Have a Mayberry Day in Mount Airy
Take your kids to Mount Airy, and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. The spirit of Mayberry is alive and well in Andy Griffith’s hometown and the inspiration for the setting of the “The Andy Griffith Show.”
For those die-hard Mayberry fans that can quote lines from specific episodes at the drop of a hat, a trip to Mount Airy is a real treat. But even for my 2-year-old Caroline, who wouldn’t recognize Opie if she saw him, the sights and activities of this nostalgic city make for quite an adventurous day.
A Bustling Downtown
Mount Airy’s thriving historic downtown district is full of interesting shops, specialty stores and eating establishments. Some, such as the Snappy Lunch, have been around since Griffith himself lived there. The local lore is that he often came by the lunch counter for a quick hot dog and Coke during his high school days, and he even mentioned the Snappy Lunch in one episode of the show. Get there early. The small diner fills up fast with locals and tourists alike, because people are willing to wait in line for owner Charles Dowell’s “world famous pork chop sandwich.” But not to worry, if your kids are dubious about eating a pork chop on bread there’s plenty of kid-friendly choices here as well.
In addition to the few establishments that survive since the time of Andy Griffith’s childhood, there are also plenty of newer antique, toy and gift shops. The town is populated with stores bearing the name of characters from the show — from Opie’s Candy Store to Aunt Bea’s Quilt Shop. You can even walk in and get your hair cut at Floyd’s Barbershop, where owner Russell Hiatt has been cutting hair for almost 60 years. The walls are covered with pictures of people sitting in the barber chairs, from local citizens to celebrities.
Aside from shopping, there are plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the Mayberry culture. Shop windows are decorated with autographed photos and memorabilia, and you can visit the Main Oak Emporium, home to the largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia in the country.
After you’ve crammed your head full of fun facts, hop in a replica 1962 squad car for a narrated tour of “Mayberry.” Then take a visit to the scene of much of the action in the show: the Mayberry Jail, which served as Mount Airy’s actual jail and Municipal Building for many years. Today, the jail is a re-creation of “The Courthouse” scenes from the “The Andy Griffith Show”, and is where Mount Airy’s mayor gives the annual Mayberry Days proclamation.
To see Mount Airy as more than Mayberry, visit the Dr. Robert Smith House. Located on the north end of Main Street, this beautiful house is listed as a historic landmark and is home to exhibits honoring Mount Airy’s other notable residents, such as Mount Airy native Donna Fargo, a country singer who rose to national fame in the 1970s.
Also, the first documented set of Siamese twins, Eng and Chang Bunker, settled in the area after a long career traveling with P.T. Barnum. The interesting lives of these twins is well documented at the Smith House.
Just behind the Dr. Robert Smith House is a botanical garden and memorial park, a great place to let your kids expend a little energy after a long day of sight-seeing.
For more information, visit www.visitmayberry.com.
For more information
Dr. Robert Smith House
615 N. Main St.
Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Squad Car Tours at Wally’s Service Station
625 S. Main St.
125 N. Main St.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: 5:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Floyd’s City Barbershop
129 N. Main St.
Hours: Monday-Wednesday and Friday (closed Thursday) 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 7 am.-3 p.m.
Mayberry Days 2007