Scotland is famous for its unspoilt beaches. There are many lovely beaches
nearby, the closest is at Ardersier (2 miles). In Nairn
(5 miles) there are miles of sandy beach which has Blue Flag status. Further along the coast at Culbin Forest (12 miles plus 1 mile walk to the beach)
there are many forest walks and some lead to the beach, if you are not sure of the direction make use of the look out tower! For information on Culbin forest visit their website at http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/visit/culbin or call 01466 794161. All along the coast you will find village after village with tranquil beaches and harbours.
Fort George (4 miles)
This Historic Scotland fort is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain and is still being used by our army today. Its garrison buildings, artillery defences bristling with cannon, and superb collection of arms – including bayoneted muskets, pikes, swords and ammunition pouches – provides a fascinating insight into 18th century military life. Look out to sea for dolphins at the turn of the tide. For more information see www.historic-scotland.gov.uk Telephone: 01667 460 232
Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre (11 miles)
This National Trust (for Scotland) battlefield marks the site of the historic 1746 battle between the Duke of Cumberland and Prince Charles but includes a visitors centre, restaurant and shop. Experience first-hand what it was like to be in the middle of the action at Culloden with displays of authentic weapons and artefacts found on the battlefield. For more information see www.nts.org.uk/Culloden/Home/ or call 0844 493 2159.
Cawdor Castle (8 miles)
A superb fairy-tale Castle and home to the Cawdor family. Gardens, woodland, nature trail and cafe. Also a putting green and 9 hole golf course day. For more information see www.cawdorcastle.com/index.cfm or call (01667) 404401.
Brodie Castle (12 miles)
National Trust (for Scotland) castle built in the 16th-century packed with history and enough art and antiques to keep connoisseurs happy all day. Children’s quiz and adventure play fort (suitable for children aged 5 years and over), tearoom and a shop. For more information see www.nts.org.uk/Property/Brodie-Castle/About/ or call 0844 493 2156. Spectacular show of spring flowers not to be missed.
Don't miss out on near-by Brodie Country Fare for great presents and great food. For more information visit www.brodiecountryfare.com/ or call 01309 641 555.
Other Things to do
Small World Soft Play Area and Café - This soft play area for young children and Bumble Bee cafe can be found just off the A96 after Brodie at the Tearie Visitor Centre, Darnaway, Forres, Moray, IV36 2ST. For more information call 01309 641677.
Inverness Dolphin Cruises - Depart from Inverness harbour by boat and go out onto the Moray Firth then you will have the best chance of seeing the most northerly group of bottlenose dolphins in the world, plus common seals, grey seals and porpoise. For more information see www.inverness-dolphin-trips.co.uk/ or call 07703168097.
WDCS Dolphin and Seal Centre Kessock Bridge Inverness or Spey Bay - This centre is a small visitor attraction with views of the Kessock Channel, which provides an opportunity to look for dolphins and seals. There is a children’s play corner with quizzes, colouring and dolphin detective activities as well as a shop. Open daily in summer from 9.30am to 4.30pm. Free admission. For more information see www.wdcs.org/connect/wildlife_centre/north_kessock.php or call 01343 820 339. The Spey Bay visitor centre is larger and offers a historic ice house tour, a wild life wander or land based dolphin watching every day from 11am to 5pm, as well as a café and shop. For more information see www.wdcs.org/connect/wildlife_centre/spey_bay.php or call 01343 820339.
Inverness - Great shopping and a chance to walk around the beautiful city of Inverness – try to take in the castle and walk down to the Ness to the Ness Islands. There are two indoor shopping areas plus many other shops. There are also 2 cinemas, Vue and another at the Eden Court Theatre, for more information visit www.eden-court.co.uk/ or call 01463 239 841.
Inverness City Sightseeing Tour - This open-bus tour provides an extensive look at the city and the surrounding area. Pick from the Town Tour, the Inverness/Culloden Moor Tour, or the new Loch Ness Monster Tour. The tours depart regularly from the tourist office and range from 30 minutes to three hours. For more information see www.citysightseeinginverness.com/ or call 01463 712121.
Rollerbowl - Situated at 167 Culduthel Road Inverness IV2 4BQ the facility has 24 lanes with a good selection of house balls, and 9 pool tables. For more information see www.rollerbowl.org.uk/ and for prices and booking enquires please call 01463 235100.
Whin Park Inverness - Whin Park situated at The Bught Inverness IV3 5SS has a large play park for children of all ages. It has a boating pond, complete with ducks, a minature train ride, shop and toilets, along with lots of adventure play park features for children. There are also picnic benches. www.childrensleisure.co.uk/whin-park-inverness-i4507.html or call 01349 886606.
Logie Estate - Logie Steading visitor centre offers a warm welcome with arts and crafts, antiques, farm and garden shop, walled gardens, river walks, fishing and an adventure playground, also home-made lunches and refreshments in the café. Also available are courses in gardening, basket making etc. For more information see http://www.logie.co.uk/ or call 0844 493 2156 or call 0844 493 2156.
