South Charlotte

Walk the streets of mayberry

Mount Airy;

Activities: The ever-popular "Andy Griffith Show" was set in Mayberry, a thinly disguised Mount Airy, the hometown of the TV show's star. Throughout the year, fans make the journey to see show-related attractions, including the Snappy Lunch on Main Street. On Saturdays, lines to get in can be long. You might want to opt for lunch at the Blue Bird Diner, down the way.

The Andy Griffith Museum on Rockford Street ($3; opened two years ago and is filled with items from Griffith's long stage, film and TV career - with a special emphasis on Mayberry artifacts. Last year, actor George Lindsey, who played Goober, added his personal items to the sizable collection. Griffith no longer lives in Mount Airy, but actress Betty Lynn - she played Barney's girlfriend Thelma Lou - moved there to retire in the Mayberry glow.

Old-time mountain music is big in these parts and dovetails with the Mayberry mystique At 11 a.m. Saturdays, the Downtown Cinema Theatre stages the free-to-attend "WPAQ Merry-Go-Round," an old-fashioned live radio show. It's 90 minutes of music you can watch from one of the 438 seats, as well as hear in the area on 740-AM.

But the big attraction in this town of about 10,000 is right around the corner: Mayberry Days - the weekend of Sept. 22-25 - celebrates the show's quirky, homespun humor. Some events are free; others charge admission. Besides Lynn, "Andy Griffith" personalities who will attend this year include Doug Dillard and Maggie Peterson Mancuso (Doug and Charlene Darling). Ronnie Schell, who played Duke Slater on the spinoff show "Gomer Pyle USMC," and Karen Knotts, daughter of Don "Barney Fife" Knotts, will also be there. Knotts will offer "Tied Up in Knotts," her one-woman show about her dad.

The centerpiece of the weekend is the Mayberry Days Parade - 9 a.m. that Saturday - down Main Street. Watch for David Browning, who earns his living portraying the hapless Barney around the country.

Target audience: All.

Directions: Interstate 77 North to Exit 100 (N.C. 89 East); follow signs to Mount Airy.

Travel time from Charlotte: 1 hour 45 minutes.