Southport is a small town on the coast of North Carolina that is a real gem. It has a friendly, easygoing vibe that is typical of the South, and there is a lot of sunlight.
There are many fun things to do and see in Southport, so don’t feel like you have to just relax on a beautiful beachfront porch, which is what most locals do.
There are many museums, art galleries, parks, and stores that can help you plan the perfect trip. Learn more about Southport, North Carolina, and what makes it such a great place to visit.
The Best Things To Do In Southport, NC
Fort Johnston Museum
Fort Johnston was the first fort in North Carolina to get a formal order to be built. This was in 1754. Extensive permanent and changing exhibits show the fascinating history of this place through real artifacts, historical documents, pictures, and handcrafted items. People who are interested in history will enjoy this site, especially since it is free to visit.
The well-kept front of Fulwood’s Grocery Store is a fun thing to play with. It’s a great chance to learn more about Southport’s long history.
- Address: 203 E Bay St, Southport (GPS)
- Hours: Visitor center office: Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Eat At Provision Company
Provision Company is the most well-known place to eat in Southport.
The atmosphere is laid-back and “beach bum,” and the seafood is some of the best in Wilmington.
From Provision Company, which first opened in 1993, you can see the Southport Yacht Basin, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the mouth of the Cape Fear River. You won’t be sorry if you have a drink here as the sun goes down.
There are many different kinds of water sports and other water activities to do in Southport. Paddling is popular because there are many streams and rivers in the interior.
There are a few places in town where you can rent kayaks and get the gear you need for an afternoon, a week, or longer. There are also a few places where you can start paddling and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Guided tours can be done in other ways. Everywhere you go in the woods, keep an eye out for local wildlife.
Discover The Galleries
Art lovers around the world, rejoice! Southport is a city where the arts are doing well. Artshak Studio is a lively art gallery with a lot of different pieces.
It is in a building that looks like a barn on the edge of the city. Contemporary artists from the region use photography, sculpture, painting, and other forms of art.
At Rick Evans Gallery and Lantana’s Gallery, you can look at and buy paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and other hand-made items, such as clothing and accessories.
- Address: 211 N Howe St, Southport (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday : 10: 00 am – 5:00 pm, Closed: Sunday – Monday
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
One of the best places in Wilmington is Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, which has a six-mile beach that is all by itself. The Southport Ferry can take you to the end of Pleasure Island. The ferries run often, and it costs $7 per car to ride (prices and schedules found here).
Fort Fisher is a wild area that hasn’t been changed by people. You can go on nature walks through salt marshes, sandy beaches, and other natural coastal environments.
You can swim, surf, and look for shells here. There is a nature walk, a lookout platform, and an information center.
- Address: 1000 Loggerhead Rd, Kure Beach (GPS)
- Hours: Monday -Sunday: 8:00 am -7:00 pm
Oak Island Nature Center
In an area with tall pines, old oaks, and beautiful salt marshes, you can find the small Oak Island Nature Center.
The Talking Trees Walking Trail will be fun for people to use. It winds through green forests and opens up to beautiful views of the island’s sparkling Intracoastal Waterway.
Also, there are a lot of interesting displays, some with live animals and others with more information about the local ecosystem.
There is also a fishing pier and places to have a picnic at this place. This is a lovely place to take in the sights of Southport.
- Address: 5202 E Yacht Dr, Oak Island (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Thursday : 5:30 am – 7:00 pm, Friday : 5:30 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday : 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Sunday : Closed
Price Creek Lighthouse
The Price Creek Lighthouse is the only remaining part of a once-extensive network of lights that led sailors from the mouth of the Cape Fear River to Wilmington. The facade is falling apart and can only be seen from far away. The brick building is 20 feet tall.
It was at its best before the Civil War and until the middle of the 19th century. After that, it started to fall apart.
The best way to see it is from a boat, where you can also learn about the area’s maritime history and get some great pictures.
- Address: Ferry Rd SE, Southport (GPS)
Old Brunswick County Jail Museum
The Old Brunswick Jail is one of the best places to visit in Southport, though it is now mostly used as a museum. The entrance is free, but the hours change with the seasons, so be sure to check before you go.
