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Friday, April 3, 2009

Daytripper 101: The Charms of Southport

Southport, the old fishing village just across the river from Pleasure Island, is the type of town that is inevitably called quaint. Fortunately, it lives up to the description. Situated along the west bank of the Cape Fear River’s mouth, Southport is reachable by ferry from Fort Fisher and is a great day-trip for Carolina Beach and Kure Beach vacationers.



Steeped in American history, the town has always attracted sailor types. In fact the earliest settlers arrived shortly after Columbus, in 1524. The first European vessel constructed in the New World was built on these banks. Other firsts include North Carolina’s first fort (Fort Johnston, 1754). In 1795 the soldiers at the fort fired 13 cannon shots to honor the 13 states, thus celebrating one of the earliest known 4th of July celebrations.



Today, Southport’s July 4th festivities are a blowout 4-day event and popular throughout the Cape Fear region and Southeastern North Carolina. Southport’s shopping includes funky little stores and antiques galore, the restaurants are varied and welcoming, and the old homes are remarkable (check out, for example, the Captain Thompson Home, an intriguing peek into the life of a genuine Civil War blockade runner).

Hollywood has not been immune to Southport’s charms, filming several movies in the last few decades, including 1986’s “Crimes of the Heart," starring Diane Keaton, Jessica Lang and Sissy Spacek.

Perhaps the best part about Southport? Unlike other communities in the area, public parking is free -- and it’s a great place for bike riding.

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