Southport Historical Walking Tour

Southport is a charming seaside community nestled along the Cape Fear River as it converges with the Atlantic Ocean. Known for its beautiful coastal scenery, incredible seafood restaurants, and involvement with the film industry, Southport is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. Southport is also rich in history as the town is one of the oldest communities in coastal North Carolina. From the days of European explorers to the Revolutionary war, a visit to Southport reflects centuries of American history. History buffs will be thrilled to learn the history of Southport can be experienced for yourself! Learn about the historical sites and hear the stories that helped shape the town with the Southport Historical Society’s a self-guided walking tour of Historic Southport.

Southport’s history tells stories of Native Americans, pirates, explorers, and the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Originally discovered in 1524 by French and Spanish explorers, English settlers arrived along the river in the mid 1600’s. Initially named Smithville after Benjamin Smith, a Continental General during the Revolution, the city was renamed Southport in 1887.  Today, Southport’s rich history is evident around every waterfront corner. The Southport Historical Society helps make history come alive with a relaxed and enjoyable walking tour that transports you back in time within the historical town. The tour takes you for a one mile walk through the Historic district of Southport. This easy stroll is rich in history, as you’ll experience 24 stops along your way. Established as a British fort in 1745, Fort Johnston was the smallest working US military fort until 2005. The Garrison House was built for officers in 1810.

As you follow along through the tour, you’ll view old landmarks including the Old Smithville Burial Grounds where the oldest cemetery marker dates all the way back to 1804 for Captain David Hicks, and the Brunswick Jail which now serves as a museum. Historic churches and homes are included in the tour including Southport’s oldest standing house, the Walker-Pyke House built in 1800.

At the end of the tour, two additional locations are suggested to explore, Brunswick Alley which gives you a beautiful view of the backyards of the large homes on Moore Street, and the Old Southport Yacht Basin, the longtime docking place for shrimp boats, and charter fisherman. This is the perfect place to end your tour, as several local restaurants sit along the basin. Finish your day by relaxing on the waterfront, enjoying local seafood, and taking in the beautiful view!

The complete guide for the Southport Historic Walking Tour can be downloaded online here, or a printed copy can be picked up for free at the Southport’s Visitor’s Center, located at 203 E Bay St in Southport or the Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center located at 4433 Long Beach Road. Historical markers are placed along the way to help guide you and tell you stories of the historical events and significance these landmarks have. We encourage you get outside for some exercise and experience history for yourself in the charming coastal town of Southport!