Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (2022)

Southport is a charming coastal town where shopping, dining, history, and just enjoying a waterfront breeze are all celebrated on a daily basis. And while it’s tempting to just find a shaded front porch, settle in, and admire the view – a popular local pastime – there’s miles of fun to be discovered in this lower Cape Fear vacation destination.

So make the most out of your upcoming Southport getaway by participating in one, two, or all ten of these favorite area things to do. From exploring the inland creeks on a wild adventure, to enjoying some of the best antique shopping along the coastline, Southport is brimming with activities that can cater to visitors of all ages, tastes, and vacationing styles.

Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (1)

Tour the Local History

Founded in the mid-1700s with the establishment of Fort Johnston, and officially designated as the town of Southport in 1792, this coastal community is dotted with centuries of history around every corner. Visitors will find a myriad of ways to soak up the local legends and stories via walking tours, bus / vehicle tours, and even boat tours, or can set out on their own adventure by popping by some of the town’s quintessential sites. The offers an inside glimpse into the fort’s 250+ year history, (as well as plenty of visitor information for newcomers), while the Old Brunswick County Jail is a fascinating jail-turned-museum that operated for 70 years after it was first built in 1904. For a far-reaching perspective of the local culture, head to the NC Maritime Museum which features artifacts from the Civil War, the American Revolution, and even the original Native American residents. Suffice it to say, in a town as old and historically rich as Southport, history can be uncovered around every corner.

(Video) Things To Do in Southport, NC ~ Bike Ride

Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (2)

Get Paddling

Southport is naturally surrounded by water, and as a result, watersports fans of all varieties flock to the region to enjoy an endless array of adventures on the local rivers, creeks, and lakes that border this region. Newcomers can also join in the fun with ease by trying one of Southport’s favorite (and easy to learn) watersports - kayaking. Several kayaking companies can be found just steps away from the waterfront for hourly or weekly rentals, equipment, launching points, or even guided expeditions, and several tour companies can also be found in the immediate region as well to take visitors on eco explorations of the Blackwater Cypress Swamp, the Cape Fear River, and everywhere in between. With ample opportunities to catch views of local birds, amphibians, and even an occasional alligator, a kayaking expedition is a wild adventure that visitors of all ages will never forget.

Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (3)

Explore the Waterfront

Visitors don’t have to travel very far to enjoy a stunning view of the Cape Fear River while kicking back, relaxing, and simply admiring the scene. Downtown Southport is home to one of the most picturesque parks in the Brunswick region – the Waterfront Park – which offers visitors a myriad of (free) ways to stay entertained. Relax on one of the many benches or swings that line the water’s edge, or take a stroll along the Riverwalk, where incredible views of the Cape Fear can be found in abundance along the way. For a truly decadent vista, (or just a little fishing), head to the on-site Southport Pier and Riverwalk which extends into the heart of the river, and which offers great angling and birdwatching opportunities. A perfect pit stop during a downtown walking tour, the Waterfront Park and adjacent pier and Riverwalk remain a favorite destination for Southport locals and visitors alike.

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Have an Artful Adventure

Southport is well known for its fantastic array of local galleries, and visitors can take an easy-going stroll along Howe Street – the main drag in the heart of town – to discover a range of regional talents. Representing both local artists and artists from all across the southeast, these galleries have a distinctive coastal flair while showcasing a wide range of mediums, including oil or watercolor paintings, sculpture, pottery, photography, and even jewelry and home goods. Many galleries have special events and new artist receptions throughout the year while others, like the popular Uncorked by the Sea gallery, have wine tastings to perfectly combine art and good taste. With so many eclectic and unique finds at the various charming shops and galleries, art lovers will feel right at home in this vibrant coastal downtown.

