Living in Elgin you can easily take a short trip to bustling Inverness, the gateway to the Highlands; fish for salmon in the world-famous River Spey; or catch a glimpse of the Moray Firth’s own bottlenose dolphins at the Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay.
With the pedestrianised Elgin High Street just two miles away, there is a host of amenities right on your doorstep including supermarkets, dentists, Elgin Health centre, Dr Gray’s Hospital, Moray Leisure Centre and childcare facilities.
And from the Michelin star cuisine served at the Boath House Hotel just outside Nairn; the Saturday evening pop up restaurant at the popular Drouthy Cobbler in Elgin; to coffee shops, steakhouses and pizzerias, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes.
Choose from bracing walks on the Nairn, Findhorn or Lossiemouth beaches, or the short Elgin Explorer trail starting in the heart of the town.
For something to really stretch your legs, the 72km Moray Coast Trail starts in Forres and ends in Cullen. It takes in beaches – with the added bonus of dolphin spotting – dramatic cliffs and attractive fishing villages.
Or three miles west of Elgin, you can wander among the old oaks and beeches and uncover Quarrelwood’s remarkable history: from reptile and fish fossils to an ancient henge and medieval hunting forest.
Elgin and its surrounding area has the highest concentration of malt whisky distilleries anywhere in the world.
Complete with excellent visitor centre offering tours and tastings, the closest distillery to Hamilton Gardens, Glen Moray, has been distilling single malts on the banks of the River Lossie since 1897.
And with in-store tastings it’s worth making the pilgrimage to Gordon & MacPhail’s world famous whisky room on Elgin’s South Street, which stocks around 1,000 different single malts.
Elgin and the surrounding area have a wide range of remarkable heathland, costal links and parkland courses set in breathtaking scenery to suit players of all abilities. Founded in 1906, and extended to 18 holes in 1924, Elgin Golf Club is regarded as one of the finest inland courses in Scotland.
Other nearby options include Maverston Golf Course at Urquhart; Lossiemouth and Ballindalloch Golf Courses; as well as Castle Stuart and Nairn Golf Clubs.
There’s plenty of choice for shoppers from the St Giles Shopping Centre in Elgin, featuring high street favourites and specialist retailers; to renowned luxury Scottish brands.
Johnstons of Elgin has been making cashmere and fine woollen cloth, knitwear and accessories in Scotland since 1797. And as well as its fine reputation for whisky, Gordon & MacPhail stocks quality Scottish fare including local meats and fine cheeses.
Brodie Countryfare and Baxters Highland Village are known for excellent food and drink, as well as their high quality clothing and gifts.
From catching a film at the Moray Playhouse, to bowling a strike at Pinz Bowling, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained.
And to really burn off some energy, visit the Playbarn at Greenfields, or Landmark Forest Adventure Park, seven miles north of Aviemore off the A9.
The park has a host of attractions including rollercoaster rides, climbing walls, forest trails and a butterfly house.
Less than an hour’s drive south from Elgin, you could easily lose track of time in the Cairngorms National Park.
As an inspiration for the silver screen, including Disney Pixar’s Brave and the Outlander series, the park’s rugged mountains, unspoilt scenery and picturesque villages are packed with things to see and do.
There’s plenty of wildlife to spot; no fewer than 43 Munros to bag; and you can find out more about the area’s history by visiting the Highland Folk Museum.
However, if that’s all a bit sedate, there’s plenty to do at the CairnGorm Mountain and Lecht ski centres. You can also try your hand at ice climbing and canyoning.
The Park has two dedicated watersports centres: Loch Insh and Loch Morlich: both ideal places to spot wildlife in its natural environment from an open canoe or from the comfort of a specialist craft.
From the ruins of Elgin Cathedral – known as the Lantern of the North – or the old road bridge at Craigellachie designed by Thomas Telford, evidence of the area’s rich heritage is everywhere you look.
Elgin Museum – on the east end of the town’s High Street – is Scotland’s oldest independent museum, and displays objects from all over the world with a special focus on Moray from all periods from before the dinosaurs to the present day.
Open from May to September, you’ll find the Biblical Garden – the first of its kind in Scotland – on King Street, just around the corner from the cathedral’s entrance.
Also close by are Spynie Palace, the largest surviving medieval bishop’s house in Scotland, which was residence of the bishops of Moray for 500 years and sometimes used by travelling royalty as a guesthouse; and Duffus Castle, a medieval stronghold of the Moray family.