feature a variety of scenic activities as well, from the haunting ruins of the old abbey to the rare collection of greenery available in their Glass Houses – not to mention a cafe should you wish to sit and bask in the lovely atmosphere with a delicious cake. While technically located in neighboring Torquay, many would no doubt testify that a hidden gem such as this is well worth a visit during your time in Paignton.
Brixham Fishing Village
I used to work in Brixham and it is a charming little fishing village which supplies a lot of the local area with its fresh fish and seafood. There are lots of great places to eat and drink in the town and it has a lovely harbour for having a walk around. The Breakwater Bistro is a great spot for lunch or dinner and The Old Market House is great for pub grub and drink. Both have great views over the harbour. Every year The Brixham pirate festival takes over the town, which is a whole lot of fun. In 2019 it will take place May 4-6th. Everyone dresses up and there are lots of activities for all ages. So if you’re in Paignton in May then hopefully you can visit the festival. A visit to Brixham is definitely worth the 15 minute drive or 20 minute bus trip from Paignton for half a day at least.
Agatha Christie Tour
If you’re an avid fan of the writer then this day tour is perfect for you. You’re collected from your accommodation and whisked to various locations around Torbay; from Agatha’s favourite Torquay beaches to her holiday home and beyond. You’ll even stop for a proper Devonshire cream tea (jam on top, cream on the bottom). It can be a bit pricey but it is an all day tour and probably would be worth it for a die-hard fan.
Did I miss anything? What’s something you like to do in Paignton? The reputation of this lazy little seaside town certainly precedes itself – and new attractions are cropping up all the time. But hopefully, this list will at least give you an idea on where to start in your planning. Happy travels!
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