Finally getting around to writing about my visit to Southport & Wilmington in North Carolina this summer!
Decided to finally make my way down this summer and was able to spend a week there, mom decided to come with! We landed in Wilmington which had the cutest little airport. Seriously, when I say little it is little, it made Des Moines look big but it was so charming! Once we landed we took an Uber about 30 minutes to Southport which was actually perfect because our driver told us some history about the place and things we needed to see and do while we were there (shoutout to Kelvin from Wilmington!) and we spent a bit of time unpacking before walking downtown.
For those that may not know it Southport is the filming location for Safe Haven and since I am completely in love with that chick flick (sue me, I like a good cheesy movie every now and again) I had been wanting to get down there since it just looked so picturesque. Anyplace with water and beaches is a-okay in my book. We had so much fun walking around and checking out all the different little vendors and stores. I always love when you’re able to check out stores that are unique to a certain location! There were so many eclectic-y stores that were fun to check out! And of course the food was wonderful! First night we ate at Fishy Fishy Cafe, which too be honest it’s just fun to say the name, and had a nice time being on the water and unwinding before we walked around a bit.
Southport is so full of history and it was neat being able to check out all the old historic buildings. We made sure to stop at their visitor’s center which is located in an old fort and I got to see some of their old Safe Haven props, photos and such. Tucked behind their visitor’s center is their Maritime Museum, which I was very surprised with. Even though it’s small it was cozy and I always love when they have interactive stuff you can play around with. You could try your hand at replicating different sailor knots, playing around at the helm and my favorite was the giant periscope they had that you could turn 360 degrees that was set at the top of the building to let you see across the river to Bald Head Island!
Besides stopping at Fishy Fishy we also stopped at American Fish Company(I wanted to check it out since it was in the movie), ate at Provisions, Southport Smoke House (banana pudding YUM), Dry Street Fish & Pub (THE BEST shrimp salad sandwich I had the entire time) and we stopped by the Candy House where I bought way too much salt water taffy – I think they had over 60 flavors and had just so much cool stuff in their store! We also got to go on a ghost walk which was fun so we could hear even more about the history of the town! I definitely loved the small, quaint feel of the town and being able to walk around by the water!
One of the days we chose to walk over to the ferry and take it to Bald Head Island where they use golf carts to get around the island. The beaches were wonderful and so pretty but the long walk inland was a bit of a bummer, definitely rent a golf cart or a bike! I was surprised with how empty the beaches were because it was so picturesque but it may have just been the day that I happened to be there! We also took the ferry to Fort Fisher which was kind of cool watching how fast they could load and unload the vehicles (which would be a must to get to the aquarium on Fort Fisher or head up to Carolina Beach).
We also decided to head up to Wilmington and I am SO glad that we did! We started at the USS North Carolina which is a huge battleship and of course the history nerd in me totally geeked out with all the info and the vast size as we were able to walk around above and below deck! I definitely recommend going in the morning or when it’s cool with a breeze since below deck can get hot – we happened to go on the perfect morning. Since we had taken an Uber into town to get to the battleship we hopped on a river taxi over to the other side by the river walk and had lunch at Elijah’s. The risotto we had there was mom’s favorite for our trip! Walking the river walk was great – there were tons of little shops, pop up art and food vendors and I don’t think I could have taken a bad photo of the walk to save my life. I understand why they have so many movies and shows located around Wilmington and Southport, it was just gorgeous the entire time we were there – even the day we got rained on! One of the main places we were told we had to stop was the Cotton Exchange, a set of buildings that at one time had the insides burned down but they kept the outer shell and converted it into a space for lots of little shops. I loved the style of having lots of variety thrown together right next to each other in different shops so it felt like you were discovering little hidden things tucked away in different spots. There were some great vintage and antique clothing spots that we stopped at that made me think that Wilmington probably has it’s own little weird, offbeat sense of style and personality which was refreshing!
If I had to narrow it down to my top 10 things to do I’d have to say:
- Check out the Riverwalk in Wilmington
- Get banana cream pudding somewhere – they had it at so many places I think it must be a “thing” down there and it was just so good! I loved mine at Southport Smoke House
- In Southport hit up the Frying Pan for food and an incredible view and listen to the live music at American Fish Co (they are right next to each other) or from the beach – there’s also a cheap ice cream place right there should you want some!
- Check out the USS North Carolina in Wilmington
- Head out to Bald Head Island for fun on the beach, rent a golf cart or bikes! As much as we love walking everywhere, we even agreed we should have done that!
- Get the shrimp salad sandwich at Dry Street Pizza & Pub. It’s not along the water but oh my gosh, it was so good. They also have HUGE pizza slices for a dollar!
- Stop in the the Bull Frog store on the corner of the main intersection in Southport, it’s wacky, zany and awesome.
- Also, hit up the Christmas Candy Store which is just across the street. It’s crazy and fun and they personalize gifts if you want to bring back souvenirs!
- Watch the sunset from one of the beaches on Bald Head Island or in Southport, it’s just breath taking!
- In Wilmington check out the Cotton Exchange and some of the other stores that are a few blocks off of the Riverwalk, they are eccentric and refreshing!
I had way too many photos to post here so I put some up on my photography page as well as on my instagram!