(Video) Top 10 best Restaurants in Southport, North Carolina

Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (5)

Shop till you Drop

Southport is well known among antique fans, as the downtown area is home to a wealth of charming shops and boutiques that specialize in vintage coastal treasures. Representing varying time periods, but with an underlying coastal or southern style, these shops that are generally concentrated along Howe Street offer treasure seekers a wide range of goodies, including art and furnishings, porcelain and glassware, military memorabilia, toys and games, books, marine supplies, and so much more. Stop by favorite local destinations like Old Elegance Antiques or NC Plantation Antiques, or enjoy an array of vendors in a single location at the Northup Antiques Mall. With virtually all antique stores in a central location in downtown Southport, visitors will have an easy time browsing from one shop to the next on an inherently fun and eclectic treasure hunt.

Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (6)

Feast on Coastal Eats

Southport is a dream vacation destination for foodies. The downtown area alone - despite its small size - is home to more than 30 unique restaurants that specialize in everything from easy-going diner fare to Thai and Indian cuisine. Pop into one of the local bakeries or coffee shops for a great start to a town-wide exploration, or reserve a table at one of the region’s chic waterfront restaurants for a delicious and romantic meal with a killer view. Additional options include local seafood shacks, barbecue joints, and casual sandwich shops, where the flavors are always unique, and the ingredients are traditionally fresh and local. With a wide range of neighboring farms and fishermen providing the goods to make a stellar meal, dining patrons will be treated to a boatload of tempting downhome dishes when they satisfy an appetite in always tasty Southport.

Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (7)

Have a Beach Day

Southport is close to a myriad of beach towns, which makes it a great launching point for a relaxed day of lounging on the sand. Take the Fort Fisher / Southport Ferry to the southern end of Pleasure Island for easy access to the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area – a refreshingly undeveloped six mile long stretch of shoreline that’s a great destination for surfing, shelling, and playing in the waves. For something a little closer to home, with no boat ride required), visitors can also take an easy 15 minute drive to nearby Oak Island / Caswell Beach, where ample beach accesses and public parking can be found, and where the wide beaches with gently sloping shorelines provide the perfect sandy playground for visitors of all ages. With miles of beaches just a shell’s throw away, visitors will find that enjoying a day on the shore is a breeze when Southport serves as a vacation home base.

(Video) Come along with us to Southport, NC | Travel Vlog | Living Gratefully WORKATION | June 2020

Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (8)

Take a Day Trip

The Cape Fear region is known for its wealth of history, culture, and attractions, and no vacation is complete without discovering all the enticements this corner of North Carolina has to offer. Take a roughly 35 minute drive north to Wilmington to explore a collection of acclaimed museums, shops, and attractions, such as the USS Battleship North Carolina, the Cape Fear Museum, and the historic (and sprawling) downtown area. For a coastal adventure, climb aboard the Bald Head Island ferry, which shuttles visitors to a barely six square mile island where cars aren’t allowed, but beautiful beaches and historic landmarks (like the Old Baldy Lighthouse) can be found in abundance. Every highway presents a route to discover something new, so use a Southport vacation as an opportunity to uncover everything the southern North Carolina coastline has to offer.

Top 10 Things to do in Southport, NC (9)

Soak up the Hollywood Scene

Because of its proximity to Wilmington, (which is home to one of the largest film studios east of Hollywood), as well as its natural beauty, Southport is renowned as a backdrop for a number of famed movies and television shows, and visitors who explore the downtown area may find a few of the local landmarks and landscapes remarkably familiar. Several walking and vehicular tours can take visitors to the sites that made Southport famous, while sharing stories of the Hollywood legends that walked the area streets. Visitors who want to make their own expedition can swing by the Old Brunswick Jail, where Sissy Spacek filmed scenes for the 1986 movie “Crimes of the Heart,” stop by the waterfront café where Julianne Hough worked in 2013’s “Safe Haven,” or swing by the old Southport High School baseball field and Howe Street where 2001’s “Summer Catch” was filmed. With a long list of productions that can call Southport home – including, but not limited to, “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Domestic Disturbance,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “A Walk to Remember,” (as well as TV shows like “Dawson’s Creek,” “Revenge,” and “Matlock”), Southport truly has a setting so picturesque that it’s made for the movies.

