Mount Airy top NC attraction?

By John Peters -

Mount Airy’s Main Street has been nominated as one of the Top 20 attractions in North Carolina — and local residents can help put the downtown throughway at the top of the list.

USA Today’s 10 Best, a website operated by USA Today which allows readers to rank places, attractions, and items by category — such as best cruises, best culinary places around the world — has put Mount Airy in contention for the Top 10 attractions in the Tar Heel state.

The city is competing with 19 other locations. Among those other North Carolina sites are the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, the Corolla Wild Horses in Corolla, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Old Salem Museums and Gardens in Winston-Salem.

Now it will be reader votes that determine the final Top 10 list.

According to Jenny Smith, the Mount Airy Visitor Center and Group Tour manager, the initial list of 20 locations was determined by a panel of travel and tourist authorities working with USA Today Top 10. Most of them are writers and journalists who work in the fields of tourism, travel, hospitality and culinary writing.

“We found out on Monday,” Smith said, speaking last week. That sent the folks at the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center to their phones and computers, to check it out.

“When we found out we were ranked 17 out of 20,” she said, prompting her and others there to put the word out in Mount Airy that the city needed votes. “After we started putting it on our Facebook pages and sending it out to our followers, we were No. 1 by that evening.”

As of late Christmas afternoon, Mount Airy’s Main Street maintained the top spot in the poll.

The website,, allows individuals to vote once per day through Jan. 15, the close of the contest. Smith said she hopes everyone who reads of the poll will vote daily for Main Street Mount Airy, but she knows it won’t be easy to keep the top spot.

”If you look at the competition, there’s some pretty good places on there,” she said.

Winning the vote would be a boon to the city, she believes. Even being on the list will help draw more attention — and tourist visits — to the city.

“This is USA Today,” she said. “It is very well known, and to be in a competition with all of these other places in North Carolina that are huge attractions…that is huge for our town. It’s not just for our Main Street, it’s for our community. I think it’s going to give us a lot of publicity we’re not having to pay for, which is great. When people see that in USA Today, they believe that, they know USA Today. It’s great for our town. I think people will see it, I hope they see this and decide to come visit.”

Jessica Roberts, head of the city’s tourism authority, agreed.

“We are always looking for opportunities to promote Mount Airy and this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our amazing Main Street and show the world what we have to offer. This opportunity promotes our assets to the world.”

The voting will continue until noon Jan. 15, with the winner and final rankings announced Jan. 19.

By John Peters

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