Let me say up top that your initial visit to Southport should come sometime between mid-March and Thanksgiving,
because otherwise you'll miss out on the single best reason to visit Southport: the Yacht Basin Provision Company,
of which I'll tell you more in a bit.
Southport, like nearby Kure Beach, only different, is a throwback to a simpler time. This is a genuine little
fishing village - in a mish-mash sort of way, primarily via the service industry; at any rate, it feels like one
- where the work is hard and the livin' is easy.
Located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, Southport is a 30-minute drive from Wilmington, or, preferably,
a 25-minute ferry ride from Ft. Fisher (call 1-800-BY FERRY for schedules), or, better still, a boat ride from
wherever you left from. Southport is home to one of the largest marinas in the state.
If you're planning to kick it back a bit and stay overnight, check in at the Sea Captain Lodge, just above
the marina. Then hit the streets.
Downtown Southport, just a couple blocks up from the marina, is canopied in gigantic oak trees and lined with antique
and curio shops. Just try to pick your pace up beyond a stroll. Can't be done. Having exhausted yourself, take
a break in the lovely Franklin Square Park. Nap. Or if you are not the napping type walk over to the Port City Java and get a nice cold double latte, read the paper and listen in on what the locals or fellow tourists are chattering about. Then walk down to the pier and see what the fishermen are catching. If you are lucky you may see a big old tanker sailing up the Cape Fear River towards the state port facilities in Wilmington. Damn they look big when they sail that close to land.
Now you're famished. And since you're already downtown, I recommend Thai Peppers: surprisingly good Thai
cuisine (what; you expected to tuck into some good Thai food in Southport, North Carolina?) as well as a
variety of other Asian fare.
But … if you're only going to be around for one meal, get thee back down to the waterfront, and the aforementioned
Yacht Basin Provision Company. Get thee a very cold beer, and get thy rearside into a chair at one of the
tables under the cabana-like structure overlooking the basin, and prepare to eat food from the sea. Ooops;
first you gotta order - this is, quite appropriately, a very casual kind of dining experience, you see. Order at
the counter as you enter; sit down; the fine staff will see to you from here. I recommend conch fritters; some
shrimps, iced, with cocktail sauce and Tabasco; a crab-cake sandwich. I hear the burgers are really good too, but
I'm smelling the ocean, and I'm here for its bounty. This is good eatin'.
You can charter a fishing boat from Southport, for mackerel, snapper, grouper and more. U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament is held annually in October
and is the largest king mackerel tournament in North & South Carolina. The U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament now attracts almost 500 boats annually and is held in high esteem by the community and anglers. The tournament pays 55 places in its primary prize category including $25,000 for the largest king mackerel. Additional cash prizes are added to the event by sponsors. The primary sponsor is Southport Marina, conveniently located on the Intracoastal Waterway at mile 309, Marker 2A. This full service marina has over 200 in-water protected slips with deep water access, a floating dock house and a transient / fuel dock. The new 50', 220 unit dry-stack facility has a travel lift capable of handling up to 75 tons and two 10 ton forklifts. The marina is within a day’s travel (by boat) of Wrightsville Beach, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC. As well as with walking distance
of downtown Southport.
Be sure to stop at the Orton Plantation Gardens and the ruins of Old Brunswick Town, a major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina's Cape Fear River, that was razed by British troops in 1776 and never rebuilt. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, archaeologists uncovered foundations from Brunswick's earliest days. The most visible structure is the hulk of St. Philip's Anglican Church with its surviving walls dating back to 1754. There are also the remains of homes, businesses, and other buildings. In 1861 the Confederate States of America decided to build a large fort at the site as part of the river defense of Wilmington. They named it Fort Anderson. After three days of fighting it fell to the Union army in February of 1865. You can see the ruins of Fort Anderson and Old Brunswick Town at 8884 Saint Phillips Road Southeast, in Winnabow.
You can get to Southport on the Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry which crosses the Cape Fear River. Or if you don't like ferries you can drive there by following the signs from Wilmington.
Click here for hotels in and around Southport
See also:Wilmington , Ocracoke , Wrightsville Beach , Outerbanks , Kure