A small group of vacation rentals are found in the heart of historic downtown Southport, or on the outskirts. These homes are approximately a 15 minute drive from the east end of Oak Island and select properties have views of the Cape Fear River. It doesn’t take long to see why Southport was named “America’s Happiest Seaside Town” by Coastal Living magazine. Live oaks line many of the residential streets surrounding the historic business district, where you can join a bicycle tour or set out on your own to explore. Find unique coastal art and gifts at one of the city’s many galleries and boutiques. Dine at one of the waterfront restaurants at the Old Yacht Basin or take a golf cart tour to the filming sites of movies like “Safe Haven,” Nights in Rodanthe” and “The Secret Life of Bees.” When you need refreshment, grab a cone of ice cream and find a seat on a bench or a swing at Waterfront Park. Watch the ships come in and soak up the picturesque beauty that’s greeted sea captains as far back as the 1700s.