Although Laurel has gained national attention as the setting of HGTV’s Home Town, starring locals Erin and Ben Napier, the picturesque South Mississippi town has long been known as The City Beautiful. With its charming main street, resurgence of locally-owned businesses and oak-lined drives, Laurel has all the makings for a weekend getaway. It’s a quick trip from the northern part of the state, and the Southern hospitality that awaits is worth the drive.
WHAT TO DO
Take a drive through Laurel’s historic neighborhoods. There are many beautiful homes to admire in a variety of styles — craftsman, Southern traditional and midcentury. “Home Town” fans will likely be able to spot a few fixer-uppers from past seasons.
Visit the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, surrounded by turn-of-the-century homes and towering trees. The museum was founded in 1923 by the Rogers family as a “living monument” to Lauren, the only son and grandson of one of Laurel’s founding families. The museum is home to a variety of collections — art, documents and relics of bygone eras. It also offers educational courses.
This downtown store combines shopping and making for a unique experience. The shop has items available for purchase as well as a variety of DIY projects you can make on-site.
If you’re lucky, the Laurel Little Theatre will have a show during your stay. It has been creating community through art for 57 seasons. If nothing else, it’s worth it to see the historic building in person.
SHOPS TO BROWSE
This flagship store is a treasure trove of new and old finds, co-owned by the Napiers. The original Laurel Mercantile closed in the 1930s. In 2016, the “Home Town” couple, along with Emily and Josh Nowell and Jim and Mallorie Rasberry, partnered to restore the building and business to its former glory. With a focus on selling American-made items, you can feel good about shopping at LMCo.
Grab a vintage glass bottle soda, your favorite snack and stick around for awhile to watch our Scotsman Co. woodworking team hard at work. Inspired by general stores of yesteryear, The Scotsman General Store is sure to remind you of a place from your own hometown. With hundreds of glass bottle sodas to choose from, unique candies and stack, you'll definitely want to sit and stay a spell. If you stick around long enough, you might get to see Ben and his team filming the next season of HGTV's Home Town.
You'll find a little bit of everything here. A men's section providing men's soaps and bath items. A women's section of bath and body products, clothes and pajamas. A children's section containing baby items such as gowns, clothing, teething rings and swaddles/blankets. Home décor, kitchen accessories, pillows and candles can be found here as well!
Laurel’s finest mens wares and home of Ben’s favorite Barber.
Front Street Market
This award-winning downtown shop features home wares, gifts and antiques in a 100-year-old, three-story building. It’s also home to the area’s largest bridal registry. Owner and Laurel-native Andrea Milham uses her design background and retail experience to keep the shop stocked with unique finds and quality products made by local artisans.
For the vintage shopper, this antique and vintage market is a must-see. It’s full of antiques as well as artisan wares and also features an upscale boutique where shoppers can find trendy jewelry and clothing.
We use carefully selected donated goods sold at a fair price to provide living wages, opportunities and life skills for women at Dwell: A Transitional Housing Community for Women.
Layton’s Gift Shop (located in Lee’s Coffee & Tea)
WHERE TO EAT
Vic’s is a no-nonsense joint specializing in, you guessed it, biscuits and burgers. If you want a classic Southern blue plate lunch, this is your spot.
While you might not be able to take the meats home to cook, you can still pick up some local treats from this butcher shop while in Laurel. The Knight Butcher carries everything from honey to soda to salsa. Don’t miss their jerky or fudge, both made in-house.
For a pick-me-up, visit Lee’s, located conveniently in downtown Laurel. Lee’s is known for gourmet coffee, teas and their made-from-scratch soups and paninis.
As seen on Home Town, Pearl’s is a classic blue plate lunch diner. Miss Pearl provides classic options like fried chicken, baked chicken, hamburger steak, porkchops, mac n cheese, fried green tomatoes, black eyed peas, lima beans, fried okra, rice and gravy, spicy or regular cornbread, banana pudding, and cheesecake. Her menu changes each day so be sure to follow her on Instagram here!
As seen on Home Town, Café La Fleur offers the perfect Cajun, French dish. They serve crawfish po'boys & other Southern-inspired eats in a quaint bistro with a New Orleans vibe.
As seen on Home Town, this little food truck makes take out food a flavor-packed and delightful experience. Their menu is as creative as their owners as they offer specials each week. Expect surprises like red beans and rice, pulled pork and macaroni wraps, shrimp po’ boys, pepperoni grilled cheeses, chicken cordon bleu sandwiches, grilled chicken club burgers. They offer various low-carb options and fit everyone’s taste. Be sure to follow along on their Instagram to see their specials each week!
A small family-owned business where authentic Italian food is homemade and served fresh. Located on the beautiful Central Avenue, Mimmo’s is open daily and offers take-out and dine-in options.
The Loft is a dinner-only restaurant in Laurel’s historic downtown with indoor and outdoor seating. They specialize in steak and seafood, but have a range of other menu items from pasta to sandwiches.
A family-friendly restaurant that serves fresh seafood, scrumptious steaks and much more!
You can’t experience a small, Southern town without sampling their drive-in fare. Phillips is a longtime local staple (known to locals as ‘PDI’) serving the classics — burgers and shakes.
A classic, southern blue plate cuisine complete with fried chicken, baked chicken, lima beans, mac n cheese, rice and gravy, green beans, black eyed peas and much more.
Some of the best, finger-lickin’ barbeque in the Pine Belt. Serving various barbeque options, such as ribeye plates, sandwiches, sausage, chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, fries, okra, and corn on the cob.
Gecko's offers a super FRESH mexi-fusion grill menu with a tropical flair. Customers create their own dish in four easy steps.
A small town, mom ‘n’ pop donut shop that has been serving Laurel for over fifty years. Garcia’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Be sure to try their burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, bowls, and salads!
Texas style BBQ with slow-smoked brisket, baby back ribs, pulled pork, ½ chicken with all your favorite southern sides.
The Disneyland for candy, cookie and milkshake lovers. Stop by here after dinner for a sweet treat!
320 Fifth Street serves an wide array of platters for all tastes and types — Pork nachos, frito chili pie, special hot dogs, griddle sandwiches to soups and salads. You come for their food and stay for the live music and open mic nights.
Dragon the Wagon is a mobile food business that specializes in BBQ, smoked meats, soul food, burgers, specialty fries, and much more. Owners, Cory and Cherry Pitts, have over 30 years combined of experience of creating tasty meals for locals and visitors alike!
WHERE TO REST
This charming bed and breakfast features antique furniture, comfortable rooms, a sitting porch and an outdoor courtyard.
There are homes all over Laurel to be rented on Airbnb. You can even stay in one of the homes renovated on “Home Town.” For convenient accommodations, look for the listings like the Laurel Cottages.