Discover Coastal Charm: Top 13 Things to Do in Southport, NC

Ready to uncover the best things to do in Southport, NC? Dive into this guide brimming with the town’s top spots – from captivating maritime adventures to peaceful island retreats – curated to instantly elevate your travel itinerary.

Strolling the Southport Riverwalk & Pier

Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance of Southport, NC by taking a leisurely walk along the Southport Riverwalk & Pier. As you stroll along the pier, you’re welcomed by the stunning views of the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway, where an array of sea vessels bob gently in the water. Benches and swings along the waterfront provide the perfect spots for relaxation and enjoyment of the scenic views. The pier is a popular spot for fishing and birdwatching, while a designated area under the pier is perfect for catching and releasing crabs.

Local shops and restaurants are conveniently located near the pier, providing easy access to diverse amenities. However, parking could be a challenge during peak times, especially in the summer, so plan accordingly. Besides its natural beauty and recreational activities, Southport’s riverwalk has been featured in several films, adding to its cultural allure.

Catch the Sunset at Waterfront Park

Relax at Waterfront Park after a day filled with Southport adventures. This popular spot offers stunning views of the sunset beach, painting the sky in hues of orange and gold as the sun dips below the horizon. It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day in this charming coastal town.

Maritime Adventures at NC Maritime Museum

Discover the rich maritime history of Coastal Carolina at the NC Maritime Museum situated in Southport. The museum is part of a network dedicated to various aspects of the state’s maritime history, including piracy, colonial trade, and naval warfare. Here, you can learn about the region’s history of fishing and boatbuilding, as featured in Coastal Living Magazine.

The museum’s exhibits showcase the significant influence of the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean on the region, from Native American times through European settlement to the American Civil War. One of the major attractions at the NC Maritime Museum is the collection of ship models, displaying vessels pivotal to local maritime history. The museum also holds an annual poster contest in partnership with the Southport Wooden Boat Show, celebrating the region’s maritime heritage and local artists.

Dive into History at Old Brunswick County Jail

Travel back to the past at the Old Brunswick County Jail, which was functional from 1904 to 1971. Managed by the Southport Historical Society, this preserved jail offers a unique insight into the past. Here, you can explore original jail cells equipped with bunks, a commode, and a wash basin, all constructed of flat iron bars.

The history of the jail comes alive as you observe graffiti drawn by prisoners still adorning the upstairs walls. The jail showcases carvings made by inmates directly into the jail’s walls, adding a touch of authenticity to the historical atmosphere. Free tours of the Old Brunswick County Jail are offered during the summer, allowing visitors to delve into its history.

A Day on Bald Head Island

Experience the tranquility of Bald Head Island, a serene destination reachable solely via the Bald Head Island ferry. This island offers pristine beaches and the historic landmark of Old Baldy Lighthouse as its key attractions. Round-trip ferry tickets to Bald Head Island are reasonably priced, and it’s recommended to arrive early, especially during peak seasons to ensure passage.

Once on the island, the Bald Head Island Lighthouse, also known as Old Baldy, is a must-visit. As the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina, it offers panoramic views of the island and the surrounding waterways for a small admission fee.

Oak Island’s Coastal Delights

Savor the coastal splendor of Oak Island and Ocean Isle, two treasures in the vicinity of Southport. You can savor the outdoors with adventurous activities like kayaking tours through the island’s salt marshes and tidal creeks. Private kayak tours offer an intimate experience guided by local ecology experts and come with essentials such as life jackets and water.

At Oak Island’s eastern end, near Ocean Isle Beach, you’ll find Caswell Beach, a serene four-mile stretch of sandy beachfront that invites relaxation and beach activities. The Oak Island Lighthouse, known for its powerful beacon, stands as a famous landmark on Caswell Beach, adding to the island’s charm.

Engage with Local Wildlife at Oak Island Nature Center

Nature enthusiasts will consider the Oak Island Nature Center a dream destination. It provides visitors with educational exhibits and the chance to engage with live animals, offering a deeper understanding of the region’s ecology.

The center’s surrounding salt marsh teems with wildlife, presenting ample birdwatching and photography opportunities across the seasons. During the warmer months, loggerhead sea turtles are known to nest at Oak Island, drawing nature enthusiasts to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Savor the Flavors at Southport’s Eateries

A plethora of delectable eateries that satisfy all taste preferences can be found in Southport. The town’s most popular place to eat is the renowned Provision Company, which boasts breezy waterway views along with freshly sourced local seafood. For a more upscale dining experience, Oliver’s on the Cape Fear and Mr. P’s Bistro offer riverfront views and contemporary American cuisine or low country fare respectively.

Whether you crave fine Italian cuisine at Bella Cucina, sushi rolls at Southport Gourmet and Sushi Bar, or Southern-inspired dishes at The Frying Pan, Southport has you covered. For a casual dining option, Trolly Stop Hot Dogs offers a quick meal of hot dogs with various toppings and sides, while casual sandwich shops provide a variety of delicious options for those on-the-go.

