Tourists in our own town: field trip fun

While my mom was in town last month, we decided her visit was a great excuse to do a guided tour of our little town. We’d been eyeing this for a while as a fun way to learn more about where we live. Of course, as homeschoolers, it’s a great educational opportunity as well!

historic Southport Tour field trip

We made a reservation (recommended during the busy season) with Surf Tours of Southport for a one-hour private tour of the historic district of Southport. We’ve lived here (not in the town proper, but nearby) for over two years now and we’ve made a point to learn about the history of the area, but we learned so much more on this tour! Tour guide Steve made a point to customize the tour to our interests.

History, architecture, entertainment:

Our town is seriously just about the cutest place ever, and maintains so much historic charm that it’s a popular place for filming television shows and movies. Our interests run more towards history and architecture than entertainment (and we’re rather clueless about many TV shows and movies) so our guide focused on our main interests while still giving us highlights from shows/movies we are familiar with.

Matlock house

The porch of this beautiful historic home, built in 1925, was used as Matlock’s home in the show of the same name. The owner of the home remained in residence and specified in her contract that no one would come inside the home — not even the time Andy Griffith requested to use the restroom!

The painted lady-style Victorian home below was built around 1900 and used in the 1980’s movie “Crimes of the Heart.”

historic painted lady Victorian home

Tourist fun in our own town.

I didn’t take many photos, preferring instead to listen and learn, and chat about all we were seeing. Our guide was a great conversationalist. He pointed out a sweet little “Alice in Wonderland” themed flower garden, explained that the small rock wall around the inner town park was made of ship ballast stones from around the world, and told us stories about the old Smithville cemetery, including the one about a man whose legs were buried one cemetery (complete with funeral proceedings) when he was a boy but his adult remains many years later were interred in a different cemetery. {Yes, really!}

One funny story our guide told us about the Old Jail: Part of the jailer’s job was preparing meals for the prisoners, but one jailers wasn’t fond of the idea. His solution was to let the prisoners out each evening to go out to dinner as long as they promised to let themselves back in with the key he gave them. As you might imagine, that didn’t go as planned and he didn’t retain his job as jailer for long.

historic Southport Old Jail

About five years ago, Lindsey and I went to see a new movie called “Safe Haven,” based on a Nicholas Sparks book. Later, while on our first vacation to the area, we learned the movie was filmed here in Southport. Last year Ken and Kathryn and I watched it again, and it was neat to see so many familiar places! This adorable little cottage-style house was used as the main character’s home in the movie, but it would be one of my Southport favorites even if it hadn’t been featured in a film. As a coastal resident, it reassures me to see so many waterfront homes like this still standing after weathering hurricanes for over 100 years!

home from Safe Haven movie

We were regaled with tales of infamous pirates, Civil War drama, the town’s original beginnings way back in 1792, the prosperous life of a river pilot (most of the fanciest waterfront homes were built by ship captains or river pilots), the home with an odd basement that was most likely a speakeasy back in the day, and so much more.

If you visit Southport, we highly recommend this tour during your stay. We also recommend acting like a tourist in your own town and checking out some of the fun you might not otherwise enjoy as a regular resident.