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(Video) A Weekend in Southport | NC Weekend | UNC-TV

Have an Eventful Trip

Even though it’s a small town at heart, Southport certainly has a big community spirit. As such, the town is home to an array of weekly, monthly, and annual events that will allure vacationers of all interests, and will showcase the celebratory atmosphere that this town is known for. Plan a 4th of July vacation to enjoy one of the town’s most famous and longest running festivals, the NC 4th of July Festival and Fireworks event, which has been held for more than 200 years. With a classic car show, live music, children’s games, fire fighters competition, and a fireworks extravaganza as the grand finale, this Independence Day celebration is simply unparalleled. Seasonal visitors can also treat themselves to a tempting exploration of the town through regular weekly events including a summer Southport Waterfront Market on Wednesdays, a “First Friday” Gallery Walk in the downtown area, and a myriad of live theater performances, outdoor concerts, gallery receptions, and other sporadic events. In a nutshell, with so many things happening on any given day, a Southport vacation is always eventful.

From paddling, to shopping, to just enjoying a grand view, Southport is a dream destination for visitors of all tastes. Discover the local history, Hollywood movie sets, and the beautiful waterfronts that Southport is known for, and see for yourself why visitors return to this picturesque and always fun coastal vacation destination year after year.

FAQs

How do I spend a day in Southport NC? ›

Here's what we recommend for a day trip to Southport.
  1. First things first, stop by Port City Java for a cup of coffee.
  2. Head to the Waterfront Park and stay awhile.
  3. Visit the Southport Visitor's Center.
  4. Stroll the streets of downtown Southport.
  5. Head to a waterfront restaurant for lunch.
21 Aug 2020

What is Southport NC known for? ›

Also, the city is a favorite Hollywood destination. Many famous movies and television shows have been shot in the region. Southport is also known for its maritime heritage and classic museums. The atmosphere of the state is calm and inviting.

What is there to do in Southport NC this weekend? ›

  • Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry. 509. ...
  • Southport Pier and RIverwalk. 386. ...
  • North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport. 323. ...
  • Fort Johnston - Southport Museum & Visitors Center. 114. ...
  • Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room. 120. ...
  • Southport Marina. Points of Interest & Landmarks. ...
  • Old Brunswick County Jail Museum. ...
  • Trinity United Methodist Church.

What can you see from Southport? ›

A walk to the end of Southport Pier will give you views across the North West and on a clear day you can see neighbouring Blackpool and even the North Wales coast. The 1,000 metre long Southport Pier is the second longest in the country, a walk to the end boasts magnificent views.

Is Southport NC worth visiting? ›

Southport is well known for its fantastic array of local galleries, and visitors can take an easy-going stroll along Howe Street – the main drag in the heart of town – to discover a range of regional talents.

Where was Netflix safe haven filmed? ›

The film began principal photography on June 18, 2012 in Wilmington and Southport, North Carolina. Parts of it were filmed in Louisiana and the opening scene with Katie on the Coach America bus is on the Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain in Linville, North Carolina.

How far is Southport NC from the ocean? ›

There are 10.69 miles from Southport to Carolina Beach in northeast direction and 13 miles (20.92 kilometers) by car and ferry, following the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry route. Southport and Carolina Beach are 51 minutes far apart, if you drive non-stop for 16 minutes and take a ferry for 35 minutes .

How far is the beach from Southport? ›

The distance between Southport and Beach Road (Station) is 16 miles.

Do you have to take a ferry to Southport NC? ›

If you want to experience NC you will need to take a ride on the local ferry!

Is Southport NC A nice place to live? ›

According to the World Population Review, Southport's overall quality of life is solid and above the national average. Quality of life ratings considers livability metrics such as crime rate, education quality, costs of living, and the happiness of city residents.

Is Southport on the ocean? ›

Southport is located on the coast in Southeastern North Carolina, where the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

How do you get on Bald Head Island? ›

Bald Head Island is only accessible via passenger ferry or private yacht. No passenger cars are allowed, the standard mode of transportation is golf cart, bicycle or tram.

