Historic Old Salem -- One of the leading attractions of North Carolina, this restoration of a Moravian community demonstrates old-world skills. The visitor center has exhibits that trace the Moravians' journey from Europe to America and finally to North Carolina. Costumed hosts and hostesses will show you around, and you'll see craftspeople in Moravian dress practicing the trades of the original settlement. The center is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5:30pm and Sunday 12:30 to 5:30pm.
When boys reached the age of 14, they moved into the Single Brothers House -- the half-timbered section was built in 1769, the brick wing in 1786 -- where they began a 7-year apprenticeship to a master artisan. Academic studies continued as they learned to be gunsmiths, tailors, potters, and shoemakers. Adolescent girls lived in the Single Sisters House, diagonally across the town square, where they learned the domestic arts that they would need when marrying time arrived. Young single women still live in this building, which is a private dormitory for Salem College.
Be sure to go into the Tavern, built in 1784 to replace an earlier one that burned. George Washington spent 2 nights here in 1791, and the dining room, sleeping rooms, barns, and grounds are not much different now than they were when he stopped by; the cooking utensils in the stone-floored kitchen, with its twin fireplaces, are genuine period artifacts.
You can also visit the Market-Firehouse and the Winkler Bakery, where breads and cookies are still baked in big wood-burning ovens. Many homes have distinctive signs hanging outside to identify the shops inside. A yellow, weather-boarded log cottage houses one of our favorites: the tobacco shop of Matthew Miksch.
Like the Historic District of Williamsburg, Virginia, Old Salem still functions as a living community. Many of the restored homes are private residences, and the young people walking the old streets with such familiarity are no doubt students at Salem College, living a 21st-century campus life in an 18th-century setting.
On the square, the Home Moravian Church, which dates from 1800, is the center of the denomination in the South. Visitors are welcome at services; hundreds show up for the Easter Sunrise service, the Christmas Lovefeast (Dec 24), and the New Year's Eve Watch Night service. One block north, the graveyard named God's Acre contains more than 4,000 graves, all marked with nearly identical stones. Princes and paupers are shown the same respect. Opening times are at the discretion of the church.
The Search for Mayberry
Mayberry, the hometown of Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, never existed, of course. But its inspiration is said to have been Mount Airy, lying off U.S. 52 in the Upper Piedmont, to the south of the Virginia-North Carolina border. Andy Griffith was born and raised in this sleepy little town.
The town is an example of television's power to affect tourism. Thousands visit Mount Airy yearly, and the town they see looks very much like the fictional Mayberry of the long-running TV series. Southern oaks border the streets, and "just plain folks" sit out on the verandas, swinging and rocking as though it were still 1902. You expect to see Barney Fife appear at any minute.
Mayberry Days, held the last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of September, draw visitors from all over the country for traditional "pig-pickin's" cooking and pie-eating contests. Call the Mount Airy Arts Council (tel. 800/286-6193 or 336/786-7998; www.surryarts.org) for information. If you'd like a walking-tour map of the town, go to the Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce at 200 N. Main St. (tel. 800/948-0949 or 336/786-6116), open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5pm.
Mount Airy Visitors Center, 200 N. Main St. (tel. 800/948-0949 or 336/786-6116; www.visitmayberry.com), is open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 5pm and on Sunday 1 to 4pm. It guides visitors through the town, pointing out the still-standing birthplace of Andy Griffith and local businesses that were the inspiration for places seen in the TV series, including the replica of the old jail (Mon-Thurs 8am-4:30pm). Call tel. 336/786-6116 for more information. Floyd's City Barber Shop, 129 N. Main (tel. 336/786-2346) is still in operation, and the same barber who used to cut Andy's hair is still in business.
You can even get arrested in Andy Griffith's old squad car, or at least a restored 1962 Ford Galaxie that looks like the Mayberry patrol car. A former Chamber of Commerce president, Jim Grimes, in his Barney Fife outfit, runs 25-minute tours in the car, charging $20 for up to 5 people. To book a tour, call tel. 336/789-6743 or visit www.tourmayberry.com.
If you'd like to follow in the footsteps of Sheriff Andy, head for the Snappy Lunch at 125 N. Main St. (tel. 336/786-4931; www.thesnappylunch.com) for a pork-chop sandwich. The old-time lunch counter is a virtual showcase for The Andy Griffith Show. Andy himself frequented the place as a boy. The proprietor, Charles Dowell, claims to sell about 1,000 pork-chop sandwiches every week. The sandwiches, costing $3.50 each, are consumed at old school desks. The sandwich is a boneless pork chop between steamy bun halves, covered with mustard. It's served Monday to Saturday from 5:45am to 1:45pm (the lunch counter closes at 1:15pm Thurs and Sat).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.