The 2.2 square mile fishing and port village of Southport, North Carolina was named “America’s Happiest Seaside town” by Coastal Living Magazine. According to JV Dove, the town’s mayor in 2016, “residents of Southport are some of the most friendly and happy people in the world. Truly, they make Southport a great place to live, as well as visit.”
First incorporated as “Smithville” in 1792, the town’s name was aptly changed to “Southport” in 1889. It was the location of the first European vessel built in the new world, constructed by the Spanish in 1526.
A year-round population of just under 3000 makes this quaint town an excellent spot for a vacation getaway, or a perfect residence for those who prefer a simpler, small-town life. Bordered by islands, Southport is situated at the mouth of the Cape Fear river, along the Intracoastal Waterway.
With average high temperatures in the mid 70s and lows in the low 50s, Southport offers a climate appropriate for outdoor fun year-round. The historic downtown provides visitors the option of many restaurants with outdoor dining and excellent seafood; they can browse galleries, antique stores and other shops or visit beautiful Waterfront Park.
The nine-acre park, which borders downtown and the Cape Fear River, offers picnic shelters and tables, swing sets, and lighted walkways; as well as a popular fishing pier. Sailing, sky diving, and golf are also available to entertain Southport visitors and residents. North Carolina Department of Transportation’s ferry system carries travelers from Southport to several of the islands which punctuate the town’s coast.
Due to its aesthetics and charm, Southport is the backdrop for many major motion pictures, including, according to The Southport Times, “Firestarter, Crimes of the Heart, Weekend at Bernie’s, Amos and Andrew, Inkwell, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Night Flier, Domestic Disturbance, Summer Catch, and A Walk to Remember.” The 2013 Nicholas Sparks film Safe Haven was also filmed in Southport.
Southport offers many events throughout the year including live music festivals, farmers’ markets, fishing tournaments and more. The town’s 4th of July fireworks show over the Cape Fear River attracts tens of thousands annually.