As a student, one of the biggest treats of term is when your parents come to visit. There’s a little slice of the comfort of home with none of the travel and lots of free food. But how do you make your parents fall as deep in love with Exeter as you are in just one weekend? I’ve put together a guide to my idea of the perfect weekend to show your parents the best bits of Exeter and Devon.
Your parents have just arrived, tired and, if they’re like mine, probably a bit grumpy from the journey. Pick them up at St David’s or from wherever they have parked the car and take them on a stroll down the river to one of my favourite places in Exeter, the Quay. On the Waterfront is the perfect restaurant for this first evening because the food is great but simple (pizza is always a hit), in the summer you can sit outside overlooking the river and in the winter the inside is super cosy and relaxed. After dinner, take a walk back into town via Caramello, the best ice cream shop in town, for a quick dessert stop and a look at the Cathedral lit up before heading home for the night.
Start Saturday right with a brunch stop at the Boston Tea Party. For me this has a particular sentimental attachment as it is the first place my mum and I ever went to lunch in Exeter, but it is also just amazing anyway. The food is great and the open, upstairs area has a student-y feel that your parents will love.
For the rest of Saturday, head out of the city to Killerton house, either by bus or car. Killerton is a stunning National Trust property with amazing grounds to walk in that also, of course, provide many great Instagram opportunities. In autumn, the grounds are even more beautiful than usual, so if you get a chance go as soon as possible. I went around this time last year and my dad took great pleasure in the pumpkin trail that I am sure would also be fun for any younger siblings (aka the age demographic it was intended for). There’s also a small cafe that makes an amazing roast lunch and, if your parents are looking for somewhere a bit unusual to stay, there are also cottages in the grounds that can be rented to stay in. My parents rented one of these cottages for a few days last year with my sister and grandma and it was lovely to spend a couple of nights in the middle of the countryside.
For Saturday evening, treat yourself (aka get your parents to treat you) at my all time favourite restaurant in Exeter, Harry’s. Most of us walk past it at least once a week but it’s rare that we actually get to experience it. The restaurant itself is incredibly friendly and cosy and one of the few independent restaurants in the centre of Exeter. The food is the absolutely delicious comfort food which makes up for not going home and having your mum’s cooking. I personally recommend the nachos and the peanut butter and Oreo cheesecake which is just as unhealthy and amazing as it sounds.
For your last day, make your way to one of Devon’s most charming seaside towns, Sidmouth. If you have younger siblings, or are just a fan of adorable animals, the Donkey Sanctuary is just ten minutes out of town and offers the chance to stroke and brush the donkeys. If you’re an outdoorsy family, or, like me, a begrudgingly outdoorsy person with extremely outdoorsy parents, there is a stunning coastal path which is lovely to walk along. At the end of this walk is the sea front which boasts many seaside cafes selling fish and chips, either to be eaten in the warmth of the cafe or sat on the beach watching the waves. After this it’s only a small walk into the town to peruse the shops on the high street. The bus stop is just off the high street and the bus back to Exeter takes around an hour and has stunning views of the Devon countryside, so if your parents want to head back home straight from Sidmouth you can get back to Exeter easily. The bus stop and bus ride home also provide the perfect setting for a movie-esque emotional goodbye scene.
There you have it, folks. My guide to a perfect weekend with your parents in Exeter (and surrounding areas). As long as you don’t make the mistake I did and take your parents through the high street late at night the weekend before halloween, they are bound to leave loving Exeter just as much as you do.