Are you looking for the best things to do in Minehead?
Sitting proud as Somerset’s premier holiday destination, there’s much more to Minehead than meets the eye.
At first, it seems like a typical touristy Butlins town. But, as you walk along the broad beach, you’ll reach the start of the South West Coast Path, which leads right into Exmoor National Park.
On the other side are the mesmerising Quantock Hills, which were made the country’s first AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) in 1957.
But in the beautiful coastal town itself, you’ll find watersports, abundant history and some lovely beaches.
Being. a West Country local, I’ve visited this corner of Somerset a few times – once when I started my South West Coast Path journey – and I’ve always loved the atmosphere of Minehead, along with its gorgeous surrounding nature.
Here are my favourite things to do in the town!
Top things to do in Minehead
Minehead is a charming town and a perfect destination for exploring Somerset’s natural beauty.
One of the main draws of Minehead is its location on the edge of Exmoor National Park. This stunning national park leads out to the north coast of Somerset and covers over 260 square miles of moorland and woodland, and it’s known for its range of wildlife.
If you’re a keen walker or hiker, then you’ll love the many trails and footpaths that crisscross the park, offering stunning views and the chance to spot rare wildlife.
This is the first part of the South West Coast Path, too – although, be warned, it’s a challenging segment.
And if you’re looking for a more relaxed way to explore the park, then you can take a scenic drive or hop on a steam train on the West Somerset Railway, which runs from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard.
Of course, Minehead itself has plenty to offer too.
The town has a long history as a fishing port, and you can still see the harbour where the fishing boats used to dock.
There are also plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore, as well as a sandy beach that’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and building sandcastles.
If you’re visiting during the warmer months and are looking for something a little more active, then you can try your hand at water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding, or have a round of mini-golf at the local course.
Let’s go into Minehead’s top attractions in a bit more detail!
1. Minehead Beach
Minehead Beach is a long stretch of sand that expands for miles along the coast.
It’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun, build sandcastles, or take a dip in the sea.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at water sports like body boarding or paddleboarding. Take a look at Channel Adventure for more information.
2. Minehead Museum
Learn about the story of the town at the wonderful Minehead Museum.
With free entry, here you can delve back into the town’s many years of history as an important seaport, the 1701 Great Fire of Minehead and its involvement in the World Wars.
It’s a fantastic rainy day activity in Somerset!
3. Minehead Harbour
Minehead Harbour is a bustling port that’s been in use for centuries.
Today, it’s a popular spot for fishing and boating trips, and you can often see fishermen bringing in their catches of the day.
Take a stroll along the harbour wall and watch the boats come and go, or stop for a bite to eat at one of the local pubs or restaurants – I love The Old Ship Aground.
4. Blenheim Gardens
If the beach is too busy for you, check out Blenheim Gardens, a grassy space right in the centre of Minehead.
A popular spot in town for over 100 years, Blenheim Gardens are well-manicured with flowerbeds containing shrubs and perennials.
They’re perfect for a picnic or dog walk!
4. Stay in town for the Hobby Horse
This is perhaps Minehead’s quirkiest tradition!
The ancient tradition of the Hobby Horse springs to life each May. Adorned with colourful ribbons and flowers, the horse dances through the streets to the rhythm of local musicians.
Concealed within this elaborate costume, the performer enacts a ritual symbolic of renewal and community unity.
It’s not 100% known how the Hobby Horse came about – it’s thought to either be a historic celebration of spring or a Pagan ritual. But it’s a distinctly Somerset tradition that’s well worth catching if you’re around!
5. Take a whirl on Merlin’s amusements
Merlin’s Amusements boasts a vibrant mix of fun and games suitable for all ages, featuring a variety of slot machines and popular attractions like the 2p Jurassic World machine.
It’s located right on the seafront and is perfect if the weather’s not that kind!
6. Minehead Eye Skatepark
Skate or BMX at the Minehead Eye Skatepark, a popular spot for skateboarding enthusiasts of all ages.
This indoor skate park is perfect for the whole family – and it’s one of the best things to do in Minehead on a rainy day!
