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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, November 2016 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 877
Logan OH 43138
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2016 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff

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In This Issue:
Andy and Opie Statue at Andy Griffith Museum, Mt. Airy, NC

 photo SAM_9800_zpss6tldeyc.jpg

  • SuiteFlex Discounts on NYC Hotel Suites
  • Crystal Sky 2017 European Savings
  • Ireland Heritage Card
  • Discount on Amazon, West Indies and Azores Cruise
  • Rome, Florence Vacation
  • Elite Havens November Celebration
  • Nassau Paradise Island Deals
  • Up To 50% Off Hotels with Greyhound
  • Margaritaville Resort Anniversary Special
  • Fax Scam Targeting Travelers
  • Save Up to $864 at Sunscape Bavaro Beach
  • MSC Cruises 2 for 1 Cruise Deals
  • Paris, London, Rome at a Discount
  • Allegro Spring, Summer and Fall Bonus
  • Blue Haven Resort Thanksgiving Package
  • Holiday Specials for Multigenerational Families
  • West Michigan Fall Lodging Specials
  • SuperShuttle Hotels & Fall Discount
  • Mayberry in Mt. Airy
  • Save on Costa Rica/Panama Canal Cruise

  • SuiteFlex Discounts on NYC Hotel Suites

    SuiteStory, a suite booking platform, introduces the SuiteFlex program, enabling you to save up to 30 percent on New York City hotel suites with added perks, such as airport transfers and free breakfast.

    SuiteStory offers access to four- and five-star hotel suite accommodations by negotiating discounted rates of up to 30 percent. You select a destination city and travel dates and SuiteStory generates a list of options that fit your criteria. With insider knowledge of how hotels price suites, SuiteStory negotiates discounted prices on your behalf. The easy-to-navigate interface allows you to sort suite options by neighborhood, hotel chain, star rating, size, price, and/or floor number. Users can discover top suites with added bonus features such as multi-bedroom, Jacuzzi-equipped or penthouses and bookmark options you are considering. SuiteStory Assist, a live chat function, provides a personalized booking experience by answering specific questions, including information on the room view, amenities or what to do around the neighborhood.

      SuiteStory offers these examples of booked deals:
    • Jarrett paid $6,500 per night for a three-night stay at a five-star hotel near Central Park, New York for a suite that sold for $12,000 per night on the hotel website. The hotel also included free airport transfers.
    • Kang-Hoon paid $2,000 per night for an 11-night stay at a five-star hotel in Midtown for a Premium Suite that was listed at $4,500 per night on the hotel’s website.
    • Mrs. Mackenzie paid $19,500 for a five-night stay at a five-star hotel near Central Park for a two bedroom suite. She saved $5,400 by using SuiteStory.


    Crystal Sky 2017 European Savings

    Crystal Cruises and Crystal River Cruises offer savings for 2017 European voyages with “Crystal Sky Savings.” The special offer features roundtrip Business Class airfare for $999 per person with Crystal Symphony ocean sailings throughout Western and Northern Europe, and the British Isles; and Crystal Mozart river cruises sailing roundtrip from Vienna along the Danube River.

    For nearly two dozen voyages from April through December of 2017, guests flying from one of 18 North American gateway cities can take advantage of Business Class airfare when booking a Penthouse or Deluxe Stateroom with Verandah on Crystal Symphony; or the two-bedroom Crystal Suite with French Balcony or Penthouse with French Balcony on Crystal Mozart. You may choose roundtrip Economy Class air add-on for $249 per person when booked in a Penthouse, Deluxe Stateroom with Verandah or Deluxe Stateroom with large picture window on Crystal Symphony. The economy air offer for Crystal Mozart applies to purchases of Suites with Fixed Window categories and above.

    Crystal Mozart travels along the Danube River from Vienna on 10- and 13-day routes, calling in Hungary, Germany, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovakia. In each village and riverside town, Crystal guests receive at least one free Crystal Adventure that will highlight the region.

    Crystal Cruises or 888/799-2437.

