Central Ayr

Things to do in Ayr

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Ayr has so much to it. There’s a beach, loads of cultural attractions, plenty of green spaces and walks and lots of places to eat. Best of all, it’s just four miles from Craig Tara, making it perfect for a family day out or a romantic evening. 

In this article we’ve highlighted some of the best things to do in the birthplace of Scotland’s national poet, once named St John’s Town of Ayr.

Robert Burns’ birthplace

Robert Burns’ birthplace

No trip to Ayr would be complete without a visit to the birthplace of the author of Auld Lang Syne, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose and To a Mouse. Robert Burns had a modest upbringing, and his childhood cottage home can be found in the village of Alloway, by a loop of the river Doon just south of Ayr and a little over two miles from us at Craig Tara. 

As well as the modest cottage where the poet lived, the accompanying museum boasts over 5000 artefacts either belonging to or relating to Burns, including handwritten manuscripts. There’s a beautifully maintained monument and garden, the picturesque Brig ‘o Doon, and the Poet’s Path, which links cottage and museum with statues and inscriptions from Burns works.  

This is one of the best literary museums in the world and includes a tearoom and other facilities for the whole family.

Pirate Pete’s

Seaside towns are well-known for their family-friendly theme parks and Ayr is no exception. Pirate Pete’s has a range of indoor activities to turn those disappointingly damp beach days into fun-filled experiences. There’s a soft play area, giant bumpy slides, Laser Quest, mini golf, and a US-styled diner at which to replace some of those burned calories. 

Housed in Ayr Pavilion, there are seasonal rides, amusements, and lots of pirate-themed artwork. It’s a fun, loud and colourful environment and the kids will love it. Dogs are better off on the nearby beach, however, where they can stroll to their heart’s content.

Rozelle Park

Rozelle Park

Another popular outdoor attraction is Ayr’s Rozelle Park. Not only does it feature 90 acres of picturesque park and woodland, but there’s a Georgian mansion, courtyard, tearoom and art gallery on site. The Maclaurin Art Gallery holds works by an eclectic collection of local and international modern artists, displayed in four rooms, and hosts travelling exhibitions too. 

The park and woods are full of wildlife, sculptures and a story trail to amuse the kids. There is plenty of room on the lawns for picnics and exercising your pet. And the tearoom is a must, offering home baking and tasty soups of the day.

Gaiety Theatre

Ayr’s Gaiety Theatre has survived two fires and two world wars and is still going strong after 121 years. Once host to the variety shows of the 1920s to 1950s, the 500-seater venue now features an eclectic array of shows including pantomime, theatre, musicals, gigs, dance, and kids’ shows. Local community groups perform here, and tribute bands reinvigorate classic rock of the 1960s and 70s. 

There are matinees and evening shows, and the café in the theatre foyer is highly recommended as a breakfast venue, as well as for tasty and good value pre-show meals.

Discover breaks in Scotland

Seton Sands self catering holidays

Seton Sands, Scotland

3 nights from £59
Craig Tara self catering holidays

Craig Tara, Scotland

3 nights from £49

Hannahston Alpacas

Another child-friendly option is a visit to those odd, woolly animals, the Hannahston Alpacas. Situated in Drongan, ten miles east of Craig Tara and a couple of miles from Ayr, the Hannahston Farm is a great place to introduce your little ones to these amusing, placid South American relatives of the llama. 

Farmer Angela is on hand to answer any question you can throw at her as your little ones pet the baby alpacas and learn how to walk them, as well as discovering the many uses of alpaca fur. Look out for “bad boy” alpaca named after Scottish celebrity Lewis Capaldi.

Electric Brae

Here’s something unique to Ayr, and famous to locals – Ayr’s “electric brae.” A Brae is a slope or hillside, and what makes the stretch of the A719 five miles south of Craig Tara a must-visit is a remarkable optical illusion.  

Find a safe place to stop your car, facing downhill and take the handbrake off. Your car will seem to roll… uphill! It’s an example of what’s known as a “gravity hill,” where the lay of the land seems to clash with the effects of gravity.

Bachelors’ Club

Another important stop on the Robert Burns tour is the Bachelors’ Club, a National Trust restored social venue where the poet and his friends danced, debated, and recited their poetry. The 17th-century building is a thatched and whitewashed two-storey club giving fascinating insights into male camaraderie during the era. 

The custodians are friendly and well-informed, but make sure you check opening times before you visit.

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