Nestled on the coast of North Carolina, between the bustling city of Wilmington and the golf oasis and cultural center of Myrtle Beach, is a small fishing village called Southport.
This lovely, historic town located on Cape Fear River, blends small-town charm with a tourist’s delight. The center of this picturesque town with its centuries-old live oak trees, with hanging moss, looks down upon the River, giving you a panoramic view not only of the River but also of Bald Head Island and its famous lighthouse as you shop or dine or stroll.
There is a large variety of boutiques, antiques and one-of-a-kind stores, and memorable lunches or dinners where culinary delights are offered. The Atlantic Ocean is minutes away on Caswell Beach and Oak Island and there are numerous attractions with which you can fill a day or week or more. .
Southport is a great getaway from the winter doldrums or wintry weather; the average temperature in January and February ranges from the 40s to 60s requiring a light jacket or sweater. It is usually sunny. In all the time we’ve been coming here, there were snow flurries twice in 10 years. One time, it covered the lawns and by the time I grabbed my camera and drove to the beach to capture the beach covered with snow - it’s a 3 minute drive - it was all gone and the sun was out.
Having been a winter resident of Southport the past ten years and loving every minute of it, we have visited and dined in most of the local establishments. We love this area so much that we bought a house and moved close by. We're 40 minutes south ~ the weather is the best thing ~ winter or summer. Along with low taxes.
Southport offers many state-of-the-art golf facilities -4 top notch courses at St. James Plantation http://www.stjamesplantation.com/ - 2 miles away from Southport. There’s also golfing on Bald Head Island, a unique island lifestyle.
can only reach Bald Head island by a 20-minute Ferry ride. Daytrip: Cost is $16 per person round trip. Children 12-under $8.00. Once there, since there are no automobiles allowed, you can rent a golf cart, which is the main means of transportation on the island. You can spend a lovely day discovering the island, which has many attractions, including North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, Old Baldy, at the Smith Island Museum of History and climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the surrounding area’s outstanding natural environment. Best restaurants here: River Pilot Cafe (best salmon) http://www.southporttimes.com/riverpilotcafe.html or the Bald Head Island Club ~ http://www.bhiclub.net/Club/Scripts/Home/home.asp
A short ride from Southport is the Orton Plantation, an azalea delight in the spring; an old plantation where you can discover the grounds and marshlands - there may be alligators around, so do this in groups! I did see a baby alligator sunning one day.
Right outside of Wilmington - about a 20-25 minute ride from Southport, are the famous Battleships. The USS North Carolina, a WW2-era US Navy battleship, now rests near the mouth of the Cape Fear River where she serves as a floating museum and war memorial.
Also in Wilmington - you can tour the active EUE Screen Gems film studio where movies are made - many films are made here, including television’s Dawson’s Creek series. On November 12, 2009, Gov. Perdue signed an Executive Order that will help maintain North Carolina’s competitive edge in the global film industry. This Order reestablished the North Carolina Film Council, at a ceremony at EUE Screen Gems studios in Wilmington, home to the largest studio lot east of California. We’ve been to tour there several times and met actors and producers who show you around the sets. If you have film-acting or producer/director ambitions, or want to sign up for bit parts ~ or just tour the facilities, it is a fascinating place to be.
Recent major motion pictures filmed in the state include “Nights in Rodanthe,” (author Nicholas Sparks is from NC) “Leatherheads” and “The Secret Life of Bees.” The NC film industry is also home to the CW Network’s One Tree Hill TV series, as well as hundreds of commercial and industrial productions each year throughout the state. http://euescreengems.com/
You can also take another ferry ride - Southport Ferry - to Fort Fisher (a great Civil War Museum and NC Aquarium are there) - the ferry departs from a dock located off Moore Street in Southport. Rates for the ferry are: Pedestrians - $1; motorcycles - $3; bicycles - $2; Vehicles depending on size - $5 to $15.
Back in Southport, along the Cape Fear River, there are many fresh seafood restaurants - fresh from the catch - which are picturesque and charming along the winding road of the marina. You can dine outside on the decks while pelicans are perched nearby. Very close by. Among our favorites ~~~~
This restaurant was written up as the best restaurant in Southport. It looks like an old warehouse on the water and it is called The Provision Company http://www.provisioncompany.com/ . Best shrimp just netted - (25 to a plate) and the best hamburgers. This place is casual and humming - the atmosphere is great and friendly. Don’t let the building fool you. Pelicans like this place.
We like the Live Oak Cafe - intimate, quaint, separate candle-lit rooms, the food is delicious - not casual. Picture & Info: http://liveoakcafenc.com/
If you like New York style restaurants, this next place is for you - Joseph’s. The owners are from New York ,and Frank Sinatra sings lots of tunes here. Make reservations, but if you have to wait, you will have a friendly time at the bar meeting all the people from NY, NJ, PA and Michigan - because that’s who all move down here! This restaurant is on the water, great view inside and dining outside and the Italian food is New York style and delicious. I recommend this place and it is moderately priced. Picture & info: (put your sound on for this one. - Frankie’s singing) http://www.josephsitalianbistro.com/
Some more places: http://www.insiderpages.com/s/NC/Southport/Restaurants
Can you tell we love it down here? Come on down! We'll do lunch or dinner on the water.