Mar 11, 2022 - Things to Do

Plan a weekend getaway to Mount Airy, NC’s “mini Asheville”

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The view from Melva's Alley looking out over Market Street, Mount Airy's de facto beer district. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

If you shrunk Asheville, you’d get something like Mount Airy, a tiny town of 10,000 surrounded by state parks and home to a growing dining scene.

Or at least that’s what Thirsty Souls Brewing co-owner Maria Kriska calls the town 100 miles north of Charlotte: “mini Asheville.”

The big picture: Life here revolves around Main Street and Andy Griffith, the actor and Mount Airy native famous for his namesake show set in Mayberry, a fictional town based on — you guessed it — Mount Airy.

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Spotted in White Elephant Beer Co. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

What’s new: Despite the town’s decades-old roots, there’s a lot of new blossoming along Main.

  • A new cocktail bar from the owners of the local Tex-Mex restaurant, Mi Casa, will open on the same street as the town’s two breweries.
  • The popular thrift store, Groovy Goose, just moved to a new space.
  • And Maria and her husband and brewery co-owner Jan Kriska will open two Airbnbs above the brewery this year.
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Jan and Maria Kriska, owners of Thirsty Souls in downtown Mount Airy. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Here’s how to spend the perfect weekend in Mount Airy.


Keepsmiling A’Latte: Try not to smile at this teeny and friendly coffee shop while you sip a “Joe’s Joe,” a cinnamon and mocha latte. 162-A W. Pine St.

Snappy LunchOrder the pork chop sandwich at this downtown landmark, made famous in part by its mention on The Andy Griffith Show. 125 N. Main St. 

Walker’s Soda Fountain: Travel back in time and order an old-school milkshake from this nearly 100-year-old gem. 175 N. Main St.

Snappy Lunch is a common gathering space for locals and tourists alike. Photo: Emma Way/Axios
The famous pork chop sandwich. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Thirsty SoulsMount Airy’s first brewery, Thirsty Souls is full of natural light and greenery. The Kriska family offers pizza, craft beer, and a build-your-own spiked seltzer station in a cozy, industrial setting. 238 Market St.

  • Across the street, you’ll find the town’s other brewery, White Elephant Beer Co., making this one of the easiest and tastiest beer crawls in North Carolina.

Old North State WineryThe spot for a nice dinner. The restaurant also has a tasting bar for wine and a chef’s table experience. 308 N. Main St.

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Veggie pizza and a flight of craft beer from Thirsty Souls. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Mi Casa: Try the margarita flight before or after dinner, and say hello to Tyler behind the bar. 243 N. Main St.


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Cheers to margarita flights. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Find a funky sweater at Groovy GooseThis local favorite for thrift finds just relocated to a larger space just outside downtown. 527 W. Lebanon St.

Go for a hike. Mount Airy is surrounded by three excellent state parks with bountiful hikes to choose from.

  • The closest — and shortest to hike — is Pilot Mountain.
  • Further out, you’ll find Hanging Rock and Stone Mountain. All are within 45 minutes from downtown.

Detour to local wine. After a hike, stop by a vineyard in the outskirts of Mount Airy.

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Pilot Mountain. Photo: Emma Way/Axios
  • If you want something upscale, try JOLO Winery.
  • Just 15 miles outside of downtown, check out Serre Vineyards, which is owned by Charlotteans.
  • Or if you’re looking for a more unique experience, check out Divine Llama Vineyards where you can sip a merlot and llama-watch at the same time. Read more.

Stock up on sweets at Opie’s Candy Shop. Pick up old-school candy at this classic candy shop on Main Street.

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Fried goat cheese salad from JOLO. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Enjoy local murals, starting with the one of Melva Houston, painted on the exterior wall of Thirsty Souls in the appropriately named Melva’s Alley.

Editor’s note: We’ve updated this story with the correct spelling of Jan Kriska (not Yon). This guide is also occasionally updated with new information.

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Photo: Emma Way/Axios

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