Surry County is located in North Carolina’s Piedmont region leading nicely into the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina and shares a border with Virginia. Surry County plays host to a few charming towns and beautiful landscapes. Plus unique dishes, wineries, antiquing, and more! Surry County has been around since 1771 and was named in honor of the county of Surrey in England, the birthplace of North Carolina’s first Governor, William Tryon.
Over the past few years, I have spent quite a bit of time in Surry County, mostly visiting North Carolina wineries. However, on my most recent trip, we explored a bit more of the area, including checking out the Surry Sonker Trail and the Ground Steak Trail, sipping and strolling, and antiquing. Surry County is a short drive from Winston-Salem and Greensboro and offers quite a lot no matter your interests. Keep scrolling to see my recommendations to make the most of your time in Surry County!
A Complete Guide to Surry County NC
What to Do in Surry County, NC
While exploring the quaint downtowns of Elkin, Mount Airy, and Pilot Mountain, be sure to give yourself some time to antique. I came home with several pieces from our home, including beautiful chinoiserie pieces at insanely affordable prices. Glory collects vintage cameras and found two to add to her collection as well. Our personal favorites are Mayberry Antique Mall and Mount Pilot Antiques.
Catch an Outdoor Concert at Blackmon Amphitheater
Photo via Blackmon Amphitheater Facebook
Beginning in April through October, there are weekly concerts at Blackmon Amphitheater in Mt. Airy. You’ll want to bring your own chairs or blankets to spread out on the lawn. Tickets can be purchased in advance here. There are still a few concerts left in the 2023 series, including free concerts in October. Be sure to check back for the 2024 schedule as well!
Learn Local History at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History
Photo via Mount Airy Museum of Regional History
This museum is open 7 days a week and is located in the heart of downtown Mt. Airy on Main Street. The purpose of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is to collect, preserve, and interpret the natural, historic, and artistic heritage of the region. The museum offers a variety of permanent, visit, and traveling exhibits, plus special events. It is a $6 entry fee plus tax.
Check Out Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
Photo via The Destination Magazine
It is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina, so be sure to add one of the stops along the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail to your plans! Stretching 330 miles through four states (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina) the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail traces the route used by patriot militia during the pivotal Kings Mountain campaign of 1780. Follow the campaign by utilizing a Commemorative Motor Route that uses existing state highways marked with the distinctive trail logo, or 87 miles of walkable pathways.
There is a public park in Elkin that offers an overlook of the muster field and encampment site at this point where the Commemorative Motor Route begins and features NPS interpretive waysides. The park offers a picnic area, restrooms, and recreational areas.
Explore the Trails at Pilot Mountain State Park
Photo via LKN Magazine
Continuing with the Year of the Trail, head to Pilot Mountain State Park. In my opinion, Pilot Mountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in North Carolina and there are 21 different trail options depending on how much time you have and what type of hike you are looking for.
Sip n’ Stroll Downtown Pilot Mountain
Downtown Pilot Mountain has a social district that offers the opportunity to buy a cocktail, beer, or wine to enjoy while exploring downtown. There are small markers outside of each shop to let you know whether you can bring your beverage into the shop or not and which restaurants/bars sell sip n’ stroll beverages. Glory & I got margaritas from the Tilted Ladder as we embarked on our walk around downtown.
Be sure to check out the Town of Pilot Mountain’s events calendar. They offer many great festivals and community events, including the Pilot Mountain Vintage Market, Foothills Dinner on Main, and more!
Learn about Andy Griffith and Mayberry with Squad Car Tours
I grew up watching the Andy Griffith Show, so I was thrilled to take the Mayberry Squad Car Tour. Andy Griffith was born and raised in Mount Airy before moving attending UNC-Chapel Hill, and wow is the town proud of him! We had the best tour guide, Steve, who is native to Mount Airy and shared quite a bit of local history with us as well. Prior to the tour, I did not know that Mount Airy is home to the largest rock quarry in the world, which gives it the nickname of Granite City.
After the tour, be sure to take a look at the courthouse replica and shop locally made goods in Wally’s Filling Station. It was truly such a fun experience!
