Apart from the wonderful beach and Nairn's other attractions, the town makes a very good base from which to visit numerous places of interest throughout the Highlands.
Here are a few suggestions for days out by car from Nairn.
1) Steam Days Take the A939 south from Nairn towards Grantown-on-Spey. The winding road passes through some lovely Highland scenery as it crosses the Dava Moor. In summer the hills are ablaze with purple heather. Once in Grantown you may like to stop for coffee at the Garth Hotel - just on your right as you enter the town. Driving time from Nairn around 25-35mins.
The Grantown Museum is well worth a visit if you'd like to know more about the origins of the town and the Grant family from whom it got its name.
Follow the main road out of town and head towards Aviemore. Look out for signs to Nethybridge on your left as tucked almost out of site is Broomhill Station - better known as Glenbogle Station from the BBC TV series "Monarch of the Glen". The Strathspey Steam Railway run regular trains from here to Boat of Garten and Aviemore. Leave the car in the car park and step back in time for a leisurely 40 minute journey through lovely scenery to Aviemore. Spend time in Aviemore, perhaps having lunch in the Cairngorm Hotel just across from the Station.
Aviemore is well-known as a Winter ski resort and, in summer, apart from good restaurants and cafes there's not a huge amount to see in the town centre but you may want to come back another day and visit one of the numerous attractions nearby. There is the Reindeer Centre and then on to the Cairngorm Mountain Railway. At the top there are wonderful views and a lovely restaurant. The is also the Rothiemurcas Estate with numerous activities and the Highland Wildlife Park.
But to round this day off, travel back on the train to Broomhill. You may wish to turn left onto the main road as a mile or so down the road is the Speyside Heather Centre, famous for its Clootie Dumpling (boiled fruit cake) Restaurant. The Centre also has a well stocked shop of gifts and Scottish souvenirs. Depending on the time of day you may wish to head back to Nairn for your evening meal or stop of at any of the numerous restaurants you'll pass on the way.
2) RSPB - Boat of Garten
Follow the same route from Nairn as in 1). You may wish to make a coffee stop at the Speyside Heather Centre. Drive on to Boat of Garten and then follow the signs to the Osprey Centre at Loch Garten. Well worth a visit during May-July if you want to see young Osprey chicks. Details on Boat of Garten ospreys here or see the Live web cam during nesting season. When there are no Ospreys, if a quiet walk in a lovely wooded Pine forest appeals then look no further. There's lots of wildlife to look our for including red squirrels. Further details on RSPB opening times and entry.
Once again take the A939 south from Nairn. At Ferness turn right onto the B9007 and follow the road across the moor. Turn right onto the A938 which brings you to Carrbridge. The ancient Bridge over the River Carr was build to take packhorses across and is the oldest stone bridge in the Highlands - although it's not used these days. There are viewing platforms and you should be able to get some good photos of the raging waters and the bridge. Driving time from Nairn around 30-40mins.
Landmark Forest Theme Park. An outdoor adventure centre in the middle of a forest. A great day out for all the family. You can spend the whole day there if you wish. Restaurants and cafes on site. If you feel like taking a different route back to Nairn head past the old bridge and follow the road to the A9. Head north to Inverness and then right onto the A96. If you turn right out of Landmark you can head for Aviemore or back through Grantown past the Speyside Heather Centre.
4) Cawdor Castle, Culloden, Clava Cairns and Fort George (best over two days to fully appreciate everything)
You can't come to this area and not pay a visit to the Battlefield at Culloden - site of the last battle on British soil. From Nairn High St, follow the B9090 towards Cawdor. Just before you enter Cawdor village turn left and follow the signs to Cawdor Castle. If castles are your thing you'll want to allow plenty time to explore this magical place, walk in the beautiful gardens and perhaps along the river. Here you'll find Scottish history that you can touch and see and sense for yourself.
Head back to the B9090 and turn left. At Clephanton village turn left onto the B9091 and follow the road until you reach the National Trust Culloden Centre. The new centre is packed with interesting activities and 360 degree immersive battle experience. You can also take a tour around the actual battlefield and learn more about the reasons for this famous battle.
