Attractions in Southport/Oak Island/Bald Head, NC


Southport, NC Attractions

Interesting attractions, including some annual events and a host of amazing history can be found in the Southport, NC area. The Southport Visitors Center located in the Fort Johnston Garrison House on Davis Street is a great place to begin. You will find a fascinating wall display of the history of the area, historical artifacts and playbills from the films that were made in Southport, NC. A free brochure for the Southport Trail, a self-guided tour, is available as is information from one of the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers who will be happy to answer your questions.

Adjacent to the visitors’ center is the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport. You can wander through the museum on your own or take a guided tour through the exhibits of maritime life from the time of the American Indians to the present, including a pirate exhibit and interactive exhibits such as a deep diving research periscope and a nautical knot board. You can purchase souvenirs including pirate memorabilia from the gift shop as well.

If you are interested in chartering a sailing cruise you may want to check out Priority Sailing at 106 Yacht Basin Drive. Priority Sailing offers adventure cruises aboard the 26-foot sloop, Carolina Breeze. S/V Kelly Allen Cruises, located in the Southport Marina at 606 W. West Street offers cruises aboard the Kelly Allen, a 37-foot O'Day center cockpit sloop.

Landlubbers can participate in a lantern lit Ghost Walk or ride in a surrey pulled by a mule with Katie of the Old South Tour and Carriage Company. Historical Southport Bicycle Tours are available as well. Just contact Emma at The Adventure Kayak Company in the 800 block of N. Howe Street. If you prefer to stroll the tree lined streets there are a number of sites you will not want to miss. Southport’s oldest church, The Chapel of Cross at St. Philip's on E. Moore Street, was built in 1843. Trinity United Methodist Church on E. Nash Street was built in 1890. Each church is lovely to behold yet distinctly different. You can visit The Grove at Franklin Square Park on Howe Street where the low walls were constructed of ballast stones used in ships more than 100 years ago. Stroll to Keziah Memorial Park on W. Moore Street where the main attraction is the Indian Trail Tree estimated to be more than 800 years old. You will find a free library here where you can take a book, leave a book. At the corner of Nash and Rhett Streets you will find the Old Brunswick Jail and across Rhett Street, the Old Smithville Burial Ground. Then head back to Waterfront Park at Bay and Howe Streets and relax on the swings while taking in the gorgeous water views.

Oak Island, NC Attractions

It should come as no surprise that most of the attractions on Oak Island, NC are nature related. Though the island has quite a large year round population, it is a family vacation destination. You will find little neon here, however. What you will find is uncrowded beaches, fishing piers, nature trails, nature centers, lighthouse tours, outdoor arts festivals and more

At the eastern tip of the island, in Caswell Beach, NC you will find Fort Caswell. The earthen ramparts here are the remains of the original 2,800 acres of the fort and make for interesting exploration. The Town of Oak Island, NC maintains a number of Environmental Overlook Trails. At the western end of the island, paths wander through the dunes and stop at overlook points where you may see indigenous animals and shorebirds. You will find that The Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden is on the trail behind the Recreation Center at 3003 E. Oak Island Drive where there are elevated platforms overlooking the path. At the east end of 31st Street and next to the Oak Island Recreation Center is Tidal Waves Park. You can bring a picnic lunch and dine al fresco at a small picnic shelter near the floating dock – then launch your canoe or kayak and paddle at your leisure using the canoe/kayak trail maps you received at the recreation center. The Environment Crossover is here as well. You can walk across Davis Canal and the adjacent wetlands on this elevated boardwalk. Then the trail winds through the trees to the south side of the island where a crossover walk will take you to the ocean.

The town also operates the Ocean Education Center located on SE 49th St. and directly across the street from the beach as well as the Oak Island Nature Center which is on the north side of the island at NE 52nd Street and Yacht Drive. The nature center also includes walking trails.

The Oak Island Lighthouse in Caswell Beach, NC always makes for an interesting visit and tours to the top of the structure can be arranged in advance.

Bald Head Island, NC Attractions

On Bald Head Island, NC you will find some unique attractions. You will most likely ride Bald Head Island Ferry to get there and that in itself is an exhilarating experience – especially if you ride outside. You can climb to the top of the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, located on Lighthouse Wynd, for a bird’s eye view of this intriguing island. You can visit the Smith Island Museum located next to the lighthouse. You can go on a turtle walk, hike the trails of the maritime forest, take a guided nature tour and visit the nature center all provided under the auspices of the Bald Head Island Conservancy, located at 7000 Federal Road. You can go kayaking, paddle surfing or canoeing in the water trails. You can drive a golf cart all around the island; play a round of golf or spend the day at the beach watching the huge container ships that pass by. You may choose to take the Bald Head Island Historic Tour which combines a number of the aforementioned activities and includes lunch at Mojo’s on the Harbor.

