Culzean Castle & Country Park - 15km
A great day out for all the family, Culzean is a romantic 18th century Castle surrounded by over 500 acres of beautiful country park. It perches on the cliff edge above the Firth of Clyde with ever-changing views of Arran and the Ailsa Craig - sometimes they're hiding in the mist, at others, they seem so close that you feel you could reach out and touch them!
Robert Adam converted a fortified tower house into this elegant bachelor residence for David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis, between 1777 and 1792. He also built a 'Roman' viaduct and Ruined Arch to add drama to this Italianate castle in its spectacular cliff top setting. Both the exterior stonework and the interior of the castle have been restored by the National Trust. It contains a fine collection of paintings and furniture, and a display of weapons in the Armoury. The Circular Saloon has a superb panoramic view over the Firth of Clyde and the beautiful Oval Staircase is Robert Adam's final masterpiece of interior design.
In 1945 the top floor was given to General Eisenhower as a token of Scotland's recognition of his role during World War II. His apartment is now run as a small country house hotel, and an Eisenhower Exhibition in the castle tells something of Ike the man and his visits to Culzean. The Georgian Kitchen gives a glimpse of life below stairs 200 years ago.
Educational programmes and tours are available. Through the Clocktower Courtyard, a coach-house and stables have been converted into the Castle Shop and Old Stables Coffee House.
Culzean is Scotland's first country park, created in 1969 and consisting of 228 ha (563 acres) it contains a wealth of natural and historical interest. Miles of woodland walks take the visitor to the Deer Park, along the Cliff Walk or to the many restored estate buildings, such as the Ruined Arch and Viaduct, beautiful Camellia House and unique Pagoda. Garden areas include the terraced Fountain Court and the Walled Garden with its redesigned pleasure garden and impressive reconstructed Victorian Vinery.
The exciting adventure playground introduces children to the wildlife of the park and makes the Swan Pond a perfect spot for a family picnic.
The Visitor Centre, formerly the Home Farm, is the focus for the main visitor facilities. These include the Home Farm Restaurant, the Home Farm Shop, the Country Park Shop and Plant Centre. The new auditorium and exhibition at the Visitor Centre explain the history of Culzean and the Trust's conservation work, and there are smaller interpretive centres at the Gas House, Ice House and Swan Pond. Three miles of coastline provide panoramic views across the Firth of Clyde.
Burns National Heritage Park - 4KM
The 25th of January, 1759 marks Scotland's most famous birthday, when, in a blast of January winds, Robert Burns was born in a humble cottage in Alloway.
Now fully restored to its original state, Burns Cottage forms the heart of Burns National Heritage Park - a unique encounter with Scotland's most exceptional man. Set among the delightful scenery of historic Alloway, Burns National Heritage Park is an unmatched opportunity to experience Scotland's National Poet.
Robert Burns' birthplace is brought to life through a mixture of modern technology and unique authentic locations and artefacts. Travel back in time in Robert Burns Cottage and visit the Burns family. See the world's most important Robert Burns collection in the Museum. Walk in the footsteps of Tam O'Shanter in "Alloway's auld haunted kirk" and across auld Brig O'Doon, where Tam's mare, Meg had her narrow escape from the witches. View Robert Burns' beloved Ayrshire countryside from the roof of Burns Monument and experience the humour and excitement of Robert Burns best-loved tale in the Tam O'Shanter Experience. With free parking, gift shops and licensed restaurant, as well as a full programme of events including the annual Burns an' a' That festival, Burns National Heritage Park offers a year-round chance for all the family to experience the pride, passion and power of Robert Burns
9.30am -5.30pm April - October
10.00am - 5.00pm November - March
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day
Burns National Heritage Park
Tel: 01292 443700
Loudoun Castle Family Theme Park - 15km
Woodland walks and King Rory's Animal Kingdom complement the theme park rides, log flume and off road karts for a family day out at the ever popular venue near Galston, Ayrshire. Open from April through till early October, the park and its rides and activities are sure to provide a fun filled trip for children of all ages, and mum and dad too!
Tel: 01563 822296 for more information.
Ayrshire is without a doubt the birthplace and true home of Open Golf - the very first British Open was held at Prestwick in 1860, and the golfing history of the area dates back to the sixteenth century.