7. Jubilee Cafe crazy golf
Another fun activity in Minehead – although you’ll want to wait for dry weather for this one – is Crazy Golf. This is located at Jubilee Cafe (a lovely cafe where you can enjoy lunch or a coffee after!) and has beautiful views over the sea.
8. Walk along the promenade
If you want a stroll, but don’t fancy heading up the South West Coast Path, just walk along Minehead Promenade! It’s a pleasant 20 minute walk from Butlin’s to Minehead Harbour and is all flat.
You’ll pass some hopscotches and games painted on the ground – perfect for kids – along with some information boards about local history and geology.
Of course, you can always stop at a seafront bar or cafe for coffee or a cocktail (you’re on holiday, after all!).
9. Minehead and Somerset West Golf Club
The historic Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club is Somerset’s oldest and a gem among England’s golf courses since 1882.
This year-round links course boasts the area’s finest greens with spectacular views of Exmoor and the Bristol Channel.
Here, the challenge is constant, shaped by the ever-present sea breeze on a compact yet demanding course.
Call the Pro Shop at 01643 702057 (opt 1) to book – visitor bookings open 10 days before.
10. West Somerset Railway
If you’re looking for family days out near Minehead, look no further than the West Somerset Railway!
The West Somerset Railway is a steam railway – it’s actually the longest heritage railway in Britain – that runs between Minehead and Bishop’s Lydeard.
It’s a great way to see the stunning countryside around Minehead and experience the golden age of steam travel.
The railway also hosts special events throughout the year, including a popular Santa Special at Christmas.
11. Hike on the South West Coast Path
It should come as no surprise that the South West Coast Path is one of the best things to do in Minehead!
It’d take you a while to complete – it took me a couple of months to walk half (although, admittedly, I was walking quite slowly!), but you can begin it right here in Minehead, with the hike to Porlock!
Walk westwards from the main beach to the map statue that commemorates the start of the path (you’ll find it here).
The path then zigzags up to the cliffs, passes over them and descends down into Porlock 9 miles/ 15km later.
Of course, you don’t have to walk the whole thing – even if you just take a short walk on the path and then turn back to Minehead, you can still say you’ve “walked part of the South West Coast Path” 😉
12. Stay in town for Shiiine On Weekender
Shiiine On Weekender is a popular music festival that takes place at Butlins Minehead every year. In 2024, it will take place from 15th – 17th November.
It features a range of live acts from the 80s and 90s, as well as DJs and other entertainment.
13. Catch a show at the Regal Theatre
Visiting Minehead in the rain? See what’s on at The Regal Theatre!
This theatre, which dates back nearly 90 years, is loved by locals for its diverse range of independent plays and film showings.
Things to do near Minehead
While there’s quite a bit to do in the town, part of the charm of visiting Minehead is its stunning surrounding Somerset scenery.
From Exmoor to the Quantocks to wonderful nearby villages, here are the best places to visit near Minehead!
14. Porlock Village and Porlock Weir
These are two of my favourite places in Somerset.
Porlock is a charming village in the heart of Exmoor. I’ve stayed at the Porlock Holiday Park here a few times and love the rural atmosphere.
From Porlock, it’s a 5km hike to Porlock Weir, a seaside hamlet that’s famous for its oysters.
Porlock and Porlock Weir are just a half-hour drive from Minehead – perfect for a day trip!
15. Exmoor National Park
Of course, Exmoor National Park has to be on here – not least because you can walk to it from Minehead!
Exmoor National Park is often associated with Devon, but in fact, most of it lies within Somerset. As the name suggests, it’s an expansive moorland – but what makes Exmoor so unique is that it leads out to the sea.
This rugged, wild moorland spans across South West Somerset and North East Devon.
It’s a great place to go hiking, with miles of trails to explore.
One of my favourite hikes in the area is up Dunkery Beacon, which is the highest peak in Exmoor and Somerset.
Close to Dunkery Beacon, you’ll also find Horner Woods which is a lovely place for an amble and some wildlife spotting. Check out the Medieval village of Selworthy, too!
The coast path here is spectacular, but be warned – it’s one of the most challenging parts of the hike (see my Porlock to Lynmouth walking guide to see what I mean!).
