Ancient history sits side by side with medieval history; Robert Burns' legacy is all around, and even American President Dwight D Eisenhower has left his mark on South Ayrshire in nearby Culzean Castle. The Burns Heritage Trail will intrigue you; Culzean Castle & Country Park will beguile you, whilst a little further south east, acclaimed Scottish architect Robert Adams' superb Dumfries House - saved for the nation from sale in 2007 - is a stunningly beautiful example of an 18th century mansion house. We've gathered together just half a dozen examples of things to do and places to see around the area, but needless to say - there are hundreds more!
Culzean Castle & Country Park (2 miles): Jewel in the National Trust for Scotland crown, Culzean sits a mere 5 minute drive from The Ranch, perched on a cliff towering above the Firth of Clyde. This deeply romantic 18th century castle really is steeped in history and its 500 acre grounds are resplendent at any time of year. It has a well-appointed Visitor Centre, shops, a restaurant and picnic area - worthy of a whole day trip. Visit www.nts.org.uk for more.
If you enjoy history, why not go bit further afield: Dean Castle Country Park (22 miles) www.deancastle.com or Dumfries House (22 miles) a Palladian villa design with two thousand acre estate featuring irreplaceable collections of furniture and ornate plaster ceilings. Visit www.dumfries-house.org.uk for more.
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (7 miles): For a unique encounter with the life of Scotland's National Bard - taking in his birthplace and places he wrote of in his poems and songs; a treasure trove of exhibits and scenes from his life, and the area around which he was brought up - make the short drive into Alloway on the edge of the county town of Ayr and soak up the atmosphere. Visit www.nts.org.uk for more.
And immerse in even more Burns culture, by popping down to Souter Johnnie's Cottage, Kirkoswald (4 miles) and the Bachelors' Club, Tarbolton (15 miles). Details also at www.nts.org.uk.
Heads of Ayr Farm Park (10 miles): Visit some new furry friends - feed and touch the animals and try out quad biking, ringo sledging and trampolining. Enjoy the outdoor and indoor play areas, the bumper boats and water wars. Terrific fun for kids of all ages. Visit www.headsofayrfarmpark.co.uk.
Explore Ayr (7 miles): Ayrshire's county town and a well-loved seaside resort since time immemorial, Ayr boasts a long, attractive promenade running alongside its broad sandy beach, excellent shops and a host of places to eat and drink - not to mention, on a number of days each year, horse-racing at its famous racecourse. Visit www.exploreayrshire-arran.com for more.
Explore Troon (12 miles): Slightly further north from Ayr lies the bustling harbour town of Troon - home to Royal Troon Golf Course and the British Open. Well endowed with small independent shops – selling local food and produce; gifts and souvenirs - Troon is also proud of its lively marina and adjacent restaurant. Visit www.troononline.net for more.
Ayrshire folks enjoy their music. Here are a couple of ideas if you feel like joining us!
Darvel Music Festival - Darvel (29 miles): 04 - 06 May 2012
Burns An' A' That - Ayr (7 miles): 30 May - 04 June 2012
Marymass Folk Festival - Irvine (22 miles): 16 - 27 August 2012
Live @ Troon - Troon (12 miles): 31 August - 02 September 2012