There are more attractions around Aviemore than you can shake a stick at. These are just a sample of the best ones:
THE LANDMARK FOREST ADVENTURE PARK
One of Scotlands best theme parks (and a must for kids) is just 20 minutes drive from No 10. It manages to combine hair-raising activities with learning about the past, the environment and nature.
You can be rockclimbing, skydiving, water sliding or riding a rollercoaster one minute and meeting red squirrels face to face the next. You can walk through the tops of tall pine trees (you really need a head for heights for that one), watch logs being sawn on a steam powered sawmill, see a Clydesdale horse in action, and marvel at the 'bamboozeleum' (a truly weird exhibition of strange illusions and effects). You’ll learn a lot about the secrets of Scotland's ancient Cairngorms Pine forest - in between eating theme park food and screaming your head off.
THE CAIRNGORM REINDEER HERD
One of our favourite attractions! At the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre 6 miles from Aviemore, you can meet Britain's only herd of reindeer, found free ranging in the Cairngorm mountains. At the Centre, you can arrange to visit the reindeer on the mountain or meet them at base, and under supervision you can feed and stroke them. The centre also organises mountain treks where you can lead a reindeer.
They all have names and personalities and you may just fall in love enough to want to adopt a calf. We've adopted Bovril (having sadly lost our previous reindeer Flapjack to the Scottish climate) and we're hoping he may soon be just about ready to pull Santa’s sleigh in Aviemore some Christmas Eve.
The Centre has granted guests at No 10 a special discount of 10% on Hillside trips or Paddock visits. Hillside trips happen twice daily and you can go on to the mountain to see the herd. There you can walk among them, pat them and feed them - its very hands on. If your children are too small for that there are always the Paddock visits where you can meet reindeer in their enclosures and visit the reindeer exhibition. All guests have to do is bring along their booking confirmation letter for No 10. Centre staff are incredibly friendly.
The mountain railway is great fun and takes you to the top of Cairngorm mountain without too much effort. Once you’re there you can eat at the highest restaurant in the UK (or join a ceilidh there on Thursday nights), post a letter at the highest post box in Britain, shop at the highest shop…you get the idea! And on a clear day the views are breathtaking.
THE MCDONALD'S RESORT
One of the best shopping experiences in Aviemore, with designer names and brands and everything from clothes to kitchen implements and ice cream. There are a selection of restaurants on site plus a good coffee shop. And most importantly there’s a cinema which usually shows an up to date movie and sells popcorn and the usual cinema snacks. You don’t need to book – the auditorium holds 650.
THE STRATHSPEY STEAM RAILWAY
A fun day out. You can take a steam train journey from Aviemore station through Boat of Garten to Broomhill ( aka as Glenbogle station in the TV series ‘Monarch of the Glen’). The scenery is lovely – moorland, woodland, mountains – and you can take lunch, afternoon tea or a dinner as you go in old-fashioned style. There are various kids events too – this year there’s a Wizard weekend in October and the ever popular Santa Express and Mince Pie specials in December.
A privately owned estate just on the outskirts of Aviemore and its been in the hands of the same family since the 1500s. Rothiemurchus forest is one of the largest surviving areas of ancient woodland in Europe. Along with fantastic walks (dogs allowed) there are a host of activities available like clay pigeon shooting, archery, pony trekking, and quad biking. The Tree Zone is an experience too - an adventure playground is suspended from wires high up in the trees with balance beams, Tarzan swings and a monster zip-wire ride.
THE WHISKY TRAIL
Grantown, just 15 minutes drive from Aviemore is the gateway to the Malt whisky trail. Some of the best malt distilleries in the world are near here and they offer tours and tastings.
CASTLES, BATTLEFIELDS AND MONSTERS
There’s a wealth of historic attractions close to Aviemore. Three of the best are:
CULLODEN:The site of the last pitched battle on UK soil where Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated. There’s an excellent visitors centre there and the atmosphere on the battlefield is impressive.
CAWDOR CASTLE: Supposedly the most romantic castle in Scotland (which is saying something) and linked to Shakespeare’s MacBeth (who became Thane of Cawdor). The castle was actually built in the 14th or 15th century, so too late for the historical MacBeth but not too late for Shakespeare. One of the many interesting things about Cawdor is that it was built around a small living holly tree, the remains of which can still be seen in the lower level of the tower.
The Cawdor family still live there today.
THE LOCH NESS MONSTER: A visit to the Highlands can't be complete without a visit to see Nessie. It takes about an hour by car to get to the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre at Drumnadrochit from No 10 but its well worth it. It’s a 5 star exhibition and there are cruises on the Loch on offer too. The question is…do you really want to see her?
The Highland capital is just 25 minutes away from Aviemore by train or car so if you feel a shopping frenzy, a night clubbing or a visit to the theatre or cinema (assuming the McDonald cinema in Aviemore doesn’t have anything you want to see) its an easy trip. Inverness has a lot going on culturally and commercially. From TK Maxx to a farmers market; from Verdi to Olly Murs, there’s a lot going on.