Loch Ness Jacobite Cruises Inverness or Loch Ness Clansman - With a tour bus and/or cruise options giving stunning views of Loch Ness you may get to see Nessie. There is also an option to visit Urquhart Castle and the Loch Ness Visitor Centre. For more information see www.jacobite.co.uk/ or call 01463 233999.
Inverness Aquadome and Leisure Facilities - Inverness Leisure is the largest sports, leisure and recreational facility in the Highlands. The Aquadome offers numerous water rides including the rapid river, three thrilling flumes, cyclone, toddler area, family spa pool and an outdoor swim facility too. So whether you are looking for a swim in the pool, a run on the track, a workout in the gym, some exercise in one of the many classes, or just to relax in the health suite area, then Inverness Leisure is the place to go. Open daily. For more information see www.invernessleisure.co.uk/ or call 01463 667500. Opposite you will also find the Inverness Ice Centre for all your ice skating needs. For more information see http://www.inverness-ice-centre.co.uk/ or call 01463 235711.
Black Isle Wildlife and County Park - Great place for the children with petting area and you get to feed the ducks and animals! See owls, meerkats, zebras, llamas, alpaca, snakes, lemurs, wildcats, coati, raccoons and many more animals. For more information see http://blackislewildlifepark.co.uk/ or call 01463 731 656.
Black Isle Brewery - Free tours, tasting and a shop. Far removed from the standard industrial estate setting Black Isle Brewing Co is nestled in the beautiful surroundings of the Scottish Highlands, a true beervana. For more information visit www.blackislebrewery.com/ or call 01463 811 871.
Findhorn - This is the place to go when you have exhausted the nearby beaches and want to explore further afield. Apart from the mile or so of sandy beach, shops, café and pubs there is plenty to do. There are boats to admire as well as a sailing and powerboat school, chandelry, gift shop, and water taxi, for more information visit www.findhornmarina.com/ or call 01309 690099. Your visit would not be complete unless you stop on the way home for a tea and cake at the Findhorn Foundation. The Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual community, ecovillage and an international centre for holistic learning, helping to unfold a new human consciousness and create a positive and sustainable future for more information visit www.findhorn.org/ or call 01309 690311.
Avoch Dolphin Trips - Daily sailings from the picturesque Avoch Harbour on the hour, every hour - Easter to October or as demand, weather and tide allow. You may encounter osprey, red kites, seals, porpoises, bottlenose dolphins and many other wildlife species including otters, along with the odd historical landmark for good measure. For more information see www.dolphintripsavoch.co.uk/ or call 01381 622383. If you would rather stay on dry land travel to Fortrose and visit Chanonry Point and walk to the lighthouse from the car park after the golf course as this is another good dolphin watching spot and Rosemarkie beach is always good for a picnic and a paddle!
Loch Ness and the Monster - A visit to the Highlands would not be complete without a bit of monster hunting. If you don’t see Nessie out on the loch try one of the two visitors centres. For more information visit www.lochness.com/loch-ness-monster-exhibition.htm or call 1456 450573 or visit Nessieland www.nessieland.co.uk/ or call 01456 450342.
Urquhart Castle and take in some wonderful views or incorporate it in a trip down the loch on a cruise. For more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyresults/propertyoverview.htm?PropID=pl_297&PropName=Urquhart%20Castle or call 0131 668 8800.
Strathspey Railway Broomhill PH26 3LX - Strathspey Railway Get aboard the Strathspey Railway and relive the sights and sounds of the steam age as the train passes through woodland moorland and by the River Spey. Shed tours, afternoon tea and dining on the train available. Aviemore to Boat of Garten to Broomhill single journey or return. For more information see www.strathspeyrailway.co.uk/ or call 01479 810 725.
Cairngorm Mountain Summer Activities - Visit the funicular railway for an easy way up a mountain, the camera obscura, the exhibitions, the mountain gardens, walk the Northern Corries or do some bird watching, it is all available this summer. For more information see www.cairngormmountain.org/ or call 01479 861 261 to plan your visit.
Landmark Forest Theme Park Carbridge - For a fabulous whole day out visit Landmark and rock climb, 'skydive', flume ride, meet red squirrels face to face, walk through the tops of tall pine trees, watch logs being sawn on a steam powered sawmill, wonder at the sheer strength of a Clydesdale horse, explore the world's only 'Bamboozeleum' and learn all the secrets of Scotland's ancient Pine forest? - And you've only just got going! Great for all ages. For more information see www.landmarkpark.co.uk/ or call 0800 7313446.
Ecoventures - This is the ultimate wildlife watching adventure at the heart of the Moray Firth. Located at the heart of the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation for that memorable boat trip experience. For more information see www.ecoventures.co.uk/index.asp or call 01381 600 323.
Loch Garten Osprey Centre near Aviemore - When ospreys returned to breed in Scotland, they chose the ancient Caledonian pineforest. The Loch Garten Osprey Centre provides fantastic views of these magnificent birds on the nest, as well as close up views thanks to the non-invasive CCTV camera. The reserve is owned by the RSPB so there is plenty of information on hand. For more information see www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/lochgarten/lochgartenospreynest.aspx or call 01479 831476.