How to Discover Devon Like a Local
As one of the most popular counties in England for domestic tourists, Devon has plenty to cater to visitors. Fabulous restaurants, beaches packed with amenities and all sorts of other attractions help to keep families entertained for days on end. But like everywhere, there are plenty of hidden gems that only local people are familiar with. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best places to eat and visit in Devon that you probably haven’t stumbled across before.
The best places to eat and drink
Sure, Devon is packed with award-winning restaurants and all of the biggest chains, catering to families, couples and friends. Selling the day’s local fresh catch or offering up some continental cuisine. But where do the locals go for a good meal or a few drinks?
In the southern part of the county, one of the best places to eat like a local is the Millbrook Inn in South Pool, a small village just outside Salcombe. A seasonal menu means that you’re always guaranteed fresh, in-season produce and there’s always a rotation of the finest local ales on tap. Although increasingly popular with tourists, the Millbrook has tried to maintain its reputation as a village pub and is always packed with locals too. Oh, and it was also voted the Devon County Dining Pub of the Year in 2020.
In north Devon, the unassuming town of Bideford is home to one of the best kept secrets in the whole county. The Appledore Inn is extremely popular with the local community and is sure to please visitors looking to get away from the busy tourist areas. A no frills traditional pub, it serves up a range of cask ales in its large beer garden. The real surprise is in the food menu. Specialising in Thai food, the Appledore Inn uses authentic recipes and locally sourced ingredients to deliver a proper wow factor.
The best beaches
Whilst Woolacombe, Saunton Sands and Exmouth attract the summer crowds, there are plenty of hidden beaches in Devon that you really need to be a local to know about. Just east of Torquay, Babbacombe Beach is a great example. This thin shingle beach guarantees amazing views, clear water and few crowds. There’s a breakwater where you can enjoy some quiet angling and the sheltered beach is great for swimming and snorkelling. Dogs are welcome too, but just be aware that there are no lifeguards here and few facilities, so be careful with younger children.
Another hidden gem of a beach is Moor Sands, located between Salcombe and Dartmouth (one of the most southerly parts of Devon). Deceptively, there is very little sand here and the beach is mostly covered in pebbles and smooth rocks. It is quite inaccessible and will take some effort to reach so best tackled with older children, but this means it is unspoilt and always quiet, perfect if you’re after a relaxing day.
The best attractions
Away from the main attractions in Devon, there are plenty of well kept secrets that you’ll probably have no idea about unless you live in the region. For example, did you know that England’s only truly wild population of beavers lives on the River Otter in Devon? Although fenced reintroductions are taking place across the country, the River Otter beavers are the only ones to currently roam free, and they are a delight to watch along the roughly 12 mile stretch of river they inhabit between Budleigh Salterton and Honiton. Kids will delight in seeing these unusual animals and it’s quite something for adults too!
Another quirky and secret attraction is the Meavy’s ancient oak tree on the village green in Meavey. This tree is more than 1,000 years old and it is believed that King Charles himself once hid amongst the branches whilst fleeing the forces of Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. But you’re best to see the tree while you can, as there are fears it is beginning to come to the end of its very long natural life!
So there you have it. just because Devon is a popular tourist destination, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of secrets to be uncovered in the county. From hidden beaches to ancient trees, it’s easy to make your family trip to Devon an exciting one if you know how.