Shopping - An hour either way, the best shopping is at Mayfaire Town Center in Wilmington, or Market Common in Myrtle Beach. Both have an open, street grid design with traditional and eclectic options. – Michael DiTullo, St. James Plantation
Golfer's Paradise -"It's everywhere down here!" – Michael DiTullo, St. James Plantation
Biggest Fireworks Display in NC (100,000 attended last year!) "We do an annual boat trip from the St. James Marina to Southport for the fireworks, along with 100 others, a band, drinks, and great food. No hassles getting out of Southport after the fireworks." – Pete Jansen, St. James Plantation
Must. See. The Sunset. -"Sunsets here are spectacular. Even when the sinking sun is spoiled by clouds, the reflection of orange and pink hues on the clouds is breathtaking." – Pete Jansen, St. James Plantation
Local Libations - Check out Uncorked by the Sea for weekly wine and craft beer tastings, and to learn a thing or two. Dinner at Loco Joe's after is a must. – Pete Jansen, St. James Plantation
A Night Out - Check out the Brunswick Little Theatre in Southport, Thalian Hall in Wilmington, and the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater in downtown Wilmington for all sorts of live performances – theatre, music, film, and dance. – Pete Jansen, St. James Plantation
The Downtown Sundown Concert Series -Friday nights in downtown Wilmington.
Eat Like a Local
The chef is at Taylor's Cuisine Café in Southport...for breakfast! Voted best breakfast in the area (by Pete Jansen), Taylor's serves favorites you didn't even know about, like purple pancakes, sweet potato waffles, fried chicken and waffles, and asparagus and goat cheese omelets. – Pete Jansen, St. James Plantationtaylorcuisinecatering.com
The Flying Fish Café on Oak Island features West Coast cuisine and spectacular views alongside the Oak Island Pier.
– Pete Jansen, St. James Plantationtheflyingfishcafeoki.com
Loco Joe's has an eclectic menu with Vietnamese and Carribean cuisine. The atmosphere is fun and light, which goes great with an extensive beer selection.
Family-owned and operated, Joseph's Italian Bistro, at the Southport marina serves riquisimo classic Italian and American food. – Michael DiTullo, St. James Plantationjosephsitalianbistro.com
Sweet, Southern ... Southport
It doesn't get much more romantic than Southport. Strolling the streets of this quaint fishing village is like walking through a Nicholas Sparks novel. Shrimp boats, trawlers, and sailboats line the docks, with barrier islands peaking above the horizon, and gulls calling overhead all hours of the day. The streets are soaked in stories that you can almost feel. Grand Victorian homes flank modest fishing cottages, and live oaks dip into view along sidewalks.
Southport's sugary Southern charm, the sound of stays clanking against masts, and the smell of the sea leave you no choice but to relax. Completely.
"We've lived in St. James for five years, and to this day, we still pinch ourselves," says Pete Jansen, resident of St. James Plantation in Southport. "We can't believe what a great life we have."
Michael DiTullo, also a St. James resident, agrees. "Every afternoon is Friday afternoon here," he said.
But, it's more than the atmosphere.
"It starts with the people," DiTullo said. "There's a certain sense of politeness and respect down here. And, that's so important to me. People just seem happy to be here."
St. James Plantation is eight miles from Southport, five miles from Oak Island, and about 30 miles from Wilmington (where all the shopping and a few great beaches are).
"We call our community ‘the bubble'," Jansen said. Because everything residents need, including each other, is built in. Restaurants, golf courses, five fitness centers, 15 miles of trails, every kind of club you can imagine – wine, book, cycling, running, SUPing, kayaking, etc., and a private beach club on Oak Island to boot. The best part of venturing outside the neighborhood, Jansen said, is taking their ‘bubble' with them.
"Last week we went with a big group down to the beach for the Summer Solstice sunset. As soon as we got there, we turned around to see the Strawberry moon, in red, rising majestically over the Oak Island Pier. Everyone in our group kept saying, ‘And, that's why we live here!'" he said.
When the Jansen's are on their own, Southport is their place.
"One of our favorite things to do together is to head to Southport, grab a hot dog from the Trolly Stop or an ice cream cone from Spikes and sit on the swinging benches by the water and watch the tourists take it all in," Jansen said.
"There's a certain sense of politeness and respect down here. And that's so important to me. People just seem happy to be here."