    Central Park Sightseeing

    Ireland Heritage Card

    Get free admission to 70 of Ireland's historic sites. The Heritage Card provides free admission to all fee-paying State managed OPW Heritage Sites throughout the country for one year from the date of first use (with the exception of Muckross Traditional Farms, Killarney). At certain locations, parking facilities and ancillary services are provided by other bodies or agencies. There may be a charge for the use of such services. Any such charges are separate to and are not covered by the Heritage Card.
      The cards cost:
    • Adult €25.00
    • Senior (60 years and older) €20.00
    • Student/Child €10.00 (Valid student ID required / Child six to 18 years)
    • Family €60.00 (Maximum two adults and five children under 18 years).

    Heritage Cards are valid for one year from date of first use. Heritage Cards are non-transferable and not replaceable if lost or stolen.

    A convenient way to purchase an OPW Heritage Card is to buy it at the first OPW fee-paying site you visit. Credit cards are accepted at a few of the larger Heritage Sites.

    Alternatively, you can print the application form and mail it in. A separate form is required for each OPW Heritage Card application. Allow at least 20 days for receipt of cards by mail.

    Heritage Cards.

    Discount on Amazon, West Indies and Azores Cruise

    Cruise and Maritime Voyages offers a discounted 42 night cruise on the Magellan from $4,239 per person for an inside cabin and $6,239 per person for an outside cabin.

    The fare is based on double occupancy and is discounted from $13,269 per person for an inside cabin and $19,059 per person for an Ocean View cabin, for the Jan. 7, 2018 departure.

    The cruise, code G803, departs London and sails to Amsterdam; Lisbon; Funchal, Madeira; Cape Verde Islands; Boca Da Valeria, Brazil; Manaus, Brazil; Belem, Brazil; French Guyana; Tobago; Grenada; Barbados; St Lucia; Antigua; the Azores and returning to London.

    The fare includes all meals, afternoon teas and late night snacks, a Captain’s cocktail party, self-service tea and coffee, entertainment, daytime activities and leisure facilities, guest speaker and arts and crafts, luggage porterage port to cabin and port taxes.

    Cruise and Maritime Voyages or 855/206-4897.

    Rome, Florence Vacation

    European Destinations offers a six to nine night independent vacation from $769 per person for six nights. That price is for a departure from New York in early December.

    With this itinerary you are not traveling in a bus with a group. The tour operators’ partners at the destination take care of you during your stay.

    Travel between Rome and Florence is by train which allows you the opportunity to view the country side. This is a flexible vacation package where you can select the number of nights in each city, your desired hotel and activities.

      This six night sample itinerary includes:
    • International air into Rome and out of Florence
    • Hotel for three nights in Rome
    • Eurostar Italia Rome to Florence
    • Hotel for three nights in Florence
    • Daily breakfast (if stated in hotel description)
    • Hotel taxes.

    You can also purchase tours in Rome and/or Florence from European Destinations including Learn How to Become a Gladiator in Rome or a Fresco Painting Workshop in Florence.

    European Destinations or 877/267-2247.

    $30* off on Thanksgiving Flights. Book Now!

    Elite Havens November Celebration

    Celebrate with Elite Havens this November 2016. Elite Havens offers a promotion, encouraging you to vacation in Bali.

    The November promotion offers savings up to 30 percent on stays at more than 70 luxury villas in Bali. From jungle-gorge settings, ocean views or beachfront villas, there is something for every taste.

    Elite Havens Luxury Villa Rentals has a collection of more than 200 private luxury villas in Bali, Lombok, Phuket and Sri Lanka. All Elite Havens properties are staffed with villa managers, gourmet chefs and personal butlers.

      Some participating villas include:
    • Kaba-Kaba Estate up to 30 percent
    • Arnalaya Beach House up to 20 percent
    • Ombak Laut up to 20 percent
    • The Chalina Estate up to 20 percent
    • Villa Mana up to 30 percent
    • Sungai Tinggi Beach Villa up to 30 percent.

    The full list of villas on November promotions is here.

    Elite Havens.