How long does it take to walk down Southport Pier? ›

Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 1 h 36 min to complete. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and walking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. A walk around the Marine Lake and Gardens in Southport, taking in the Pier and Marine Bridge.

Why is Splash World Southport closed? ›

CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT - OPEN 2022

Southport is home to the fun all weather water park Dunes Splash World.

What time does the sea come in at Southport? ›

Southport Tidal Predictions
Tide Times BST:
High02:378.49m
High15:038.19m
High01:378.49m
High14:038.19m
2 more rows

Does Southport NC have beaches? ›

If it's a beach day you're seeking, there are a wide array of beaches within a short distance from Southport. A quick 15-minute drive will take you to Oak Island or Caswell Beach. These beaches offer plenty of public access points and parking.

Is Caswell Beach part of Oak Island? ›

Caswell Beach is a small seaside town located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in Southeastern North Carolina, United States. Occupying the eastern part of Oak Island in Brunswick County, its population was listed at 398 in the 2010 census.

What is Beaufort NC known for? ›

Welcome to America's Favorite Town

Today, Beaufort possesses an old-world, southern charm, steeped in maritime history and the adventure brought by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. With world-class fishing, North Carolina's Crystal Coast is famous for its local seafood. Beaufort is no exception.

What movie is currently being filmed in Southport NC? ›

Boys of Summer (2022)

Where is Katie's cabin in Safe Haven? ›

What is this? The shack where Katie lives is one of the most beautiful locations of Safe Haven. It was built for the movie on the grounds of the Pleasant Oaks Plantation, near Town Creek.

What is the name of the restaurant in the movie Safe Haven? ›

Visit Fishy Fishy Cafe and you'll be in the exact location that served as the set for the Safe Haven General Store. Stop by for a drink on the dock and enjoy the view at American Fish Co., which was transformed into Ivan's Fish Shack where Katie worked as a waitress in the film.

Can you swim in Southport? ›

Southport Beach is renowned for its clean and safe waters, making it the perfect place to take a dip. Just be sure to heed the lifeguard's warnings and only swim within your depth.

Is there a Long Beach in NC? ›

Long Beach, North Carolina is a coastal neighborhood on Oak Island incorporated in 1955. It is well known for the total devastation it sustained during Hurricane Hazel in 1954; only five of the 357 buildings survived the storm.

What county is Southport NC in? ›

Southport is a city in Brunswick County, North Carolina, United States, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Its population was 3,828 as of the 2018 census. The mayor is Joseph P.

Can you still drive on Southport beach? ›

Southport Beach, Lancashire

While you cannot drive on this beach like the other three, you can drive onto it and park up. However, this beach is not open all year as it only opens for summer. Dogs are allowed on this beach though.

Is Southport beach sandy? ›

Southport beach is a long sandy beach with all the amusements of a popular family seaside resort. If you enjoy walking then explore the paths and trails thorough the dunes. Parking, toilets, cafe/restaurants, amusements, entertainment, lifeguards.

Why is it called Southport? ›

Southport was founded in 1792 when an innkeeper named William Sutton built a bathing house on the beach near the village of North Meols. Later, in 1798 he built a hotel, the South Port Hotel. Soon a settlement grew up by the hotel.

How long is the Southport ferry ride? ›

The Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry crosses the Cape Fear River/Intracoastal Waterway. The crossing time is 35 minutes. Schedule and fees are located on the Ferry System website or by calling 1-800-By-Ferry.

How much does it cost to ride the Southport ferry? ›

​Southport-Fort Fisher
Type​One-Way Fare
​​Motorcycle with Side Car​$7
​​Vehicle and/or Combination Less Than 20 Feet​$7
​Vehicle and/or Combination 20 to 40 Feet​$14
​Vehicle and/or Combination 40 to 65 Feet​$28
7 more rows
1 Dec 2020

How long is the ferry ride from Southport to Carolina Beach? ›

Fare: See one-way fares Crossing: 2hrs, 15 min.

