We’re continually on the hunt for opportunities to add richness to our lives. In the time of the road trip revival, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston that make for a great getaway. We feel that our worldly and devoted readers will find these places interesting.
Mayberry & Mount Airy, NC
I miss Mayberry, sittin’ on the porch drinkin’ ice-cold cherry Coke, where everything is black and white,” sings Rascal Flatts. But you don’t have to miss Mayberry; you can drive three hours southeast of Charleston and experience this beloved North Carolina mountain town for yourself. Step into a fun-filled place with oodles of flashbacks to the 1960’s sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show. Mayberry and Mount Airy have modern and trendy offerings, too. The whole family is bound to have fun in this unique destination in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN MAYBERRY & MOUNT AIRY
Anything related to The Andy Griffith Show is going to be highly popular. Downtown stores that are sure to spark the nostalgia are Walker’s Soda Fountain, The Mayberry Trading Post, Opie’s Candy Store, and Floyd’s Barbershop.
You can choose from homemade fudge and hand-dipped ice cream at Opie’s or fill your little brown sack with novelty and retro candy. Fans may even want to visit the Andy Griffith Museum (218 Rockford St), home to the most extensive collection of his life and movie/TV career in the country. The museum is open 9 to 5 Monday through Saturday and 12 to 5 on Sundays. Mayberry Squad Car tours are fun, too, and Mayberry mule and wagon rides on Saturdays.
To really experience the Andy offerings, consider taking the 90-minute open-air Good Time Trolley Tour for $20 per person. Children under 8 are free.
At Bear Creek Gifts and Candy Kitchen, try the Cherries Jubilee fudge, a delicious sweet treat that I can never say no to. Bear Creek has an eclectic array of gifts and souvenirs, plus a good t-shirt selection and a year-round Christmas section. Fancy Gap Outfitters, Uncorked, and Pages, Books and Coffee are a few of my favorite shops that you may want to explore if time permits, and Russell Church Stained Glass Studio will amaze you.
The Mayberry Antique Mall (100+ dealers in an 18,000 sq.-ft. space) is another point of interest, which could easily intrigue antique hunters for hours. The ladies’ clothing and accessories at The Venue and Vintage Blush Boutique are excellent, plus the toy selection from Mt. Airy Tractor Co.
History lovers can explore the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History or experience a circa 1900 farm life setting at Horne Creek Farm 20 minutes away in Pinnacle, NC. Music lovers may prefer the 1930’s Earle Theatre, a famous music hall offering jam sessions, exhibits, and movies.
The scenery and setting along the Ararat River are exceptional at Riverside Park, a popular place to soak up the sun, walk, or use the skate park. Two other noteworthy outdoor offerings are the kayak rentals at Kapps Mill and horseback riding lessons or a trail ride at Cardinal Riding Academy.
Mount Airy is a primo wine destination, with eight wineries in the area. Two recommendations are Shelton Vineyards, a popular choice for decades in the Yadkin Valley, and Raffaldini Vineyards considered the “Chianti in the Carolinas.”
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Mayberry and Mount Airy have many food and drink options. Try Barney’s Cafe pancakes, biscuit sandwiches, or fried bologna for breakfast. At Snappy Lunch (mentioned on The Andy Griffith Show), order classic breakfast dishes or come at lunchtime for the World-Famous Pork Chop Sandwich. Another lunch choice would be veteran-owned The Loaded Goat sports bar for wings, burgers, and salads.
Two of my top choices would be Gondola Italian or Old North State Winery for dinner. At the family-friendly Gondola, try stuffed shells or spaghetti with meatballs. At Old North, go for the Maryland-style crab cakes or Wagyu short ribs. For a unique experience, Old North has a Chef’s Table on Friday and Saturday evenings, with multiple courses paired with wines from their cellar. You dine with the Head Chef as he creates the dishes. Reservations are required.
Grab a great craft beer over at White Elephant Beer Company, or sample a single-malt sorghum whiskey at Mayberry Spirits Distillery’s small-batch craft distillery. Pick up a “big as your face” cookie, cinnamon roll, or homemade moonshine ice cream from Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies to satisfy your sweet tooth.
WHERE TO STAY IN MAYBERRY & MOUNT AIRY
Visitors have several choices between traditional hotel lodging, bed and breakfasts, and a motor inn. Heart & Soul, circa 1901, and Pilot Knob Inn (at the state park) are two popular B&Bs, offering complimentary breakfast and Wifi.
Another accommodations option is Mayberry Motor Inn, where you can choose the room dedicated entirely to Aunt Bea. Cabins are also popular in this region and offer spectacular scenery. Eight minutes from downtown, Holly Hill Cabin features gas logs, a porch swing, jacuzzi and is pet-friendly. Consider Knight’s Inn or the Mount Airy Hampton Inn for inexpensive chain hotels.
Serious Andy fans can stay in Andy Griffith’s childhood home, decorated with antiques and plenty of TV show memorabilia. The house is within walking distance to downtown Mount Airy.