A friendly seaside city near the entrance of the Cape Fear River, approximately halfway between Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Southport offers small-town charm, breathtaking views, a storied history, an abundance of unique shopping and dining and inviting tree-lined streets. It has enchanted and delighted residents and visitors for more than 200 years, and its culture and traditions continue to thrive.
A walking tour of this historic area showcases wonderfully restored churches, homes and landmarks such as City Hall, the quaint two-cell Old Brunswick Jail, the Old Smithville Burial Grounds, and the River Pilots Tower, where parts of the TV series “Under the Dome” are shot. The Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitors’ Center is an excellent resource for info on the vicinity.
Southport Pier & Riverwalk is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, with a wide walkway along the Cape Fear River and the yacht basin. Saltwater fishing spots dot the area, and it’s a great place to spot ibis, raptors, terns, and other wildlife. The adjacent nine-acre Southport Waterfront Park features benches and swings with spectacular water and barrier-island views, a gazebo, a water fountain, lights for evening visits and seasonal vendors.
Dozens of eclectic restaurants, refectories, galleries, and boutiques beckon, with the largest concentration of them along Howe Street. This picturesque setting has been the backdrop for numerous movies and TV productions, including “A Walk to Remember”, “Crimes of the Heart”, “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Safe Haven”.
What's one of the best ways to get to know a new location? Find the area's best seafood dive and start eating like a local. Here's a roundup of some of our favorite spots.
Hanging out on a gorgeous barrier island with tropical breezes and crystal-clear waters can build up an appetite that's why for years beachgoers in South Padre have flocked to Dirty Al's. Fresh gulf shrimp in all its glory is one of the biggest draws, and it comes in many guises, from baskets of boiled peel and eat shrimp to shrimp cocktail to shrimp quesadillas to shrimp-and-oyster po' boys. If none of that appeals, opt instead for fried crab fingers, whole blackened red snapper, or fried fish baskets heaped with onion rings and fries. Oh, and did we mention the chilled Lone Stars and frozen margaritas?
Locals' opinions may differ about whether this landmark spot is past its prime or better than ever, but there's one thing everyone agrees on: You need to stop by to check it out for yourself and form your own opinion. Tucked away in a bungalow with river and bridge views, you can spend the better part of a day working your way through the menu. There's gumbo, soft shell crabs, fresh gulf grouper and oysterslots and lots of oysters. They're available raw, to be sure, but better yet, go for one of the over-the-top combos for which Boss is famous. How about baked oysters topped with capers, asparagus, bacon and artichokes? Or topped with blue crab, sherry and Monterey jack cheese? The options are almost endless. It may take you a few delicious visits to form an opinion.
This family-owned, beachfront joint on Mobile Bay frequently has live music and is such a rollicking good time that it would probably be a draw even if the food weren't any good. But luckily, the food is awesome. You can dig into everything from crawfish and crab claws to platters of local oysters and soft shell crabs. The crab bisque is to die for, and the fantastic downhome side dishes just make everything more delectable turnip greens, garlic cheese grits, Vidalia onion rings, red beans and rice. You can even polish off your meal with a slice of house-made Key lime pie. Mullet Mondays are just what they sound like an all-you-can-eat feast of local mullet filets to kick each week off right.
Wondering if the colorful, supremely laid-back vibe of the old Florida Keys still exists? Look no further than Hogfish Bar & Grill. Set on a lively yet somehow still snoozy marina, with plenty of outdoor tables and usually some patrons' adorable canine buddies milling about, this is the type of insiders' secret, where all that's required of you is to relax and enjoy being in the best spot in town. And oh, how much there is to enjoy local delicacies like conch fritters, coconut Keys shrimp and Cuban sandwiches; and glorious new-fangled concoctions such as the grouper reuben, crabmeat-stuffed hogfish and crispy hogfish fingers. Don't worry if you don't get to try everything on the menu you'll be back.
Set along the Southport Yacht Basin, on the Intracoastal Waterway and the mouth of the Cape Fear River, Provision is the type of trim, cheerful place to which boaters just naturally gravitate. But you might need to wait through a short line after you tie up your dinghy at the dock plenty of landlubbers have cottoned onto this special spot too. Order at the counter inside crab cakes, steamed shrimp, steamed clams, seafood chowder then grab a beer from the cooler and find a place to sit on the deck out back. Everything's paid on the honor system, which just adds to the low-key, unbuttoned vibe. Hint: Hit Provision for sunset if you can, you won't regret it.
We love a comeback story. After being a locals' favorite for many years, Sue Island Grill & Crab House hit a bit of a slump but new management has recently brought it roaring back to life. New in July 2016 they opened a boat bar (boat turned bar). Set on the Chesapeake Bay's pretty Sue Island Creek, this Orioles- and Ravens-regalia festooned joint is a celebration of all the things Maryland does best, chief among them blue crabs. There's crab soup, warm pretzels with crab dip, crab balls. The jumbo lump crab cake is achingly tender, one of the best you'll ever have. And then there are the steamed crabs, glorious heaps of them, ready to be washed down with an icy cold Natty Boh.
Only in this neck of the woods would a chichi spot such as Navy Beach come close to qualifying as a dive, but after all, the Hamptons are right down the road. There's a charming, sparkling indoor dining room, but grab one of the tables outside on the 200-foot private beach instead. You'll look west over Fort Pond Bay and the notoriously stunning sunsets. Dig into such divine dishes as local fluke ceviche with pickled vegetables and house-made hot peppers and clam-and-corn chowder with basil oil and chives. There are killer cocktails like Painkillers and Dark and Stormies, and the extensive list of rose wines is not to be missed.
Overlooking the Cape Cod Canal, this clean, bright spot is its own slice of Cape Cod heaven and has had an avid following since 1974. In Massachusetts they're serious about their clams, and Seafood Sam's respectfully upholds this tradition, offering top-notch clam chowder, fried whole-belly clams, fried clam strips and stuffed quahogs. But they don't stop there. The fish fry for four is a bounteous spread of two pounds of fried haddock, mounds of French fries, a pint of coleslaw and tartar sauce and rolls. There's also baked haddock with a crumbled Ritz-cracker topping and lobster Newburg sauce, hand-cut onion rings and a slew of local beers. No wonder folks return again and again and again.
When you close your eyes and dream about the ideal lobster spot, this is probably what you envision. Set in a barn-like building right along the rocky Atlantic coast, Harraseeket has its own fleet of lobster boats and serves up the freshest, sweetest crustaceans you can imagine. If you're a purist, you'll want to order the whole steamed lobster without getting distracted by anything else. If you're not quite as devout about your whole lobster, there are plenty of other delicious things on which to nosh. Clam cakes, fish chowder and fried scallops in crumbs or batter are all knockit-out-of-the-park bets, especially when accompanied by fried onion middles and followed by an enormous house-made whoopie pie.
Patrons wash up at Captain Lou's for many reasons its raucous atmosphere and festive ramshackle cabin appearance, outdoor waterfront deck strung with twinkling lights. But when it comes to ordering some food to help line your stomach before pouring in countless rum runners and excellent craft beers, there's really only one choice: perch. You can have it in a wrap, you can have it in a taco, but however you choose to have it prepared you won't go wrong. Devouring the tasty local catch while listening to the live band and admiring the ducks skittering across the surface of the water, you'll wonder what took you so long to find this place.
If you're in search of fish tacos in San Diego, their birthplace, your expectations are understandably high. Head straight to South Beach Bar & Grille to have them fulfilled. The Pacific Ocean views alone are worth the trip, not to mention the 22 tequilas and more than 40 beers 20 of them on tap but let's be honest. It's about the fish tacos. So after warming up with a ceviche or an octopus cocktail or perhaps some stuffed-shrimp jalapenos or bacon-wrapped swordfish medallions, get down to business with those tacos. You can have them with mahi, wahoo, albacore, shrimp, shark or lobster, all topped with shredded red cabbage and tangy salsa fresca. Ask the surfers bobbing in the waves outside the window this is the life.
This funky, snug little spot has been in operation for more than 90 years. That in and of itself makes it a winner in our books. But add the location next to the fascinating Ballard Locks, part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the seafood-heavy menu, and it's a shoo-in for a good time. They claim to have the best fish and chips around, made with cod, and that's what many patrons go for. But we think any of the salmon dishes are more interesting options. After all, you're in a city that considers salmon king. Try a bowl of the smoked salmon chowder, a blackened wild sockeye salmon Caesar salad or the teriyaki salmon platter. And why wait for lunch or dinner? Belly up to the bar in the morning for a plate of smoked salmon eggs Benedict (and a Bloody Mary, if you so choose).
