You’ll never look at the world’s grandest skyscrapers the same way again, once you’ve visited Mayberry.
Or Mount Airy. Same North Carolina city. Beloved by all fans of the Andy Griffith Show whether they’ve been there or not.
My Squad Car Tour in a 1967 Ford Galaxy took me from Wally’s Service Station to the iconic Mayberry sites, and to the unexpected granite quarry. Ask for that stop; Andy, Barney and Opie might have gone there.
You’ve got 500 years because this mile-long open pit has barely touched the surface of available granite, and work started in 1889.
It’s desolate, chalky, monochrome.
Granite quarry eerie, inspiring
Later, connect this maybe-like-being-on-the-moon view to polished, carved granite in handsome places like Chicago’s Hyatt Center and Amoco Building, Washington’s World War II Memorial and United Arab Emirates Chancery. (If you go to Hyatt and book this hotel, Traveling Mom will receive a referral fee.)
Unexpected travel discoveries intertwining with past and future trips please me immensely.
Pork chop sandwich? Or creative farm-to-table?
So does good food. Mount Airy cuisine stays true to Floyd the barber’s favorite pork chop sandwich at Snappy’s Lunch and at The Dairy Center, where Freddy Hiatt cooks ground steak sandwiches in 50-year-old seasoned pots. Seriously popular spots. Crowded. Complex combinations of memories and tradition.
Then there’s Trio where Chef Chris Wishart likes to “source beautiful food.” He’s the future.
“I could easily have no menus. Just talk to me and I’ll guide the food to suit your likes,” he says in the upstairs restaurant with sleek furniture, engaging paintings and big windows.
My group with four sets of taste buds delighted in an Angus beef burger, risotto with shitake mushroom, fried green tomato sandwich with pimiento cheese and a tomato pie with mac and cheese.
Tradition welcomes trendy
Perhaps there’s a Mayberry food culture to explore on your visit: 15 individually owned restaurants in a town of 10,000. The Mount Airy culinary discovery balances an iconic tv show and today’s trendy tastes.
Sure, there’s farm to table here, but also farm to feet. Socks manufactured in Mount Airy are sold at big outfitters like Cabela’s. Seems consistent: tradition is solid, future too.
Where should you stay? Andy Griffith fans might choose his 1935 childhood home. Bonus—all 249 episodes of the show provided in this home– two bedrooms and a rollaway. Hampton Inn is the contact for a night at 711 East Haymore Street.
The bed and breakfast in a handsome Victorian home I did not try; Sabotta Manor is the name.
Remember Aunt Bee in Mayberry?
I could almost believe I was hanging out with Aunt Bee at the Mayberry Motor Inn where one room is a museum filled with items from her home. The wifi, color tv, air conditioning and renovations make this 1950s original architecturally historic and currently satisfying.
Tracing the steps of Andy Griffith can include meeting Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou in the show; she’s 88 and moved from California to Mount Airy for the friendliness, local folks say.
Tommy Jarrell died in 1985 but Surry County honors this native son with old-time music in the Earle Theatre and many references to his legendary fiddle playing and Round Peak style with his banjo.
Round Peak’s a mountain here, and a winery in sight of that mountain. In fact, this entire Yadkin Valley supports wineries with vintners relocating from the Napa Valley and entrepreneurs with wine making degrees from Surry Community College.
Siamese twins and their heirs
The Mount Airy community also honors Eng and Chang Bunker, Siamese twins from what is now Thailand who settled in Surry County in the mid-1800s.
Their story is remarkable and their descendants gather in Mount Airy each July for a family reunion.
Never separated, these men married sisters named Sarah and Adelaide Yates, ultimately spending three nights with one wife, three with the other.
Meet the family any time you visit; Melvin Miles drives one of the Squad Car Tours and he’s the author of “Eng and Chang: From Siam to Surry.” His great-great grandfather assisted Eng and Chang throughout their North Carolina years.
Also, the director of the Siamese Twins Exhibit next to the Andy Griffith Museum is their great-great granddaughter.
Find the facts in sophisticated displays in the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
Local history – big stories
I agree with you: small town museums reflect the passion of a local curator and feel ho-hum to the rest of us. This one is different, spectacular. Consider making this your first stop and allow some time.
Switch back and forth as easily as local folks do, visiting Mayberry and Mount Airy all at the same time. Friendly is their dominant, consistent concern.