This building, which opened in 1907, was the main jail for the city for more than seven decades. Volunteers can give tours and tell stories about the building’s long and interesting past.
There are still the original cells and the sculptures that the prisoners made and put on the walls. A fascinating but ultimately sad look at how police worked in the 20th century.
- Address: 318 E Nash St, Southport (GPS)
Shop At The Farmers’ Market
A lot of people come to the summer markets in Southport.
Every week, dozens of vendors set up shop at the market to sell everything from freshly picked fruits and vegetables to locally grown flowers and herbs, as well as unique handmade items and delicious baked goods.
On Howe Street, Franklin Square Park is right in the middle of downtown.
It’s a great way to learn about food that is in season and sourced in a responsible way and to help your local economy and small businesses.
- Address: 130 E West St, Southport (GPS)
- Schedule: Summer schedule here
Southport Pier And Riverwalk
Walking along the Southport Pier and Riverwalk is one of the best ways to see the beautiful scenery. Start your day in downtown’s Waterfront Park, which has a lot of things to do and see, like a cute set of swings right by the river that would be great for an Instagram photo.
From there, the path goes into the middle of the Cape Fear River and offers beautiful views for kilometers in every direction.
You can stop along this path to watch some birds or try to catch some fish. There are plenty of places to sit if you’re tired of walking and want to take in the view, especially after sunset.
- Address: 178 E Bay St, Southport (GPS)
Southport is a place you’ve always wanted to visit if you like old things. A simple walk down Moore Street will show you this.
The Timeless Treasures and Unique Gift shop, as its name suggests, is the place to go if you want really cool old stuff. There are neat rows and piles of books, glasses, jewelry, tools, gadgets, art, and more for you to look through.
It’s also appealing because the decor is warm and varied. In fact, the TV show The Hoarders is filmed nearby on Oak Island, which has a lot of new and used furniture. You won’t be able to leave without taking at least one of the unique things you find home with you.
- Address: 122 E Moore St, Southport (GPS)
- Hours: Monday -Saturday 10: 00 am- 4:00 pm, Closed: Sunday
The famous Silvercoast Winery is a great winery in North Carolina. It has a tasting room and a taproom right in the middle of Southport’s historic downtown.
If you don’t know much about wine, you can also try a wide range of local craft beers on tap or in bottles. Traditional European methods include letting the varieties age in wood barrels until they are dry or almost dry.
There is a small gift shop and art gallery right next to the venue, which makes it feel cozy and intimate. They also have a beautiful terrace in the back where they often put on music shows.
- Address: 105 S Howe St, Southport (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Monday: Closed
Hire A Fishing Charter
Hire a boat charter and spend a relaxing day out on the Southport seas.
In town, there are a number of good businesses, and Reelin Pelican Fishing Charters is one of them. They offer fishing trips both near and far from shore on three different boats.
The trip includes everything you need, and you can also bring your own food and drinks. Southport by Seaside is a company for boat travel that offers more unique cruise itineraries.
- Address: 4909 Fish Factory Rd SE Southport (GPS)
- Hours: 24 hours
North Carolina Aquarium Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher Marine Aquarium of North Carolina is always open.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is near Southport, which is a good thing. It’s one of the best things to do near Southport and a great way to see the sea life off the coast of North Carolina.
You can touch a swimming stingray, be moved to tears by baby sea turtles and otters, see an albino crocodile, and see sharks and eels in their natural habitat. It’s a fun and interesting way to learn about conservation efforts in the area and help them.
- Address: 900 Loggerhead Rd, Kure Beach (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Sunday : 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
The Swamp Park Eco Adventure Zipline Park
The best amusement park in the world is in the nearby town of Ocean Isle Beach.
Anyone who wants to do something exciting will find everything they need here. Guided zip line tours will take you far above the old cypress trees in the swamp and give you a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful scenery below.
In an all-terrain vehicle, you can spend several hours racing through beautiful woods at high speeds on muddy trails.
The Aerial Adventure Park is just as exciting as its name sounds. There are more than fifty different things to get past, like rope courses and bridges that wobble.
On a Swamp Boat tour, you can see all the different kinds of life in the Shallotte River Delta. Before you leave, don’t forget to stop by the reptile refuge and say hi to the famous Alligator family.