    Nassau Paradise Island Deals

    Take advantage of fall deals to Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas. Value packages are offered at a variety of hotels and resorts, with incentives from resort credits and all-inclusive offers to kids eat free dining plans. Average fall temperatures are in the mid-80s.

    Here are some deals:

    Atlantis, Paradise Island – Book the all-inclusive experience by Dec. 16, 2016, which includes accommodations at the Royal Towers or Beach Tower, meals, activities, gratuities, surcharges and resort fees, all resort room taxes, basic Wi-Fi, and access to bars and lounges. Rates begin at $299 per person, per night for adults 18 and older. Children’s rates start at $99 per child, per night for travel through June 16, 2017.

    One&Only Ocean Club – The Sweet Family Escape offer gives you a fourth night free when you stay three nights.. Additionally, children 12 and under eat for free and access to an unlimited homemade ice cream cart. Rates start at $735 per night. Book by Dec. 14, 2016, for travel through Dec. 17, 2016.

    Comfort Suites Paradise Island - Book through Dec. 22, 2016, for the Kids Stay, Play and Eat Free offer. Up to two children under the age of 12 can stay with parents for free and eat at Crusoe's restaurant for free. Guests receive free access to Atlantis' Aquaventure and other amenities, with signing privileges at all restaurants. Rates from $110 per room.

    Nassau Paradise Island fall getaway deals.

    Up To 50% Off Hotels with Greyhound

    Greyhound, a provider of intercity bus transportation in North America, offers access to discounts of up to 50 percent off published rates on hotel accommodations almost anywhere Greyhound travels within the United States. You can choose from thousands of hotels, many with five-star ratings.

    Book a trip with Greyhound and get access to the hotel discounts by clicking on the link provided on your booking confirmation page. Additionally, members of Greyhound's free loyalty program, Road Rewards, can book discounted hotel stays at any time by logging into their Road Rewards account and clicking on "Book Your Stay" on their account summary page.

    For Greyhound's lowest fares purchase tickets online, over the phone or at the station. You can visit the company's website to join Road Rewards or redeem rewards.

    Greyhound or 800/231-2222.


    Margaritaville Resort Anniversary Special

    Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk in South Florida, celebrates its first anniversary with a Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Turns One! Anniversary Offer. Valid on a minimum two-night stays through Dec. 15, 2016, the package includes two welcome cocktails, a $50 daily resort credit and valet parking. Book the package and receive an added bonus. Upon checkout, you get the chance to come back with a surprise discount code for your next booking. The offer is subject to availability, blackout dates, and other restrictions may apply.

    Inspired by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort offers an on-site water recreation area with three pools and a FlowRider Double, live entertainment, on-site resort retail stores, and restaurants and bars including JWB Prime Steak and Seafood. Nightly rates start at $253.20.

    Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort or 844/562-5625.

    Fax Scam Targeting Travelers

    Hotwire advises about a scam targeting potential travelers by fax solicitation. The scam involves a fax purporting to be a memo from the "H.R. Dept." to "All Employees" that offers vacation packages at steeply discounted prices. The fax displays an old corporate logo for Hotwire, presumably to falsely imply some involvement by Hotwire in the offer. The only way to book travel on Hotwire is through its website, or call their customer care number 866/468-9473. Hotwire does not engage in telemarketing or send faxes soliciting travel deals.

    The following steps may help you from being victimized by illegal travel scams:

    Do not respond to any fax solicitations purporting to be associated with Hotwire. The phone numbers provided are part of a scam and are in no way associated with Hotwire. If you communicated to individuals at phone numbers provided on the faxes before, stop further communications.

    Do not provide personal or payment information over the phone to any individuals reached at phone numbers listed on the fax solicitations.

    Report any fax solicitations that you receive to support@hotwire.com; your communications help Hotwire learn of new variations on the scam, and may help in identifying the perpetrators involved.



    Save Up to $864 at Sunscape Bavaro Beach

    Travel Impressions lets you save up to $864 per couple and receive $200 in resort coupons at the Sunscape Bavaro Beach Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

    The offer starts at $949 for a five night minimum stay in a deluxe pool view room. The price was $1,381 per person. You may book this package through Jan. 3, 2017 for travel May 1 to 31, 2017.

