Your Guide for a Day Trip to Laurel, MS

Only have one day to spend in Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi? It’s a choose your own adventure whether you’re here for 24 hours or are spending a whole week with us, and with these ideas, you’re sure to see a little bit of everything the New State of Jones has to offer.

Photo courtesy Christine Johnson

Start in Nature

Start your day with an early morning hike at the DeSoto National Forest. Located here are two National Recreation Trails, the Black Creek and the Tuxachanie, which offer more than 60 miles for novice and expert hikers to explore pinewoods.  Other trails include Bethel and Rattlesnake Bay ATV trails, Big Foot horse trail, Leaf hiking trail, and Bethel bicycle trail. Everyone from avid cyclists to keen birders and leisurely wanderers will find something to love about DeSoto National Forest.

 

Let’s Start Shopping (and Eating)

Once you’ve got your fill of the beautiful Mississippi forest, head to Hellfighters USA for a unique-to-Laurel shopping experience. Technically a motorsports dealership, Hellfighters USA is a one-stop-shop for boutique-worthy clothing, home décor, Christian books and décor, and so much more!

Once you’ve shopped to your heart’s desire, walk right across the street for lunch at the infamous PDI / Phillips Drive-In. This classic drive-in is a step back in time serving up mouthwatering burgers and shakes as delicious as when they first opened in 1948.

A little less than a mile away, the shopping continues at Peddler’s Junktion. Here, shoppers take a step back in time to browse through vintage, antique, and artisan wares. Once you’ve loaded up the car with furniture, tchotkes, and even jewelry. If didn’t stop at PDI / Phillips Drive-In for  burgers, you may try Blue Crab Grill for fresh seafood, located next door to Peddler’s.

Shopping and dining go hand-in-hand in Downtown Laurel – your next stop. Funky boutiques, charming toy shops, and antique treasures are all waiting to be discovered. And dinner? Pizza, burgers, pasta, steaks, and more grace the menus of local eateries. From Southern comfort cuisine to fine dining options, whatever craving your daytripping has conjured, there’s an answer for it in Downtown Laurel! Be sure to peruse our full list of shopping and dining options!

Once your belly is full, it’s time to cruise through the Historic District (perhaps while enjoying something sweet from Shug’s Cookie Dough and Candy Bar or Something Sweet Bakery) to view gorgeous craftsman and bungalow style homes. In fact, Laurel touts fame for being home to the largest in-tact contiguous collection of turn-of-the-century craftsman and bungalow style housing (but also for being the setting of HGTV’s Home Town featuring the sweet Ben and Erin Napier). A definite must-see!

 

The Murals

If you make a day trip and don’t Instagram it, did it even really happen? One of the best ways to explore Laurel is to find all of our murals for a quick photo opportunity. Here are 8 must-see murals to look for as you explore during your day trip to Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi.

  • Laurel Looks Good on You
  • Be Kind
  • Welcome to Laurel
  • Loyal as a Book
  • The City Beautiful
  • Laurel Mercantile
  • Scotsman Co. Woodshop
  • Greetings from Laurel
  • Butterfly at Magnolia State Bank

 

Stop by on The Way In or Out

The best way to maximize your time in Jones County is to make a stop on your way into or out of town! We’ve already recommended that you start your day at DeSoto National Forest, but if you can manage to spend the night, first thing the next morning would be a great time to grab a to go coffee (and pastries and more) from The CoffeeHouse at Brookside, Small Coffee (hello, delicious cinnamon rolls), Jitters Coffee House and Bookstore, or Lee’s Coffee and Tea, then head to DeSoto for an early morning stroll.

Depending on which way you’re headed when you leave our hometown, be sure to leave time for one of these stops as you leave Jones County, MS!

US 15 North: Hit up 16th Avenue for shopping.

59 South: Historic Ellisville and The Deason Home

US 15 South: Landrum’s Homestead and Village | DeSoto National Forest

59 North: Bok Houma Casino

 

If you’ve decided a day trip to Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi isn’t enough, find a place to rest your head in our Where to Stay guide. Home Town fans, be sure to check out our guide to seeing Laurel the Home Town way!

