ideal towns >> southport, nc
Southport — A Vintage Seaside Postcard Come to Life
by Nancy Gross
The quaint seaside village of Southport, NC, will entice you with its stunning combination of historic homes, lush landscaping and miles of water in every direction.
With its wide front porches, white rocking chairs and soothing water views, there’s no better place than Southport to slow down and enjoy the relaxed pace of true Southern living.
Although the town has approximately 2,300 year-round residents, it continues to thrive as a fishing village and a port, with marinas open to commercial fishermen, small shipping vessels and maritime travelers along the bordering Intracoastal Waterway.
As a community with water as its focus, Southport offers ample boardwalks to explore the waterfront, a spectacular marina, fishing charters, a Waterfront Park for a front-row view of passing ships and a fishing pier.
Historic homes feature lush landscapes of towering palm trees, rose bushes, hydrangeas and grand Southern Magnolias. Southport is best known for its large concentration of ancient live oaks, which have shaded the downtown streets for hundreds of years.
Stroll through picturesque downtown Southport and you’ll discover an eclectic dining scene, boutiques offering unique gifts, art galleries and renowned antique stores with rare Southern pieces and Civil War artifacts.
Hollywood has also been lured by Southport’s charms. Movies such as Safe Haven, Crimes of the Heart and A Walk to Remember have been filmed here.
Southport’s special events include fishing tournaments, a summer farmer’s market and a juried art show. The official North Carolina Fourth of July Festival is held in Southport each year and features an incredible parade and a brilliant fireworks display over the Cape Fear River.
Just 30 minutes south of Wilmington, Southport is also close to three beautiful barrier island beaches: Oak Island, Bald Head Island and Fort Fisher. A pleasant ferry ride across the Cape Fear River takes visitors to Bald Head Island and Fort Fisher.
Southport’s laid-back vibe and serene water vistas will make you slow down and enjoy the moment. So pull up a rocking chair, sip some sweet tea and let the cool sea breeze wash over you.
- Fishy Fishy Café features a casual dockside location with beach decor, live music and fresh seafood, sandwiches and salads.
- Live Oak Café’s Southern-accented New American fare and global wine list sits in a cozy cottage with a screened-in porch.
- Mr. P’s Bistro is an old-school, relaxed spot serving Lowcountry-style oysters, crabs and more, plus tasty prime rib and cocktails.
- The Pharmacy Restaurant boasts high-end New American dining and offers soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, seafood and an extensive wine list, all in a stylish space with exposed-brick walls and hickory floors.
- Yacht Basin Provision Company invites you to kick back with an ice-cold beer and some steamed shrimp, crab cakes, burgers or a hot dog while you enjoy beautiful views of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Top Things To Do
- Bald Head Island Ferry Leave your car behind and take a ferry ride to Bald Head Island, where you can enjoy 14 miles of pristine beaches, explore a maritime forest, catch a bite to eat and visit the “Old Baldy” lighthouse, the oldest still standing in the state.
- Downtown Southport Stroll past historic Southern architecture and enjoy restaurants, museums, unique shops and antiques along the town’s tree-lined streets.
- Historic Riverwalk Take a scenic walk overlooking marinas, gorgeous riverfront landscapes and an abundance of native wildlife. While you’re there, take a quick jaunt down the Southport City Pier for incredible views of the Cape Fear River.
- Marsh WalkNature lovers who want to take an in-depth and self-guided exploration of Southport’s wild terrain can take an easy stroll down the “Marsh Walk.” This long boardwalk provides incredible views of the Cape Fear River, the Elizabeth River and miles of the waterfront terrain.
- NC Maritime Museum Over time, the Cape Fear region’s people and their relationship to the water has been complex. Dive right into the fascinating history and culture that this region supplies through this detailed and fascinating collection including shipwrecks, commerce, pirates, war, hurricanes and fishing.
- Waterfront Park and City Pier Take in stunning open water views with picnic tables, benches, swings and proximity to the fishing pier.