    The all-inclusive package price is per person and includes roundtrip coach airfare, roundtrip hotel transfers, hotel accommodations, hotel tax and service charges, all meals, drinks and snacks, daily activities, nightly entertainment and non-motorized motor sports.

    $200 in resort coupons include: Two coupons of $40 and one coupon of $20 in spa treatments, $60 for one romantic dinner per stay with one coupon of $40 and one coupon of $20, $40 for bottles of wine at any restaurant with four coupons of $10. Resort coupons are not redeemable for cash and are non–transferable. Coupons must be presented at time of service request.

    A $10 per person Tourist Card must be purchased for travel to the Dominican Republic and is payable at the airport upon arrival or you can pre-purchase prior to departure.

    Travel Impressions or 800/284-0044.

    MSC Cruises 2 for 1 Cruise Deals

    MSC Cruises offers the chance to save 50 percent off brochure rates and get two for the price of one on Caribbean, Mediterranean and Northern European cruises.

    Sailing year-round from Miami to the Caribbean, book the two-for-one deal on the MSC Divina. Prices start from $299.50 per person for a seven-night cruise and kids 11 years and under sail free on select sailings.

    Sample itinerary for sailings on MSC Divina this fall includes: Dec. 6, 2016 – 10-night cruise departing from Miami, with calls in Cartagena, Colombia; Orangestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; Grand Turk Island, Turks and Caicos; and Nassau, Bahamas. Prices from $499.50 per person.

    To explore the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, MSC Cruises two-for-one deals in the region start at $409.50 per person for a seven-night cruise and include sailings on the next-generation MSC Meraviglia debuting in June 2017. Kids 12 years and under sail free.

    Sample itineraries for sailings in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe include:

    MSC Meraviglia: Nov. 5, 2017 – seven-night cruise departing Genoa, Italy with calls in Naples and Messina Italy; Valletta, Malta; Barcelona, Spain; and Marseille, France. Prices from $514.50 per person.

    MSC Preziosa: Sep. 17, 2017 – seven night cruise departing from Hamburg, Germany with calls in Le Havre, France; Southampton, United Kingdom; Zeebrugge, Belgium; and Amsterdam, Netherlands. Prices from $599.50 per person.

    MSC Cruises 2 for 1 Deals or 877/665-4655.

    Paris, London, Rome at a Discount

    Ring in the New Year in Europe this year at discounts of up to 30 percent off. Get savings on holiday stays with Paris Perfect, London Perfect and Italy Perfect.

    Save up to 30 percent on Christmas and New Year’s stays at participating Paris Perfect apartments. Book a stay of five nights or more from Dec. 20, 2016 to Jan. 4, 2017 and you’ll get savings for this peak season in Paris. Some apartments have a seven night minimum. Discount cannot be combined with any other offer and the offer is valid for new reservations.

    Save up to 15 percent on Christmas and New Year’s stays at participating apartments in London. Book a stay of five nights or more from Dec. 20, 2016 to Jan. 4, 2017 and you’ll get savings for this peak season in London.

    In Italy double the savings with two cities - two discounts and save five percent on reservations of five or more days Dec. 20, 2016 to Jan. 4, 2017. Reserve two cities including Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris and London for an additional five percent discount.

    Paris Perfect, London Perfect, and Italy Perfect.


    Exclusive Fall Travel Hotel Deals. Book Now and Get $40 Off with Coupon Code HWIZ40*

    Allegro Spring, Summer and Fall Bonus

    The all-inclusive Allegro Papagayo on the Golfo de Papagayo Guanacaste in Costa Rica offers an early booking bonus. Book by Feb. 28, 2017, travel May 1 to Aug. 14, 2017 and receive a 43 percent discount.

    Book by Feb. 28, 2017 for travel Aug. 15 to Dec. 22, 217 and save 36 percent. Plus one child 12 years of age and under stays free when staying with a paying adult when traveling through Dec. 22, 2016.

