The historic Sutton Harbour on Plymouth’s spectacular waterfront is a perfect place to enjoy a day out with the family. Now that the warmer weather has arrived and more sunny days are on their way – or so we hope – a bit of family fun in Britain’s Ocean City is just what we need.
Whether it’s taking the kids out for the day or spending quality time with loved ones you’ve not seen during lockdown, there’s a great range of destinations and venues in Sutton Harbour that everyone can enjoy safely, from top UK attractions to high-quality restaurants.
Here’s a breakdown of things to do with the family along Plymouth’s waterfront this month:
Top visitor attractions
Sutton Harbour is home to the UK’s largest aquarium with over 4,000 sea creatures including sharks, turtles and octopuses across a range of exciting exhibits. The National Marine Aquarium is a popular venue, especially amongst families, thanks to the extensive range of activities on offer that are suitable for all ages.
The aquarium hosts a range of immersive ocean-themed events throughout the year including an al a carte dining experience, yoga sessions and educational activities. The NMA also opens its doors three times a year for an after-hours Quiet at the Aquarium event, which allows families and those with autism and sensory needs to enjoy the exhibits without the normal day-time noise and crowds.
The aquarium is a first-class family day out, especially on rainy days, where children can learn more about the animals who live under the sea, tumble in the soft play area and look around the Ocean Gift Shop. The NMA has now reopened and you can book a time slot for your visit on the National Marine Aquarium website, as well as find out more about the changes to tickets which now include three types – saver, standard and peak.
You can also take a trip through history at the recently revamped Mayflower Museum. The museum is located in the Tourist Information Centre opposite the Mayflower Steps Memorial at the entrance of the harbour.
Set over three floors, the museum explores the story of the Mayflower and its legendary voyage to the New World. You can see what life was like on board and what challenges the passengers faced along the way as well as exploring the Mayflower Pilgrims Remembered Gallery and the Mayflower Pilgrims, Plymouth and Beyond Gallery, which includes a model of the vessel. Find out more here.
Top quality restaurants
Many high quality eateries are located along Plymouth’s waterfront and Sutton Harbour is one of the top food and drink destinations in the city. From seafood restaurants and dog-friendly cafes to wine lounges and takeaway venues, there’s a huge variety on offer to tingle everyone’s taste buds.
Open seven days a week from 12pm-7pm, Rockfish serves up a mouth-watering menu of locally caught seafood which you can order easily through their app. The restaurant boasts a large deck area which now includes a new Salcombe Brewery bar and is a fantastic spot neighbouring the National Marine Aquarium – perfect for a bite to eat after exploring the underwater world. Check out their menu of delicious seafood dishes and learn more on their website.
You can enjoy food and drinks with a view at HonkyTonk Wine Library. For those looking to spend some time with their adult children or other adult members of the family, HonkyTonk is a must-visit spot along the harbour. The wine lounge has a new menu on offer and stunning views overlooking Sutton Harbour Marina, where you can enjoy their extensive selection of drinks and deli food including their show-stopping fish, meat and veggie platters. Visit their website to book your table.
Daisy’s Tea Rooms and Coffee Shop serves a delicious range of lunch foods, homemade cakes and popular afternoon tea options. The dog-friendly café is a great spot for the whole family to enjoy – including your four-legged friends – and also offers weekly Sunday roasts with a variety of meat choices as well as a vegetarian alternative. Visit their Facebook page to find out more and to book a table.
Grab a ‘pizza’ the action at The Plymouth Stable and tuck into their selection of mouth-watering pizzas with sourdough bases, homemade tomato sauce and locally sourced toppings. Their terrace and balcony offer a fantastic location with a beautiful backdrop overlooking Sutton Harbour Marina. Plus, the restaurant has over 50 varieties of cider on offer for the parents to enjoy and a delicious range of desserts for the kids to tuck into. Find out more on their website.
Boston Tea Party is famous for its delicious breakfast foods as well as its extensive menu of vegan/vegetarian dishes and is a consistently popular venue along the harbour. The café boasts a fantastic view of the harbour and an outside patio area to enjoy meals in the sunshine. Boston Tea Party also has a large indoor seating area for when the weather takes a turn, and takeaways and collections are also available via the Boston Tea Party website and Deliveroo.
Sit right along the harbour’s edge on the eastern side of Sutton Harbour and enjoy dishes from Supha’s Street Food Emporium. Pick from their extensive menu of street food-style dishes with Asian influences including Thai cuisine and dishes from Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar, with a great range of vegan and vegetarian options. Book online via the Supha’s website and explore their menu.
Miller and Carter Steakhouse offers a welcoming family dining experience, with a range of carefully sourced 30-day aged British and Irish beef on the menu, which includes vegan and vegetarian options and a gluten free menu. Take a look at their website for more information and how to book.
Are you a fan of seafood? The Harbour Seafood Restaurant offers a range of fresh, sustainable seafood for all ages to tuck into. Located on the quay side with views of the marina, the restaurant also serves up burgers, salads and vegan and vegetarian dishes as well as a kids’ menu. Visit the website for the full menu and contact details.
Enjoy a range of traditional pub food whilst taking in a stunning view over the marina at The Ship Inn. With sheltered outdoor seating, The Ship is a great spot to enjoy some tasty food and drinks along the harbourside after a day of exploring the waterfront, with a menu full of great options for adults and children alike. Visit their website for more information.
Don’t forget – there’s also a range of alfresco eateries dotted around the harbourside for takeaway food and drink, including Cap’n Jaspers, The Greek, Louise’s Coffee and Donuts and Alfresco.
Sutton Harbour has some of the best views and locations to visit along Plymouth’s waterfront.
Sutton Harbour Marina is a stunning backdrop for a whole host of businesses located along the harbour and a great location for visitors to sit and enjoy on a sunny day.
You can visit the spot where the Pilgrim’s set sail for America over 400 years ago aboard the legendary Mayflower. The Mayflower Steps Memorial is located at the entrance to the harbour where you can look out across the water from the viewing platform. The original steps are thought to be located underneath the Admiral McBride pub adjacent to the memorial.
You can explore the harbour and learn more about Plymouth’s maritime history on the Sutton Harbour Heritage Trail, available on the Plymouth Trails app. The trail is a one-mile circuit around the harbour with different stops along the way with fascinating information and images from the past, showing how the harbour has changed over time.
We encourage anyone visiting the harbour to ensure they are following the latest Government guidelines on social distancing.