Jamaica is one of those fascinating destinations where there is just so much to do, whether you want to lounge on beautiful beaches all day, embark on tours and excursions, dance the night away, or explore the intriguing history and culture of this island. If you're being drawn to, or are already on the island for the sake of taking in some of its historic attractions, then one of the best places to start is Devon House.
Devon House is a famed mansion located in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, that dates back to 1881. Over time, Devon House has evolved into an engaging and interactive tour, featuring restaurants, shopping, and a delightful ice cream shop. Drawing in numerous visitors each day, the tour's centerpiece is the meticulously preserved historic house, enriched with a blend of original elements and thoughtfully crafted recreations.
Intrigued? We've got the details on the price, background, and fun stuff you can do on a tour of Devon House, so read on!
Devon House has quite an extensive history. Way back when the property where Devon House is located was known as Devon Penn. The main house is Georgian-style and has switched hands quite a few times. The history of this space and how it came to be is part of the reason it is one of the most talked-about local landmarks in Jamaica. The tours available at Devon House are a great way to get more familiar with its history. There is a lot to be discovered about this property even from the time before the house was built.
Back in 1667, 600 acres of land were awarded to Reverend Zellers by King Charles II, of which Devon Penn was a part. A Rectory is said to have been constructed here in 1750. Later, in 1881, George Stiebel purchased The Rectory. He converted it into the mansion that is known as Devon House today. Stiebel was a well-known gold miner who is said to have earned his riches doing this trade in South America. He is still today known as Jamaica's first black millionaire. The Georgian architectural style that Stiebel chose for this grand house stands out to this day.
The house and lands where Devon House is located were sold at least twice, the first time being in the 1920s. Some of the land was split during this process. The first purchaser was Cecil Lindo, a local businessman. He purchased the house in 1928. When Lindo passed away, his widow left the house and moved to New York. This was around 1960. The mansion was left vacant, and whispers of demolition plans started to surface. In 1965, the National Trust issued an order that prevented the demolition from taking place. The Government of Jamaica purchased the property next.
In 1974, Devon House opened with new life. It was then known as the National Gallery, but this title was short-lived. The gallery was later closed, and then a more intensive refurbishment happened in 1982. The Government of Jamaica was responsible for this, and the aim was to restore the mansion to its former glory. Today, Devon House continues to be known as a national heritage site. Despite its tagline and history, no one has lived in this house for years. Instead, the Devon House property now houses a variety of stores (20 in all), restaurants, a spa, and a delectable ice cream shop, all of which visitors to Jamaica can enjoy!
The main attraction at Devon House is the tour of the main house. This tour takes around 20-23 minutes, and it is quite in-depth. After the tour, there are lots of other activities to enjoy on the property, everything from shopping to dining at some of the best restaurants in Jamaica. For the sake of starting off your Devon House tour on the best note, we’ll start off with the details of the House Tour:
Devon House exudes an unmistakable historical ambiance and boasts numerous standout features that make it a must-visit destination. The house’s aesthetics, including the beautiful and vast gardens, and the overall look and feel of the property, which boasts a blend of French and distinctly Jamaican antiques, contribute to Devon House’s tropical atmosphere.
When you arrive, all you’ll need to enjoy this experience is an open mind that’s ready to explore. You can scope the grounds on your own, or do so as part of a guided tour. We recommend a guided tour as this provides the opportunity to take in some fascinating insights and history. Ask as many questions as you would like about the house and its environs.
During the Devon House tour, you’ll be led through nine distinct rooms, each with its own unique charm and significance. From the elegant Ballroom and Games Room to the grand Dining Room, Palm Hall, Drawing Room, Sewing Room, Young Girl’s Room, and Master Bedroom, you’ll get a sense of what this house must have looked like back when George Stiebel and his family resided here. The restoration was truly in-depth with the carefully crafted reproductions adding to the allure. Tours of the house are available in both English and German.
Good to know: A Devon House tour can be organized in a variety of ways, including through your resort. If you’re staying at Beaches Resorts and book your tour via the resort, transportation will be included. Ask about this in advance if you’re not sure.
There’s a flavor for everyone at the ice cream shop at Devon House known as Scoops Unlimited, makers of the award-winning Devon House I Scream. As such, it can be worth spending a few minutes trying the handcrafted ice cream while at this location. Some say Devon House produces the best ice cream on the island because of the wide range of flavors available here, about 27 in all. In fact, National Geographic actually named this spot the fourth-best place in the world to have ice cream! If that’s not enough to convince you to try, then perhaps the flavors will. These include Rum Raisin, Bordeaux Cherry, Devon Stout, Coffee Coconut, Pistachio, Soursop, Rocky River, and more. Some of the other popular flavors include Chocolate and Coffee, Mango, Stout, and Sorrel (seasonal).
Visitors to Devon House not only get to immerse themselves in its rich historical background but also have the opportunity to indulge in a diverse culinary experience. This was a totally intentional choice by conceptualizers who, in 2017, made a conscious decision for Devon House to be a gastronomy center. With a couple of on-site restaurants to choose from, like the Mahogany Tree Bar, Pimentos (soups, salads, sandwiches, and more), Grog Shoppe (local and international cuisine), and The Steak House on the Verandah, guests can savor a range of dining options suitable for different preferences. Notably, the Grog Shoppe is located inside an old carriage house.
