Ever felt like you were born in the wrong decade? Like you were made for simpler times, when life moved at a slower pace, neighbors were friendly, and everything was black and white?
Well, you can step back into the 1960s and right into Mayberry when you visit the charming North Carolina town of Mount Airy. Home to little more than 10,000 residents, Andy Griffith’s real-life hometown and inspiration for his beloved television classic, The Andy Griffith Show, welcomes visitors year-round.
Mount Airy canonizes its television equivalent and its hometown hero in many ways. The names of the businesses that line Main Street pay homage to Mayberry. We spent our whole afternoon on just this street.
Floyd’s Barber Shop
The thing my husband most looked forward to in Mount Airy was getting his hair cut at Floyd’s Barber shop.
The Andy Griffith Show character, Floyd the Barber, was based on a real man from his hometown. And his shop is THE sweetest thing!
The real-life Floyd was a man named Russell Hiatt. Russell owned and operated the barber shop, where Andy got his haircut for 70 years, before he passed away in 2016. Now Russell’s son, Billy, runs the shop.
Billy explained to us that the shop was built in 1929. He told us that almost everything inside is original: from the floor and the marble on the walls to the sinks and old cash register, right down to the barber chairs that are still in use today!
The walls of the shop are covered with thousands of pictures. There are pictures of Andy, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, and other cast members from the Andy Griffith Show, plus other celebrities including Oprah and Lou Ferrigno. These celebrity pictures accompany thousands of pictures of the owner with his regular customers and tourists.
Billy and the ladies that work in the shop are extremely nice! There is no admission to enter the shop and look around. Plenty of people stopped by without getting a haircut while we were there. All were welcomed with conversation and a smile!
Billy was full of stories about his dad, Andy, and Don Knotts. He spoke to each and every person that walked in his shop that day. He even took a picture of each customer and their families. That night, he posted all of the pictures on the shop’s Facebook page. He told us that on busy days, he uploads nearly 200 pictures at time!
Billy was the probably the sweetest and most personable man that I have ever met. Visiting his shop was definitely the highlight of our trip!
Opie’s Candy Store
After leaving Floyd’s, we stopped next door at Opie’s Candy Store. While the store specializes in classic or ‘old tyme’ candies, they also sell fudge, ice cream, jams/jellies, and gift baskets.
The kids ordered an ice cream cone and I bought a jar of apple butter to take home with us before we left.
Andy Griffith Museum
We walked further down Main Street and found a bench to let the kids finish their ice cream cones before making our way to the Andy Griffith Museum.
Andy’s best friend, Emmett Forrest created the museum and stuffed it with hundreds of items from Andy’s career in Hollywood. There were actual props from The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock donated by Andy himself and other cast members.
We paid $8 per adult and $6 per kid ($28 dollars total) to get into the museum. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. While, the museum was pretty interesting, I don’t feel that it was worth nearly $30 (at least not for us). Even though I stopped to take pictures and read the information on each display, it still took less than 40 minutes to see the entire museum.
Mayberry Courthouse Replica
Instead of the museum, you might visit the Mayberry Courthouse Replica. Here, you can step inside Otis’s jail cell or sit behind Andy’s desk. And the best part is that it’s completely FREE! Plus, you can touch and interact with everything!
The kids loved sitting at the desk and playing with the old phone. [It’s important to note that everything you see is a replica of the sets made for the Andy Griffith Show, not the actual set where the show was filmed.]
The courthouse is a small building and there were a lot of people, but we didn’t have to wait long at all. It didn’t have any air conditioning, so we didn’t stay long, but it was a great photo op and worth the stop!
Wally’s Service Station & Squad Car Tours
Next to the courthouse replica was Wally’s Service Station (where Goober worked). This was a real gas station when it was built in 1937. Andy walked here to buy candy when he was a boy. Somewhere along the line, it stopped selling gas and became a tourist attraction, but you can still buy drinks and candy. It was getting late, so we didn’t go in, but we took pictures of the Darlin Boys’ truck and the Squad Car outside.
We loved our first visit to Mount Airy, but there are a few things we would do differently on a return trip, such as:
- go at a different time of year – the summer was too hot for enjoyably walking around outside
- make enough time to visit Pilot Mountain State Park
- skip the museum and do the Squad Car Tour instead (it would cost roughly the same amount)
- visit Mount Airy on a week day – we went on a Saturday and everything was busy and crowded
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Mayberry and are glad that we went. I can honestly say that Mount Airy accurately embodies the friendly and innocent spirit of Mayberry. It truly is the quintessential American hometown.