Insider Jenny Smith’s Guide to Surry County’s Outdoors, Food Festivals and Family Fun

It's rare to grow up in a place you're eager to return to as an adult. For me, that was Mount Airy. I specifically remember the weekend I moved back after college: It was quiet, peaceful and calm – and it was then I felt a real appreciation for my hometown.  

After living here for years, I’ve collected a bunch of favorites in the area. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does.

Save the date: Surry County’s events and festivals

Crowd of people sitting on amphitheater lawn watching band perform at dusk
Cassette Rewind (photo credit: Hobart Jones)
  • Summer Concert Series at Blackmon Amphitheatre, end of April – mid October: Every weekend the Surry Arts Council hosts concerts in downtown Mount Airy. My family loves these because they’re within walking distance of our house, and my kids love to dance to the music – especially when ’80s tribute band Cassette Rewind performs!
  • Mayberry Farm Fest, May 18: This downtown Mount Airy event is another favorite for my kids. It’s family oriented and highlights local agriculture. There are tractors on display, demonstrations, farm animals and a petting zoo, pony rides, festival food, craft vendors and much more.
  • Ground Steak Festival, June 8: I love festivals, especially ones that center around a food that’s a staple in our community – and ground steak is so popular that it was awarded its own festival in Dobson. Many restaurants serve ground steak year-round, and we now even have a Ground Steak Trail in Surry County with 11 stops. The Flat Rock Ruritan Club is a favorite for their ground steak sandwiches during this festival and the Autumn Leaves Festival, so folks line up to get theirs twice a year. 
  • Seasons of Surry, Aug. 3-4 and Aug. 10-11: This new event includes eight wineries along the Surry County Wine Trail featuring either a slushie or sangria paired with a light bite, and ticketholders receive a stemless logo glass. It’s a great event for couples or a group of friends. 
  • Fall Festival Season: Mayberry Days, Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival and Autumn Leaves Festival all take place in fall in Surry County. These festivals bring good festival food, unique vendors, entertainment and activities for families.

Get outside 

Two kids in tractor toys smiling at camera with pumpkin patch in background
Jenny's daughters, Charlotte and Ophelia, at The Farm
  • The Farm in Dobson: Open for three weekends in spring and open in summer for camps, The Farm is a great place for families with so many kids’ activities: multiple playgrounds, inflatables, farm animals, concessions and more. The Farm also has U-pick strawberries and peaches, plus a store where you can purchase fresh produce. The Farm is also open in the fall and at Christmas. My kids have a blast and are usually asleep before we get back on the main road. 
  • Countywide outdoor fun: The outdoor recreation opportunities are available for all ability levels, from rock climbing at Pilot Mountain State Park and strolling the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the “Trails Town” of Elkin, to playing in the splash pad in downtown Dobson. One of our favorites is the Granite City Greenway in Mount Airy: 8 miles of paved pathway that run along the Ararat River, and my girls ride their tricycle and scooter while we walk our dog, Charley Belle. We frequently dine outside – so Charley Belle can join us – at Chase & Charli, which is right on the river and has access to the greenway. 
  • Stay on a vineyard: Elkin Creek and Round Peak are just a couple of the wineries that offer cabins or accommodations onsite. If you go in late summer or early fall, there should be lots of activity in the vineyards with harvest taking place, plus food trucks and entertainment make things lively on weekends. If you're able to plan a Surry County Wine Trail visit to a few of the 18 tasting rooms during the week, you can often meet the winemaker or someone directly involved with wine production.

Order up at restaurants, breweries and wineries

Closeup of sonker dessert on plate with vineyard grounds in background
Sonker at Harvest Grill (photo credit: Sara Brennan)
  • Market Street Arts & Entertainment District: This established social district in Mount Airy has two craft breweries, White Elephant Beer Company and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing, and a stunning craft cocktail bar, Kate’s Cocktail Lounge. Market Street outside is a lot of fun on the weekends when they have live music in Melva’s Alley, art vendors on the street, and a food truck or two. The street is closed to vehicles then, so you can go with your kids and know it’s a safe environment. In Elkin, the RailYard is another great option to grab a beer outside and relax with friends.
  • Harry’s Place: This is a small hole in the wall in Elkin behind the RailYard. Order the crab legs! They are so, so good. You might not expect great steak and crab legs in a little place like this, but when I’m craving crab legs, this is where I go.
  • Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards: You can see the grapevines from your dinner table, and the seasonal menu always showcases local meats and produce. I’ve never had a meal I didn’t like! Pro tip: Save room for dessert. Harvest Grill is on the Surry Sonker Trail, and you don’t want to miss out on this local cobbler-like dish. My favorites are mixed berry, strawberry and peach.

One last recommendation! The brand-new Siamese Twins Museum will be opening later this year in Mount Airy. Many don’t know the story of the original Siamese Twins or their connection to Surry County, but it’s super interesting and will be neat to have a museum dedicated to it.

Plan more summer travel with insiders Scott Peacock and Andre Nabors.

Updated April 29, 2024
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