Pretty woman feeling excited about rainy weather

What can I do on a rainy day in Devon?

What is there to do in West Devon on a rainy day? There are simply loads of great rainy day activities near to Melrose Cottage, from exploring the rich history of Dartmoor and its inhabitants, to appreciating some art, cake or gin! If you are looking for family activities on a rainy day, we also have plenty of options on offer.

Museum of Dartmoor Life

Just around the corner from Melrose Cottage is the fascinating Museum of Dartmoor Life. The museum is an ideal family activity for a rainy day in Devon. Set over three floors you will learn all about Dartmoor through the ages, Dartmoor Industries and Dartmoor people.

On the top floor you can see what a bronze age hut would have looked like and look at bronze age tools. You can see also see kitchens, bathing and laundry from the turn of the last century. You will also find displays about entertainment and crafts from the early 20th Century. Finally, for the young (and old) fire engine lovers, an early fire engine is also on display.

On the second floor you will learn about the fascinating geology of Dartmoor, early and current military use of Dartmoor. This floor also covers the wool industry and transport on Dartmoor.

Lastly, on the ground floor the gallery explores farming on Dartmoor from the 1800s to the mid-20th century. This also covers our personal favourite: cider making (if you want to sample some close by, check out our foodie article). Our middle little one loves looking at the agricultural vehicles and machinery which are also on the ground floor.

Finch Foundry

Finch Foundry is a National Trust property located a short drive from Melrose Cottage in the picturesque Dartmoor village of Sticklepath. This is a great family activity on a rainy day. If you take a guided tour of the foundry you will have a fully immersive experience of the South West’s historically most successful “edge tool” factories.  You will be able to take in the sights, sounds and smells – check out the waterwheels that powered giant hammers, massive shears and a gigantic sharpening stone. You will learn about the enterprising Rebecca Finch and the rest of the Finch family, and find out about working life in the 19th century.

Finch foundry also has a beautiful, manicured garden with a Quaker cemetery behind it to explore for those who are historically minded and who can brave the rain.

We would highly recommend the Taw River Inn located directly opposite Finch Foundry. If you fancy warming up with a local beverage in front of an open fire in a traditional and historic English pub, then it is the ideal end point on a rainy day!


We are lucky enough to have a beautiful bijou local cinema in Okehampton. You can walk there in 5 minutes from Melrose Cottage. Head to the New Carlton Cinema in Okehampton and settle down to enjoy the big screen experience with some popcorn. This is a great family or adult activity where you can stay cosy on a rainy day.

Soft Play

Younger children

We have so many activities close by for younger children on a rainy day. One favourite family activity is swimming. Parklands Leisure Centre is literally around the corner, a short walk away and boasts a full sized swimming pool.

Our local softplay, Okey Cokey, is also a short walk away – providing some much needed space for little ones to let off steam on a rainy day. Serving food and hot drinks, you can relax with a cuppa while the kids tear around.

We also enjoy going to Drake’s farm as a family activity on a rainy day. There is an indoor café and an outdoor play area with animals to feed and pet. The reason this  is a good call on a rainy day is that there is a significant outdoor play space (including a massive sandpit) which is under cover. This allows you to get some fresh air, without getting wet! We love the coffees and lunches. Don’t leave without visiting the farm shop across the road.

Buckfast Abbey

The Roman Catholic Benedictine Monks at Buckfast Abbey are famous for a few things, the ones I know about are – Buckfast Tonic Wine (which I’m afraid, I can’t recommend unless you really want to push yourself over the edge!), and the renowned Buckfast Bees (known for their gentle queens).

However, a perfect rainy day activity is to visit the Abbey Church at Buckfast Abbey. The original Abbey was founded in 1018 AD, by King Cnut. Now, it is a simply stunning Abbey Church. Buckfast Abbey is located at the edge of Dartmoor National Park in the centre of a picturesque valley. The monks live their lives according to the ancient rule of St Benedict.

Along with taking a look at the Abbey Church or attending a service there, if you can catch a break in the rain you can check out the beautiful gardens. Or take a coffee or lunch break in the on-site restaurant. There is also an onsite bookshop and gift shop to browse for unusual gifts and books.

English Spirit Distillery

Rainy days in Devon are perfect for a visit to the English Spirit Distillery.  Based at the historic Treguddick Manor – in Launceston, Cornwall – the distillery is only just over 20 minutes’ drive from Melrose Cottage.

