A Main Street Walk Through History Includes Good Shopping and Dining
The inspiration for Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, Mount Airy, NC offers a vibrant downtown with many specialty shops and the source for local crafts and wines.
North Carolina’s Mount Airy is a quintessential rural town, nestled between Pilot Mountain State Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is an unmistakable charm in this pleasant community. Visitors walking down Main Street are easily caught up in the community’s connection to the fictional Mayberry of The Andy Griffith Show. Whether taking a ride in the vintage squad car or relishing a pork chop sandwich at the Snappy Lunch, a day in Mt. Airy brings out the nostalgia for a simpler time and place.
Main Street Mount Airy
Standing at the north end of Main Street, the Main Oak Emporium is a shopper’s delight. Three floors of vendor shops offer everything from clothing to locally made crafts. Andy Griffith fans will find a host of souvenir items. Plush toys, candles, glassware, and home décor fill this renovated factory. Many gift items are specific to the Mt. Airy region including a large selection of local wines. The Emporium’s third floor exists onto Main Street.
Main Street shopping offers a rich variety of specialty and outlet-type stores. The well-stocked toy and hobby shop will thrill model railroad enthusiasts while antique lovers can spend hours in the new antique and consignment shop with several floors of vendor selections that include old books and vinyl LP records. Shopping for gourmet filled baskets in a historical setting is easy at the Fruit Basket, which can be found in Wally’s Service Station, a 1937 Esso station restored to its former look, at the far end of Main Street beside the Mayberry Courthouse.
A recently opened furniture store features superb wooden items handcrafted by Amish artisans. Rockers, tables, and other essentials attest to the perfection Amish craftsmen are known for. Main Street includes jewelers, a bookstore with an extensive selection of magazine titles, a specialty gifts shop, featuring an entire basement devoted to Christmas goods, and the Meadows of Dan Trading Company that sells apparel and shoes including items from a local Alpaca farm. The restored Cinema, operated by the local Arts Council, shows films and hosts concerts.
Snappy Lunch is the most popular eatery and on most days lines of patrons from outside the front door, eager to order Snappy’s iconic Pork Chop Sandwich at an affordable $3.65. Andy Griffith referred to Snappy Lunch in an episode of the Andy Griffith Show and the establishment has felt the connection ever since. Main Street dining offers several choices, among them the Blue Bird Dinner, Pandowdy’s, a fifties-themed soda shop, and numerous other restaurants and cafes.
Mayberry Days in September and the Autumn Leaves Festival in October bring hundreds of visitors to this vibrant rural town. Bluegrass can be heard from a stage on one street corner while country music enlivens another part of the district. Food and merchandise vendors fill Main Street, converted to a pedestrian walkway for the duration of the festival.
Just a short drive down Highway 52 off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Cana, Virginia, or north on 52 from Winston Salem, NC, Mt. Airy is a worthwhile stop. Stores are open Monday through Saturday and many open on Sunday. Visitors looking for a rural town with a bygone flavor will not be disappointed by North Carolina’s “Mayberry.”