If there is one lasting legacy of The Andy Griffith Show it's that the little fictional town of Mayberry, where the iconic TV show is set, is synonymous with the ideal American way of life. With friendly sitcom characters like Sheriff Taylor, Aunt Bee, Opie and Barney Fife roaming the sitcom's quaint small town, it's hard to disagree. Who wouldn't want to live there, wandering down main street, past Floyd's Barber Shop, and waving to real-life Wally, Otis, Gomer or Goober?
Great news! You can. There is a real-world version of Mayberry. It's Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, upon which Mayberry was based.
Not only is the town real, but it's loaded with fun stuff to do. Nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the North Carolina-Virginia border, Mount Airy is the exact type of charming small-town people love to spend the weekend in at a Bed and Breakfast, taking in the local fare. Being the inspiration for Mayberry isn't just a piece of trivia for the home of Griffith, it's a part of their identity they love to celebrate.
With all that in mind, here are some of the best things to do should you ever decided to head on down to Mayberry-- er, we mean Mount Airy.
The Andy Griffith Museum
Obviously, you have to start with the man who put the town on the map. The Andy Griffith Museum was founded by Emmett Forrest, who passed away in 2013. In the museum, you can find all sorts of artifacts related to Griffith and his famous characters, like Sheriff Andy Taylor and Matlock. Admission is only $8 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under. The museum operates regular business hours Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Every year the Surry Arts Council and the City of Mount Airy put on this beloved local festival that includes concerts and shows at the Andy Griffith Playhouse inside the Historic Earle Theater as well as the Blackmon Amphitheater. Enjoy tons of local food, a golf tournament, checkers and other entertainment.
The festival takes place in September.
Squad Car Tours
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They say no visit to Mount Airy is complete without taking a tour of the town in a real deal, old school police squad car. Located at Wally's Service Station at 625 South Main Street, take a tour in one of these historic police cars and see all the Mayberry sights, including where "Sheriff Andy" grew up.
The Mayberry Motor Inn
Need a place to stay? Ask for the Aunt Bee room at the Mayberry Motor Inn. It's decorated with items that used to be owned by the late actress Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee on The Andy Griffith Show.
This is the place to eat in Mount Airy, and you cannot leave the town without a fried pork chop sandwich. Once a favorite spot of Andy Griffith, this charming diner located on (of course) Main Street is pure, classic Americana.
Pilot Mountain State Park
It's not all Mayberry and Andy Griffith in Mount Airy. The town is located in the absolutely gorgeous Appalachian country. The solitary peak of Pilot Mountain sits 2,000 feet above sea level and is one of the great geographic sights in North Carolina.
This article was originally published in January of 2020.