The best place to go for local information is Visit Totnes – you will find lots of maps, info about local attractions and local events that might be on during your stay.
For riding on Dartmoor (which is fantastic) I would highly recommend Cholwell Stables. My daughter (12 years old) and I have just come back from an amazing 1 hour ride up there, its a beautiful spot, you ride out of the farm and straight onto the Moor. When we went (11th August) the landscape was covered in flowering Heather and Gorse. We went for a lovely ride mostly walking but experienced riders had a chance to do a short canter at a couple of spots. Perfect for novice riders as well as more experienced. £25 pp for 1 hour ride £35 pp for a two hour ride.
Shilstone Rocks Riding Stables
Another beautiful spot where you can saddle up and be straight out on open moorland for a fantastic ride.
One of the loveliest ways to see the river wildlife (that includes seals, kingfishers and a wide assortment of other birds) is to hire a canoe, the two main options are Canoe Adventures – these are guided tours for groups in big open voyager canoes. They are based 5 minutes drive away in Tuckenhay and launch from the Malsters Arms.
Alternatively Totnes Kayaks provides a selection of vessels, including kayaks which you can hire and go off and explore on your own, they launch at Stoke Gabriel which is a 15 minute drive. Don’t forget to take a picnic and stop off along the way or canoe down to Dittisham (if you’re feeling energetic) and have lunch in the cafe (which does great food). If you time the tides right you can catch an outgoing down and an ingoing back – makes life much easier!
There is also a company called Dynamic Adventures which is based in Dartington (close by) and offers loads of difference activities for adventurous families. They recently added paddle boards to their hire list which is great fun on the River Dart.
Dart River Boats
If you prefer a more gentile approach to travel then the river boats are a great option. They leave regularly from Totnes and take about an hour to get to Dartmouth. When you get to Dartmouth you can take a bit of time to potter around the lovely town centre, visiting one of their great places to eat – I suggest any one of Mitch Tonks restaurants/fish and chip shops or there is a lovely French patisserie – then catch a boat back. A great day out. If you fancy it there’s a round robin where you can catch the Steam Railway (another lovely trip) to Paignton from Kingswear (opposite Dartmouth) to Paignton and then the bus back to Totnes. Sounds exhausting writing it – but its a great way of seeing the local area.
Kids days out
Woodlands leisure park
This is great fun and good for all weather, though gets super busy in school holidays – book online for cheapest tickets.
River Dart Country Park
Low ropes, high ropes, climbing pods, adventure commando courses, bike trails, zip wire and so much more, a great day out for children with plenty of picnic spots and a licenced cafe. Make sure you pack your simmers/wetsuit! 25 minutes drive from the Shippon
A day’s worth of activities (especially if it’s not raining – but plenty to do if it is particularly for children under the age of 12) including water slides, toboggan runs, huge indoor play park with drop slides and rides, pirate ship, water rides and so much more.
A good selection of openair waterslides, great fun for all the family, close to the beach so can be combined with other activities.
A lovely swimming pool and waterslide facility with the added bonus of a large outdoor pool and waterslide in summer months.
Dart Rock climbing centre
A great climbing centre that offers options for all ages and skill levels. Book a private lesson or as part of a group.
A 1200 acre estate within 10 minutes drive of the Shippon that has something for everyone. There are lots of family activities throughout the year, beautiful gardens, great cafes, fabulous walks around the deer park and along the river, you could even try a wild swim! There’s a small cinema and often hosts music evenings and live theatre performances.
A really good zoo just 20 minutes drive away
Pennywell Farm https://www.pennywellfarm.co.uk/
A lovely day out for little children, plenty of animals to cuddle, mini train ride, tractor rides and much more.
Dartmouth to Totnes round robin
For all big and little kids who love a steam train, ferry ride and open top bus! This is a great way to travel to Dartmouth via ferry from Totnes, have a mooch about then catch the steam train to Paignton and the bus back. Breathtaking views and a fab family day out.
The Aquarium in Plymouth – good wet weather activity
If you like sandy beaches you need to head over to Salcombe and Kingsbridge way. South Sands in Salcombe, Bantham and South Milton near Kingsbridge (both have cafes). Or if you want more of a beach hut experience then you could try Broadsands (near Paignton) Beaches are not usually very dog friendly between May – September 30th. So best to check this out before you go with your dogs.
Pebbly beaches include Blackpool sands (which is a beautiful beach though no sand) and Slapton which about 2 miles long which also has a couple of fab places to get fish and chips at one end in Torcross.
Also the coastal path runs along much of our coast so just rock up and walk a bit and you will find secret coves and breathtaking views.
Dartmoor is just a great place to go and explore, places to try and Two Bridges, Dartmeet, Bone torr, Haytorr, Badgers Holt; all great spots but you will need to walk a bit to get away from crowds in peak season.
Swimming pools and leisure centres
Totnes has a pool though its pretty basic – there is a new indoor pool in Dartmouth (15 minutes drive away) and a big heated outdoor pool which is great in the summer.