Southport wins ‘happiest seaside town’ contest

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It’s official–Southport is the happiest seaside town in America.

The small southern Brunswick County town edged out nine other locales in the country for the distinction in an online contest decided by voters and sponsored by home and travel magazine, Coastal Living.

Coastal Living began announcing the rankings Tuesday morning, starting with the number 10 spot and counting down each hour.

Following the announcement this afternoon, Southport–the only North Carolina locale on the list–can now also boast the title of “Happiest Seaside Town in America.”

“Putting proof to the dictum that ‘small is beautiful,’ this tiny harbor town at the outlet of the Cape Fear River with only 3,060 residents wins big on Southern beauty and charm,” Coastal Living writers said of Southport. “Everyone’s your neighbor here, and most of the town’s residents walk, bike, or drive golf carts down Southport’s oak tree–lined streets to enjoy a morning coffee at Port City Java, browse antiques shops and galleries and head to the waterfront for a table—and delicious fish tacos—on the pier of Fishy Fishy Café.”

The magazine goes on to note mainstay gift shop Bullfrog Corner as a must-stop for visitors, and acknowledges Southport’s quaintness and historic character as a draw for the film industry. It also gives a nod to the town as home of the N.C. 4th of July Festival, which brings in large crowds each year in celebration of Independence Day.

Coastal Living recommends a stay at either Robert Ruark Inn or Lois Jane’s Riverview Inn.

Editors selected this year’s finalists for the contest by looking over the places the magazine has previously dubbed “Dream Towns,” as well as nominations from readers via social media.

The magazine collected each town’s rank on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, its percentage of sunny days, air quality, healthiness of its beaches, commute times, crime ratings, walkability, standard of living and financial well-being of locals and geographic diversity, then added it to editors’ assessment of each town’s overall “coastal vibe,” according to the Coastal Living website.

Two Florida towns–Venice and Del Ray Beach–held the second and third spots , respectively, on the list, which also included towns in Rhode Island, Georgia, Mississippi and California.