English Spirit combine unique methods of distilling and an award-winning range of spirits. A distillery tour is an ideal escape from the rain. You can choose from a combination tour (covering vodka, rum and gin), or a rum or gin tour. You will learn about the distilling process from end-to-end, including botanicals, spring water, fermenting and scratch-distilling. Each tour will end with a tasting. So make sure it isn’t your turn to be the nominated driver! Why not combine your tour with a visit to the onsite café for lunch?

Tavistock Pannier Market

Tavistock pannier market is perfect for exploration on a rainy day because the whole market is under cover. This market has a lot of history since it has been running for 900 years since obtaining its Royal Charter in 1105. The market opens every day from Tuesday until Saturday. There is a diverse offering from antiquarian books, engraved goods, crafts, collectables. Some Saturdays are themed markets including a Victorian Fair.

The town of Tavistock itself is an ancient stannary town which holds world heritage status. Tavistock is apparently where cream tea was invented! There are a range of independent shops for you to browse in addition to the pannier market and farmers’ market.

Our favourite place to stop for a bite to eat after a busy day of shopping is Church Lane, with delicious pizzas, salads as well as coffees, cakes and cocktails!

Devon Cream Tea

Explore nearby Hatherleigh

Why not explore Hatherleigh on a rainy day? Hatherleigh is a traditional rural town close to Melrose Cottage, with a famous Tuesday market.

Wander round Hatherleigh Pottery which is situated in a picturesque courtyard near the centre of Hatherleigh. You will be treated to the contrasting work of two potters who throw, decorate, glaze and fire their pottery on site. Hatherleigh Pottery have been producing beautiful pieces in the town for 25 years.

Spend your rainy day browsing the wonderful creative works in for sale in The Salar Gallery . The Gallery provides an exhibition space for artists and craftspeople who are mainly from Devon. The landscape, animals and rural subjects of the West Country are celebrated in all of the works. This is a great spot for you to find a unique and fitting present to take home for friends and family!

Finally, why not book in for lunch at One Market Street Cafe, and sample some of the best cakes in the county. This is also a great family activity as there are high chairs and the owners are child friendly (in our experience)!

Kents Cavern

How often do you get the opportunity to experience something which has been around since the Stone Age? Kents Caverns are located in Torquay, around an hour’s drive from Melrose Cottage. These were once occupied by prehistoric people and ice age animals. You will be led through the large caverns and can marvel at the incredible stalactites and stalagmites. It is the perfect way to escape a rainy day in Devon. This is also a great family activity because the ticket price includes the woodland trail, complete with its own mammoth!

Nearby activities include a coasteering trip (who cares if it is rainy if you’re getting wet anyway) with Go Coasteering. The South West Coast path is also nearby if you want to don your waterproof to enjoy the South Devon coastline in all its glory.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery Exeter

Melrose Cottage is located on Station Road in Okehampton. It is only a short train ride on the newly restored Dartmoor Line to Exeter Central. Otherwise, you can also drive there, with plenty of car parks available in the city.

We recommend the Exeter Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery which is a treasure trove for culture vultures or a family activity on a rainy day in Devon. The building itself is worthwhile visiting. Entry to the museum is free. The galleries of “RAMM” as it is affectionately known showcase world-class collections. RAMM is considered one of Britain’s finest regional museums. There is a lively programme of exhibitions, activities and events, including evening talks with a bar onsite. You can explore collections covering the story of Exeter and Devon from the prehistoric times to the present. In addition, you can find out about world cultures and natural sciences. Don’t forget to visit Gerald the giraffe whilst you’re there!

There are also many other rainy day treasures nearby, such as Exeter Castle, and Exeter Cathedral. There are plenty of things to make a day of it. Why not stop at Boston Tea Party for a bite of lunch or a coffee?

The National Marine Aquarium

The National Marine Aquarium is a perfect family activity for a rainy day. This is the UK’s largest aquarium, located in Plymouth an hour’s drive away from Melrose Cottage (across Dartmoor so you will get lots of great views on the way).

The Aquariumis arranged by zones, including the Plymouth Sound exhibit showcasing the colourful aquatic creatures found in the rockpools and coastline. To my surprise, this includes the common octopus! Another highlight is the Atlantic Ocean exhibit, which is the deepest tank in the UK. There are numerous sharks, turtles and stingrays to admire here. We also love the glow in the dark jellyfish in the Ocean Drifters section.

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