Things to Do in Laurel: Spring Edition

With so many things to do in Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi, visitors want to come back time and time again. With events, races, cooking competitions, and so much more, spring is the perfect time for both new and repeat visitors to come get to know Laurel, MS.

 

Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook OffChili Cookoff | Things to Do in Laurel MS This Spring

When: Saturday, February 8, 2020

Laurel Main Street kicks off each new year with the annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off. The event takes place the second Saturday in February and is held in downtown Laurel with music, beverages, and teams vying for their chili to be named the best.

Mardi Gras Celebrations

When: Saturday, February 8, 2020 (Ellisville) & Saturday, February 15, 2020 (Laurel)

Family friendly Mardi Gras parades take to the streets in both Ellisville and Laurel during the Mardi Gras season each spring. The whole family is sure to enjoy the festivities.

 

First State Bank Laurel Leap Day 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament

When: Saturday, February 29, 2020

 

In its inaugural year, the First State Bank Laurel Leap Day 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is set to be a slam dunk. Courts will be set up in the Front Street parking lot in Laurel, MS, along with a DJ, food vendors, and beverages. Participants and fans are welcome to attend!

 

Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50

When: Saturday, March 7, 2020

Both seasoned ultra-runners and first time long distance racers love the The Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50 which is held in early March each year on the Longleaf Horse Trail in the De Soto National Forest just south of Laurel, MS. Participants take in the beautiful natural scenery during the 20K, 50K, or 50 Mile run.

 

Laurel Main Street Touch-A-TruckTouch a Truck | Chili Cookoff | Things to Do in Laurel MS This Spring

When: Saturday, March 7, 2020

Touch a Truck provides a unique opportunity for children to explore vehicles of all types in one place – from emergency vehicles to delivery trucks. Personnel will teach the children about the equipment displayed and how these machines help us and serve their communities.

 

Landrum’s Homestead & Village Second Saturday Family Day

When: Saturday, March 14, April 22, May 9, June 13

Family Day is the perfect spring event for all ages! Families can enjoy time together touring the Homestead, taking wagon rides, watching wood carving demonstrations, sampling biscuits cooked on a wood stove, gem mining, and more! Food and snacks will be available for purchase from the smokehouse, and homemade ice cream is the perfect sweet treat for a spring (or summer) day. Admission is $10, Children 3 and under are free.

 

Wine Down Downtown

When: Friday, March 20, April 20, May 20, July 17, Wine Down Downtown | Things to Do in Laurel this SpringAugust 21, September 18

Presented by Laurel Main Street, Wine Down Downtown features extended shopping hours in downtown Laurel as well as wine tasting! Attendees start by purchasing a $15 re-usable, collector-style wine cup, which allows for unlimited wine tastings at all participating merchants. Non-wine drinking participants are welcome to join the fun for free. More than 30 downtown merchants and restaurants will be open and ready for a fun night downtown!

 

Catch a Show at Laurel Little Theatre

When: March 27-29 & April 3-5, 2020

Each season, the shows at Laurel Little Theatre are a joy to experience. In Spring 2020, Director Frankie Bennett will bring the comedy, “Doublewide, Texas” to the Arabian stage for two straight weekends.

 

Community Bank’s Downtown Crawfest

When: Saturday, April 18, 2020

One of the most anticipated events of the year, Crawfest takes place each April in Downtown Laurel. This culinary competition features live music, beverages, and, of course, teams cooking up crawfish hoping to be named the winner. Teams offer tasting trays to serve their crawfish creations, and attendees get to cast their vote for People’s Choice of best overall boil.

 

Annual Day in The Park

When: Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Laurel Arts League’s largest annual event, the Day in the Park, offers a one-mile fun run and 5K run and a day of entertainment! Attendees can enjoy live music, student and juried art competitions, delicious festival cuisine, children’s activities, and the works of skilled craftsmen from across the region.

 

Mother’s Day Blues Festival

When: Sunday, May 10, 2020

What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with the annual Mother’s Day Blues Festival? Gather your family and enjoy the day with blues entertainment and great food at the South MS Fairgrounds in Laurel, MS.

