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Fun Family activities around Sutton Harbour

15th March 2016

Whether you are local to the area or visiting on your holiday, Sutton Harbour is part of the rich tapestry of Plymouth’s magnificent waterfront with a host of activities and has something for everyone – particularly families.

Here are just a few of the many family friendly things to do around the historic waterfront of Britain’s Ocean City.

Dry Day Activities

Brass Rubbing

Brass Rubbing at Sutton Harbour

1 Follow the Sutton Harbour Heritage Trail and complete the brass rubbings as you go. (Just Bring a few sheets of A4 paper and some crayons; you’ll see the plaques all around the harbour)

2 Go seal and dolphin spotting while you admire the view – Sammy the Seal is often found swimming around the lock bridge, and especially as the tide comes in there is often a dolphin or porpoise to be seen.

3 Fly kites on Plymouth Hoe; it’s a superb open space, great for a picnic or café stop – and perfect for kite flying on the grass near the lighthouse.

4 Talking of lighthouses – you can’t miss Smeaton’s Tower. It stood ten miles out to sea on the Eddystone Reef, and was brought back stone by stone when it was replaced. Climb to the top if you dare and see how the keepers lived!

5 Take one of the many boat trips across to Kingsand and Cawsand, on the Cornish side of Plymouth Sound. Fantastic views, a lovely beach, great pubs – it was once the smuggling capital of Devon and in fact a part of Devon itself!

6 Marvel at peace and quiet of the Elizabethan Garden behind New Street, which was ‘new’ when Drake was a lad! Built in a vacant space after WW2 from ancient stones, it echoes the beauty of Tudor gardens, and is a perfect spot for a picnic with the children.

7 Hire bikes from Rockets and Rascals including Mini-Rocket hire trailers, and explore the Barbican and along the Hoe to Millbay – further to the Royal William Yard if you like! Easy and fairly level, with great views and lots of cafes.

8 From Sutton Harbour head by bike or foot on The National Trust Estate at Saltram following the Plym Valley Trail. This leads along the same route as the South West Coast Path across Sutton Harbour lock bridge, and then out along old roads and railway tracks into the Georgian estate.

9 Cross by the small Cremyll ferry from Stonehouse to Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park. The grounds are superb, and you can walk as far as time and desire allow you along the coast toward Kingsand. Picnic on the lawns, and admire the views back across the River Tamar toward the historic Naval dockyards.

10 Follow a part of the South West Coast Path , which passes right through Plymouth and Sutton Harbour, Westward to Cremyll and into Cornwall, or Eastward around to Bovisand and Wembury. You can always catch a bus back! The scenery is breathtaking, watch out for plenty of ups and downs on the path!

11 Cross by water taxi to Mountbatten and the old RAF seaplane base. You might book a course at the watersports centre, or just enjoy the stroll and the view.

12 In the summer, don’t miss the Tinside Lido – step back in time and swim in the Art Deco pool beside the sea.

Rainy Day Activities


1 Head over to Clay Art in Southside Street and create your very own piece of art.

2 Visit the small cinema at Plymouth Arts Centre on historic Looe Street and see one of their family friendly films.

3 Visit the UK’s National Marine Aquarium and wonder at the the underlife of the sea.

4 Plymouth is steeped in history – take a look at the Mayflower Museum above the Tourist Information Centre beside the Harbour and learn of Plymouth’s early links with America.

5 The Barbican Leisure Park a short walk from the lock bridge (all signposted) has a multi screen cinema, bowling alley and restaurants to enjoy.

6 If shopping is your thing, the Barbican and Sutton Harbour are surrounded by small shops and galleries – and the city centre with its covered Mall, Drake’s Circus, is ten minute’s walk away.


Naughty But Nice Activities


Jacka’s Bakery

Sutton Harbour and the Barbican is surrounded by cafes and shops with all sorts of goodies to enjoy! These are just a FEW choices…

1 Ice Creams from Island House – a delicious selection to choose from, and in a house in which the Pilgrim Fathers are said to have stayed!

2 Fudge from Edward’s Fudge Shop in Southside Street

3 If chocolate is your thing, find Choccacino in Southside Street; it’s a great café with superb cakes, and hand made chocolates – but you can also book classes in chocolate making!

4 Jackas Bakery – again in Southside Street , this is England’s oldest working bakery and makes the BEST bread and pastries you could wish for, with great coffee, to enjoy in the little café there.

5 Cap’n Jaspers. If you know it, you’ll need no further explanation – but their al fresco quayside burgers and hot dogs are simply enormous and can fill the largest tummy.

6 Don’t miss Jan’s Tuck Shop on The Barbican itself – a good old fashioned sweet shop.

7 For an adult treat with a definite touch of class, go to The Refectory Cocktail Bar upstairs at the Plymouth Gin Distilllery. Find out what a PROPER Gin and Tonic tastes like!

Family Friendly Food


Boston Tea Party

(don’t forget that many of these places accept our Sutton Harbour Experience Card which can give you offers and discounts)

1 Boston Tea Party has plenty of space and a menu to suit all family tastes – and accepts dogs too.

2 There’s a great choice in traditional Fish’n’Chips, with award winning restaurants around the waterside; simple and delicious. See our guide.

3 Take your own picnic (everything you need can be bought in the local shops) and enjoy it in the Elizabethan Garden or on the Quaysides.

4 More cafes than you can shake a stick at will ply you with tea and cake – for a traditional English approach try the Tudor Rose Tea Rooms (indoor and garden) off New Street – a hidden gem.

5 Rockets and Rascals on the Parade is a super café with a two-wheeled twist; indoor and outdoor, and a place to hire bikes!


Imagine – Explore – Learn

Pirate and a girls at the Pirate's Weekend

Pirate Weekend

1 To explore and learn, there are few places better in the whole country than the National Marine Aquarium; there are regular events – and you can even book to sleep with the sharks!

2 Pirate Days at Sutton Harbour are this year on May 14 & 15th; a range of performers and entertainers against the classic harbour setting are bound to spark young imaginations!

3 Sutton Harbour is the crucible from which the world as we know it today was largely created as explorers set sail for new worlds – don’t miss the Mayflower Museum to find out more.

4 Elizabethan House, Merchants House; The Harbour was once surrounded by these old Tudor buildings; these two preserved examples house museum artefacts and fascinating depictions of bygone eras

5 Harbour Heritage Trail – the one mile walk around Sutton Harbour is quite amazing when you know a little of the history; follow the pillars and the guide to have a great stroll and find out more! Stretch your legs further up onto The Hoe and enjoy the unrivalled view.


Creative Activties

Intricate design on a clay cup

Clay Art

1 MAKE at 140 in Vauxhall Street run regular crafty classes (as well as having a great café) and you can book whatever it is that you fancy.

2 Clay Art in Southside street is a fantastic creative space for painting pre-prepared china with your own bespoke designs; these are then glazed and fired and you collect them later – beautiful and useful they make great mementoes and gifts. Kids love it!

3 Brass rubbing around the Harbour Heritage Trail; bring paper and crayons!

4 Draw and paint – art supplies are easy and cheap to find; where better to sit awhile and get the children to draw or paint a picture? You could even upload a copy of them to our Facebook Page – we would love to see them.