As I was researching things to do in Mount Airy NC, not long ago, I was practically squealing with excitement that my dream of visiting the town was coming true.
I’ve been watching The Andy Griffith Show since childhood, and Mount Airy, North Carolina, was both Andy Griffith’s hometown and the inspiration for the show’s fictional Mayberry location.
Even though the town’s real name is Mount Airy, residents call it Mayberry, so we might as well.
The area has a small-town warm and welcoming feeling, and locals love to tell stories about the Andy Griffith Show cast.
I can see why it’s such a popular place to visit and why Mayberry Days are such a big deal. (This year’s festival is September 19-25, 2022.)
Even when it’s not festival time, there are plenty of things to do in Mt Airy NC, and this list of my favorite Mayberry attractions makes for an entertaining weekend itinerary.
Things to Do in Mt Airy NC
Wally’s Service Station and Squad Car Tours
As the siren sounded, we were put under citizen’s arrest by Don “Nuts,” our fabulous tour guide and driver, and off we went on what was the highlight of our day – an entertaining squad car tour through the town of Mayberry.
Not only did Don regale us with interesting bits of trivia about Andy Griffith and some of the other cast members, but he shared fascinating tidbits on historic Mount Airy itself.
I don’t want to give away all the tour secrets, but I have to mention some things you’ll see, like Andy Griffith’s actual childhood home.
If you want to immerse yourself in history, you can arrange an overnight stay while you’re visiting, but it books up fast, so reserve it early. (I heard it’s booked until 2030!)
You’ll also see the world’s largest open-face granite quarry—visible from space—which gave Mount Airy the nickname “Granite City.”
Fun Fact: Mount Airy granite was used to construct the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Arlington Memorial Bridge, and the Wright Brothers Memorial in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
It’s interesting to see examples of how granite was initially placed in roughly cut chunks and later placed in neatly stacked blocks. I like the rough-hewn look better — lots of character!
The tour finishes with a ride down Main Street, complete with a wailing siren. It’s such a fun experience!
Before or after your tour, look around the service station, both inside and outside. There’s lots of memorabilia and plenty of photo ops.
And be sure to check out the Mayberry Courthouse next door too.
Inside you’ll find a replica of Andy Taylor’s desk and two jail cells for photos.
Because the squad car tour is very popular and will often sell out in the morning for the whole day, I recommend booking a time slot in advance.
Good Times Trolley Tour
For a different perspective on the Mayberry story, take the 90-minute trolley tour. The locations are much the same as those on the squad car tour, but you’ll enjoy it all in the open air. If you happen to get caught in the rain (we did), ponchos are available.
The trolleys were built from scratch by the owner and are absolutely beautiful. We rode on the small trolley, but he also has a full-size trolley for large parties.
It was a fun experience, and the narration was engrossing.
The Snappy Lunch
The Snappy Lunch is the only actual Mount Airy business ever mentioned by name on The Andy Griffith Show.
The cozy, old-fashioned diner is well worth a stop but plan for breakfast or an early lunch because the restaurant fills up fast and closes at 1:30 pm.
I couldn’t resist trying their trademark meal – the famous Snappy Lunch pork chop sandwich, and I’m so glad I did. It was delicious and inexpensive!
Floyd’s City Barbershop
There’s no need to get a haircut unless you want to, but show fans will want to snap a photo and/or peek your head inside. Just because.
Andy Griffith Museum
It’s a small museum, but there is lots of show memorabilia, so you’ll want to take your time exploring it.
In addition to the main gallery, don’t miss the Siamese Twins Exhibit in the lower level of the Andy Griffith playhouse next door. It’s included with your museum admission, and I’m sure you’ll find the story of Eng and Chang Bunker as fascinating as I did. They lived pretty full lives despite being conjoined.
Be sure you take a photo outside by Andy and Opie, as I did!
Murals, Murals, Murals
If you only stop and see one mural while in town, make it the Andy Griffith mural. And if you look closely, you can see the image of Pilot Mountain artfully concealed within. Extraordinary!
But, if you’re like me and seek out cool public art, there are several more murals in town worth seeing. Go exploring!
The Whittling Wall
Take a walk to West Oak Street to see this stunning public art project. Eight brick figures, each representing a local icon influencing Mount Airy’s history and culture, sit along an outdoor brick wall.
The “Whittler” represents the history of the wall itself. It was a popular sitting spot for men to whittle, trade knives and watches, tell tall tales, and chew tobacco. So many men gathered here made it difficult for pedestrians to use the sidewalk, and loafing was eventually prohibited.
Mt. Airy Ghost Tour (May-November)
This 90-minute lantern-lit walking tour begins at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. You’ll hear a few stories inside the museum and then continue the trek along the streets of Mount Airy.
One spooky tale involved a ghostly conflict in the Main Oak Emporium building, and some locals question if the restless ghosts may have caused the building’s recent collapse.
Check out the Goldsboro Ghost Tour also!
Historic Earle Theatre Saturday Morning Merry-Go-Round
I was lucky enough to visit this vintage movie theatre on Saturday during the weekly live radio broadcast, one of the longest-running live radio programs in the country. For an $8 admission fee, the public is welcome to sit for as long as they want and enjoy the bluegrass, old-time, gospel, and country music band performances.
It was one of my favorite things to do in Mount Airy and is a must if you love a taste of bluegrass now and then. I highly recommend it!
Thank you to the staff at Visit Mayberry for help planning all these things to do in Mayberry NC. If you’re visiting the area, reach out to them at visitmayberry.com. They’re a tremendous resource as is YadkinValleyNC.com