The region that gave us Robert Burns, and plenty of fantastic eateries, cultural attractions, and history, Ayrshire is worth visiting this summer season.

Here, we showcase some of the best places to visit and experiences to have while visiting Ayrshire.


The Baird Institute lies in the centre of the town of Cumnock and was opened in March 1891 to provide leisure facilities for local people and included a museum, billiard room and reading rooms.

Today it holds collections of Mauchline Ware of world importance complimented by many items of Cumnock Pottery as well as a wide range of resources which relate to the history of Cumnock and the Doon Valley area – museum collections, archives, photographs, audio visual materials, books, maps and newspapers. One room is also dedicated to James Keir Hardie, founder of the Labour Party and contains many of his personal belongings.

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Combine this with a continually changing programme of contemporary art exhibitions and a range of events and workshops taking place throughout the year and a visit to the Baird Institute will be worthwhile, whatever your interest. Having previously exhibited works by Picasso, Howsen and Matisse, the current exhibition on display is a Hayward Gallery Touring Exhibition from the Southbank Centre, London with fifty works by a Pop Art master!

General Dynamic F.U.N. presents 50 screen-prints and photolithographs by the pioneer of Pop Art, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1924 – 2005).

Born in Scotland, and one of the pioneers of the pop art movement in the UK, Paolozzi was a compulsive collector and a jumbler of icons. He is equally revered for his mechanistic sculptures and his kaleidoscopic print projects. The artist, who described himself as 'a wizard in Toytown', transformed the mundane, the derelict and the mass-produced into images that zap with electric eclecticism and impress with their graphic complexity.

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This exhibition is a series of fifty screen prints and photolithographs created between 1965 and 1970. Here, Paolozzi employs the technologies of mass-reproduction and gorges on its idols – the household names and familiar faces of consumer advertising, high fashion and Hollywood. Entry to the exhibition is free and on display until 26 August 2023.


Robert Burns, Scotland’s National Bard, lived in Mauchline in what was arguably his most creative and productive period as a writer. This was the time that Burns established himself as a poet, leading to the publication of the famous “Kilmarnock Edition”. It was at his farm in Mossgiel, close to the town, that he composed many of his best-loved poems.

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Whilst preparing for their move to Ellisland Farm in Dumfriesshire, Burns and his wife Jean Armour lodged in a room in what is now Burns House Museum. It was in this room that Jean gave birth to twins.

Through the display of original manuscripts, objects and other publications, we interpret Burns’ time in the town and his relations with many of its characters. Contemporary works commissioned in response to Burns and his work by significant Scottish artists such as Timorous Beasties and Calum Colvin complement the displays of historic objects. The collections on display are regularly changed, and a series of events take place in and around the museum each year.

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The museum’s Robert Burns Collection is officially recognised as being of national significance as part of the wider collections cared for by the Museums of the Burns Scotland Partnership. Visitors can also gain access to Nanse Tinnocks. During Burns’ lifetime Nanse Tinnocks was an alehouse and home to the characters of ‘Nanse’ and her daughter ‘Racer Jess’ who are to be found in Burns’ poetry. Today it houses the largest known public collection of Mauchline Ware in the world and curling stones, for which the town is also famous for manufacturing.


The Dick Institute has been described as Scotland’s finest municipal gallery, featuring the largest exhibition spaces in Scotland south of Glasgow with a carefully selected programme of displays to rival any of our city counterparts.

The building now boasts a tearoom serving barista coffee and sweet treats, making the Dick Institute a must visit destination in Ayrshire.

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The Main Gallery plays host to world class touring exhibitions through our partnerships with national institutions such as TATE, the Design Museum, National Galleries Scotland, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Seven Stories in bringing household name exhibitions including Quentin Blake, Gerhard Richter, Michael Morpurgo, Bricktropolis (Lego), Miffy and Wallace and Gromit. The Dick Institute also proudly exhibits an ambitious range of temporary exhibitions hosting large scale shows and new commissions from Scotland’s leading contemporary visual artists including Christine Borland, Nathan Coley, Kenny Hunter, Rachel Maclean and Graham Fagan as well as works by applied artists Simon Ward and Timorous Beasties.

The museum galleries show a range of semi-permanent exhibitions which highlight East Ayrshire’s social and natural science heritage through our varied collections. One of the most visited items on display is the replica of John Wilson’s printing press which printed the first book of Robert Burns’ poems – Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect – more famously known as The Kilmarnock Edition. Must see items include original Burns manuscripts which are on rotation and include, Tam O’ShanterThe Twa Dogs and The Cottar’s Saturday Night. You can also view rare items from the Johnnie Walker Archive, some on display for the first time.

