As the sun warmed our backs, on the first day that you could actually feel summer beckoning, we stood on Plymouth Hoe looking out across the sea. This stretch of water here, known as Plymouth Sound, was calm and shimmering on the May day we visited and the grassy banks were filled with picnicking friends and happy games of frisbee.
We strolled over to the majestic statue of Francis Drake – Chief Admiral of the city and who, in 1580 became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. It’s hard to imagine how unnerving, to say the least, that must have been in an age when so little about the world was known – setting off across the sea not knowing if you would return.
It was here, on Plymouth Hoe overlooking the Sound that Drake was reportedly playing bowls when he was told about the approaching Armada from Spain. He supposedly replied with the famous words, “We have time enough to finish the game and beat the Spaniards too” and promptly did just that. It felt fitting on this late Spring day to wander past the bowling green still awash with fevered play and balls clipping and knocking. It’s an evocative place to sit and watch the players today and wonder at the events hundreds of years ago.
Plymouth isn’t stuck in the 16th century though. A wander down from the Hoe to the beautiful area of the Barbican is full of cafes and galleries and of course pasty and ice cream shops. It’s great for a browse and to sit and watch the boats bobbing up and down in the harbour.
Over the bridge and you’re quickly into the National Marine Aquarium – the largest aquarium in the UK. We spent the longest time here watching stingray glide over head and the colourful displays of jellyfish.
We loved the display of sealife that can be found in the Sound outside the front of the aquarium – they have a whole section given over to local fish and sea life.
And we particularly loved the huge tanks where you could really see the fish swimming and shoaling together as they would have in the wild.
There’s also a great soft play area with lovely cafe – perfect for a piece of salted caramel shortbread and raspberry lemonade.
After a wander around the beautiful area of Royal William Yard and its boutiques and restaurants we grabbed lunch at the Prezzo restaurant overlooking the waterfront.
And then we headed out of town a little, to the Dartmoor Zoo a short drive from Plymouth. We loved this wildlife park which had some great spaces for the animals to roam.
We loved the otters and tapirs and we all laughed at the fox which looked very much like the urban foxes that visit our garden (only much plumper and with glossier fur). There are plenty of big cats, raccoons and meerkats.
It was only the large birds that we felt could have had more room to roam but overall there was a good space for the animals here and Dartmoor Zoo have an active link to conservation and research.
We loved seeing the bird display on the front lawn which saw the larger birds flying freely above our heads while the peacocks roamed about the paths next to us.
With a well priced cafe and small play area this is a great trip out from Plymouth and well worth the journey.
We stayed at the Premier Inn in Plymouth East, just outside of the main city but easily accessible to it and the roads in. As always as Premier Inn we slept so well and they really are amazing value.
We love the kids eat free at breakfast (and the fact they have quorn sausages there too!). Our family room was a perfect size for our overnight stay and with free wi-fi (a great bonus) and a guaranteed “good night” they’re always a good choice for families.
We really enjoyed our weekend away to Plymouth – it’s a great city break by the sea.
Globalmouse were guests of the National Marine Aquarium, Dartmoor Zoo and Premier Inn but all opinions are our own.