After getting stationed at Fort Bragg and looking up things to do and places to see, we came across Mount Airy, North Carolina. While the name Mt. Airy didn’t ring any bells for me, my husband was freaking out! Apparently, for all us ‘uncultured Americans’ (as my husband put it), Mt. Airy is the real life inspiration for the town of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. This is the town that Andy Griffith called home and Mt. Airy takes this honor very seriously. Of course, we HAD to go. So, less than a month after unpacking our things, we were on the road to Mt. Airy, a 2 hour and 23 minute drive from where we live in Spring Lake and this is how we spent our day.
Floyd’s Barber Shop
The thing my husband most looked forward to in Mt. Airy was getting his hair cut at Floyd’s Barber shop. Yes! Floyd the Barber was based off of a real man in a small North Carolina town and his shop is the sweetest thing!
From what I was told that day, the shop was built in 1929. Most everything inside is original: from the floor and the marble on the walls, to the sinks and the old cash register, right down to the barber chairs that are still in use!
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 visiting the shop.
The owner of Floyd’s Barber Shop was a man named, Russell Hiatt. Russell owned and operated the barber shop for 70 years before he passed away in 2016. Now, Russell’s son, Billy, manages the shop.
There is no admission to enter the shop and look around, but a haircut will cost you. Billy and the ladies in the shop were extremely nice. As a Mt. Airy native, Billy is full of stories about his dad, Andy, and Don Knotts. He spoke to each and every person that walked in his shop that day and took a picture of each customer (& their families).He even let the girls sit in the chair in the window and take a picture. 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 to Facebook. Billy was the probably the sweetest and most personable stranger I have ever met. This was definitely the highlight of our trip!
Opie’s Candy Store
After we left 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 each ordered an ice cream cone and I bought a jar of apple butter to take home with us. (It’s delicious, especially on raisin toast!)
Andy Griffith Museum
We walked around Main Street and found a bench to let the kids finish their ice cream cones before we made our way to the Andy Griffith Museum. We had parked near the post office, so it made sense for us to walk to the museum instead of drive. We paid $8 per adult and $6 per kid ($28 dollars total) to get into the museum. I must say, I was more than a little disappointed. The museum was made up of one single room. While, the objects in the museum were 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 everything in the museum. The kids were bored after 5 minutes. I don’t recommend the museum unless you are a huge Andy Griffith fan or have a smaller group to pay for.
Mayberry Replica Courthouse
Instead of the museum, you might try the Mayberry Replica Courthouse. You can get inside Otis’s jail cell or sit behind Andy’s desk. The best part is that it’s completely FREE and you are able to 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 court house is a small building and there were a lot of people going in and out. It didn’t have any air conditioning, so we didn’t stay long, but it’s a great photo op and worth the stop.
Wally’s Service Station & Squad Car Tours
Next to the courthouse was Wally’s Service Station (where Goober worked). This was a real gas station when it was built in 1937 and supposedly, Andy would walk 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 outside, but we took some pictures of the Darlin Boys’ truck and the Squad Car.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Mayberry and are glad we went. I can honestly say that Mount Airy accurately embodies the spirit of Mayberry. It truly is the quintessential small American hometown. Everyone was smiling, helpful, and polite. The streets were well taken care of and flowers were planted everywhere!
However, if we could do some things differently it would be:
- to go at a different time of year
- make enough time to stop at Pilot Mountain
- skip the museum & do the Squad Car Tour instead
We visited Mt. Airy in mid-August. In case you’re unaware, August in North Carolina (or anywhere in the southern U.S.) is hotter than hell’s pepper patch! We were all more than a little grouchy and sweaty before we made it back to the car and turned on the air conditioner.
Also, we visited Mayberry on a Saturday and everything was busy and crowded! I wouldn’t recommend going on a Sunday, since I’m sure more than a few businesses would be closed (including Floyd’s). I would try to go on a weekday, but since that’s not always possible (or pretty much impossible for us) I would go after summer is over. Since we are not that far from Mt. Airy, we plan to make another trip (or two!) while we are stationed at Fort Bragg. Hopefully, when we return we will have time to stop at Pilot Mountain State Park for a hike!
Next time we visit Mayberry, I believe we’ll spend the money and take a Squad Car Tour of downtown. It would cost roughly the same amount as visiting the museum and hopefully, it will be more fun!
What did you do or what do you plan to do in Mt. Airy, NC? Tell me about it in the comments!