Featured Local Businesses


Priority Sailing Southport/Oak Island/Bald Head AttractionsPriority Sailing106 Yacht Basin Dr.
Southport, NC • map(910) 454-4479

David and Carolyn Pryor, both highly experienced educators and sailors extraordinaire have been involved with the Southport Sail and Power Squadron since its inception (see Watersports section for information about the Southport Sail and Power Squadron). They invite you to participate in their customized adventure cruises and tours aboard the 26-foot...more about Priority Sailing

A Victorian AfternoonNorth Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport
204 E. Moore St., Ft. Johnston
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 457-0003

December 6, 2014  Visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport from 1 PM until 3 PM to enjoy cookies and eggnog and share in Victorian holiday customs. Participants can make ornaments to take home and hear stories from the era. This free event is suitable for all ages. Registration is...more about A Victorian Afternoon

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site8884 St. Philips Rd. SE
off N.C. Hwy. 133
Winnabow, NC 28479 • map(910) 371-6613

At this site stood the first successful permanent European settlement between Charleston and New Bern. It was founded in 1726 by Roger and Maurice Moore (who recognized an unprecedented real estate opportunity in the wake of the Tuscarora War, 1711-13), and the site served as port and political center. Russelborough, home...more about Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site

The Chapel of Cross at St. Philip'sE. Moore and Dry Sts.
Southport, NC • map(910) 457-5643

Southport's oldest church, The Chapel of the Cross, was in continuous use until Easter Sunday 2004, when St. Philip's dedicated a new 350-seat church on property across the street. The new church has the traditional clapboard look on the exterior, a bell tower and carillon. The Chapel of the Cross at...more about The Chapel of Cross at St. Philip's

Christmas by the Sea ParadeOak Island Dr.
Oak Island, NC 28465 • map(910) 457-6964
(800) 457-6964

December 5, 2015  If you are looking for a way to kick off the holiday season with your family, you may enjoy starting with the Christmas by the Sea Parade in Oak Island. The parade begins at 2 PM at the Oak Island Town Hall on 46th Street and continues on...more about Christmas by the Sea Parade

City PierWaterfront Park
Bay St.
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 457-7927
(800) 388-9635

This small, handicapped-accessible, L-shaped pier is located where the Intracoastal Waterway, the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean come together. As a municipal facility its usage is free, and public restrooms are available nearby at the Garrison House. It is adjacent to Waterfront Park, where amenities include a water fountain,...more about City Pier

The GroveFranklin Square Park
Howe & E. West Sts.
Southport, NC • map(910) 457-7927
(800) 388-9635

Shaded by centuries-old live oaks and aflame with color in spring, this is a park to savor — a place in which to absorb the spirit of old Smithville. The walls and entrances that embrace The Grove were constructed of ballast stones used in ships more than 100 years ago. Set...more about The Grove

Historical Southport Bicycle ToursThe Adventure Kayak Company, Inc.
807-A Howe St.
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 454-0607

If you are interested in learning about the history of Southport and having fun doing it, just sign up for an Historical Southport Bicycle Tour. This tour is co-sponsored by The Adventure Kayak Company, Inc. and the NC Maritime Museum at Southport. You can bring your own bicycle and helmet or...more about Historical Southport Bicycle Tours

Keziah Memorial ParkW. Moore & S. Lord Sts.
Southport, NC • map(910) 457-7927
(800) 388-9635

A shady little park with a gazebo, benches and a partial view of the waterfront, Keziah Park is notable for its strangely bent live oak. Estimated to be 800 years old, the tree is called the Indian Trail Tree after the legend that states it was curved while a sapling by...more about Keziah Memorial Park

North Carolina Fourth of July FestivalDowntown Southport
Oak Island, NC • map(910) 457-5578
(800) 457-6964

July 2-4 2015  People come from all over the state of North Carolina (and other states as well) to participate in this old-fashioned, small-town, family-oriented celebration. The population swells and traffic is heavy, but most folks are happy to wait a bit in order to be involved in the event. There is...more about North Carolina Fourth of July Festival

North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport204 E. Moore St.
Ft. Johnston
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 457-0003

The North Carolina Maritime Museum opened its doors at the new location in July 2011, with double the space of the old museum and a raised, open beam ceiling that resembles a ship's hull upended. The Main Exhibit Hall houses more than 2,000 original artifacts and Southport memorabilia. A gift shop,...more about North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport

Old Brunswick County JailCorner of Nash and Rhett Sts.
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 457-0575

Have you ever considered visiting a jail? Not an enforced visit, of course, but one you can leave anytime you want. If the thought intrigues you, consider the Old Brunswick County Jail, after all, "It's nothing like Alcatraz, more like Mayberry." Built in 1904 and in service until 1971, this two-story...more about Old Brunswick County Jail

