Eat. Stay. Play. Shop
Thirty miles south of downtown Wilmington, the waterside city of Southport boasts old homes, historic sites, bed-and-breakfasts, and restaurants overlooking its yacht basin. It’s picturesque enough to have served as the setting for movies filmed there such as Safe Haven and I Know What You Did Last Summer (still a quaint backdrop for a scary flick). Along downtown’s Howe and Moore streets, quirky stores range from the kid-bonanza Bullfrog Corner toy store to the year-round, sprawling ornament depot The Christmas House. There are specialty shops and boutiques; restaurants and coffee shops. Meandering is the suggested mode of transportation.
Bald Head Island
A twenty-minute ferry ride away from Southport is Bald Head Island, a carless enclave of multi-million homes, maritime forest trails, and miles of beaches. Bikes and golf carts rule the island, and you can take them to the southern tip where the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Day passes are available for round-trips on the ferry, but allow for extra time since capacities have been reduced for distancing.
Franklin Square Gallery
Check out the works of local artists with a stop at the gallery, 130 East West Street, in Southport’s historic district. Associated Artists of Southport is a cooperative housed in Franklin Square Gallery, which exhibits pottery and paintings from over a hundred member artists who live throughout Southeastern North Carolina. Located in Southport’s former schoolhouse and town hall, the gallery operates as a nonprofit.
Candy Store House
This pastel pink building with its Lego-like silhouette is actually a one-bedroom vacation rental, two blocks from the waterfront. It draws its name from being a candy-selling general store in 1912. Rentals for the house at 315 East Nash Street are managed by Oak Island Accommodations.
Provision Company, 130 Yacht Basin Drive, features a casual menu from conch fritters and fried oysters to burgers and potato salad – all with a view of the yacht basin. COVID-19 prompted some changes, says co-owner Maria Swenson. While the honor drink system is no longer in action – you used to be able to grab your own cold beer, wine, or soda and take it to your table – the popular menu remains the same for those dining in the restaurant’s outside deck.
Eat. Play. Stay. Shop
To view more of photographer TJ Drechsel’s work, go to tjdrechselphotography.com.
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