Fancy something a bit more leisurely? Drive around the moorland, looking out for wild Exmoor ponies and deer, and visit historic sites, such as Tarr Steps.
Go for lunch in the pretty village of Porlock or drive into Devon and visit Lynmouth and Lynton!
16. Valley of the Rocks
If you spend a day exploring Exmoor, you have to visit Valley of the Rocks.
This name is quite literally what it sounds like – rocks, some of which you can climb on (be careful!) that date to the last Ice Age, all with a glorious view of the stunning Bristol Channel. At just half an hour’s drive from Minehead, they’re well worth a visit!
Look out for feral goats while you’re here – they live on the cliffs surrounding Valley of the Rocks, and I always find it incredible how they’re able to cling onto the steepest edges with their feet!
Once you’ve explored the Valley of the Rocks, you’re in striking distance of Lynton and Lynmouth – so don’t miss these gorgeous twin villages too (with their famous cliff railway). Check out my full guide here.
17. Quantock Hills
The Quantock Hills are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (actually, they were the first in the country!) a half-hour drive from Minehead.
Possibly most loved for being the home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge – the Coleridge Way is dedicated to him – the Quantock Hills boast plenty of hikes, woodland, rocky beaches and wonderful views over Somerset and the Bristol Channel.
My favourite parts of the Quantock Hills are Kilve Beach, a rugged beach where you might be able to find some fossils (it’s part of the lesser-known “Somerset Jurassic Coast”) and Beacon Hill and Staple Plain (here’s a wonderful walk you can do).
18. Dunster Castle and Village
Just a ten-minute drive from Minehead, you’ll find the wonderfully well-preserved Dunster Village.
This village still retains many of its Medieval buildings and has a large castle, owned by the National Trust, to visit.
A timber castle was built here by William de Mohun around 1066, later replaced with a stone structure, of which only a 13th-century gateway and a bastion tower survive today.
The Luttrell family acquired the castle in 1376. Periods of significant development followed, including the construction of a Jacobean mansion in 1617 and extensive Victorian remodelling by architect Anthony Salvin in 1868.
The castle’s evolution continued through the 20th century, with the Luttrells becoming tenants and then owners again, before ultimately donating Dunster Castle to the National Trust in 1976.
Nowadays, you can walk through the historic rooms, learn about its history and explore the lush gardens.
Then, take a stroll into Dunster, visit the (free) Dunster History Museum and enjoy its architecture.
Members of the National Trust get FREE entry to Dunster Castle. Read my full review of National Trust membership here.
19. Visit the village of Watchet
Watchet is a charming coastal village a 20-minute drive from Minehead – and while Minehead can feel busy and bustline, Watchet’s often much more laidback and serene!
It’s also a stop on the West Somerest Railway – if you fancy visiting, you could get off the train here to explore and catch a later train back to Minehead.
The harbour at Watchet dates back to Saxon times and was built during the Medieval period. Nowadays, it’s famous for its farmers markets, arts scene and beautiful surrounding beaches.
20. Cleeve Abbey
Cleeve Abbey is a tranquil and beautifully preserved medieval monastery that offers visitors a rare glimpse into monastic life during the Middle Ages.
Dating back to the 13th century, this Cistercian abbey is renowned for its remarkably intact buildings, including the refectory, dormitory, and chapter house, are adorned with exquisite medieval tiles, some of the best-preserved examples in England.
It’s run by the English Heritage (members can get in free) and is a 15 minute drive from Minehead, close to Watchet.
21. Golden Retriever Experience
This has to be the most adorable thing to do in Somerset!
The Golden Retriever Experience is a two-hour experience where you can play with a pack of golden retrievers to your heart’s content.
It’s gone a bit viral in the last few years, and they book up fast, but if you’re visiting Minehead with a dog lover, it’s an activity like no other.
The co-owner is also a singer-songwriter, hence the video with the doggies above!
Are you ready to visit Minehead?
Thanks to Butlin’s, Minehead is quite busy as a coastal town, but I think that the areas around Minehead (especially the Quantocks) are gloriously underrated.
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