I have to say this, and please don't take it the wrong way, but Mt. Airy is just one of SEVERAL great mountain towns in the region. It does get tons of attention, though, as it IS Mayberry!
I think it is great but it gets a lot of attention that other small towns also deserve. The older parts of Sparta, West Jefferson, North Wilkesboro, Wilkesboro, Elkin, Rhonda, Lenoir, Taylorsville, Hickory, Pilot Mountain (which was Mt. Pilot on the show...) and numerous others have history in their own right and I recommend stopping into some of the older parts if you've got a few and are in the area.