Gateway to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Sidmouth couldn’t be better placed to enjoy the best of Devon’s dramatic coastline. Flanked by the area’s iconic cliffs, red on one side and white on the other, a magnificent landscape of rock formations and greenery forms the back drop for the dozens of coastal paths surrounding the town, affording visitors incredible views and a unique vantage point over the bay. Other small seaside villages like Beer, Branscombe and Budleigh Salterton lie within easy reach, so for days out and about exploring the local area, there’s no better base.
Attractive and iconic in equal measure, Sidmouth’s mile long Esplanade is quite possibly the town’s most recognizable feature. It’s backed by York Terrace, a row of beautiful Georgian homes sporting the gracious awnings and wrought-iron railings so synonymous with the era, and offers visitors a glimpse of Sidmouth’s illustrious past as a favourite seaside destination for the well-heeled holiday makers of the mid-19th Century. The promenade overlooks the bay and beckons morning strolls as well as post-beach cornets and if you’re looking for the perfect photo op spot for capturing the essence of the town, this has got to be it!
The Donkey Sanctuary
You can’t stay in Sidmouth without visiting the Donkey Sanctuary! This incredible charity was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen and has been transforming the lives of donkeys in need both in the UK and worldwide ever since. A beautiful site with several gardens and stone buildings, the sanctuary has a picnic area with tables and chairs which overlooks one of the paddocks, as well as three designated walks where guests will be able to view all of the resident donkeys. Amazingly the Donkey Sanctuary is a free day out meaning no admission fee is charged whatsoever. Visitors will however be given the opportunity to support the charity either by donation or via adoption, so if you feel your heart strings have been pulled on, this is a great way to make a difference. Visit the website here
The Norman Lockyer Observatory
For anyone who is fascinated by the planets, stars and our solar system, or for those simply looking for a slightly different experience with a dollop of scientific wonder thrown in, this is an activity not to be missed. Founded by Norman Lockyer who was a Victorian astronomer and director of the Solar Physics Observatory at South Kensington, a visit to the planetarium affords visitors the chance to view its historic telescopes. A programme of presentations runs throughout the year ad these include 2 hour features covering topics like Exploding Stars, Mercury Spotting and seasonal constellations. If you’d like more information please visit the Norman Lockyear website
As you’d imagine, Sidmouth’s seafront with its spectacular views over Lyme Bay is the perfect spot for restauranteurs to set up shop. But don’t let that detract you from eating out within the town itself. Family run eateries with oodles of charm abound as do cosy, independently owned cafes and gastro pubs, so whether it’s posh nosh you’re after or more laid-back fare, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Pea Green Boat
Offering the best locally sourced, fresh produce, Pea Green Boat restaurant lies halfway along the Esplanade and offers relaxed seaside dining in a fabulous setting. Serving dishes from predominantly local and seasonally sourced produce means the menu is constantly changing however guests can look forward to such delights as Lyme Bay scallops, whole baked Megrim sole in brown butter and Dartmoor ribeye steak, with peppercorn sauce and hand-cut chips.
Nestled in the heart of Sidmouth on Olde Fore Street, this family-run restaurant with its pared back styling and stripped floorboards, feels delightfully coastal and properly charming. The restaurant is both dog and child friendly which is great news for families who holiday with their four legged pals in tow, and dishes served include home made quiche, burgers and seafood boards.
The Marine Bar
Next door to the Pea Green Boat, the stylish Marine Bar is a dynamic coastal pub with soul-soothing top quality, locally sourced dishes as well as a collection of craft beverages made in the area. Their beach-facing terrace is the perfect perch for passers by to take a break, laze back and enjoy a deliciously decadent stone baked pizza, gourmet burger or seafood dish while soaking up the atmosphere and sea views.
Upper Deck at Harbour House Hotel
Steps from the beach and with sweeping sea views of the Jurassic Coast and Lyme Bay this casual, all-day seafood bar & grill is a fabulous way to while an afternoon away with friends and family. Lavishly styled, the restaurant’s dishes showcase regional flavours which are all expertly combined and cooked under the supervision of locally-renowned Chef Director John Pollard. Signature dishes include a Harbour fish pie, the ever-popular seafood burger, a cod fillet topped with crab crumble, and large cut, dry-eyed steaks. If however you’d prefer something sweeter, what better way to indulge than with the Upper Deck’s Afternoon Tea of freshly-baked scones and local clotted cream and jam; all served daily in the lounge or outside on the terrace by the pool.
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