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Currently on display in the Dick Institute’s main gallery is an Open Art exhibition.

Showcasing the creative talent of artists across Ayrshire, this exhibition offers viewers an insight into the diverse range of current contemporary practices of over sixty regional artists, in a wonderful display in the Dick Institute’s beautiful Main Gallery.

Through a broad selection of high-quality work, the exhibition demonstrates originality and innovation both conceptually and technically whilst providing relevant and thought-provoking themes to visitors.


Kilmarnock’s Dean Castle sits proudly within Dean Castle Country Park and re-opened in April 2023 after an extensive renovation and modernisation project.

It was the home and stronghold of the Boyd family for over 400 years. From their humble beginnings, the Boyds, in the space of only a few generations, would be made Knights, Lords and ultimately hold the Regency of Scotland, only to lose their grip on power under accusations of treason before rising again to become the Earls of Kilmarnock. Their story is one of battles, plots, feuds, kings and politics and includes many figures of historical note – from William Wallace and Robert the Bruce to Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie and you will find out more about their story as you wander in and around the Castle.

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A fire destroyed the Keep and Palace in 1735 (which started in the Palace kitchen) and it remained in ruins until Thomas Evelyn Scott Ellis, the 8th Lord Howard de Walden, inherited the castle from his grandmother in 1899 and began the restoration. The restoration to the Keep was completed in around 1908 with the Palace being completed in 1930. 

Dean Castle houses East Ayrshire’s collection of arms and armour, the majority of which belonged to the 8th Lord Howard De Walden. He was a keen medievalist and enthusiast of knighthood and chivalry. He built his collection with assistance from notable sculptor and armourer Felix Joubert, and brought them to Kilmarnock for display in the newly restored Castle.

The majority of the collection are 15th and 16th century European creations and several key objects that have origins in East Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

The 8th Lord Howard de Walden also collected the 16th century tapestries that now hang in the Keep. Tapestry is one of the oldest forms of woven textile art using wool or fabric and traditionally woven by hand on a loom by skilled artisans. These tapestries were produced in Brussels, one of the major production centres at the time.

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Charles van Raalte collected the musical instrument collection displayed in the Castle, his daughter, Margherita, married the 8th Lord Howard de Walden and after her father’s death, she brought many of the most historically important pieces to the Castle.
The collection includes many interesting and unusual instruments – miniature viols, early ivory recorders, flutes, harps and drums.

For certain types of instruments, this is one of the most important collections in the world! In particular, there are examples from the lute family which date from as early as 1570 that are products of the most famous instrument makers of their time. For their quality and significance, East Ayrshire’s historical musical instrument collection is recognised as a nationally significant collection by Museum Galleries Scotland.

If you’re a fan of the hit show Outlander, or a ‘Heughan’s Heughligan’, then a visit to Dean Castle is a must! Appearing in “The Fox’s Lair” (episode 8 of season 2), Dean Castle was used as Beaufort Castle, seat of Clan Fraser of Lovat and home to Jamie’s grandfather Lord Lovat (‘The Old Fox’).

Fans can also enjoy the voice of actor Steven Cree who plays Ian Murray in the show. Steven, who hails from Kilmarnock, will talk you through the history of the Boyds in a brand new AV in the Keep.

Browse the Castle Gift Shop before you leave and check out our Outlander merchandise.

Find out more about Dean Castle and the Country Park at



Tucked away outside the village of Fenwick, near Kilmarnock, Craufurdland is a family-run estate set on 600 acres of stunning countryside, boasting an award-winning restaurant and plenty of outdoor activities for all ages, including a thrilling highwire adventure course with two different courses to choose from. This one-stop destination offers many outdoor activities, exceptional food, and beautiful countryside to all ages, including Craufurd Castle, home to the Craufurd family for nearly 800 years available to rent as exclusive use self-catering accommodation.

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Craufurdland is a fantastic hidden gem with something for everyone, whether you are planning a family day out, an action-packed date, a birthday celebration, corporate team building or a stag or hen do. Visit on a day trip and try one of the many outdoor activities available. Experience the thrill of the Tree Top Trials highwire adventure course or channel your inner Robin Hood with some archery. You can also try your hand at Bushcraft, essential wilderness survival skills, taught by Craufurdland’s expert instructors. Other outdoor activities include crate-stacking, group team-building games on the castle lawn, mud runs and fly fishing on the estate’s lochan.

Don’t miss the award-winning Laird's Table restaurant at Craufurdland, serving locally sourced delicious seasonal, made-to-order dishes enjoyed whilst looking out at the stunning views of Craufurdland's picturesque lochan.