Provision Company: A Seafood Haven

Savor fresh seafood at the renowned Provision Company. Known for their steamed shrimp and seafood chowder, this eatery offers a feast for seafood lovers. Unique culinary experiences like conch fritters add a distinct touch to its menu.

‘Thee Special’ is a celebrated dish at Provision Company, combining 1/2lb steamed shrimp, a crab cake, corn on the cob, and flavorful sauces. And if you’re not in the mood for seafood, they also offer lightly breaded onion rings, cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Boutique Shopping in Downtown Southport

A unique collection of boutique shops offering everything from handcrafted items and fine art to coastal decorations can be explored in Downtown Southport. After you’ve worked up an appetite from shopping, indulge in sweet treats from:

  • Burney’s Bakery
  • Refreshments at Downtown Southport Tasting & Taproom
  • Gourmet treats at Southport Trading Company
  • Artisanal foods at Hippi Chick Granola.

For those looking to enhance their homes or health, Southern View Windows and Siding Company, Inc. and Natural Remedies by Robert Mueller offer specialized products and remedies.

Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room

Pause your exploration and enjoy award-winning local wines at the Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room. Here, you can:

  • Sample a selection of international award-winning local wines
  • Sample a rotating selection of craft beer
  • Enjoy a relaxed atmosphere
  • Listen to live music
  • Access an inviting outdoor patio

The tasting room is a perfect spot to unwind.

Open seven days a week, the Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts and casual tasters alike. To stay updated on new events and offerings, follow the Southport Tasting Room on Facebook.

Outdoor Fun at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Relish the beach bliss at the uncrowded shores of Caswell Beach and Kure Beach, renowned for their gentle surf and stunning sunset vistas. This serene beach is perfect for a day of relaxation or water activities like paddleboarding and kayaking. With convenient outdoor showers and picnic areas, families and friends can enjoy a comfortable beach day.

Caswell Beach features:

  • Deep sand dunes
  • Spectacular sunset views
  • Diverse coastal bird species
  • A protected nesting area for sea turtles

The beach provides public beach accesses with parking, making it accessible for those looking to spend time on its peaceful shores and enjoy the stunning beaches.

Golf Enthusiasts’ Paradise at Joe’s Golf

For golf enthusiasts, Joe’s Golf in Southport, NC is a paradise. This all-encompassing indoor golfing facility caters to new golfers and seasoned players alike with opportunities to practice, play, and receive club services.

Enthusiasts looking to upgrade their gear can assess the fit and performance of used golf equipment using the advanced golf simulator before committing to a purchase. Golfers can also enhance their equipment with a variety of quality golf grip options from renowned brands such as Lamkin, Golf Pride, and Winn, available at Joe’s Golf.

Theatrical Magic at Brunswick Little Theatre

Witness the enchanting world of performing arts at Brunswick Little Theatre. This non-profit, all-volunteer organization fosters an appreciation for the performing arts in Brunswick County through performances and educational opportunities.

The theatre offers a summer workshop for children focused on nurturing young talent in a supportive environment. Their Music Theatre Apprentice classes nurture the skills of young actors and aspiring directors, underscoring the theatre’s commitment to educational missions. With community support, the theatre became the owners of their venue in 2018, ensuring a permanent home for their art.


Southport, NC is a captivating coastal town that offers a rich blend of history, natural beauty, and cultural charm. Whether you’re strolling along the Southport Riverwalk & Pier, exploring the maritime history at the NC Maritime Museum, connecting with nature on Bald Head Island, or indulging in fresh seafood at the Provision Company, you’re sure to fall in love with Southport. So, why wait? Plan your visit to Southport today and experience all the coastal charm this town has to offer!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I spend a day in Southport NC?

Make the most of your day in Southport by starting with a cup of coffee at Port City Java, exploring the Waterfront Park, visiting the Southport Visitor’s Center, strolling downtown, and finishing with a delicious waterfront lunch. Enjoy your day!

Is Southport North Carolina worth visiting?

Yes, Southport, North Carolina is definitely worth visiting for its historical charm and picturesque beauty. It offers a glimpse into a distant past of pirates and Southern belles, earning it the title of “America’s Happiest Seaside Town.”

Does Southport NC have a downtown?

Yes, Southport NC does have a downtown with historical architecture, small-town coastal charm, boutiques, restaurants, and antique stores, encouraging visitors to slow down and enjoy the scene.

What is the best way to get to Bald Head Island?

The best way to get to Bald Head Island is by ferry. It’s the primary mode of transportation.

What are some good places to eat in Southport, NC?

You have fantastic dining options in Southport, such as Provision Company, Oliver’s on the Cape Fear, and Mr. P’s Bistro. Enjoy your meal!