That’s not all — those seeking a quick and delicious bite won’t be disappointed either. In between your explorations or when you’re all done, you can head to the Devon House Bakery for a treat. This bakery offers delicious Jamaican patties, cakes, and other international desserts. There’s also a pizzeria and a taco bar that kids will love. Other than these, there are lots more options including Coco Raw where you can find smoothies, shaved ice, and more.
If you have souvenir shopping in mind, Devon House has a variety of charming gift shops and a boutique on the property. This can certainly be welcome news for anyone searching for the perfect gift or memento to take home with them from their vacation. Some of the available items at the Devon House gift shop are décor items, jewelry, spices and sauces, clothing, and more. Many of these items are sourced from small local businesses and artisans.
Aside from the gift shop, one of the standout shops at Devon House is the on-site chocolate shop where you can indulge in delectable treats, some of which are made with local flavors and ingredients. This shop presents a wonderful opportunity to take home some delicious Jamaican chocolates as souvenirs.
For locally-made clothing, a trip to the boutique might be in order. There are other locations at Devon House that offer spa and beauty products as well, which can all make for the perfect gift. Given the multitude of shops, activities, and attractions available at Devon House, it’s recommended that you allocate sufficient time to explore the property without feeling rushed. Consider planning a half-day or even a full-day visit, depending on the activities you plan to engage in while there.
Expert tip: Visiting Devon House is one of many interesting things to do in Jamaica with kids. Aside from this, other worthwhile family adventures can include shopping in Jamaica and exploring the best Jamaican food and drinks.
It won’t be hard to find Devon House while in Jamaica, especially if you’ll be staying near the capital. If you will be staying outside of Kingston and will not be renting a car while in Jamaica, a full-day trip can be the ideal choice. A tour to Devon House can be booked through a tour operator such as Island Routes. Island Routes tours typically include transportation, admissions, and resort pickup/drop off. If you are unsure about which Devon House tour is perfect for you, you can seek guidance from resort employees, who can help you identify the best local tours in your area.
In terms of the best tours that include a stop at Devon House, you can try the Kingston Highlight City Tour. This tour will take you to Devon House and other nearby attractions. You also can consider booking a rental and driving to this location. If you’ll be driving, keep in mind that Devon House is around 30 minutes from destinations like Montego Bay. Ocho Rios and Dunn’s River are a bit further away from this destination -- about an hour and a half each way. From Negril and Whitehouse in Jamaica, it can take 3-4 hours to get to Devon House.
If you want to visit Devon House but will be staying a good distance away from this location, a combination tour can be a good idea. Options include a tour that also goes to the Bob Marley Museum or other popular locations in this area. The Bob Marley Museum is about a mile from Devon House. By visiting multiple locations as part of a single tour, you can save time and money and have a more fun-filled day overall.
The main house at Devon House is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am - 8:00 pm, on Saturday from 8:30 am - 7:00 pm, and Sunday from 8:30 am - 1:00 pm. For bookings, you can contact the Devon House Management Office on weekdays between the hours of 8:30 am - 4:00 pm. Otherwise, you can book a tour of this attraction through the various tour companies in Jamaica and at resorts like Beaches Resorts.
If you want to go to Devon House to visit a particular shop or dine at the restaurants, keep in mind that these establishments each have their own operating hours.
A stand-alone tour of Devon House will cost about US$15 for adults and US$13 for children, but you should check with the Devon House Management Office for the current rates. You can include package add-ons with your entrance ticket, like a scoop of ice cream, or various food and drink items like a fresh bottle of coconut water from Coco Raw, or a gourmet patty from Devon House Bakery. These add-ons are included in the various packages that you can purchase to visit Devon House. These packages range from US$19-25 for adults and US$16-23 for children, but the prices are subject to change.
Aside from the entrance fee, if you plan on visiting Devon House while in Jamaica, it is a good idea to bring extra cash for souvenirs and other food and drink items that you may need.
Good to know: If you book a tour to Devon House, chances are your tour package will include an entrance ticket. Ask the tour provider about this during the booking process.
The Devon House tour is a great option if you’re searching for something relaxing and fun to do as a family in Jamaica. This is one of those tours that you certainly don't want to put off if you want to learn more about the history of Jamaica. For out-of-this-world delicious ice cream, delectable chocolates, amazing restaurants, and options to purchase lots of fun gifts and Jamaica souvenirs, this is also a must-visit location for vacationers in Jamaica.
If you’ve got your heart set on visiting Devon House, the next step will be booking accommodation. There are many different Jamaica resorts you can choose from for your family vacation, but all-inclusive family resorts can be the best option. Beaches Resorts offers a world of fun and entertainment with something to do for each member of your family. From Kids Camps and water parks to gourmet dining, day and night entertainment, and much more, this is sure to be an incredible family vacation!
Insider tip: All set to enjoy the sun, sea, sand, and other amazing attributes of Jamaica? We can help you get the planning started with these amazing family vacation packages.