Seaton Jurassic – travel back through time at Seaton’s newest family attraction
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We’ve passed it so many times – we’ve been into the big adjoining café, and taken part in a dinosaur egg Easter hunt in the back garden, but until today we’d never been into the actual ‘attraction’ side of Seaton’s new marine heritage-themed visitor centre Seaton Jurassic.
This is mainly because we were under the impression that it would be expensive to enter, but we were wrong - even at full price a family of 2+2 is £22.50 - and today, in the quieter month of January, entry was half price but with the option to pick up an annual family pass for just £21ish quid.
I’ll also admit that I didn’t really know what the centre was all about – maybe I thought it was better suited to older children given its relatively grown-up marine/natural history theme – but again, I was happy to be corrected as I can confirm both the 3 year old and the 6 year old had a great time even if they were more interested in dressing up as a squid than listening to me giving them educational facts about coastal erosion. However, they were genuinely amazed at all there was to see and do and I think the older one did actually learn something about sea stacks and fossil discovery so that’s a start.
To summarise – Seaton Jurassic is an impressive £4m visitor attraction designed to be ultra hands-on for kids (and adults) and laid out as a walk-through of various zones that cover themes like evolution, wildlife and geology over the last 250 million years. It’s primarily a learning facility (run by Devon Wildlife Trust) but the amazing array of interactive displays and activities appeal to children from toddlers up to pre-teen (in my opinion) – a fun and interesting family day out.
There’s a large child-friendly café, a gift shop, and also a great outdoor garden with loads to do – more on that in a mo.
On arrival the centre staff handed the girls a question booklet to complete, explaining that there were several wooden time capsules to be found along the way and in each they’d find an ink stamp for their book. Our girls enjoyed the hunt for the time capsules to collect the stamps and I’m sure more studious children would enjoy the quiz/fact-finding mission too.
The children were encouraged to open drawers, handle the displays and poke all of the buttons etc – nice that it’s not a stuffy ‘don’t touch’ museum where you worry about things getting broken.
We were then set loose in the attraction and I have to say we were impressed – lots of hidden treasures to be found, with the jewel in the crown being the climb-aboard interactive time machine which we floated around in for ages.
The kids also loved the rockpool area with its giant periscope and area to dress up in all manner of sealife costumes, sometimes it’s the simple things! I’m not sure I look that great as a squid to be honest. There’s plenty to amuse and we spent an hour or so in the attraction itself - though you could easily spend a good few hours inside, outside and in the cafe.
We stopped in the café for lunch (there’s board games, books, jenga, and colouring available to keep fidgets entertained) then headed out into the freezing January greyness to explore the garden – which, like inside, has loads to discover and do. Highlights being the 3D cube puzzle, the run-through water fountain (which was not running today due to the temperature but the kids loved it when we came last Easter for the egg hunt event), magnetic fishing from a boat, giant sandpit and fossil discovery pit.
When we finished working our way around inside and out, we showed the completed ink stamp booklets to the receptionist and the girls were allowed to choose a couple of gemstones as their reward.
The whole place is accessible for wheelchair and pushchair users and baby changing facilities are available. Parking is in the car park on The Underfleet road just behind the facility so that was easy and convenient.
As an added bonus, behind Seaton Jurassic is Seaton’s big playground and a newly-enhanced skate park, the seafront is only a 5-minute walk away, and you’re right next to Seaton Tramway (read my write up here), so there’s plenty of opportunity to extend your day.
All in all an enjoyable family day trip, we didn’t know what the building had been hiding - it’s a great one for a rainy day (or sunny, as the garden is lovely!) and we’ll be returning courtesy of our great value annual membership.
Follow them on Facebook to be notified of upcoming special events – there’s kids crafts on a Saturday morning in the café, and there’s always things on in the school holidays.
Do check their opening hours before visiting as it changes from season to season and it's open only Friday - Sunday until 14th Feb 2020.