Mount Airy, North Carolina, The Real Mayberry for Family Vacations

by Carmel L. Mooney

When we found out that one of our kids’ favorite states, North Carolina was home to the real “Mayberry” we all knew and loved, we had to go and we were so glad we did.

Mount Airy, complete with Floyd’s Barbershop, Snappy Lunch, Andy Griffith’s Homeplace, Wally’s Service Station, and squad car tours is a real step back in time to the Mayberry days we all knew and loved on the Andy Griffith show and the real good old days when actor Andy Griffith grew up there.

A squad car tour in a real replica of Mayberry’s squad cars, gives visitors a fun taste of everything Mayberry. Our kids were tickled as we cruised Main Street with the siren blaring and they loved a stop at the Mayberry jail to reenact some of their favorite scenes. Our driver also drove us through the world’s largest open face granite quarry in Mt. Airy that serves the country with some of the finest granite used in buildings and even famous landmarks in Washington DC.

Our kids loved the Andy Griffith Museum which offers audio and guided tours and displays an amazing collection of items from the show and from Andy Griffith’s life in Mt. Airy. Letters, speeches, clothes, photos, musical instruments, and lots more are on display for visitors to see and hear. The fact that so many things were audio in nature kept the kids from becoming bored like in some museums.

It seemed everyone else visiting enjoyed getting pictures with the famous TV Land Landmark statue of “Andy and Opie Taylor” out in front so we had to follow suit and get a picture too.

We also really enjoyed the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. The region is often times described as the back country of the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This fantastic museum gave us all an authentic taste of the area and its rich history. Since some of our family roots are form the area the kids loved seeing our surnames depicted in some of the displays.

old postcard on display at the Mount Airy Regional Museum of the granite quarry

The museum chronicles the lives of many famous entertainers from the region as well as other famous and noted figures. They even have a hands-on children’s gallery to keep the kids engaged. 35,000 square feet of quality displays depicting culture and history really gives guests a different perspective of this beautiful community.

And for a visual perspective you’ll want to take in the beauty of the panoramic view from the museum’s Observatory. There you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains, Slate Mountains, the Sauratowns, Pilot Mountain, and Turner Mountain. We could see some of the areas we had seen from the squad car tour, but now from an entirely different perspective.

Right across the street from the museum the grown-ups enjoyed tasting wines at the Old North State Winery. The kids sipped tea and snacked while the adults enjoyed this treat. This historic building with excellent dry wines, semi-sweet and sweet as well as native and organic Muscadine varietals is a great place to stop and relax between Mayberry fixes. We loved the Pinot Gris and the Riesling from the Yadkin Valley was impressive as well. The Afternoon Delight was a fantastic red Muscadine wine and is known by locals as the “dog house” wine. If you’re in the doghouse, buy this one to earn some points. Are you taking notes, honey???

Locals directed us to Trio Restaurant and Bar and we were very fortunate they did. An excellent place for drinks and appetizers or a full-fledged meal, you’ll love the beautiful décor and relaxed but classy atmosphere. A warm Provencal feel complements the delicious bistro-style cuisine. They offer daily lunch and dinner specials to compliment the monthly menus and now offer Sunday Brunch as well.

Mount Airy Courthouse

After a delightful dinner at Trio, we turned in at the Sobotto Manor Bed and Breakfast. This historic inn is situated downtown and is convenient to all Mount Airy attractions. It offers a sumptuous, full breakfast in the morning and lots of extras like a full business center, private baths, beautiful antiques, gorgeous garden, cookies, and gourmet teas and coffees. We all enjoyed the extra comfy beds and loads of books and magazines to unwind and relax before bedtime.

The atmosphere is lovely and peaceful and the owners are very dedicated to what they do, So dedicated in fact that they have been the recipients of numerous awards and rank as one of the top bed and breakfasts in the world.

Be sure you allow at least two days to fully explore Mount Airy and its environs.

As if there isn’t enough fun throughout the entire year, every September for three days, folks from around the world come to Mt. Airy to enjoy Mayberry Days where parades and performances and activities of all types from musical concerts, to auctions, to golf tournaments with numerous actors from the TV show and their families and descendants showing up for the fun.

Whether you grew up in a small town like Mayberry, enjoyed watching it on television or just wish you did, you’ll love Mount Airy in beautiful Surry County, North Carolina.

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Carmel L. Mooney is a travel columnist, author and radio talk show host. She is the editor of Road Trips for Couples
Mount Airy Wally's Service Station