From a Full Scottish to avocado bruschetta, the breakfast menu includes everything you need to fuel an action-packed morning. Coffee lovers can also enjoy a delicious brew made with locally sourced ethically sourced beans from nearby Glasgow roastery, Alfie & Co.

Enjoy a deliciously fresh lunch, made to order with only the freshest of ingredients, after a jam-packed morning of outdoor activities. For a quick pit-stop, grab a simple sandwich, or a jacket potato with your choice of topping. If you fancy a more leisurely meal, highlights of the day menu’s offerings are the chicken tempura and haggis fritters for starters, or a delicious fig and parma-ham salad and classic Steak & Ale pie being popular stand-out main. Vegetarians and vegans will also be spoiled for choice; we recommend the Courgette & Broccoli Tempura and Zesty Homemade Hummus Deli Plate.

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Head chef Paul Cuthbert’s expertly designed menu offers an unusually plentiful number of options for those with special dietary requirements, and even the fussiest of kids will find something they love on the children’s menu. You can also enjoy your meal with the company of your four-legged friend in Ghilli’s Cafe, Craufurdland’s dog-friendly eatery.

Craufurdland Estate is the ideal spot for family and friends of all ages to visit this summer. Discover the hidden beauty of Craufurdland and find tranquility, beautiful nature, and adventure at this extraordinary destination.

Fulshaw Mill Holidays Ayrshire

What a journey Fulshaw Mill Holidays have been on. The dream of building a beautiful, luxury, glamping pod, holiday site became a reality the day they broke ground. Having always loved the idea of running their own bespoke glamping site with private hot tubs, Gordon and Pamela were incredibly exciting to start work on what has become a beautifully designed and unique holiday location in Scotland.

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From design through to completion and then capping off the first year winning Scotland’s Business Awards for Best New Holiday Accommodation, it truly has been a dream come true for the family-owned business.

“We’ve put blood, sweat and tears into something we are truly proud of today,” the owners admit.

Now that they have their very own Luxury Glamping Pod site based right in the heart of the sunny Ayrshire Countryside, they won’t rest. They strive to offer the best value, luxury getaway in the country and even though they are so proud of the attention to detail, and the immaculate facilities that they have already achieved they are always on the lookout to improve and better the Fulshaw experience, which you will see in the additions around the site. Not only does every pod and cottage host a hot tub, free wifi, large TV’s with access to Netflix etc, but there is also an amazing fire pit which is excellent for sitting around socialising, keeping cosy and enjoying a glass of something nice whilst you watch the sunset. Additionally, there is a communal, outdoor lounge with a huge 65” outdoor TV, perfect for those cosy movie nights under the stars. They are set up perfectly for romantic nights away or for spending quality family time together. You’ll find onsite, stunning landscaping, a seat swing, and games for all of the family, even the little ones.

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Just a short walk away, is the local pub and restaurant where you can indulge in the finest local cuisine. Or if you feel like staying in to enjoy the comfort of your luxury pod (and we don’t blame you) then there is plenty local takeaways that will deliver onto the site. However, don’t worry, if you are a budding Gordon Ramsay then you’ll be happy to find cooking facilities in each of the pods and cottage.

Given the location of the Fulshaw Mill Holiday site, it is extremely accessible, being only 25 minutes from Glasgow and only a short drive to the Ayrshire coast. Being surrounded by the Ayrshire countryside there are several walks if you like the outdoor lifestyle or visit some local attractions such as Kelburn Castle.

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday and break the cycle with the perfect break at Fulshaw Mill Holidays. The Fulshaw team are really looking forward to the future. The owners admit: “We are incredibly excited about the summer months ahead and looking forward to welcoming our guests to Fulshaw Mill Holidays.”


From Easter and Christmas to family nights in with a box set, Geraldo’s makes every occasion special. Located in the popular seaside town of Largs, this family-owned five-star tourist shop (the only one in Ayrshire) is renowned for artisan ice cream freshly made on-site, luxury handmade chocolates, seasonal gifts and premium spirits.

Toni Dawson and the Geraldo’s team work closely with artisan producers across the UK and Europe to bring together the finest gifts and treats. They also curate a selection of unique, hand-packed gift hampers for every taste and occasion.

With free in-store tastings every Saturday afternoon showcasing a range of spirits, wines and Scottish distilleries, and an exquisite selection of gifts and treats for every occasion, this is a must-see shop in Largs all year round.

