This was our third visit here. The first time was in May, 2014, then we returned in September 2014 and most recently, May 10-13, 2016. We’ve only managed to stay three days each time. It is a great stop off on our way from our daughter’s home when we are going to the mountains. What we love is the good old fashioned hospitality and it does seem to operate a bit on Andy of Mayberry time!
Each time, we stayed in the Mayberry Campground, 114 Bunker Road, Mt. Airy, NC, Telephone: 336-789-6199. This is a Passport America campground, so the first two nights are very cheap ($16/night). If you stay longer, you can get the 10% Good Sam discount ($32/night). The sights are pretty flat, but some have more space than others. It is an easy in and out, but it is somewhat close to Highway 74 so you do hear some road noise. Click here for our review.
In case you didn’t put two and two together, Mt. Airy is Andy Griffiths’s home town and his show, Andy of Mayberry, was modeled after the town. The town has exploited this in a good way and have so many things to help you relive that wonderful show. We liked the show when we were younger and now watch it occasionally to relive good old family values.
We really enjoy this campground and everything about the area. So for us, what makes a location great is the ease of finding great hikes/challenging walks and history. And this place has it all. The first time we came, we were the typical tourists and went downtown, where the highlight was visiting the Andy Griffith Museum. So I’ll share those photos, although they are a few years old. But first, here are a few tidbits about Andy:
Andy Samuel Griffith (June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012) was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, the only child of Carl Lee Griffith and his wife, Geneva (Nunn). Griffith was born the same day as motion picture icon Marilyn Monroe. As a baby, Griffith lived with relatives until his parents could afford to buy a home. With neither a crib nor a bed, he slept in dresser drawers for several months. In 1929, when Griffith was three, his father began working as a carpenter and purchased a home in Mount Airy’s “blue-collar” south side.
Griffith grew up listening to music. By the time he entered school, he was well aware that he was from what many considered the “wrong side of the tracks”. He was a shy student, but once he found a way to make his peers laugh, he began to come out of his shell and come into his own.
As a student at Mount Airy High School, Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts, and he participated in the school’s drama program. A growing love of music, particularly swing, would change his life. Griffith was raised as a Baptist and looked up to Ed Mickey, a minister at Grace Moravian Church, who led the brass band and taught him to sing and play the trombone. Mickey nurtured Griffith’s talent throughout high school until graduation in 1944.
He attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduated with a bachelor of music degree in 1949. He began college studying to be a Moravian preacher, but he changed his major to music and became a part of the school’s Carolina Playmakers. At UNC, he was president of the UNC chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, America’s oldest fraternity for men in music. He also played roles in several student operettas, including The Chimes of Normandy (1946), and Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers (1945), The Mikado (1948) and H.M.S. Pinafore (1949).
After graduation, he taught music and drama for a few years at Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he taught. And then he was “discovered” and went on to become an actor, television producer, Southern gospel singer, and writer. He was a Tony Award nominee for two roles, and gained prominence in the starring role in director Elia Kazan’s film A Face in the Crowd (1957) before he became better known for his television roles, playing the lead character in the situation comedy, The Andy Griffith Show (1960–1968), and in the legal drama, Matlock (1986–1995).
After touring the museum, we learned about all the many many movies he was also in. So we wanted to watch some of his movies afterwards, but the only way was to buy DVDs and we can’t carry around anything else in our RV!
Of course, we also walked around the town after stopping by the Visitor Center. It came right out of the 1950’s. So quaint and laid-back.
If you watched the TV show, you heard them talk a lot about Mt. Pilot. So of course, that is real, but it is really Pilot Mountain and it is a State Park. It is also known as a navigational landmark for centuries….and we get excited as soon as we see it! And did we every enjoy this beautiful park with some great hiking and great summit views. We weren’t very original and hiked some of the same paths each time we visited.
They have made some improvements since we were first here. There now is a great trail up to the top of the mountain, but sadly, we didn’t have a chance to try it. We drove to the top each time we’ve visited. It is breathtakingly beautiful there. Next time, we WILL hike up to the top!
And there are many other places to hike and explore. We loved the challenge of Hanging Mountain State Park. We climbed to the top of the mountain in September 2014. This was a real coup for Bill as he really hates heights, but he loves the mountains. So he braved this climb….
We’ll let this slide show speak for itself! What a fabulous place to explore and hike!
This last visit, we decided we needed to try something different and travel a bit aways. We used the schematic of the mountains you could see on top of Pilot Mountain to pick out Fisher Peak, on the state line of Virginia and North Carolina. It’s elevation is 3,750′ and appeared to only be 15 miles or so away. It was actually farther and we never felt we were at that elevation. And of course, a storm blew in so that made us shorten our hike.
We had hoped to spend more time here, but we were meeting friends down the road, so off we went, knowing we still had more things to see and do. So we plan to return!
Each time we visited before, there really weren’t many others there. But this time, there were a lot more RVs. And most interesting, there was a North Carolina Chapter of “Campers on Mission” rally starting as we were leaving. We hated to miss it as we know we have much in common with these campers and enjoyed talking to them as we prepared to leave. From their website:
Campers On Mission (COM) is a national fellowship of Christian Campers who proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as they go. NCCOM is one of many state chapters offering Christians of all denominations the opportunity for fellowship and service beyond the walls of their churches. Though they go as missionaries from their churches, they utilize COM as the key instrument of organization, fellowship and training.