Nautical History: The North Carolina Maritime Museum 

These days Southport, NC is best known for its warm, relaxing coastal lifestyle. Nestled between spectacular beaches and a downtown specializing in boutiques and good eats, it’s easy to see why Coastal Living calls Southport one of the Top 10 of “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns.” 
But, boy if these beaches could talk. From famed pirates to shipwrecks, not to mention dramatic accounts from the American Civil War and WWII, Southport has a lot of stories to share. And the best place to dive into Southport’s thrilling history is The North Carolina Maritime Museum.


If your time machine is at the shop, the vivid exhibits at the North Carolina Maritime Museum are your next safest bet. Just a stone’s throw from the Home Place of Southport, the museum’s exhibits focus on fisheries, shipwrecks, and military conflicts ranging from piracy to World War II. 

Get a front-row seat to the action in the exhibit “War Comes to the Lower Cape Fear.” As one of the ports blockaded by President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, Southport’s waterways were swarming with blockade runners and freedom seekers. 

And if you thought that WWII battles on American soil were limited to Hawaii, guess again. With unrestricted submarine warfare granted by Hitler, ships along the coast of North Carolina faced numerous and frequent German U-Boat attacks. Explore this lesser-known history in the exhibit “Engulfed in Flames: SS John D. Gill, 1942.”

Adult Programming 

If you thought the NC Maritime Museums was just about exhibits, think again! The museum’s robust adult education features regular field trips, aquatic tours, and lectures. Learn about aquatic archaeology, piracy, and more from the experts while exploring the unique geology and wildlife of our coastal landscape and waterways firsthand. 

And don’t forget the “Salty Dog,” the museum’s weekly series about local seafood. Each meeting includes a tasting of a featured local seafood or dish (how else are you supposed to learn about the subtleties of NC’s maritime culture?!).

Bring the Family

Expecting family in town? (Living on the coast, this may be a given). There’s plenty of fun in store for families at the NC Maritime Museum. Enjoy the exhibits through your grandkid’s eyes  with not one, but two (!) scavenger hunts and hands-on displays. 

The museum also hosts Sensory Saturdays, a monthly hands-on STEM program for children. Underwater Easter Egg Hunt, anyone? Count me in. 

To learn more about Southport’s swashbuckling maritime culture and how to make it your home, please give us a call at 833-939-3814 or make an appointment online.