Located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River and on the Intracoastal Waterway, Southport has long served as a protective harbor for sea-going craft. From the pirate ships of yesteryear to the fishing and recreational vessels of today, Southport’s easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and backwater bays has made it a popular maritime destination.
Just walking underneath the huge sprawling oak trees that line the avenues of beautiful historic homes takes you back to a gentler, friendlier period of time. Although a laid back lifestyle exists, Southport is still a bustling city. Southport has antique shops, historic sites, a Maritime Museum, wonderfully diverse restaurants, fresh seafood, art galleries, a small boat harbor, marinas and relaxing parks.
The most popular park in Southport is Waterfront Park. From the park you can watch large transoceanic ships from every country pass on their way up the Cape Fear River to the State Ports, creating remarkable photographic opportunities. Southport is so photogenic that a number of motion pictures and TV films have been made here, including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, Crimes of the Heart, Summer Catch, and One Tree Hill.
Although somewhat Victorian in appearance, Southport has a rich history dating well beyond its incorporation in 1792. The Indian Trail Tree in Keziah Memorial Park is estimated to be over 800 years old and was used by Cape Fear area Native Americans as a landmark. Bonnet's Creek was a haven for Stede Bonnet, The Gentleman Pirate, who operated in the area and was captured in the harbor during the 'Battle of the Sand Bar' in 1718. Ft. Johnston, across from Waterfront Park, was completed in 1749 and was the foundation of the town of Smithville, which later became known as Southport.