THE Ayrshire coast has long been a favourite destination for Scots in search of sun, sea and sand, and for many Troon is the jewel in the county's crown.

The town grew up in the Victorian era and an elegant feel endures thanks to the big seafront villas and historic Royal Troon Golf Club, which has hosted the Open championship nine times.

It remains popular with families as a year-round getaway largely thanks to the beautiful beaches, though the great food, excellent accommodation, independent shopping and stunning views to Arran and Ailsa Craig also bring folk back year after year.

Historic highlights

The fourth Duke of Portland, whose family owned vast estates in Ayrshire, had a big influence on Troon in the 19th century, building the town’s docks and contributing to construction of the railway.

The Harbour has always been central to the town, and was home to the Ailsa Shipbuilding Company – which built small passenger and merchant vessels – till 2000. Until recently, it offered ferry passage to Ireland.

Troon remains a working harbour today, with fishing port and yachting marina. Tourism, especially golf tourism, is also important to this town of 15,000.

Scotland's Insider Guide: Wigtonshire

What to do

Ann Wallace, from East Kilbride, describes Troon as her “spiritual home”. “I love it in the summer and winter,” she says. “It’s where both my boys learned to ride their bikes properly on their own; it's where walks and talks along the seafront have cleared our heads and calmed us through life’s ups and downs. Sometimes it’s hotter and sunnier than the Costa del Sol and sometimes it’s proper Baltic. It’s always where the beach is clean and big, and the shops quirky and friendly.”

The seafront dominates the town and on arrival there’s nothing better than a walk along the esplanade – complete with an ice-cream, whatever the weather - to get your bearings.

Along the way you’ll find a great kids’ playpark, lovely Italian gardens and a host of cafes and restaurants. All the beaches around Troon - south, north and nearby Barassie - attract windsurfers and kitesurfers and even if you’re not joining in, it’s fun to watch them bob along the sand and in the surf.

Ann continues: “The Pirate Playground on the seafront has a giant wooden shipwreck, swings, chutes and bouncy dolphins. It’s perfect for young children and there are plenty of benches for parents to sit, watch, and admire the views. We've had hours of fun with our boys here over the years and even though they are way too big for it now, they still have a wee shot when the wee ones are not around. Happy, happy memories.”

Walking along the seafront you can’t miss Royal Troon, founded in 1878 (, whose Old Course runs along the links and provides one of the ultimate challenges in the game - even for the pros. Visitors come from around the world and are welcome to play on certain days of the week from mid-April to October. Check the website for times and handicap requirements.

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Local resident Jennifer Dunn recommends a trip to Fullarton Woods. “As well as the fairy trail, which is a must for young children, there’s a play park and a wide network of woodland paths," she says. "The rugby club is here as well, and locals regularly use the allotments and petanque courts. It's like an open-air community centre.”

During August and September the Live at Troon Festival ( attracts musicians - and music lovers - from all over Scotland and beyond. This year marks the 10th anniversary, and sees the introduction of a new under-18s stage. Acts including Lucia, Skerryvore and Tom McGuire and the Brassholes are already confirmed, with more to follow.

Where to eat

Scott’s, at the marina (, offers seafood, steaks and sharing platters, washed down with cocktails and craft beers, in some of the most stylish surroundings in town. George Glen says: “Always my favourite place in Troon. I’ve never had a meal I didn’t love there.”

If it’s a top fish supper you’re after, Ann Wallace believes you can’t beat The Wee Hurrie. “It’s right round at the end of the harbour, beyond the point you think there can’t be anything else there,” she says. “Hand-cut chips and home-made tartare sauce, the freshest of fish and lovely staff. It’s always queued out – I have waited an hour and a half in the queue before – but it is worth it. The best fish and chips in Scotland.”

She also recommends the ice-cream at the South Beach Kiosk: “Home of the Snowball Cup – a dod of ice cream with raspberry sauce, a snowball and chocolate sauce served up in a plastic cup – bliss. You can also get buckets and spades, giant lollipops and a lovely welcome in this proper old-fashioned seaside shop.”

Scotland's Insider Guide: Wigtonshire

Where to shop

You can easily spend a whole afternoon perusing the lovely shops on Church Street.

Bearing Gifts has a quirky selection of mugs, cards, candles and children’s books, while nearby clothing boutique September Skies stocks an array of labels you won’t find on the high street. Scentsations of Troon, meanwhile, is one of the best specialised scent emporiums in the west of Scotland.

For some refreshments while you shop, No 3 cafe has delicious sandwiches, scones and strawberry tarts.

If you’re on your bike, pop into The Bicycle Room on Portland Street for advice, servicing, repairs, parts and accessories. Craft aficionados won’t want to miss the nearby Knitting Shop, which has an array of yarns, patterns and inspiration for all things woolly.

The Gallery, on Templehill ( is the place to see and buy the work of local artists. It also stocks specialist golf art and offers a reputable framing service.

Scotland's Insider Guide: Kirkwall

Where to stay

Troon fan Susan Barr has great things to say about Sandhill House, a boutique B&B in a mansion overlooking the golf course. “It’s somewhere genuinely different where you can really get away from it all,” she says. “There are lovely grounds to wander round, complete with pet Shetland pony and a llama. The rooms are spacious, beautifully decorated and extremely comfortable and it’s great value for money. We were welcomed with home-made biscuits and the breakfast includes delicious home-made pancakes. The owners are a breath of fresh air.” Rooms from £70.

George Glen highly recommends the Marine Hotel, right on the golf course. “Stunning views and all-round lovely hotel,” he says. “And the spa is great.” Rooms from £99.

Jennifer Dunn recommends the Old Loans Inn (, a former coach house in the village of Loans, on the outskirts of Troon. “It has a lovely beer garden and is right next to a play park for the kids. The restaurant is excellent, too.” Rooms from £81.

Those lucky enough to arrive in Troon by private boat, meanwhile, will find excellent berthing facilities at Troon Yacht Haven (

Famous Faces

Actor, comedian and impressionist Ronnie Ancona born in Troon and attended the town’s secondary school, Marr College.

BBC Sports commentator Andrew Cotter is also from the town, while actor Susannah York was brought up there.

Golfer Colin Montgomerie considers Royal Troon to be his home course – his father was the club secretary for years.

What to do nearby

Dundonald Castle: Set on a hilltop just 10 minutes’ drive from Troon this medieval tower house is something of a hidden gem. Built in the 1370s by King Robert II on his ascension to the throne, there are high-vaulted ceilings and gloomy dungeons to explore. The surrounding woodland is perfect for walks.

Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine: This wonderful museum explores the country’s seafaring heritage through the ships that braved the oceans and the people who built and sailed them. A great day out for all the family 15 minutes from Troon.

Scottish Assault Courses Ayrshire: Test your physical and mental prowess at this adventure centre complete with assault courses, paintball and rifle range. Around 20 minutes’ from Troon.

In the next few weeks Marianne will be visiting Brodick and Banchory. Send your hints and tips for things to do and places to eat, drink and stay, with a few lines about what makes them so memorable, to