Where to Eat and Drink in Surry County, NC
Order a Ground Steak Sammie at Mount Airy’s Dairy Center
Y’all. The Dairy Center is so good, Glory and I ordered a second ground steak sandwich after trying our first. Ground steak is a melt-in-your-mouth variation of the hamburger that came about during the Great Depression when local cooks devised a way to increase the amount of food that could be derived from a pound of ground beef or ground chuck. We ordered the sammie the way it comes: with mayo, tomato, and slaw. This is a true hidden gem in Surry County and one that must be on your NC bucket list!
Not only does the Dairy Center know what it is doing with the ground steak sandwich, they have great fries and homemade ice cream. I ordered their seasonal peach ice cream and it was absolutely delicious. It is a small spot, with 6 booths and 7 bar stools, and a quite busy take-out component. Freddy, the owner, is perhaps one of the nicest human beings on the planet and it feels like joining the family when dining at Dairy Center. 10/10 recommend
P.S. They’re cash only!
Enjoy Dinner at Kazoku Sushi Bar in Mount Airy
Kazoku Sushi Bar is a great dinner spot with a delicious line-up of sushi offerings. Start with the gyoza and tuna tataki and then order the Snappy and Black Dragon rolls. Also, for cocktails, be sure to order the signature Benson cocktail! It is a cucumber-based martini and it is so light and refreshing.
Grab a Post-Dinner Drink at Kate’s Cocktail Lounge
Kate’s Cocktail Lounge is a new-ish spot in downtown Mount Airy and offers a great cocktail selection with a fun environment. It came highly recommended by local folks that we met around town. They serve up delicious cocktails in a cozy setting. Do make sure to ask if Zach is bartending as he serves up unique cocktails and banter to go along with his craft.
Try the Seasonal Sonker at Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies in Mount Airy
Another Surry County staple is the sonker and no one does it better than Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies! She has seasonal offerings, so I came home with the blackberry and sampled the strawberry rhubarb in the shop. You can get your sonker with a moonshine glaze and you should absolutely do that if you are 21+.
She also makes one helluva tomato pie and cookies. Angela and her family also own Miss Angel’s Farm and Orchard, which offers seasonal pickings and events for guests.
Brunch at Southern on Main in Elkin
Enjoy brunch at Southern on Main and it should absolutely include an order of their southern popcorn, also known as fried okra, and their deviled eggs. Don’t skip on their biscuits and gravy with a side of bacon. If you are like me and not really a breakfast person, their southern wedge with blackened chicken is the way to go! And their roasted red pepper and crab bisque is a must! It is a charming venue right in downtown Elkin with ample street parking available.
Enjoy a Cider & Pizza at Thirsty Souls Brewing
Thirsty Souls Community Brewing is located right in the heart of downtown Mount Airy and has a great variety of indoor and outdoor seating. They have a great selection of locally brewed beers, an exceptional wine list, and delicious ciders. For food, try their shishito peppers, the Styx, and the Quattro Formaggi pizza which is served with shredded mozzarella, ricotta, blue cheese, and parmesan.
Catch Live Music at White Elephant Beer Co.
Located right near Kate’s Cocktail Lounge and Thirsty Souls Brewing, White Elephant Beer Company offers delicious locally brewed beers with live music and food trucks on the weekends. It is a low-key, casual spot to grab a local brew and relax to live music!
Try a New Winery on the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail
Check out the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail to try North Carolina wines! I celebrated a birthday with a trip to do wine tastings and then another girls’ weekend trip and had the best time each time I did this. On my most recent trip, I visited Dynamis Estate Wines and cannot rave about this experience enough! Stay tuned for a post about Dynamis Estates coming soon!
Where to Stay in Surry County, NC
Hampton Inn, Mount Airy
Photo via Hampton Inn Mount Airy
Hampton Inn in Mount Airy is a clean, easy spot to call home base while visiting Surry County. It is 1 mile from downtown Mount Airy and offers free WiFi and breakfast in the morning. It is a super easy spot to get around Mount Airy and the rest of the county as well!
Three Trails, Elkin
Photo via Three Trails
Three Trails is a new boutique hotel in Elkin, NC, and is part of the Carolina Experience brand. It is located right downtown, making it walkable to downtown Elkin establishments, and conveniently located off the highway.
Shop What I Packed for My Recent Visit to Surry County, NC
Thank you to the Tourism Partnership of Surry County and Leah Hughes for helping coordinate our itinerary. Thank you to Matt and Katy of Dynamis Estate Wines for hosting us. As always, all opinions are my own.