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South West - South Devon

top 10 places

Top 100 places to visit in south west england

South Devon

1. Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway

Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway runs from Paignton to Kingswear, along the South Devon coastline and through glorious countryside. The company also owns Red Cruises, and  is officially known as the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company. You can choose from a variety of trips and excursions, from steam train journeys only, to combinations of river boat and train, or sea-going boat and train. The company also runs events throughout the year, including  Pirate Days and Dining Trains.

2. Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo is home to thousands of amazing animals and plants, and has a mission to keep and breed animals that are under threat in the wild. Visit the desert, cross the savannah, explore the forest and trek through the tropics. Visit the crocodiles in their swamp, and see the awsome Asiatic Lions! See the animals at feeding time, or take a ride on the miniature railway. You can also visit the beautiful Botanical Gardens at Paignton - there's something for all the family! Facilities include a shop and cafe.

3. Bigbury-on-Sea and Burgh Island

Situated in Bigbury Bay on the South Devon Coast, Bigbury on Sea offers safe sandy beaches and beautiful countryside. 29 acre Burgh Island lies opposite, separated from the mainland by a sand spit and accessable by the unique Sea Tractor when the tide is in. Burgh Island Hotel is a fully restored Art-Deco building. One time bolt-hole of famous personalities such as Noel Coward and Agatha Christie, the rooms are furnished to a high standard with each one bearing the name of a jazz age guest.

4. National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth

Take a journey through an amazing underwater world at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. Stand in front of the panoramic 2-storey high Atlantic Reef tank, or tiptoe to the edge of a giant ravine, experiencing the sensation of total underwater immersion where fish swim all around and even above you in Mediterranean Seas. Hunt for hidden treasure and peer into rock pools, and experience the artificial diving reef.

5. Coleton Fishacre Art-Deco House and Gardens

Travel back in time to the Jazz Age at the holiday home of the D'Oyly Carte family. You can lose yourself in the magical 30-acre garden; viewpoints give enticing glimpses out to sea, paths weave through glades past tranquil ponds, and tender plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand thrive in the moist and sheltered valley. A light, joyful atmosphere fills the rooms and music plays, echoing the family's Gilbert and Sullivan connections. Facilities include a gift and garden shop, and an award winning tea room!

6. Blackpool Sands – Blue Flag Beach

Blackpool Sands is a beautiful beach in a sheltered cove at the northern end of Start Bay, flanked by steep wooded cliffs and popular with families. The beach about two thirds of a mile long and composed of sand and some shingle. Apart from taking it easy and swimming, people also enjoy activities such as windsurfing, canoeing and sailing. Facilities include a café/restaurant, toilets, first aid, car park, lost child centre and a Lifeguard service in summer.

7. Overbeck’s Museum and Garden

Overbeck's is a luxuriant coastal garden surrounding an elegant Edwardian house, containing the weird and wonderful collections of scientist and inventor, Otto Overbeck. The sub-tropical garden is an exotic haven. Explore the banana garden, meander through the towering purple echiums or just relax beneath palms and soak up the spectacular panorama across miles of beautiful coastline and estuary. There's lots for children to do, with a fun quiz and trail where they can search for Fred, the friendly ghost! Facilities include a shop and tea room.

8. Salcombe

Devon's most southerly town is the picturesque holiday resort of Salcombe, with its mild climate and clean clear seas. Salcombe has something for everyone; coastal walks, tiny side streets with varied shops and a wide choice of restaurants and pubs. Sheltered coves with golden sand make for perfect for family days on the beach. Due to the large sheltered bay, the town has become one of the largest yachting centres in England and is dominated by the boating fraternity during the holiday season.

9. Dartmouth – Historic Naval Town

The ancient town and deep water port of Dartmouth is set in a picture book location on the River Dart, with steep wooded hillsides on either side. There's a great selection of bistros, restaurants, boutiques and specialist shops lining the town's narrow streets, with their long flights of winding steps and intriguing medieval buildings. Why not visit Dartmouth Castle, or take a boat trip from the same harbour that sailors have set out to explore the world from for over 1000 years.

10. Beer Fishing Village and Beach

They call it Devon's best kept secret but it's no secret that Beer is a delightful fishing village with its own secluded pebble beach, protected by imposing cliffs. The village has resisted the advances of modernisation and retained its character, with a beautiful church and some fine buildings. Fishing still takes place here and Beer is famous for its crab. Why not rent of the small boats out and land some fresh mackerel?
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