The Southport Experience

No matter if you’ve lived in Southport for years or are visiting for the weekend, there are so many wonderful things to explore!

Southport, originally known as Smithville, was founded on the idea that the healing qualities of the “salubrious breezes” blowing off the Cape Fear River had a special rejuvenating quality to them. If you’ve spent any time here, you’ve probably felt the benefit of this very special place.

Our community of Southport has something to offer everyone. History buff? Check. Need to relax and decompress? Check. Planning a family outing? Check. Want to be submersed in a quaint fishing village atmosphere where people smile and say hello? Check. 

We’re proud to share our wealth of natural beauty, cultural events, and historic charm with our “temporary residents” that come to visit and enjoy the place that we call home.

If you’re planning a trip to Southport, or are venturing out to explore in your own backyard, check out the Southport Exploration Guide for inspiration!

Southport Exploration Guide


203 E. Bay Street, Southport, NC 28461

Come and Explore!

Meet the City of Southport, a historic city with a revered past, a vibrant present, and an exciting future.

Historic Southport brims with an atmosphere and charm fostered by residents who have cherished and preserved its past. Their love of history is embodied in the beautifully restored homes, churches, and public buildings that grace the city’s unique, tree-lined streets.

Home of historic Ft. Johnston, North Carolina’s National Treasure

The Fort Johnston-Southport Museum and Visitors’ Center overlooks the mouth of the Cape Fear, showcasing the history, heritage, culture, and natural beauty Southport has to offer.

Our elite team of Southport Ambassadors can provide you with the information you need to make Southport your most enjoyable stop.

Visit our SouthportBusiness Directory for Accommodations, Dining, Shopping, Museums, and Tourist Attractions.

Email us to request more information on the City of Southport.

Southport Visitors’ Center Hours:
Monday – Saturday, 10:00 – 4:00
Tel: (910) 457-7927

Visit our Southport Business Directory for Accommodations, Dining, Shopping, Museums, and Tourist Attractions.

Visiting the Southport Museum

The Southport Museum offers a wonderful look at Southport’s past, from the founding of “Smithville” in 1792 to the many TV shows and movies that have been filmed in the city.

As you enter the museum, you will see a timeline of historic events that shaped what Southport is today. You will also find exhibits on the contributions of African Americans to the building and evolution of the community, the story of local writers and artists such as Robert Ruark and Art Newton, and a view of what life as a resident in the Garrison House was like.

Visit the museum and learn about the rich history of Southport!

The History of Ft. Johnston

Fort Johnston was the first fort constructed in the state of North Carolina and named for Provincial Governor Gabriel Johnston. The Fort was built in 1749 by the British to defend the area from the French and Spanish. The abundant natural resources such as tar, pitch, turpentine, and tobacco put a target on this area. Ironically, when the Spaniards did attack in 1748, the Fort’s construction wasn’t finished, and finding no one home, the Spaniards went upriver and looted Brunswick Town instead.

There were conflicts to come and Fort Johnston would play at least a small role in almost all of them. In 1754, men from Fort Johnston were sent to help fight in the French and Indian Wars. In 1759, they fought against the Cherokee. When the Revolution broke out in 1775, a large group of patriots stormed the Fort and burned most of the structures in defiance of the British. George Washington and his congress supported rebuilding Fort Johnston and in 1795 enough work had been done to allow Southport’s citizens to use it as a meeting place for their first documented Fourth of July celebration.

In 1810, the Fort saw extensive renovations, including the construction of the present-day Garrison House. During the Civil War, Confederates occupied the Fort which was the hub for recruitment and training. The Fort also provided some protection to blockade runners. (Confederate cargo ships that smuggled goods past Union ships which blocked waterways.) During this time, the Fort was occasionally called Fort Branch, and Fort Pender, but Fort Johnston would be the only name that stuck.

When the Civil War ended, so did the life of the Fort as a seacoast defense. Since June of 1881, the Fort’s buildings have been variously used by the US Signal Corps, the Weather Bureau (National Weather Service), the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Surveying Corps. In the 1950s officers from an air rescue unit of the US Air Force stayed here. The Fort was transferred to Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal in 1955.

The federal government transferred the property to the City of Southport in 2006. The Garrison House of the Fort is the only surviving structure and is now home to the Fort Johnston-Southport Museum and Visitors’ Center, and the Southport Historical Society.

Fort Johnston is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

City of Southport Monthly Newsletter

The objective of the City Newsletter is to help readers become familiar and more connected to the wonderful things happening within Southport.  Departments and committees discuss the special projects they are working on, their community engagements, and recognize outstanding employees.

Would you like to sign up to automatically receive the City of Southport Newsletter each month?

Sign up for SOUTHPORT CONNECTED!, our community communication system, and you can get your very own digital copy delivered to your email while it’s still hot off the press!

When you register, be sure to select “Newsletter & Community Updates” and you will be registered to receive the newsletter each month. You can also sign up for important Emergency Notifications while you’re there!

Southport Newsletter



Situated on the beautiful Cape Fear River, Southport is the quintessential “home town” location. Over the years, our charming town has been part of the story in multiple movies and TV shows that have been filmed here.

Does Southport Have a Role in Your Project?

If you’re interested in filming in Southport, here are key things that you need to know:

The first step is to complete a Film Permit form, which you can download from this page. Once completed, please return to Randy Jones at [email protected]. Please note that the completion of this form does not guarantee acceptance.

