Mount Airy, NC – Real Life Mayberry

Tucked in northwestern NC, a stone’s throw from The Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll find Mt. Airy – the real life hometown of Andy Griffith that inspired Mayberry.

With a population of 11,000 souls, Mt. Airy is a bit of heaven in NC. The close knit community abounds in small town charm, eclectic arts and culture and a foodie scene that lures even the most discerning palettes to indulge.

Located just over two hours from Raleigh (NC Capitol City), Mt. Airy has embraced it’s Mayberry roots. Andy Griffith drew inspiration from growing up in idyllic Mayberry when creating the heartwarming places and people that made The Andy Griffith show one of the most popular sitcoms in history.

Even though The Andy Griffith Show ended it’s run over fifty years ago, thousands of Griffith fans make the pilgrimage to ‘Mayberry’ – aka Mt. Airy every year. The town has responded to the influx of tourism by recreating famous scenes from the show from Wally’s Garage to vintage patrol cars throughout town.

The popularity of Andy Griffith today – is a testament to the heartfelt humor and iconic characters from Opie to Barney Fife to Aunt Bee and more…And while Sheriff Andy is long retired, you can still take a step back to a simpler time in Mt. Airy.

Touring ‘Mayberry’

No trip to Mt. Airy is complete without booking a ‘Squad Car’ tour – ride in a vintage 1962 replica squad car – just like Barney Fife…Expert tour guides will cruise you through Mt. Airy aka Mayberry with stops at a replica of the Mayberry Courthouse and Jail, a stop at Floyd’s Barbershop, get an ‘oil change’ at Wally’s Service Station before touring The Andy Griffith Playhouse…This tour combines the best of Andy Griffith plus real life Mt. Airy. Book your Squad Car Tour here.

Enjoy a delicious pork sandwich at Snappy Lunch – the historic main street diner mentioned on The Andy Griffith Show. Snappy has been serving up delicious home cooked eats since 1923. The entire menu is delicious but their claim to fame is the pork sandwich…

If you want a little mountain moonshine, Mt. Airy has you covered – albeit legally this side of Mayberry – Mayberry Spirit Company

If you prefer moon without the shine – Walker’s Soda Fountain is the perfect place for a root beer float and hot dog.

The coffee lover will fall for lattes at Main Street Coffee

After enjoying a visit with Aunt Bee, Barney and the gang…it’s time to check out the other amazing adventures Mt. Airy and the surrounding area offers. I’ve listed some highlights below:

Recreation: Mount Airy = Recreation lover’s dream, from the Sauratown Mountains to the rise of the Blue Ridge and valleys in between…Mt. Airy is more heavenly than Aunt B’s pie.

  • Mt. Airy is a mecca for recreation lovers – with ready access to hiking, fishing, camping and more…
    • Mt. Airy is anchored by Pilot Mountain State Park – which watches over the city as a rock fortress. Pilot Mountain gets its name from its unusual shape that was used as an identifying mark by Native Americans and early settlers as they navigated the area.
    • Hanging Rock State Park is one of my favorite scenic spots in NC – The chiseled rock cliffs ‘hang’ against thick forests and tumbling waterfalls.
    • Blue Ridge Parkway – Mt. Airy is only a few miles from America’s favorite road – The Blue Ridge Parkway (near Groundhog Mountain area on NC/VA border)

From Mayberry to Merlot – I heard through the grapevine this is the place for NC wine!

  • The Carolina Wine Country – forget the Napa Valley – NC is world renowned for famous wineries and The Yadkin River Valley and Mt. Airy region has become a top destination for wine enthusiasts. Dozens of wineries and distilleries are open for ‘spirited’ tours and tastings. Here is a link to a list of wineries. I love Shelton Vineyards reds, which is sold in my neighborhood Harris Teeter in Raleigh

Mountain Arts and Culture:

  • Arts and culture: Mt. Airy has deep roots as a music mecca from bluegrass to folk and beyond.
  • With multiple theatre and music venues there is always live entertainment on the calendar in Mt. Airy. The Earle Theatre welcomes top musicians from Rhonda Vincent to NC Beach Music from North Tower and The Embers.
  • Mt. Airy is ‘Opry East’ – Since 1948, local radio station WPAQ has hosted ‘The Merry Go-Round’ has been providing live country and roots music. It is the third longest live radio (The Grande Ole Opry is a few years older).

Good Eats:

from Surry Sonker Trail
  • Good food: Mt. Airy is fast becoming a foodie destination – from country cooking to fine dining – you’ll find the perfect meal to whet your palette – and don’t forget dessert – Mt. Airy and Surry County is home to the Sonker Trail. A sonker is a local cobbler like dessert that will have you coming for seconds.
  • What is a Sonker? Discover this uniquely Surry County dessert on the Sonker Trail – try the best of the best sonkers at eight unique eateries on the ‘Sonker Trail’ Learn more here

Extraordinary Geology:

Did you know that Mt. Airy is the granite capital of the world? Mt. Airy is home to ‘The Rock’ – a geologic wonder that formed eons ago. ‘The Rock’ is the world’s largest open-faced granite quarry. On the surface alone, the quarry is over sixty acres; 7 miles long and 1 mile wide, north and south, with a depth of 8,000 feet.

The rock is so large that astronauts spotted ‘The Rock’ from space as they first orbited earth…today it is visible from space as a speck of grey amid the sea of green and blue.

The rock is currently mined by the North Carolina Granite Corp, and open for limited tours.

There is enough granite to last for another 500 years! Click here to learn more.

  • History: Mt. Airy and Surry County is steeped in history from pre-historic tribes of Saura Town to The Revolutionary War and The Civil War, farmers and miners – history buffs will be able to step back in time and at local historic sites including The Mt. Airy Regional Museum and Horne Historic Farm. Click here for a comprehensive list.
    • The Horne Historic Farm is on my bucket list – a NC State Living Historic Site – the farm is a great way to learn about agriculture and here to learn more.

I will wrap up with a link to a Sonker recipe that Aunt Bee would approve of…

Till next time

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