Paignton might be small, but the tourist hub is filled with entertainment and activities including the zoo, historic railway, a huge country park and plenty of beach-side action including the largest outdoor waterpark in the country.
Activities in Paignton
Home to lions, tigers, gorillas, crocodiles, snakes and giraffes, Paignton Zoo boasts over 2,500 animals spread across 80 acres. With six designated enclosures including the savannah, wetlands and the tropical jungle, there are a variety of areas to explore – or you can jump on the Jungle Express mini train and see the sights on the move. With a range of activities, including animal feeding sessions and keeper talks plus indoor and outdoor play areas, there’s plenty to see and do and several cafés and food stalls dotted around the zoo.
Dartmouth Steam Railway
Embrace your inner train geek on the Dartmouth Steam Railway, a seven-mile celebration of locomotion that runs from Paignton to Kingswear. Built in 1864, the one-hour train ride takes in some truly gorgeous scenery including the River Dart, Dartmouth Castle and Lyme Bay, with the gentle lull of the tracks rattling below you. The train leaves from Paignton Train Station close to the Geopark and Paignton Beach, with return tickets including the trip back on a restored ferry boat.
As the largest outdoor water park in the UK, you’re guaranteed a wet and wild time at Splashdown Quaywest. A short walk from our Paignton Seafront hotel, the park has eight huge outdoor slides and a variety of splash pools and play areas, as well as several swimming pools where you can get your lengths in. Open from April until September, Splashdown has a range of food and drink options including The View restaurant at the top boasting impressive coastal views along the English Riviera.
Picture the scene: the sun is rippling off the gently lapping water as hundreds of yachts and boats bob while you sit there, gently nursing a Cornish ice cream and thinking about precisely nothing. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, the delightful Paignton Harbour offers those simple joys and more, as it also has a small retail park with independent stores, a secluded sandy cove perfect for families and children and plenty of great local coffee shops including Molly Malone’s café.
Paignton is great for families, and the Geopark is a great way to entertain kids of all ages. Split into four distinct areas covering toddlers, juniors, teenagers and a sand and water area, the park has over 30 rides and attractions and is centrally located just by Paignton Beach and the pier. With zip rides, towers, swings, logs, stilts, climbing trees and plenty of educational content, there’s something for everyone, with lots of picnic tables and nearby cafés when you need to refuel.
Cockington Country Park
If you’ve ticked everything off your bucket and spade list, head inland to Cockington Country Park. With 450-acres to explore spanning open parkland, sprawling woods and some ornate gardens, plus miles of walking, biking and running trails, you could spend days here as there’s so much to see and do - make sure you visit the historic Manor House and the ‘chocolate box’ village of Cockington. And the park is just a few miles north of our Paignton South hotel.
Just south of Cockington Country Park you’ll find Occombe Farm, a huge working farm which is free for visitors to explore. Using the nature trails that delve in and out of natural woodland and some amazing views, you’ll come across alpaca enclosures, jaw-dropping coastal views and sprawling orchard. Make sure to end your trip at the fantastic on-site café that does everything from snacks, drinks and lunch options to three-course Friday night menus using nothing but the best farm-fresh produce.