A Day in the Real Mayberry

Mt. Airy, North Carolina

The trip to “Mayberry,” was actually the first day of my trip. Not only did my sister Julie meet me at the airport, but also my sister, C. as well.

We drove directly to Mt. Airy. I was surprised at the size of the town; it was much larger than I expected.

Many of us of a certain age, remember the Andy Griffith show. Mayberry, which was actually filmed in Burbank, CA., is a reflection of Mt. Airy. It is the real town where Andy Griffith grew up, ate at Snappy Lunch, had a hair cut at Floyd’s barbershop, and went fishing in the Ararat River.

If you lived those slowed-down years of a Mayberry-type community, it will give you pause. Things were simpler then. People enjoyed sitting a spell on the porch at night. You knew your neighbors by name, and sometimes knew too much about what was going on in town, about everyone. Their children went to school with yours and you did things like borrow tools back and forth, swing on the rope at the swimming hole, and fish in the river.

Wally’s Service
Sisters at Wally’s Service
This is similar to the car Barney drove. No AC in those days.

Wally’s Service Station was our first stop. In moments we were riding through town in a dated Ford squad car, complete with siren, which we heard at the start. Our tour guide told us some interesting facts and stories of Andy Griffith and Mt. Airy. One of the sites pointed out to us was the world’s largest open-faced granite quarry, which is still in operation today. As we drove around the town, we saw many examples of cut stone gracing lovely homes.

Quarry in Mt. Airy
Office building at quarry.

Back at the Station we found some postcards, and fun signs, stepped into the Court House/Sheriff’s office, and then headed to the Loaded Goat for lunch.

What a great sign!

The Loaded Goat had Angus burgers with fresh goat cheese and sweet potato fries. C. had a terrific tasting gluten-free bun. Be hungry when you go there; the lunches are so filling it can be the last meal of the day.

Our next stop was the free tour through the Gertrude Smith house. This home was owned by a prominent citizen and last lived in by his unmarried daughter. It was her wish to share her home with many people.

As you can see it has a foundation of odd-shaped granite.

At Gertrude Smith house.
A side view of the Gertrude Smith house.
My favorite room–the library.
One of several bedrooms.

Since I told you about the free tour in this house,  I would like to remark how refreshing it was to go down the main street of town and find free parking everywhere. What better way to attract tourists?

Of course we had to stop at several attractions: Sheriff’s Office/Courthouse, Floyd’s Barber Shop, Opie’s Candy, Walker’s Soda Fountain, and Snappy Lunch. All the folks were friendly, and you could chat all day.  Remember, this is the South.

Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff's office.
“Sarah? Get me Aunt Bea, please.”
Barber shop
Hundreds of photos of visitors cover the walls. Bill, son of the real Floyd was there to welcome you, but no haircuts.
Wouldn’t Opie enjoy this?
You bet we had sodas!
Ice cream sodas
The Snappy Lunch where Sheriff Taylor and Barney often had lunch. Unless Aunt Bea brought it by the courthouse.


Aunt Bea’s awful pickles. She may have been a good cook, but no one could eat her pickles.

If you ever have a chance to visit this town, be sure to take two days if you can. There is so much more to see: Andy’s playhouse, museum, and more shops.

If you don’t do anything else, take the ride in the squad car.




2 thoughts on “A Day in the Real Mayberry

  1. You are becoming quite the accomplished travel writer this summer! My mum watched Andy every day. Those 50’s and 60’s sit-coms drive me crazy with all the mis-understandings and crazy conflict.

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