Escape To Andy Griffith’s World In Mount Airy, North Carolina

A Mayberry state of mind.

Andy Griffith Playhouse

Hobart Jones

With all of the stress in the world today, it’s easy to long for a simpler time when everyone knew their neighbors. Whether real, imagined, or somewhere in between, The Andy Griffith Show’s Mayberry, North Carolina, is about as close to that black and white utopia as it gets. Luckily, nostalgia-seekers can visit Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy’s hometown and the real-life inspiration for the show. Here are the best things to do in this small North Carolina town that will make you feel right at home.

01 of 16

The Snappy Lunch

Snappy Lunch

Liz Mays

Stop in at the Snappy Lunch, the only existing business Andy ever mentioned on the show. Opened in 1923, the Snappy Lunch is known for their world-famous pork chop sandwiches and  was a popular lunch hangout for students, including Andy Griffith back before the local schools had cafeterias. Open for breakfast or lunch, plan to arrive early because the line waiting for the classic, made-from-scratch sandwiches under the vintage Coca-Cola sign can stretch up the street on busy days.

02 of 16

Wally’s Service Station

Wally's Service Station

COURTESY of Visit Mayberry

Located a short distance away on South Main Street, Wally’s Service Station looks so much like its namesake from the show, that you almost expect to see Gomer and Goober come out the door to fill up your tank. Pose beside a life-size Barney Fife cutout and shop for Mayberry souvenirs before exploring all of the retro vehicles and storefronts from the show—Gomer and Goober’s tow truck, Mayberry Union High, Foley’s Market and the Mayberry Hotel, and the Darlin’s truck and cabin. 

03 of 16

Squad Car Tours

Squad Car Tours

Marcia Biggs 

What better way is there to tour Andy’s hometown than to ride shotgun in a replica 1960’s Ford Galaxie squad car? Meet inside Wally’s Service Station to begin the Squad Car Tours of Mt. Airy’s trip to all of the top spots of Mayberry. Led by a local guide, the Mayberry squad car tour is a great opportunity to hear the story behind how the people and places Mount Airy became the Mayberry that people love. Guides are happy to stop for pictures and will even pretend to arrest you before you go.

04 of 16

Mayberry Courthouse

Mayberry Courthouse

COURTESY of Visit Mayberry

If you’ve always wanted to make a citizen’s arrest, this is the perfect opportunity. Located on the Wally’s Service Station property, visitors are invited to walk right in. Take a seat behind Sheriff Taylor’s desk, or pretend to be everyone’s favorite deputy, Barney Fife, with a bullet in his pocket. Two cells are open for visitors to walk in, free of charge, and pose behind bars at one of the most famous jails in television history. One cell is for the not-so hardened criminals of Mayberry, like Ernest T. Bass, whose famous brick is posed in front of the bars, while the other is for Mayberry’s favorite town drunk, Otis, complete with a television and rocking chair. 

05 of 16

Andy Griffith’s Home Place

Andy Griffith's homeplace

Hobart Jones

Guests who really want to see what it was like to live where Andy did can rent his childhood home for the night. Now owned by Hampton Inn, the single-story ranch home was originally about half of its current size before Andy remodeled it for his parents when he became successful. Visitors to Andy Griffith Home Place can enjoy a cozy night’s sleep, surrounded by retro furnishings and a complimentary breakfast at the nearby Hampton Inn.

06 of 16

Opie’s Candy Store

Opie's Candy Store

Kenny Hooker

Kids and adults alike get to feel like a kid in a candy store at Opie’s. Specializing in old-tyme goodies like chocolate-covered peanuts and nostalgic wax lips and candy cigarettes, Opie’s Candy Store has over 500 candies to choose from. Customers can fill their little brown sacks with candy and enjoy ice-cold drinks from the 1940’s Coke cooler, remembering the “good ole’ days.”

07 of 16

Floyd’s City Barber Shop

Floyd's City Barber

Robbie Curlee

Like many characters from the show, Andy based Floyd, the barber after a real person from his hometown. Tourists are welcomed to come into Floyd’s City Barber Shop for a haircut, or just sit in one of the original 1929 barber chairs that Andy got his hair cut in. Bill Hiatt, retired teacher and son of Russell Hiatt, who was the last living barber in Mount Airy to cut Andy’s hair and the inspiration for Floyd, shares stories of the shop with visitors and poses for pictures.

08 of 16

Walker Soda Fountain

Walker's Soda Fountain

COURTESY of Visit Mayberry

Pull up a stool at the old-fashioned soda shop for a chocolate milkshake, just like Opie Taylor, while listening to classic tunes. Like many drug stores of the time, Walker's has served milkshakes, floats, and sandwiches along with filling prescriptions for locals since 1925. Fans of the show will remember that Ellie Walker, Andy’s girlfriend on early episodes of the show, worked at Walker’s Soda Fountain. In real life, Andy actually worked there as a delivery boy for a summer job as a teenager. 

