By: Jay Dalles
Charming Old Southport, NC
Give yourself a treat by driving to old Southport, North Carolina, for a day of antiquing. The location is ideal, with its old town charm that was the setting for many an episode of the old detective series Matlock, starring Andy Griffith. Old shade, big wrap-around porches, ocean-going ships plying the curving mouth of the Cape Fear River, and views of Bald Head and Caswell Islands are the backdrop for a saunter along these sun-dappled streets.
Southport, NC Antique Stores
For more than twenty years, antique shops have prospered within a few short blocks, just steps from one another, along the East Moore Street. Some are one-owner antique shops and others are collectives where you will not know what you will find from one stand to the next. That’s part of the joy of discovery!
At Southport Antiques, for instance, you will always find some great old Low Country style furniture, some fine old sliver, and linen goods to tempt your eye. On a recent visit, an old walnut farm table stood beside a steamer trunk and nearby an oriental rug beckoned.
Just steps down the block, Northrop Antiques Mall, a collective of antique dealers, can be trusted to have vintage tin toys, coins and jewelry, old prints, elegant mirrors and sconces, as well as a selection of North Carolina Pottery that will beg to go home with you. There are two whole floors to explore, and upstairs nostalgia seems to reign supreme, with vintage kitchenware, flapper hats, and chic china side by side. Of course, you will not want to miss the Dosher Hospital Volunteer Thrift Store, just a bit further down the street, where the bargains take a trained eye to spy, but that hunt is half the fun of it.
More Things To Do in Southport
We like the fact that there are great jewelry stores, boutiques and yes, many choices for lunch or dinner between these shops, and across the street, or just down by the waterfront. And chances are that one or two Hollywood movies will be in production when you are wandering about Southport; you might see some of your favorite stars by the pier, at the next table, or swinging on the famous porch swings in the park that overlook the busy waterway.
Also on East Moore, be sure to visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport, on the grounds of the old fort. And heading either direction from the town square you can find many other fine antique or vintage shops on North or South Howe Street, including Waterfront Gifts and Antiques, Magnolia Gifts and Antiques, NC Plantation Antiques, The Prissy Parrot Consignment Boutique and Thrifty by Nature.
It is a Southport tradition to begin or end a visit by relaxing on the gazebo-style porch at The Christmas Shop, where treats like penny candy you remember from childhood and delicious ice cream are always ready and waiting for you. So why not slow down, enjoy the scenery and the hospitality of Southport, where the smiles are as big as magnolia blossoms.
If you take 133, the old river road, between Southport and Wilmington, you are sure to see deer at dawn or dusk. A great side trip is to Old Brunswick Town, a true antique in and of itself, where the ruins of the pre-Revolutionary War church still impress with their red brick arches, and the visitors’ center is blessed by jewel colored hummingbirds zipping among the trees. If you are lucky you may see Charlie, the resident alligator, at Orton Pond, but mind the signs, don’t feed him.
If you go one direction by 133, try a return route via the Southport – Fort Fisher Ferry, for a great on-the-water adventure for you, your family and your car. It’s a perfect way to breathe the sea air without taking a cruise! And if you have extra time to spare, a trip to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is highly recommended.
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Photos courtesy of Jay Dalles.