Do you have to take a ferry to Southport NC? ›

If you want to experience NC you will need to take a ride on the local ferry!

How far is the beach from Southport NC? ›

There are 10.69 miles from Southport to Carolina Beach in northeast direction and 13 miles (20.92 kilometers) by car and ferry, following the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry route. Southport and Carolina Beach are 51 minutes far apart, if you drive non-stop for 16 minutes and take a ferry for 35 minutes .

Does Southport NC have a beach? ›

The Southport Waterfront Park is arguably one of the best places in Downtown to catch an incredible view, and waste away an afternoon or evening just admiring the waterfront scene.

How do you get on Bald Head Island? ›

Bald Head Island is only accessible via passenger ferry or private yacht. No passenger cars are allowed, the standard mode of transportation is golf cart, bicycle or tram.

How long is the Southport ferry ride? ›

The Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry crosses the Cape Fear River/Intracoastal Waterway. The crossing time is 35 minutes. Schedule and fees are located on the Ferry System website or by calling 1-800-By-Ferry.

How much does it cost to ride the Southport ferry? ›

​Southport-Fort Fisher
Type​One-Way Fare
​​Motorcycle with Side Car​$7
​​Vehicle and/or Combination Less Than 20 Feet​$7
​Vehicle and/or Combination 20 to 40 Feet​$14
​Vehicle and/or Combination 40 to 65 Feet​$28
7 more rows
1 Dec 2020

How long is the ferry ride from Southport to Carolina Beach? ›

Fare: See one-way fares Crossing: 2hrs, 15 min.

Can you swim in Southport? ›

Southport Beach is renowned for its clean and safe waters, making it the perfect place to take a dip. Just be sure to heed the lifeguard's warnings and only swim within your depth.

Can you take a ferry from Carolina Beach to Southport? ›

Traveling through Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher on Pleasure Island leads you to the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry Terminal. This "Drive On" Ferry leaves from the tip of Fort Fisher at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and docks two miles from the historic town of Southport.

Is Southport NC A nice place to live? ›

According to the World Population Review, Southport's overall quality of life is solid and above the national average. Quality of life ratings considers livability metrics such as crime rate, education quality, costs of living, and the happiness of city residents.

How much does it cost to live in Southport NC? ›

Southport cost of living is 98.4
COST OF LIVINGSouthportNorth Carolina
Overall98.491
Grocery102.596.5
Health117.3107.2
Housing95.683.1
4 more rows

Where can you swim in Southport NC? ›

Places to Swim Near Southport NC
  • Bald Head Beach. Southport, NC.
  • Caswell Beach. Oak Island, NC.
  • Public Access Beach. Oak Island, NC.
  • South Beach. Southport, NC.
  • East Beach. Southport, NC.
  • Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Kure Beach, NC.
  • Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Kure Beach, NC.
  • Ocean Pier at K.Ave. Kure Beach, NC.

Does it snow in Southport NC? ›

Southport, North Carolina gets 56 inches of rain, on average, per year. The US average is 38 inches of rain per year. Southport averages 1 inches of snow per year. The US average is 28 inches of snow per year.

How long is the ferry ride from Southport to Bald Head Island? ›

Bald Head Island is located two nautical miles from Southport, NC. The island is a 20 minute passenger ferry ride from the mainland embarkation point of Deep Point Marina. The ferry leaves the mainland on the hour and leaves Bald Head Island on the half hour.

How much does it cost to go to Bald Head Island? ›

Tickets are purchased at the Deep Point Terminal ticket window. Round-trip tickets cost $23.00 for adults, $12.00 for children ages 3-12. There is no charge for children ages two and younger but they still need a ticket.

Can you drink the water on Bald Head Island? ›

The Island's treated water was tested in late June 2017, immediately after learning about the river's contaminants, and was found to have extremely low thresholds — a mere 1% of the newly established lifetime standard. Bald Head Island's water is safe to drink.

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