Old Smithville Burying GroundE. Moore & S. Rhett Sts.
Southport, NC • map(910) 457-7927
(800) 388-9635

"The Winds and the Sea sing their requiem and shall forever more. ..." Profoundly evocative of the harsh realities endured by Southport's long-gone seafarers, the Old Smithville Burying Ground (1804) is a must-see. Obelisks dedicated to lost river pilots, monuments to entire crews and families who lived and died by the...more about Old Smithville Burying Ground

Old South Tour and Carriage CompanyWhittler's Bench at the Waterfront
Foot of Howe St.
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 713-2072

Look for the Old South Tour Company sign and the Southern Belle in the black mourning gown who waits for you at the Whittler's Bench at the foot of Howe Street on the waterfront. She invites you and your family to come and get acquainted with the night! This lantern-led Ghost...more about Old South Tour and Carriage Company

S/V Kelly Allen CruisesYacht Basin Drive next to The Provision Company
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 524-7245

Relax and experience the quiet power of the winds aboard sailing vessel Kelly Allen, a 37-foot O'Day center cockpit sloop. Sail the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Captain Bob Griffith is licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard, and sails are available year round, weather and tide...more about S/V Kelly Allen Cruises

Skydive Coastal CarolinasCape Fear Regional Jetport
4019 Long Beach Rd.
Oak Island, NC • map(910) 457-1039
(888) 899-5867

Have you ever dreamed of flying? Skydive Coastal Carolinas, a member of the United States Parachute Association, can make that dream come true. There are several options available. A tandem jump allows the first-time jumper to experience freefall from approximately 2 miles in the sky with the use of a parachute...more about Skydive Coastal Carolinas

Southport TrailSouthport, NC • map(910) 457-7927
(800) 388-9635

This 2-mile-long walking tour links 25 historic landmarks, among them the tiny Old Brunswick County Jail and the Stede Bonnet Memorial. Architectural beauty abounds along the route, revealing Queen Anne gables, Southport arch and bow, and porches trimmed in gingerbread. The free brochure describing this informal, self-guided chain of discoveries can...more about Southport Trail

Southport Waterfront MarketFort Johnston Garrison Lawn
Bay Street
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 279-4616

EVERY WEDNESDAY  This Farmers' Market is held every Wednesday morning from 8 AM until 1 PM, May through September. The location on the Fort Johnston Garrison lawn overlooking the Cape Fear River is a treat in itself. You can browse the beautiful local produce, baked goods and handcrafted items spread under...more about Southport Waterfront Market

Southport Winterfest - Christmas FlotillaSouthport Waterfront
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 454-4327

December 11, 2015  If you love a parade and you love boats, you will love the Christmas Flotilla. Just find a spot anywhere along the Cape Fear River from the Old Yacht Basin to Kingsley Street and get comfortable. The flotilla, which runs from 7 PM until 9 PM, includes sailboats,...more about Southport Winterfest - Christmas Flotilla

Southport Winterfest - Christmas Tour of HomesSouthport Historic District
Southport, NC 28461 • map(910) 457-7927

December 12, 2015  Included in this tour of homes all dressed up in their Christmas finery you will find historic homes as well as more modern homes. Be sure to wear soft soled shoes to protect the wood floors in these homes. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 on the...more about Southport Winterfest - Christmas Tour of Homes

St. Philip's ParishOld Brunswicktown State Historic Site
8884 St. Philip's Rd. SE
Winnabow, NC 28479 • map(910) 371-6613

After St. James Anglican Church left Brunswick Town in favor of the rival port of Wilmington, the Anglican parish of St. Philip formed in 1741. In 1754 it began building a brick church at Brunswick, the seat of royal government in the colony. After struggling with finances and a destructive hurricane,...more about St. Philip's Parish

Trinity United Methodist Church209 E. Nash St.
Southport, NC • map(910) 457-6633

Built c. 1890 for a total of $3,300, this church is the third to occupy this site. Today the building features two of the area's best stained-glass windows (at either side of the sanctuary); handsome, diagonally paneled walls; and a beaded ceiling (i.e., finished with narrow, half-round moldings) finished by a...more about Trinity United Methodist Church

Waterfront ParkBay St., at the foot of Howe St.
Southport, NC • map(910) 457-7927
(800) 388-9635

At the end of Howe Street, you'll come upon this breezy little park and take in the breathtaking scene at the convergence of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. From the swings overlooking the waterfront you can see Old Baldy Lighthouse and Oak Island Lighthouse (the...more about Waterfront Park

Cape Fear Riverboats- Henrietta III
North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts
Hampton Inn Southport
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