Marinalife is proud to announce the winners of its 2015 Best Marina Contest. The 6th annual contest honors the top marinas in the industry that go above and beyond in customer service and hospitality and makes the entire boating experience memorable. Thousands of votes poured in from Marinalife readers. We are excited to announce the following winners!
River Dunes is located just off the Intracoastal Waterway at MM 173, slightly north of Oriental. This well-protected inland basin harbor, currently offering 125 slips, provides an ideal location for all types of boaters with an accommodating staff that strives for the best experience for every customer. Marina guests have access to world-class amenities including a Harbor Club with fine and casual dining, a pool, a fitness facility, spas, steam showers and a laundry. The marina features state-of-the-art floating docks, high-speed gas and diesel pumps and an 8-foot depth throughout. Convenient location, five-star facilities and outstanding customer service make every stop at River Dunes an unforgettable experience.
Southport Marina in Southport, North Carolina is located on the ICW at MM 309 and offers boaters over 200 in-water slips, 220 dry-stack slips, a full-service boatyard and a 75-ton lift and is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and attractions of downtown Southport. The marina is also host to the annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament each October.
Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, New Hampshire has 150 slips, and guests have access to a heated pool, tennis, golf, an on-site resort and easy access to historic Portsmouth. The thing that sets the Wentworth apart from othersis not only its great service and attention to detail, but when boaters arrive, they get a real sense of community.
South Jersey Marina in Cape May provides first-class accommodations and services for boats up to 140 feet. In addition to hosting some of the East Coast's largest sportfishing events, the marina is geared for the transient boater with outstanding spa-like bathrooms, showers and a state-of-the-art laundry facility. A first-class restaurant, ladies' boutique and an outside lounge area are on-site as well. South Jersey is also the closest major marina to the downtown historic district of Cape May. Its 75 slips are serviced by an experienced and dedicated staff committed to providing the best boating experience possible.
Harbour Town Yacht Basin in Hilton Head, South Carolina is situated in the heart of The Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island's popular destination for resort-style accommodations and activities, and the ideal place to base your boating adventures. The Sea Pines Resort is proud of its amenities and of a hard-working staff that loves what it does. It ensures all boaters receive the finest in facilities and services in the Hilton Head Island area.
Key West Harbour in Key West, Florida offers dry slips in hurricane-rated dry-rack facilities and 100 wet slips accommodating vessels up to 100 feet with access to a pool and on-site restaurant and bar. Key West Harbour is a perfect haven for boating with picturesque views of the Atlantic. Stay in one of the beautifully furnished ocean-front sites, dine at The Club at Key West or spend the day sunning at the beach or the pool.
Ahoy from Southport! A friendly seaside city near the entrance of the Cape Fear River, approximately halfway between Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Southport offers small-towncharm, breathtaking views, a storied history, an abundance of unique shopping and dining, and inviting tree-lined streets. It has enchanted and delighted residents and visitors for more than 200 years, and its culture and traditions continue to thrive.
A walking tour of this historic area showcases wonderfully restored churches, homes, and landmarks such as City Hall, the quaint two-cell Old Brunswick Jail, the Old Smithville Burial Grounds and the River Pilots Tower, where parts of the TV series Under the Dome are shot. The Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitors' Center is an excellent resource for info on the vicinity and occupies a site built by the British in the mid-1700s to protect the area from French and Spanish assaults, and distinguished as the longest running active fort in the country. The fascinating North Carolina Maritime Museum also takes the long view on thetown, with exhibitions that include a section of a 2,000-year-old Native American canoe and an exploration of Southport's role in the American Revolution.
Southport Pier & Riverwalk is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, with a wide walkway along the Cape Fear River and the yacht basin. Saltwater fishing spots dot the area, and it's a great place to spot ibis, raptors, terns and other wildlife. The adjacent nine-acre Southport Waterfront Park features benches and swings with spectacular water and barrier-island views, a gazebo, a water fountain, lights for evening visits and seasonal vendors.But perhaps the greatest attraction of Southport is its celebrated downtown. Dozens of eclectic restaurants, refectories, galleries and boutiques beckon, with the largest concentration of them along Howe Street. This picturesque setting has been the backdrop for numerous movies and TV productions, including A Walk to Remember, Crimes of the Heart, The Secret Life of Bees and Safe Haven. Walking, trolley, bike and water tours are available, all of which highlight why this district is one of the most enticing downtown landscapes in coastal North Carolina.
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