It started to develop from the inland village in the 1790s, and there are a number of early 19th century villas.
The railway runs spectacularly along the coast, beside and through red sandstone cliffs and stacks.
There are black swans in the town, especially around the Lawn, the central garden. The originals were a present from Australia in 1937.
Charles Dickens made Dawlish the birthplace of Nicholas Nickleby, Jane Austen mentioned the town in novels and John Keats wrote a poem called "Dawlish Fair".