Discover the Museums of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Beyond the beautiful beach scenery, the Brunswick Islands hold a rich history, which guests can experience with a visit to the area’s museums. With history dating as far back as the colonial times and tales of pirates, visitors can explore the fascinating, in-depth past of the islands and coastal communities. Not only does the Brunswick Islands offer a great place for visitors to enjoy the beaches and sunshine, but a trip to coast can also be educational! Be sure to add these museums to your Brunswick Islands itinerary:

Fort Johnston – Southport Museum & Visitors Center:

Fort Johnston in Southport was built by the British in 1748. The fort was used to protect the region from the Spanish and French attacks during King George’s War. It served as the oldest active-duty fort in the United States after 250 years of federal service and was conveyed to the city of Southport in 2006. Today, visitors can explore the museum with an official tour guide or take a self-guided tour. Don’t miss the Safe Haven exhibit with memorabilia from when the movie was filmed in Southport. fort-johnston

Ingram Planetarium:

Visitors looking for more of an out-of-this-world museum experience can check out the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach. This state-of-the-art planetarium has an 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater with high definition digital protection and surround-sound system. The theater shows educational programs about space exploration and astronomy, along with laser music shows. Explore the interactive exhibits in the Paul Dennis Science Hall for fun, hands-on learning. dsc_9509_sunset-beach_planitarium_lr

Museum of Coastal Carolina:

The Museum of Coastal Carolina on Ocean Isle Beach is North Carolina’s only natural history museum located on a barrier island. The museum showcases the unique coastal ecosystem of the Brunswick Islands and features the Southeast’s largest dry aquarium, collections of sea shells, shark jaws, wildlife dioramas and a Touch Tank with live sea stars, sea urchins and other animals. Young explorers will also love digging in the fossil pit for shark teeth. dsc_0010_oib_touch-tank_wm

North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport:

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport tells the story of the Cape Fear region and the people of its past and present. Exhibits provide a detailed history of pirates, shipwrecks, and the area’s extensive nautical history. The museum offers educational programs for both children and adults, making it enjoyable for all ages.mmsign

Old Brunswick County Jail Museum:

The Old Brunswick County Jail, built in 1904, has been maintained to keep its original form and serves as a museum open to the public. The two-story jail, which was used until 1971 before a new jail was constructed, has a runabout and two cells, which visitors can view on guided or self-guided tours. Visitors can also take a glimpse of the graffiti drawn by prisoners on the second floor. img_0523

Sunset Beach Swing Bridge & Museum:

The historic Sunset Beach swing bridge and tender house that linked the island to the mainland from 1958-2011, now rests in an area shaded by oak trees to serve as a museum and public gathering place. Locals thought that they would be saying goodbye to the swing bridge, but volunteers and the Old Bridge Preservative Society saved it from demolition. The tender house is now open to visitors and displays artifacts from the Blockade Runner Vesta, which ran aground on Sunset Beach. old-sb-bridge-horizontal-2

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site:

Brunswick Town was a pre-Revolutionary port located on the Cape Fear River that was destroyed by British Troops in 1776 and never rebuilt. Fort Anderson was constructed during the Civil War at the same site as the old village to defend the river and north toward Wilmington. What remains of Brunswick Town and the fort is now one of North Carolina’s historic sites and a working archaeological site. Visitors can view displays and audiovisuals about its history, as well as explore outdoor trails along the ruins of the fort.img_5863_tonemapped

Smith Island Museum of History:

Smith Island Museum of History is located on the grounds of Old Baldy Lighthouse on Bald Head Island and is a replica of an 1850s lighthouse keeper’s cottage.img_3467

When planning your visit to the museums in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, be sure to check the hours, which vary by season. To learn more, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/heritage_museums.

It’s Official: Southport is Coastal Living’s “America’s Happiest Seaside Town”

fans rallied and Coastal Living Magazine heard. The magazine has named the picturesque village of Southport, NC as “America’s Happiest Seaside Town for 2015.” It was the only town in the Carolinas nominated. Coastal Living features Southport as the No. 1 “Happiest Seaside Town” in the July/August issue of the magazine and online.

Coastal Living revealed the top 10 finalists for “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns” in its March issue. Voting was open until March 31, with Southport receiving the most online votes of the 10 finalists. Southport residents won the contest with a “get out the vote” in a big way.  They created a whimsical and heartfelt YouTube video to make their case, encourage voting and to show how happy they are – as happy as those who enjoy Southport’s charms while on vacation.Southport BC043

Southport’s allure has already been recognized by Hollywood and the television industry, with more than 40 productions having filmed there, including the recent film “Safe Haven” and television series “Under the Dome.” Southport winning the crown as the No. 1 Happiest Seaside Town for 2015 comes as no surprise to both residents and visitors who have always known how special their beloved home and vacation spot is.

Southport is filled with breathtaking waterfront, beautiful 19th Century architecture, uniquely southern landscape and a wealth of history including stories of Native Americans, pirates and the Revolutionary War. With culture that runs as deep as its history, it is no wonder that residents and visitors of Southport are smiling.

Southport has beautiful B&Bs, inns, flagship chain hotels and other comfortable accommodations to make a week or weekend visit.  If you want to add a beach vacation, next-door Oak Island and Caswell Beach have miles of uncrowded, pet-friendly beaches with more than 60 public access points. Family-oriented attractions include the Oak Island Lighthouse, mini-golf, skate park, nature center, two fishing piers, two marinas and three public boat and canoe ramps.  Did we mention golf,  fine and casual dining and ice cream shacks?

 

 

Southport -See It On Screen And Experience It In Person

With its dramatic views of the Cape Fear River, ancient live oaks drizzled with Spanish moss, and Victorian homes on flower-edged lanes, the picture-perfect village of Southport charms residents, visitors and even Hollywood. The rich history of Native Americans, pirates, Revolutionary war and blockade runners makes the town, so full of southern coastal appeal, one of the loveliest on the Atlantic coast.

Brimming with art galleries, cafes offering locally caught seafood, and unique boutiques and shops, it’s a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. The extraordinary waterfront and early 19th century architecture also draws Hollywood and the television industry. More than 40 productions have filmed here, most recently “Safe Haven” and “Under the Dome.”

During your next Brunswick Islands vacation, get a close-up of some of the places made famous by “Safe Haven” and “Under the Dome,” via electric carts from Southport Tours or Southport Fun Tours. Narrated biking tours are offered by The Adventure Company and Old South Tour Company presents historical walking tours. Showcased are filming locations including iconic homes, the Old Brunswick County JSafe Haven displayail Museum, (Cissy Spacek, “Crimes of the Heart”) Fishy Fishy Café (“Dawson’s Creek” and “Revenge”), Trinity Methodist Church (“Under the Dome” and “A Walk To Remember”) and the River Pilots Tower (radio station in “Under the Dome”).  While in Southport, visit also the Southport Museum at Fort Johnston to see film related exhibits.  For a list of motion picture and television productions filmed in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit here.