Unsurprisingly then, it's one of the best places in the world for beginners and experts alike to enjoy a golf holiday. Ayrshire is a front runner in the Scottish golf scene, boasting some of the best courses in the world, and with seven courses on Arran to choose from, Island Golf is an excellent addition or alternative to your stay on the mainland.
The Open Championship courses at Royal Troon and Turnberry are our flagships, of course, but whether a golfer's preference is for true Scottish Links or parkland courses, there are some of the best municipal and privately run courses within a club swing of almost anywhere in the county.
For the learner or those wanting to improve their game, there are plenty of opportunities for professional tuition, as well as practice facilities, driving ranges and putting greens on which to hone your skills. In addition, if you want to take the organisation out of your holiday, there are several operators and hotels who offer golf packages and tours to suit every pocket and level of ability.
Dean Castle and Country Park - 10KM
Dean Castle, and the extensive Country Park which surrounds it, lie towards the north of Kilmarnock.
The earliest part of the fortress is the square Keep, built around 1350 by the Boyd family. In 1316, the Boyds had been given the estate of Kilmarnock by Robert I (the Bruce) as a reward for their support for him during the War of Independence and at the Battle of Bannockburn against Edward II in 1314.
The Place, or Palace, was added about 1468 when the influence of the Boyd family was at its strongest. It was built as Lord Boyd's private apartments and was designed for comfort, although defence was not entirely forgotten. In 1735 the Place was seriously damaged by fire and lay in ruins for the next 200 years. In 1749 the Boyd family sold the castle and the estate. Since then there have been many owners, including the Earl of Glencairn, friend and patron of the poet Robert Burns.
When the 8th Lord Howard de Walden inherited the castle he began its restoration. He completed the keep in 1908 and began the important collection of arms, armour and tapestries. The musical instrument collection also displayed here was collected by the 8th Lord's father-in-law. Restoration was completed in 1946, and in 1975 the castle, collections and estate were gifted to Kilmarnock by the 9th Lord Howard de Walden.
A recently opened Visitor Centre in the Country Park enables everyone to learn more about the Park and its wildlife in the Discovery Room and Auditorium. The building also houses a tea room. The Rare Breeds Centre has exhibitions relating to some of the animals kept here, and the Children's Corner and Riding Centre let the visitor get closer to the animals.
Glasgow - Situated only 25 miles north from us along the A77 road, the city of Glasgow is one of the liveliest and most cosmopolitan destinations in Europe. The city has been reborn as a centre of style and vitality set against a backdrop of outstanding Victorian architecture. Glasgow boasts world famous art collections, the best shopping in the United Kingdom outside London, and the most vibrant nightlife in Scotland. A must see is the Art Nouveau splendor of Scotland's best known architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose inimitable style adorns attractions such as The Lighthouse, Glasgow School of Art, and House for an Art Lover.
Art and culture are important in Glasgow life where galleries and museums are in abundance - most with free admission; the choice of over 20 includes the world's first Museum of Religion, the renowned Burrell Collection, and the contemporary Gallery of Modern Art. No visit would be complete without experiencing the city's shopping with high street stores, designer labels, and specialist outlets to explore, with welcome pit-stops in the first class café culture around the Italian Centre, Merchant Square, or Gallery of Modern Art.
Glasgow is a diverse and vibrant city, welcoming everyone who wishes to be a part of it, and we strongly recommend a visit to the "Dear Green Place" to anyone who finds themselves in Scotland.
The Isle of Arran - 20KM from ferry
The Isle of Arran, known as 'Scotland in Miniature', is one of the most southerly Scottish islands. Like a condensed version of the rest of Scotland, it has mountains and lochs in the north, and rolling hills and meadows in the south, surrounded by a stunning coastline.
Arran's history dates so far back that it becomes tangled up in Celtic myths and legends of Scotland's past. From the strange standing stones on Machrie Moor to the chequered history of Brodick Castle to the very cave where Robert the Bruce was supposed to have encountered the spider.
It has a distillery, castles, a brewery, museums, outdoor activities, high quality local crafts and locally produced food that's fast gaining an international reputation.
There are few places where you can make your own soap in the morning before an afternoon's paragliding, or where you can explore the standing stones on Machrie Moor one day and enjoy a reiki session the next.
More than the variety, though, the Isle of Arran offers a chance to relax and shake off the stress of the rat race in beautiful surroundings, enjoying the history, craft and culture of a unique island community.