If you have time to spare you will not regret a brief visit to the Bronze Age burial site at Clava. Turn right out of the Culloden Centre and then take the next right. Follow the road for about a mile and then take a right to the Cairns. Managed by Historic Scotland, free entry.
Return back up the hill to the main road and if you wish, drive on to Fort George, an amazing fort built after the battle of Culloden. At the main road, turn right. Head for the village of Croy and take the B9006. Cross the A96 and drive through Ardersier to reach Fort George. Apart from enjoying the history and atmosphere of this unique place with its many ramparts, you might even see the dolphins in the Moray Firth. For a different route home, leave Fort George and take the first left along a single track road. Follow this road for a few miles until you arrive at a T-junction. Turn left and follow this road to the edge of Nairn where it joins the A96. Turn left to Nairn.
5) Brodie castle, Benromach Distillery, Elgin, Baxters
Take the A96 east towards Aberdeen. After about 5 miles you come to Brodie. You may wish to call into Brodie Countryfayre - a Scottish souvenir and clothing shop with an excellent restaurant and cafe. Further along the A96 you'll see signs to Brodie Castle. You can explore the Castle and there are some lovely walks around the grounds. There is a shop and cafe.
If you fancy a visit to a distillery then call in to Benromach in Forres. You'll find it on your left as you drive along the Forres bypass.
Further along the A96 you'll come to Elgin with its ancient cathedral dating back to the 13th Century - now in ruins. Alongside the Cathedral is the Biblical garden which may be worth a visit.
If you have time then drive on to Fochabers to the home of Baxters Highland Village - the famous soup people. Find out more about this family business and meander around the various exhibitions. Lovely restaurant on site.
Take the A96 to Inverness. If parking in the centre of town you can use one of two car parks at the Eastgate Centre. Follow signs to Town Centre and just past Morrisons you'll see signs to each of the main car parks. Alternatively, take the A9 north and at the next roundabout exit left. Follow signs to Fort William and Loch Ness - A82. At the second roundabout you'll see the Rose St Car Park. At the higher levels there are greatly reduced rates for parking. Of course, if you prefer there are 3-4 buses an hour between Nairn and Inverness. No need to take the car!
Take the day to explore Inverness, see the shops, Eastgate Centre and the pedestrian High St, walk round the exterior of the Castle (no public entry), or take a leisurely walk along the River Ness to the Ness Islands and back down the other side past Eden Court Theatre and the Cathedral.
7) Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
Take the A96 to Inverness. Take the A9 north and at the next roundabout exit left. Follow signs to Fort William and Loch Ness - A82. This will take you over the River Ness; take second exit down Kenneth St. At the end of this road turn right into Tomnahurich St - the A82. Follow the road out of town and along the side of Loch Ness.
There are a number of stopping places to take in the scenery. A pleasant coffee stop on the way is the Clansman Hotel. It is also possible to arrange a two-hour cruise on Loch Ness from the Clansman Hotel which includes a visit and entry to Urquhart Castle. Alternatively you can drive to the Castle via Drumnadrochit and perhaps take in one or more of the Monster Exhibitions. Driving time from Nairn around 40-50mins.
8) Tain Pottery, Glenmorangie Distillery, Dunrobin Castle,
Take the A96 to Inverness. Take the A9 north and travel almost as far as Tain. The Tain Pottery is situated at Aldie on the A9 south of Tain. Look out for the brown and white Scottish Tourist Board sign which says "Aldie Watermill & Tain Pottery".
Return to the A9 and head north. After less than a mile you'll see signs for the Glenmorangie Distillery. There is a shop and visitor centre and you can tour the distillery but there is no cafe.
Back on the A9 head north and drive through Golspie. As you reach the top of the hill out of town you'll see signs for Dunrobin Castle. This is a castle like no other in terms of its design with a very fairy tale appearance. There are lovely gardens to walk around and usually there is a birds of prey demonstration.
Make the most of your day before heading back. The non-stop drive from Nairn is around 80-100 minutes.
9) Black Isle Tour - full details on this page