    With the Winter Early Booking Bonus you must book by Dec. 22, 2016. When you travel Jan 3 through 31, 2017 you save 44 percent. When you travel Feb. 1, through Mar. 31, 2107, you save 41 percent. When you travel Apr. 1 through 30, 2017, you save 44 percent.

    All Inclusive packages include: unlimited meals, snacks & beverages; full open bar; three restaurants; snack bar; private Beach Club; three bars and Disco with bar; swimming pool with children's basin; chaise lounges and towel services at pool and beach areas; kids club with supervised activities for ages four to 12; fitness room; nightly entertainment; taxes and gratuities. Sports include: volleyball, beach soccer, ping-pong, darts, billiards, water polo, aqua aerobics, kayaking, snorkeling and sailing, daily activities program by the pool and beach areas.

    Exclusive Group Travel.

    Blue Haven Resort Thanksgiving Package

    Blue Haven Resort in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, offers an alternative to a cold Thanksgiving holiday. The resort offers a holiday themed package with special rates.
      Package details:
    • Save 27 percent with package rates from $2,205 in a premier room for two people, including tax and service charge
    • Save 21 percent with package rates from $3,349 in a one-bedroom suite for two adults and two children, which includes tax and service charge
    • Daily breakfast and dinner
    • Traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 23 or 24, 2016.

    The package is valid for four night stays, arriving Nov. 23 or 24, 2016.

    Book this package directly with the resort and use booking code THKSGVG.

    Blue Haven Resort offers a private beach and is adjacent to a marina. Resort facilities include two restaurants, an infinity swimming pool, a gourmet market and café, spa, a 24 hour gym, beach service and hammocks at the resort’s private beach.

    Air conditioned rooms and suites offer contemporary décor, free Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, free coffee and tea provisions. Suites feature kitchens, washers and dryers, and private terraces or balconies.

    Blue Haven Resort is part of the Turks and Caicos Collection, which includes Alexandra Resort and Beach House Turks & Caicos. The resort offers a free dining shuttle to sister properties.

    Blue Haven Resort or 855/832-7667.

    Holiday Specials for Multigenerational Families

    Grandparents and parents traveling with children often seek destinations with value, convenience and the possibility of making memories. Prohotel International, a Houston-based management, sales and marketing company, provides multigenerational travelers with the comforts of home in three boutique properties – Sublime Samana Hotel and Casas del XVI in the Dominican Republic and the Lodge and Spa at Pico Bonito in Honduras.

    Casas del XVI Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 855/849-6396 or 809/688-4061 - In the heart of Santo Domingo's Colonial City, this collection of privately restored homes date back to the Spanish conquistadors and provides the comforts of home: private butler, personal chef and concierge and 12 rooms between four homes.

    Casas del XVI offers the following holiday package. Casa de los Mapas Home-Away-From-Home Special - Save 10 percent or $150 per night when you book at least a two night stay. You have access to the entire home and stay in three rooms with breakfast daily, courtyard with swimming pool and private butler to tend to your family.

    Through Dec. 21, 2016, the price is $1,350 (plus tax and service) per night and is valid for up to six people (adults and children).

    Sublime Samana Hotel Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, 888/896-9416 - Sublime Samana Hotel is on the Samaná Peninsula in the Dominican Republic's Northeastern coast. Multigenerational families can stay at any of the 26 private suites and casitas.

    Black Friday - Cyber Monday Deal – Save 50 percent or up to $223 per night on a one bedroom suite or up to $278 per night on a two bedroom suite for stays Dec. 1 to Dec. 23, 2016, and Jan. 7, to Apr. 30, 2017. The price is $158 per night for a one bedroom suite Dec. 1 to 23, 2016 and $223 per night Jan. 7 to Apr. 30, 2017. For a two bedroom suite the price is $198 per night Dec. 1 to 23, 2016 and $278 per night Jan.7 to Apr. 30, 2017.

    Sublime Family Adventure Special – Save $550 when families spend four nights in a two-bedroom suite. The price is $1,605 (plus tax and service) for stays through Dec. 21, 2016 and $2,269 (plus tax and service) for stays Jan. 7 to Apr. 30, 2017.

