The town is now best known as a seaside resort, with two golf courses, a small theatre (called the little theatre) and one small museum, providing information on the local area and incorporating the collection of the former Fishertown museum.
It was not until the 1860s that Nairn became a respectable and popular holiday town. Dr. John Grigor (a statue of whom is located at Viewfield) was gifted a house in this coastal town and spent his retirement there. He valued its warm climate and advised his wealthy clients to holiday there. Following the opening of the Nairn railway station in 1855, new houses and hotels were built in the elegant West End. The station is on the Aberdeen to Inverness Line. Originally this was the last stop on the line from London due to the inhospitable terrain on what is now the main Dava branch line to Inverness.
Nairn is known as a world class golfing destination, with two 18 hole courses. One of these, Nairn Golf Club is one of the great traditional links courses and was laid out by James Braid in 1928. It has hosted many tournaments culminating in the 1999 Walker Cup and is visited by golfers from all over the world.
The local football team is Nairn County F.C., who play in the Highland Football League. They recently picked up their first trophy in 31 years when they won the North of Scotland Cup 3-1 against local rivals Forres Mechanics F.C. at Grant Street Park, Inverness. The town has another football team, Nairn St Ninian, who are a junior outfit.
The town also hosts the Nairn International Jazz Festival each August, usually attracting some well-known and world class musicians.
Nairn also stages one of the biggest Highland games in the North. The first event was held in 1867, and it is now one of the few where entry remains free. The games are a major event in the local social calendar.
William Whitelaw the British deputy Prime Minister 1979 - 88 was born in Nairn and has a street named after his family.
James Augustus Grant who discovered the source of the Nile together with Speke was born at Househill, attended Nairn Academy and died at Nairn in 1892. There is a plaque to his memory in St Paul's Cathedral.
At present Scottish Executive investment in the transport infrastructure has focused on the Inverness to Nairn stretch of road, especially to improve links to Inverness Airport.
However, there are no current plans to build a Nairn by-pass until after 2011. A consultation is currently planned to 2007, which is expected to determine both the feasibility of a Nairn by-pass, as well as a potential time-scale for development.
In the meantime, land to the east and south of the town is being considered for the further development of 1400 houses, with additional plans submitted by Lord Cawdor to double the size of the town over the next 10-15 years through private investment.