- Address: 5550 Watts Rd SW, Ocean Isle Beach (GPS)
- Hours: Friday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5: 00 pm, Closed: Monday – Thursday
Museum Of Coastal Carolina
The Museum of Coastal Carolina is on Ocean Isle. It is the only natural history museum in North Carolina that is on a barrier island.
It was made to get people interested in the local shore and is a great place to have fun and learn about the ecosystem and the animals that live there through activities like the wave and tide machines, the augmented reality sandbox, sketch alive, and the touch tank.
You can have fun and learn about science here for hours. The place is great.
- Address: 21 E 2nd St, Ocean Isle Beach (GPS)
- Hours: Thursday-Saturday: 10:00 am-3:00 pm, Closed: Monday-Wednesday
There are always new and interesting things to do at the Ingram Planetarium. Their shows show visually impressive examples of how complicated the universe is, which may be interesting to everyone.
All of these books will blow your mind: Accidental Astronauts, The Sky Tonight, The Sun Our Living Star, and Seven Wonders.
There is also a scientific hall with many hands-on exhibits, such as a coding station, interactive nanotechnology, and real-time news from NASA.
You can learn a little more about the wonder of the solar system or watch a fun laser light and music show instead. Either way, it’s worth a visit if you’re in Southport.
- Address: 7625 High Market St, Sunset Beach (GPS)
- Hours: Thursday- Saturday: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm, Closed: Sunday- Wednesday
Go On A Movie Tour
One of the best things about Southport that not many people know is that it has been the setting for a number of movies and TV shows!
There are tour companies all over town that take you on guided walks through the streets to show you the exact spots where famous movie scenes took place.
Over 40 shows, like “A Walk to Remember,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Safe Haven,” and “The Secret Life of Bees,” have been put on in this pretty village.
Visit The Oak Island Lighthouse
The Oak Island Lighthouse is the most noticeable thing about Oak Island from Southport’s beach. In 1958, it was the last lighthouse to be built in North Carolina. The tall building stands out with its different shades of gray stripes, and it is right at the mouth of the Cape Fear River.
There are tours to the top of the mountain on certain days each year, and the views from the top are some of the most beautiful in the area. A beautiful wooden path leads right up to the beautiful front, and the inside is open all year for anyone to explore.
- Address: 300a Caswell Beach Rd, Oak Island (GPS)
- Hours: Wednesday, Saturday:10:00 am -2:00 pm, Thursday: 24 hours, Closed: Monday, Tuesday, Friday & Sunday
Caswell Beach might be one of the most beautiful places in Southport to spend a day. It seems like a hidden gem of a beach in North Carolina, with beautiful sand, calm waves, and a lot of space to lay out in the sun.
It’s very clean because people in the area work hard to keep it free of trash. Pack a picnic, bring a book, or go for a refreshing swim in the salty water. Either way, a day spent enjoying the beauty of the shore is a nice way to spend a day.
Beachin Day Spa
What’s a vacation without a little pampering? Being pampered is one of the best things to do in Southport.
We really think you should get some relaxing treatments at the Beachin Day Spa to get away from the stress of everyday life and feel calm and refreshed when you leave.
Modern alternatives include cupping therapy, raindrop therapy, hot stone massage, deep tissue massage, bamboo massage, personalized facials, signature peel, and LED light treatment, all of which are done by experts.
You can buy a package that includes a variety of things to do, and there’s even a hair salon on-site if you want to end the day with a new look.
- Address: 5200 E Oak Island Dr, Oak Island (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday : 9:00 am -5:00 pm, Closed : Sunday & Monday
Where To Eat In Southport?
- Provision Company: Easy seafood dishes in a laid-back environment. Eating here is must for lunch or dinner.
- Fishy Fishy Cafe: Casual dockside seafood stop accessible by boat, with live music on weekends.
- Oliver’s on the Cape Fear: Elegant Southport restaurant serving delicious New American cuisine.
Where To Stay In Southport?
After you’ve done all of these fun things in Southport, it’s time to get some rest. Southport doesn’t have many places to stay, so you might choose a hotel in nearby Wilmington.