    The Lodge and Spa at Pico Bonito La Ceiba, Honduras, 888/428-0221 - At the base of the Pico Bonito National Park, the Lodge and Spa at Pico Bonito has 400 acres of tropical wilderness. The eco-lodge is for families looking for natural environments with five-star amenities.

    There are 22 private standard and superior air conditioned cabins with large screen windows. Some cabins have connecting rooms.

    Black Friday – Cyber Monday Deals – Save 50 percent off or up to $175 per night in a standard cabin for stays Dec. 1, 2016 to Apr. 16, 2017. The special is based on availability and blackout dates are Dec. 24, 2016 to Jan. 2, 2017. The price is $113 (plus tax and service) per night for a standard cabin (two adults and two children under 11 years old) Dec. 1 to 23, 2016 and $175 per night (plus tax and service) Jan. 3 to Apr. 16, 2017. Breakfast daily is included in this special.

    Family Adventure Special – Save $771 when families spend six nights and receive a guided hike in the Pico Bonito National Rainforest, choice of an early morning or a late night hike, private tour of the butterfly farm and serpentarium, snorkeling trip to the world's second largest barrier reef, and a boating trip through a tropical lagoon at the manatee refuge. Price is $3,089 for a standard cabin (two adults and two children under 11 years old) and all meals are included with this special. Special is available to Dec. 22, 2016.

    Prohotel International.


    West Michigan Fall Lodging Specials

    Fall getaways should make your travel bucket list. In West Michigan there are events, color tours, places to eat, wineries and breweries to visit. Here are some fall lodging specials in West Michigan.

    Covert/South Haven KOA Campground offers cabin and deluxe cabin specials in the fall. Book any cabin or deluxe cabin Sunday through Thursday night for a two night minimum and get $25 off per night. Request code CS when making reservations. For RV camping, take 20 percent off the nightly rate Sunday through Thursday (two night minimum) with code CR. Stay three nights and get the fourth night free with code CF.

    The Old Harbor Inn in South Haven offers Fall into 20 percent savings on multiple night stays Sundays through Thursdays. A room that has a view of the harbor and is within walking distance of the beach, shops, and restaurants costs from $100 per night.

    The JW Marriott in Grand Rapids has their Shop Til You Drop package that includes breakfast for two, valet parking, a $100 gift card to Tanger Outlets and a Tanger Outlet coupon book.

    Shanty Creek has lodging specials and packages. The Fall Color Bed & Breakfast package includes one night’s lodging in a Summit Village condo room and one breakfast. The Fall Golf package includes one night’s lodging, one day of unlimited golf on any resort course and range balls.

    Portage Point Inn in Onekama offers a Fall Color Discount. Take 10 percent off the published rate through November.

    Traverse City Tourism offers their Fab Fall package through Dec. 15, 2016. You receive Fab Fall rates at participating resorts and hotels plus discounts on shopping, dining, spa services, golf, entertainment and family fun.

    West Michigan Tourist Association.

    SuperShuttle Hotels & Fall Discount

    SuperShuttle, an airport ground transportation service, offers group or individual hotel reservations bookings.

    SuperShuttle will offer low hotel rates when booking through SuperShuttle Travel. Visit SuperShuttle.com and click on "Hotels" or book directly. You can get competitive rates in hotel accommodations and shuttle transportation in more than 80 destinations in the U.S. and abroad.

    Book ground transportation for travel through Nov. 20, 2016 and save 12 percent using discount code 12OFF when booking online or via the SuperShuttle App. SuperShuttle also allows registered users to earn airline points and miles with participating carriers including; American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, and United.

    SuperShuttle serves more than 40 airports and provides ExecuCar sedan service at all airports served by SuperShuttle, including: Los Angeles, New York, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Internationally, SuperShuttle is available in Paris, France, Cancun and Los Cabos, Mexico, and Amsterdam, Netherlands.


