With its "All-American City" awards and 4th of July parades, it's the cutest little beach town without a beach on the Cape Fear coastline. Retail shops are just a short walk to Howe Street from the boat docks. Or get a bite to eat and some drinks at many of the waterfront restaurants that line the harbor.
Southport is approximately a 45 minute boat ride (each way), headed south from Carolina Beach and down the Cape Fear River. (Weather conditions may apply to this location more than the others, if the river is rough due to wind or tides plans may need to be altered that day.)