Ever felt like you were born in the wrong decade? Do you long for simpler times, when life moved at a slower pace, neighbors were friendly, and everything was black and white?
You can step back into the 60s and right into the picturesque town of Mayberry when you visit Mount Airy, North Carolina. 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.
Here are 5 things you don’t want to miss in Mount Airy!
5 Things to Do in Mount Airy
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 hair cut 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 welcomed with conversation and a smile!
Billy was full of stories about his dad, Andy, and Don Knotts. He spoke to every person that walked into his shop that day. He even took a picture of each customer and their family. 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 a time!
Billy was probably the sweetest and most personable man that I have ever met. Visiting his shop was 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.
The Mount Airy Andy Griffith Museum
We found a bench on Main Street 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 total) to get into the museum. 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.
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Mayberry Courthouse Replica
Instead of the museum, try the Mayberry Courthouse Replica. You can step inside Otis’s jail cell or sit behind Andy’s desk. And 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. [**Note: Everything 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 there, but we didn’t have to wait long at all. There isn’t 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.
It no longer sells gas but has become a tourist attraction where you can still buy drinks and candy. It was getting late, so we didn’t go in, but we took pictures of the vehicles outside.
The Mistakes We Made in Mount Airy
We loved our first visit to Mount Airy, but there are a few things we would do differently on a return trip:
- go at a different time of year – 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 weekday – 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, innocent spirit of Mayberry and is truly the quintessential American hometown.
Check out our Fort Liberty and North Carolina Bucket List for more fun things to do!