    Mayberry in Mt. Airy photos and article by Nicki Chodnoff

    In our hectic, fast-paced world, small town friendliness and the slower rhythms of daily life seem idyllic. Actor, comedian and musician Andy Griffith understood this appeal, took his memories and experiences of living and growing up in a small, sleepy town and created the Andy Griffith Show.

     photo 76fe9d78-096b-4f64-ad59-78e2962efd2b_zpsigftfbw5.jpg Andy Griffith’s TV town was Mayberry, which isn’t as elusive as Shangri-la. You can find much of Mayberry in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the town where Andy Griffith was born and grew up. Both Mayberry and Mt. Airy have the slow small town rhythms where everyone is not in a hurry and strangers walking by say hello.

    Mt. Airy may feel familiar the first time you step into town as it’s been ingrained into our collective memory as Mayberry. As I walked along Main Street, memorable episodes flashed into my mind along with memories of how enjoyable watching the Andy Griffith Show was. There are no remnants from the TV series in Mt. Airy as the Andy Griffith Show was filmed in a Desilu soundstage in Hollywood, California. The familiarity comes from the friendly people of Mt. Airy who still seem like the residents of Mayberry of 60 years ago.

    On Main Street in Mt. Airy there are plenty of Mayberry-themed shops, merchandise and restaurants such as Barney’s Café which is not far from Opie’s Candy Store. You can still get a haircut at Floyd’s Barber Shop where the chairs, sinks, and cash register are originals and kept in good condition. Andy’s character of Floyd the Barber was based on Mt. Airy barber, Russell Hiatt. Floyd’s City Barber Shop still exists and Hiatt changed to name to Floyd’s when Mt. Airy became a tourist stand-in for Mayberry. Hiatt’s son keeps Russell’s memory alive by still cutting hair, chatting with tourists and taking your picture sitting in Floyd’s chair. The Snappy Lunch has been a Main Street staple since the 1920s and is the only Mt. Airy business Andy actually mentioned on the show. Known for their pork chop sandwich, it was one of the places where Andy Griffith ate as a child.

     photo SAM_9789_zpsz55ymlkc.jpg Main Street locally owned businesses and the place where residents gathered is a reflection of by-gone daily life and most likely the key to The Andy Griffith Show and Mt. Airy’s appeal. People miss a simpler time and life, a time before mass culture. Mayberry and Mt. Airy represent that all-American wholesome home town where the sheriff didn’t carry a gun.

    Andy based some people and places in the show on those from his hometown. As mentioned, Floyd’s Barber Shop and there's the Bluebird Diner. The replica Mayberry Courthouse stands next to a likeness of Wally's Service Station. In Mayberry, Wally’s Service Station is where Goober worked. When Mt. Airy tourism bloomed, a real former gas station built in 1937 was transformed into Wally’s in 2001. A fake version of Wally's tow truck stands near the service station. Andy lived nearby as a boy and reportedly walked to the station for a snack or a bottle of pop. You can still buy a snack or bottle of pop in the modern-day version along with souvenirs.

    Next to Wally’s is the replica Mayberry Courthouse. The courthouse seen in the TV series was part of a Hollywood studio backlot. The replica courthouse is a surprisingly faithful recreation of the TV series courthouse complete with jail cells and Sheriff Andy's office. There are no original props, but you can sit at a replica of Andy’s desk, type on the vintage typewriter, pretend to speak with the Mayberry telephone operator on the candlestick phone, and put your feet up on the desk just like Andy. You can enter inside the two jail cells where the keys are within easy reach between them. The Darling family's truck sits outside the courthouse as does their rustic hillbilly cabin with what looks like a moonshine still off to one side. The Darlings, a good-natured but trouble making Appalachian clan lived in a mountain shack neighboring Mayberry. The Darlings came into town when they had a problem that Sheriff Andy Taylor had to resolve.

     photo SAM_9794_zpsdglsk5h8.jpg One of the best ways to learn Mt. Airy’s history and connections to the TV series is to take a Mayberry Squad Car Tour beginning at Wally’s Service Station. It’s a bargain at $35 for up to five people for a 30 to 40 minute tour. The company has five cars of the same model Ford used for the show painted to look like squad cars. Our costumed “deputy” tour guide Don Bunn began our tour at “Wally’s Fillin’ Station.” Don, who says he’s called Don Nuts, hopped into the Ford Galaxy and blasted the horn. Yes, Don was a hoot and very knowledgeable as he’s been doing tours for more than eight years. We drove down Main Street to see the Blue Bird Diner, Floyd's Barber shop and Snappy Lunch. As we rode around in the 1960s car without air conditioning, Don noted that you can tell which year an episode was filmed by knowing the year of Andy’s squad car. At the end of the taping season, the cars were returned to Ford Motor Company and none of the original cars were preserved.