09 of 16

Five Faces Of Andy Mural

Andy Mural

COURTESY of Visit Mayberry 

Completed in May 2022, the Five Faces of Andy Mural located at 212 Moore Avenue shows the progression of Andy Griffith from small-town boy to cultural icon. Painted by Greensboro artist, Jeks, the life-like mural was made entirely of spray paint and the images are superimposed over a background of Pilot Mountain. 

10 of 16

The Andy Griffith Museum

Betty Lynn at Griffith Museum

Surry Arts Council

No tour of Mount Airy is complete without a visit to the museum dedicated to the town’s favorite son. The Andy Griffith Museum, maintained by the Surry County Arts Council, houses the largest collection of Andy Griffith artifacts and memorabilia, from his early days in Mount Airy through his lengthy acting career. Items in the collection include actual props, clothing, scripts, and other items that you may not know from The Andy Griffith Show, Matlock, and movies in which Andy starred. Many keepsakes were donated by Emmett Forrest, Andy’s lifelong friend, and founding museum curator.

11 of 16

TV Land Statue

TV Land Statue

Jon Eckard

In 2004, TV Land Network immortalized the iconic image of Sheriff Andy Taylor walking alongside his son, Opie with fishing poles. Located in front of The Andy Griffith Museum, the life-size bronze statues make a great photo opportunity and are so realistic that you’ll walk away humming the familiar theme song. 

12 of 16

Andy Griffith Playhouse

Andy Griffith Playhouse

Hobart Jones

Andy Griffith is the perfect example of a small town boy making it big. The Surry County Arts Council honors his accomplishments and encourages the next generation of aspiring artists on the property that was once the elementary school that he attended and performed on stage. Youth and adult classes, workshops, and performances are held regularly, as well as professional performances there and at the Historic Earle Theatre on Main Street.

13 of 16

The Granite Quarry

NC Granita Quarry in Mayberry

The quarry, mentioned numerous times on the show, is actually the largest open surface granite quarry in the world and can even be identified by NASA from space. In operation since 1889, granite from the massive North Carolina Granite Corporation quarry has been used for many state and national monuments, including the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kitty Hawk and the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., as well as churches and other buildings in town. 

14 of 16

Pilot Mountain

Pilot Mountain, NC

Sam Dean

Known as Mt. Pilot, the nearby, larger town mentioned frequently on The Andy Griffith Show, Pilot Mountain is nothing like the mini-metropolis the Mayberry crew referred to often. Instead of the glow of city lights, visitors are drawn by its natural beauty. Recognized by its two peaks- Big and Little Pinnacle, Pilot Mountain State Park became a state park in 1968 and offers views of the Piedmont and mountains of North Carolina and Virginia from 1,400 feet. Hiking and horseback riding trails, rock climbing, rappelling, camping, and canoeing on the Yadkin River make it a popular outdoor destination.

15 of 16

Aunt Bee’s Room

Mayberry Motor Inn, Mt. Airy, NC

COURTESY of Visit Mayberry

Who wouldn’t want an Aunt Bee, someone to fix all of your problems and have home cooked meals just the way you like them? For those who can’t get enough of Aunt Bee, The Mayberry Motor Inn has a shrine to everyone's favorite TV aunt. For more than thirty years, inn owner, Alma Venable, collected memorabilia of Frances Bavier, best known as Aunt Bee, before passing away in 2022. Guests are invited to look around the room including twin beds, clothing, and glasses that belonged to Bavier, or take a walk along the Thelma Lou trail. 

16 of 16

Mayberry Days

Mayberry Days

Surry Arts Council

For the most complete Mayberry experience, die-hard fans can attend Mayberry Days, a family-friendly nearly weeklong event dedicated to one of the best Southern TV shows of all time and sponsored by the Surry County Arts Council. This year’s event is scheduled for September 18-24th, 2023, but some popular events from previous years include the parade, a checkers tournament, whistling championship, memorabilia auction, and showings of films starring the town’s favorite son. Tickets are available to pre-purchase for special events, including “The Emmett” Golf Tournament, dinner shows, and concerts.

After a visit to Mount Airy, it’s easy to see how the lines between reality and fantasy can become blurred. A true example of life imitating art is Betty Lynn, the actress who played Thelma Lou, Barney Fife’s long-term girlfriend on the show.  In 2007 after visiting Mount Airy for Mayberry Days, the Hollywood actress decided to move to Mayberry, the fictional town she lived in on the show. Until shortly before her death, she made regular appearances at the Andy Griffith Museum to sign autographs and meet fans. She passed away October 16, 2021, at age 95, while working on her posthumously released biography, Becoming Thelma Lou- My Journey to Hollywood, Mayberry, and Beyond. In some ways, reality is what we make of it.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles