They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in Southport, NC a picture can never truly capture this coastal town's beauty. With panoramic views as far as the eye can see, Southport has more waterways into town than roads. Less than 30 minutes south of Wilmington, Southport is on the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Cape Fear River, the Elizabeth River, and even the Atlantic Ocean making Southport a paradise for mariners.
Steeped in history and picturesque beauty, there is little wonder why Coastal Living Magazine named Southport "America's Happiest Seaside Town." A visit to this historic maritime town takes you back into a distant past of pirates and privateers, antebellum Southern belles and blockade runners. Seafarers have been frequenting this community since as far back as the early 1500s, and today, Southport is as popular as it has ever been.
As beautiful as a setting in a Nicholas Sparks novel - Southport's charm has not only attracted visitors, but the eye of the movie industry as well. Scenes from the picturesque town are featured in several popular films and TV shows such as "Safe Haven," "The Secret Life of Bees" and "Dawson's Creek" . You'll want to make some time to tour locations from these and other productions for a fun way to spend the day.
Southport has some of the best local restaurants and eateries than you could imagine for a town with barley 3000 residents. A local favorite (and my personal favorite Southport restaurant) is Mr. P's Bistro. Mr. P's Bistro specializes in low country cuisine serving the freshest, local seafood (and much more!) in Southport, North Carolina. (but the tuna and crab cakes are the best in North Carolina). The Phipps family is truly passionate about food, having perfected their product and service over three generations. The original Mr. P, Norman Phipps, started his career shucking oysters as a young boy at his aunt's restaurant in Wrightsville Beach. Mr. P had many successful restaurant ventures in his lifetime, but his most beloved was Mr. P's Bistro, which was started in 1995. Although Mr. P has passed, he left behind a spirit of hard work and dedication that has inspired his children and grandchildren, who have now begun to carry on his legacy. Another great feature of Southport, is everything is in walking distance, so be sure to check out their wine listing and enjoy a nice stroll back to your room!
You won't find a plethora of "box" hotels and condos, however you will find some of the most beautiful inns and B&B's in the state. My personal favorite is The Brunswick Inn, a registered Southport Historic Landmark. Dating back to the mid-1800s, The Brunswick Inn is a beautiful Federal-style mansion overlooking the Cape Fear River with pristine views of Bald Head Island and the Oak Island Lighthouse. It has been carefully updated, respecting the historical integrity of this magnificent piece of architecture. The original heart pine floors, run plaster ceiling moldings, Southport bow trim, unique rotunda, louvered cathedral-shaped pocket doors, observatory and nine working fireplaces all remain intact. Accommodations include spacious bedrooms with fireplaces and private baths. Rooms are furnished with period furniture and accessories. Wonderful views of the waterways can be seen from every guestroom. Innkeepers, Jim and Judy Clary truly make your stay in Southport a trip to remember.
A gourmet, home- cooked breakfast, is included in your stay. After breakfast, guests are encouraged to retire to the veranda to enjoy the breeze while watching ships, sailboats, barges and tugboats float by. However, we had so much fun chatting with other guests we stayed at the breakfast table several hours before we realized how much time had passed. I have stayed in B&B's all over the country and The Brunswick Inn is by far my FAVORITE!
Oh, and be sure to stay until Sunday morning and you will be talking about the Praline French Toast for years to come!
This time of year, the porch of The Brunswick Inn is the perfect place to experience one of the South’s most intriguing natural phenomena occurring every fall through winter. Named one of “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com, the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands have the rare distinction of running east-west as they parallel the shore. Beginning in late fall, this orientation means that you can sit in Southport and watch both the sunrise and sunset without ever having to move your chair.
Conflict and commerce are the very roots in which Southport was founded. Southport was first known as Smithville, after Benjamin Smith, who had served under General George Washington in the Revolutionary War. He later became Governor of North Carolina. The southern landscapes of eastern North Carolina played a significant role during the Civil War as well, as small strategic battles were fought to gain control of the vital rivers and waterways of the region. Wilmington was a primary port of entry for supplies to the South, making the forts of Brunswick County of great importance to the defense of the Confederates' position. Many sites in our area played part in protecting the mouth of the Cape Fear River during this pivotal time in history. The Cape Fear would on become known as the "lifeline of the Confederacy." After the Civil War, businessmen tried to create a major southern port here by combining river transportation and railroads. The name Southport was chosen in 1887 as part of that promotional effort.
Today, visitors can tour Fort Johnston, originally built by the British in 1748 to protect the region from Spanish and French attack. After 250 years of federal service as the oldest active-duty fort in the United States, Fort Johnston was conveyed to the City of Southport in 2006. Visitors can expect to be greeted by a docent and given a tour of the museum, or they can take a self-guided tour. Call for more information.
In 1795, the town began observing Independence Day. It now hosts the Official North Carolina 4th of July celebration. The patriotic spirit of America is alive and well in the City of Southport. For over 200 years this small maritime community has celebrated our nation's independence in a big way. The celebration has grown from colonial times when ships lay anchor in her harbor and shot their cannons to today's festival where 40,000 to 50,000 people come each year to bathe in the richness of spirit commemorating Old Glory. Incorporated as the N.C. 4th of July Festival in the year 1972 the festival committee strives to keep the focus of the festival on honoring our nation's birthday with a little fun thrown in.
Put Southport, North Carolina on your bucket list of NC towns to visit. The entire town is walk-able, so grab you a cup of Joe and take a walk down the tree lined streets, take in the beauty, stores, historic houses and sea breezes. Don't forget to stop along the way and chat with the locals, as Southport's best experience is it's people!
Cover Photo Credit Nick Noble Photography - Southport, NC: http://nicknoblephotography.com/sunrises/southport-marsh-sunrise.html