    Don was a wealth of information about Andy Griffith growing up in Mt. Airy, show history and trivia. We drove by Andy Griffith’s boyhood home, now a bed and breakfast. Owned by the nearby Hampton Inn, the small two-bedroom bungalow is where Andy Griffith lived until he graduated from high school.

     photo SAM_9760_zpsoisdopiw.jpg Don also delved into Mount Airy history as we drove to the world’s largest open face white granite quarry, a staggering seven miles long and four miles wide. Mount Airy was "The Granite City" long before it became famous as Griffith's hometown. Don pointed to stately local buildings made from the famous Mount Airy white granite such as the post office and a bank. The gleaming stone of white speckled with black is also part of Arlington Memorial Bridge linking the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to Arlington, VA and the National World War II Memorial near the Washington Monument.

    Mt. Airy pays homage to Andy Griffith with the Andy Griffith Museum, just a few blocks from Main Street. The museum houses the largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia collected by his long-time friend Emmett Forrest. The memories include items from all stages of Griffith’s life and mementos from fellow actors.

    Items include the rocking chair on which Andy was soothed as a child, school photos of Andy with a mass of wavy hair and photos of Griffith’s early days in show business. Glass display cases hold costumes such as Sheriff Andy's uniform shirt, Barney's tweed dating suit and Ben Matlock’s light suit. There’s a wealth of posters and props from the Andy Griffith Show, Matlock and movies Griffith appeared in. You can go through the museum in an hour or two or spend the whole day, depending how thoroughly you scrutinize the items. The museum even has a section on the career of actress and current Mount Airy resident Betty Lynn, the actress who played Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show.

     photo SAM_9804_zps9vqpdmj1.jpg The Andy Griffith Show ran for eight seasons. TV land bought the rights, and now, more than 60 years later, the show still runs somewhere 24 hours a day, seven days a week.TV Land dedicated a statue of Andy and Opie in front of the Andy Griffith Playhouse, which is next to the Andy Griffith Museum. The life-size bronze statue of Andy and Opie heading for the old fishing hole was dedicated in 2004 during Mayberry Days. The playhouse, circa 1920, was once the Rockford Street Elementary School, where Andy Griffith attended school and performed on stage. It was named after Andy Griffith in the early 1970s.

    On the lower level of the Andy Griffith Playhouse, there’s an exhibit dedicated to Chang and Eng, the Original Siamese Twins. The twins were sideshow sensations, appearing in P.T. Barnum's show and traveling widely that retired to North Carolina. Admission to the exhibit is included with your admission to the Andy Griffith Museum and Old-Time Music Heritage Hall.

    Held the third weekend each September, Mayberry Days is a huge Andy Griffith Show festival. Thousands of Mayberry fans descend upon the city.

     photo SAM_9800_zpss6tldeyc.jpg The festival features events and activities for the whole family. There are shows, a parade, contests, a silent auction and local bands that play the songs that Andy Griffith grew up with.

    Mayberry Days can feel like a cross between a "Star Trek" convention, a Civil War re-enactors' party and a family reunion when you get to see all of your old friends again. Impersonators dress in vintage garb or like famous characters. Surviving stars of the show shake hands and sign autographs, though some are elderly now.

    Mayberry Days events take place around Mount Airy: at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, the Historic Earle Theatre, the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre and the Blackmon Amphitheatre.

    Mayberry Days has both free and ticketed events spread over four days.

    If you’re near the northwest corner of North Carolina, stop by Mt. Airy to experience a place that welcomes people from all walks of life. It’s like visiting with a familiar friend.

    Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce & Mount Airy Visitors Center or 800/948-0949.

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