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A big supporter of the Scottish gin and whisky industries, Geraldo’s staff are also accredited Gin and Whisky Ambassadors. The team have strong relationships with independent distilleries and craft producers, and the shop offers a wide range of premium spirits, including Scottish gins and malt whiskies and world spirits such as rum, cognac and liqueurs. This July, visitors will get the chance to meet craft drinks producers and taste a selection of artisan spirits at weekly in-store tastings with the Isle of Harris Distillery, Dunnet Bay Distillers, Tomatin Whisky and more. You can find full details of upcoming events on their website and social channels.

The eye-catching chocolate cabinet showcases a constantly changing range of top-quality chocolates, including their best-selling range of Parisian creams, hand-painted 'Picasso' chocolates from Visser and their hugely popular gin truffles.

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Of course, no trip to the seaside is complete without indulging in an ice cream or two. Geraldo’s on-site ice cream production began in 2005 to a family recipe perfected by Toni’s mum, ‘Sweet Caroline’, and the business has won numerous awards for its creative flavour combinations. As well as offering traditional classics, they have a few unusual combinations such as lemon & ginger or “Gerry Berry” – named in honour of Toni’s late father, Gerald ‘Geraldo’ Dawson – with balsamic vinegar. Plus, with vegan and gluten-free options available, there is something for everyone. Both Toni and Caroline maintain their greatest satisfaction comes from the look of delight on the faces of locals and visitors as they sample Geraldo’s ice cream.

Visit Geraldo’s in Largs, situated on Main Street near the ferry terminal, or visit their website to order online. And follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to hear about their latest news and events.


The award-winning Scottish Maritime Museum on Irvine Harbourside in Ayrshire is a great day out for everyone and, with up to three children welcomed with free admission with each adult and concession ticket, it’s great value for money too.

The Scottish Maritime Museum is home to some of the UK’s most historic vessels and inventions and engineering which influenced shipbuilding across the world.

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On the Harbourside, take in the 150 year old MV Kyles, the oldest Clyde-built vessel still afloat in the UK and recognised as one of Britain’s most important historic vessels.

Wander up the pretty Vennel to the Museum Courtyard to see SY Carola, possibly the world’s oldest seagoing steam yacht, and MV Spartanthe only surviving Scottish-built ‘puffer’ in Scotland as well as a Uffa Fox Parachuted Airborne Lifeboat. 

Take a moment to step aboard MV Spartan and learn more about these ‘lifeline’ puffers which beached on remote Scottish coasts to deliver vital cargo.

Moving inside the vast, Victorian glass roofed Linthouse building, which was once a former Engine Shop of Alexander Stephen and Sons in Govan, you’ll find many more vessels to enjoy including the sailing boat Lady Guilford, which is thought to be the oldest surviving Scottish-built boat; Powerful, a hundred year old William Fife III sailing yacht, believed to be one of only 50 world-wide seaworthy Fife yachts; and BOLT18, an all electric boat and yacht tender, which holds the current British Water Speed Record (Unrestricted Electric Runabout Class) of 32.77 mph.

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As you tour the Linthouse, marvelling at the design of this iron girdered building with light streaming through some 2,100 panes of glass, you’ll find the country’s largest collection of shipbuilding tools and amazing engineering and inventions including the first steam turbines which became a standard form of propulsion changing transport forever.

Families can also have fun following trails and challenging themselves with interactive exhibits.

Back on the Harbourside, there’s the 1920s Shipyard Worker’s Tenement Flat, Puffers Café and the Museum Gift Shop to enjoy.

As well as all the permanent vessels and exhibits, the year round events and exhibitions programme includes children’s activities, talks and tours.

Visit soon and catch the Museum’s big summer exhibition, ‘Dream Destinations’, on show from 1 July to 1 October.

Travel ‘doon the watter’ and celebrate the rise of Scotland’s seaside resorts and the golden era of steamboat travel on the Clyde.

Exhibition highlights include scenic landscapes captured by the Scottish Colourists, railway posters and photographs drawn from the Museum's national art collection.

Whatever the weather, or your interests, there’s always so much to see and do at the Scottish Maritime Museum.


Sheila began her creative journey by returning to college to learn the art of silversmithing progressing to goldsmithing.

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By combining her background as a Business Management lecturer with her creativity, Sheila launched Sheila Kerr Jewellery in September 2011. Sheila creates her designer jewellery in her studio at Irvine harbourside in Ayrshire, Scotland. She is inspired by the stunning landscapes and literature of Scotland and is passionate about what she does.

Sheila was recently awarded runner up for Jewellery Designer of the year by the National Association of Jewellers.

All of Sheila’s precious metal jewellery carries her Personal Hallmark which is stamped by the illustrious Edinburgh Assay Office. Not only does the hallmark guarantee the quality of the precious metal, it also significantly increases the value of each piece of jewellery.