CHARLOTTE,NC (WBTV) - This week's travels led me to the town of Mt. Airy, NC. It is home to the largest open-faced granite quarry in the world, but thousands come for a different reason. This quaint, quiet town draws tourists from all over the world who want to experience Mayberry, first hand. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou on the Andy Griffith show. She moved to Mt. Airy recently after living in Los Angeles for over fifty years. No one knows Mayberry better. "It took a while for me to find out about Mt. Airy. I just thought Mayberry, you know, but no, the more I'm here the more I see Mayberry in Mt. Airy," she said.
I took Betty's advice and ventured out to explore the city from the viewpoint of a Mayberry squad car. We stopped at the courthouse, the Andy Griffith Museum and Playhouse, and Andy Griffith's childhood home. Each stop was filled with new facts and trivia, even reenactments from cast member look-a-likes.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was my lunch stop at Snappy Lunch, downtown. I grew up going as a child to get a taste for their famous pork chop sandwich. The three dollar sandwich is battered and fried, and then topped with chili, slaw, tomatoes, onions, and mustard. It's messy, but it's worth it. Flagge Stanfield and his mother Barbara drive up every month from Winston Salem for this treat. " It's different, it's very tasty, very moist, and we just enjoy it," he said. Barbara Stanfield also enjoys walking downtown and exploring the shops.
Antique stores, general stores, trading companies and souvenir shops line the friendly streets. They are supported by a beautiful mountain backdrop. Mt. Airy is nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge mountains, which are just a short drive away. Perhaps my favorite thing about this historic village is the happiness you feel when you hear the Andy Griffith theme song broadcast along the streets. Life is just a little sweeter when you whistle while you walk.
START: Charlotte, NC US
1. Start out going SOUTHWEST on S TRYON ST toward W 4TH ST. (go 0.5 miles)
2. Turn RIGHT onto W HILL ST. (go 0.1 miles)
3. Merge onto I-277 S/US-74 W. (go 0.6 miles)
4. Merge onto I-77 N via EXIT 1C toward STATESVILLE. (go 90.2 miles)
5. Take the NC-89 exit, EXIT 100, toward MOUNT AIRY/GALAX. (go 0.5 miles)
6. Turn RIGHT onto NC-89 E. (go 8.4 miles)
7. Welcome to MOUNT AIRY, NC. (go 0.0 miles)
END: Mount Airy, NC US
TOTAL ESTIMATED TIME: 1 hour 40 minutes | DISTANCE: 100.23 miles