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Live-Streamed Content – When You Can’t Be There…

The Communications Department is responsible for all video production for the City of Southport, including bringing you meetings and events “in the moment” online.

City of Southport Board of Aldermen Meetings

If you can’t attend the monthly Board of Aldermen meeting in person, it is also available via a live-stream feed to our website (where you’ll also find the agenda), on our Facebook page, and on our YouTube channel.

Live-Streamed Events

From time to time we live-stream one of Southport’s great events so that we can bring a little bit of the fun to you at home. These events are typically streamed to our Facebook page, where you can see real-time, or watch later when you’re catching up on social media.

More Options for Watching Live-Streamed Content!

You may already know that you can watch the Board of Aldermen meetings and Southport events via live-stream on the City of Southport websiteFacebook page, and YouTube channel, but did you know that there’s another option?

If you have access to a Smart TV, you can now watch from the comfort of your living room! To find out how to download the Boxcast App, which allows you to watch the meeting, please click the tab below with your corresponding brand. 

Apple TV

1. Download the Boxcast App
How to download apps for Apple TV

A. Open the App Store app.
B. Browse or search for the app that you want to download.
C. Select the “Price” or “Get” button.
If you see the Open button instead of a price or the Get button, the app is already downloaded.

2. Open the Boxcast App

3. Search for Our Organization (The City of Southport – Southport, NC)

4. Click on the Broadcast, and Start Watching!

Fire TV (Amazon)

1. Download the Boxcast App
How to download apps for ROKU

A. Use the main menu on your Fire TV to search for apps.
You can also use your voice to search for specific apps. Just press the voice button on your Alexa Voice Remote.

B. Select the app you want to download.
C. Select “Get” 

2. Open the Boxcast App

3. Search for Our Organization (The City of Southport – Southport, NC)

4. Click on the Broadcast, and Start Watching!


1. Download the Boxcast App
How to download apps for ROKU

A. Press the Home button on the remote.
B. Go to Streaming Channels.
C. Find the app you wish to add by going to Search Channels and typing in the name of the app.
D. Select the app once you found it and then select Add channel.
E. You’ll get a confirmation message when the app was added. Select OK to finish.

2. Open the Boxcast App

3. Search for Our Organization (The City of Southport – Southport, NC)

4. Click on the Broadcast, and Start Watching!

Community Update Videos

The Communications Department collaborates with the Mayor to bring you video updates on important topics in Southport.

The Mayor’s Community Update videos are a great source for keeping up to date with what’s happening in Southport such as the status of municipal projects, or special proclamations and announcements. 

If you’d like to be notified when a new Community Update is available, sign up for Southport CONNECTED!, our community notification tool. You may choose to receive notifications via email or text (or both).

The City of Southport Website & Events Calendar
One of the primary ways that we share important information about Southport is through this website. We offer topics here that are of interest to residents, local businesses, and visitors from meetings and events to emergency information and City ordinances.

If you come across a typo or incorrect information, please contact Communications.

The City of Southport Events Calendar
You’ll find an overview of all of the City meetings and events, as well as non-profit organization activities happening in Southport. Check it out here.

Would you like to add your event to our calendar? We are happy to help promote free events that are hosted by local non-profit organizations. If this is you – send your event details to Allayna Dail.

Get Southport CONNECTED!

We manage Southport CONNECTED!, which is the community notification tool used to share Community Updates, event information, Public Notices, and emergency alerts with Southport residents (within the city limits).

You may choose what type of information will be sent to you when you register. These notifications are sent out via email, text, and phone (emergency notifications) based on your preferences when you sign up.

If you include your physical address when you register, you can receive emergency alerts from the National Weather Service as well as notifications about things that pertain to your specific location such as mosquito sprays or planned electrical outages.

You can register and find all of the details about Southport CONNECTED! here.

If you would like to receive the monthly Southport Newsletter, you may sign up through Southport CONNECTED!. You do not have to be a Southport resident to receive this great resource directly in your email each month!

Let’s Get Social!

The City shares information about community events, public meeting notices, public services projects such as road closures, emergency notifications, and other topics that benefit the Southport community. The City welcomes feedback from residents, community members, and visitors, and encourages participation through comments and feedback on our social media channels.

Check out the following channels and be sure to “follow” us on Facebook and “subscribe” to our YouTube channel to be notified of new posts!

City of Southport NC

This is our primary page for sharing information on Facebook. You’ll find event information, updates from the Mayor, public notices from City administration, traffic and road closure updates, meeting notifications, and other helpful information for our community.

Southport NC Emergency Information

This page is where we share important information and updates on weather emergencies and other urgent issues that impact Southport and its residents.

City of Southport NC

You’ll find the majority of our videos on our YouTube channel, including live-streamed Board of Aldermen meetings and local events.

City of Southport

We love sharing all of the fun things happening in Southport on our Instagram channel. Look for lovely pictures and videos of our charming coastal city and info on events and activities throughout the year!


203 E. Bay Street, Southport, NC 28461

The Community Relations Department is pleased to serve both residents and visitors in their Southport experience. Whether it’s enjoying what our community has to offer or staying on top of the latest city info, we’re here to help.

Randy Jones

Randy Jones
Director, Community Relations
[email protected]

Sharon Venis

Sharon Venis
Asst. Director, Tourism
[email protected]

Allayna Dail

Allayna Dail
Community Building Manager;
Tourism & Communications Administrator
[email protected]