Southport, NC: small town welcome and charm

I meet wonderful people when I travel solo and yesterday I met Christina Willetts, the owner of Side Street Bakery in Southport, NC

On a day trip to Southport, NC while staying on the coast this month I planned to visit the Wednesday waterfront market and explore the side streets of Southport.

Southport is a charming old town on the Cape Fear river.   It has all the components of ‘a town I want to move to” :  water view, you can walk everywhere, a good town library, planned festivals, events, functions, benches to sit  on and think and lots of free parking!.

Located about 30 miles south of Wilmington, NC and the same distance to Myrtle beach,  There is also a small car/pedestrian ferry that takes you to  Fort Fisher where you don’t want to miss the  North Carolina Aquarium located right on the beach front.  Bring your bike and spend the day in the sun.

Amuzu Theater built in 1908

The original brick buildings in downtown are now home to cafes, art stores, antique stores, local artists are showcased in many of the gift and jewelry stores.  There is even a Christmas house.

From the ferry port here you can drive the beach road to the bridge for Wilmington.  This was a great, inexpensive way to sail the river!   I read on the attached link that pets are allowed, pre arranged weddings and  with restrictions, scattering of cremation ashes.

Southport is a well preserved small town.   The residents were proud to tell me several movies have been filmed here and the current TV show, Under the Dome, is currently being filled in the town.

Today was the beginning of the weekly farmers market in the public park.  More than a fruit and veggie market  there are local artists, crafts people and vendors.

Today I met a woman who grows flowers on a professional farm,  a woman who makes great tote bags from feed bags and tutu happy Ellie DeYoung a creator of happiness, she creates Tutus for all sizes and several other friendly locals who were happy to give me a few moments without the motive to ‘sell’ me something.

Tutu lovely.  Tutu Divine does tutus for all occasions
If everyone (even men) wore then at event no one would stop laughing.


Exploring the shops along the streets near the market i followed the sign for Side Street  Bakery and met  Christina Willetts.  Although she was busy mixing up a new chocolate treat she quickly came out of the kitchen to greet me.

sadly this was closed on my last visit

Christina, the owner and baker made me laugh when she told me:  ” They will eat dirt if you put Cream Cheese frosting on it!”   And after sampling the frosting, I can understand this.

The small store front did not allow me to view the treats inside but the sign said Pie, Cakes, Cookies, donuts and Breads….so what else could i need?  And I don’t think I have met a bakery I didn’t like!

So many treats to choose from.   Christina  bakes 2 or 3 specialty cakes a day and sells slices of these as well as lemon squares, cookies, donuts, chocolate covered fruit, even on lone canolli!   Fresh bread is baked at night by the ‘bread man’.

Pies and Cakes
Specialty Cakes and Pies need to be ordered in advance or as the owner told me,  give me 2 hours and I will have a pie ready”This was VERY tempting because the pies offered were from old southern recipes and my mouth watered reading the list of black bottom peanut brittle pie, apple cream cheese cake, pecan pie, hummingbird cake, carrot cake, white chocolate Oreo cookie cheesecake, pumpkin cheese cake and on and on.    Christina also creates her own one of a kind offering such as here almond joy cake.    If you have a favorite, just ask her if she can suggest a cake that will make your ‘mouth smile’.

She told me she has “always enjoyed baking”, learning from her mother over the years.    The recipes originate from her mother, grandmother and friends who share others that have been passed down.  The names of each offering remind me of a trip through the deep south:  hummingbird cake,  pear and pecan pie, carrot cake, key lime pie, lemon squares.   
Of course I had to take a selection home with me to authenticate the story.

Last year I met another baker in a town close to Dover, England.   She opened a tea room and offered wonderful, traditional English treats.    I will introduce these two creative women…….who knows what can happen?

I returned to Southport in December 2014 and my FIRST stop was the bakery.   Unfortunately Christinia was out delivering a wedding cake but I did meet her Mom and of course tried another cake!  This time it was hummingbird cake.

I sent an EM to the bakery to find out what is in Hummingbird cake:

The hummingbird cake is bananas and pineapple with a hint of cinnamon and of course cream cheese icing.    


Has anyone tried this southern treat?  Did your grandma make this too?
Christina also remined me:to “Eat more cake”

Published by Lee Laurino

A traveler not a tourist, searching for experiences not in travel books. Solo traveler who travels as long and far as possible sharing photos of the people and places I discover

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