 

Still looking for more ideas of things to do in Laurel, Mississippi? Check out our bucket list-worthy round up of things to do during a stay in Laurel.

Laurel, MS is One of the Best Small Towns in America!

There’s no doubt about it that Laurel, Mississippi is a special place. Our hometown pride runs deep, but it’s more than just the locals who love Jones County, MS. With our beautiful oak-lined historic district, unique events throughout the year, charming downtown, military museums, a National Park, and so many things to do, it’s no wonder we’ve been touted as one of the best small towns in America.

Best Small Towns in America Laurel Mississippi

Renewed, Transformed, and Loved

When Laurel renovation pioneers Ben & Erin Napier introduced Laurel, Mississippi to the world on HGTV’s Home Town, a renaissance began. Like a cool fall breeze, a freshness settled upon our Mississippi small town, and the renewed energy is only growing. But the truth is, we were always one of the best small towns in America. Our town just needed a little love to revitalize it. And now we all have a deepened sense of pride in this little hometown of ours. Southern Living Magazine recently visited Laurel and described it perfectly.

 “The rebirth of Laurel, Mississippi, is proof of what real people can do with a little creativity, a lot of commitment, and a deep well of love.”

Best Small Town in America

There’s plenty to be proud of in Laurel and Jones County, MS, but we especially relish showing off our people, our passion, and what makes us such a unique little corner of the South. Our list of 7 things to do and see in Laurel features shopping, gaming, history, arts and culture, and more, and these must-see spots are just the start of why Laurel is one of the best small towns in America.

History and beauty run deep here. The Laurel Mercantile describe Laurel as “…a postbellum, culturally rich hamlet where creativity and industry mingle in our rich entrepreneurial history.”

History meets aesthetics in The Laurel Historic District which features the largest in-tact contiguous collection of turn-of-the-century craftsman & bungalow style housing.

From the Civil War to Masonite to our modern Main Street, there’s plenty of backstory, change, growth, and beauty to discover.

The appeal is only enhanced by the surrounding towns. In Ellisville, visitors will experience another historic downtown with shopping and dining options and unique spots such as the historic Deason Home which was built in 1845. Looking to try your luck? Head to Sandersville to roll the dice at Bok Homa Casino. Soso is home to Rasberry Greene, an event venue that features the much-anticipated Cotton Gin Market each year. There’s so much to do, see, and experience in Jones County, MS…and to eat, of course – there’s always plenty to eat.

As you stroll through the oak-lined streets, you’ll discover that Jones County and Laurel, Mississippi are more than just a place to stop and snag a few photos for Instagram (although we definitely think you should do that, too). It’s a small town with a big heart, palpable renewed spirit, a slow Southern pace, and it’s a true weekend destination. We can’t wait to welcome you!

 

Get a firsthand peek into HGTV’s Home Town with a tour of the spots featured on the show and let us help you find the perfect place to rest your head!

A Laurel Bucket List: 7 Things to Do & See in Jones County, MS

There’s so much to do and see in Jones County, Mississippi, and it may be hard to decide where to start. When you’re visiting, be sure to stop by these must-see spots!

things to do in Laurel MS

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

This always-free museum opened in the early 1920s and is the oldest museum in the state. Exhibits paintings, pottery, and sculpture from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, plus Indian artifacts and more! It has also been recognized by Mississippi Magazine as one of the top museums in the state for many years.

Insider’s Tip: Start your day at the Lauren Rogers Museum Of Art not only for the amazing exhibits but for the staff who are in-the-know about what to do and where to eat in Laurel (& beyond).

 

DeSoto National Forrest

The largest National Forrest in Mississippi, the DeSoto National Forrest offers a wide array of diverse recreational opportunities and camping locations. Hiking, biking, and more are awaiting your inner outdoor enthusiast!

 

Laurel Little Theatre

Known for the neon Arabian sign that shines its light over Downtown Laurel, the Little Laurel Theatre has been the heart of the arts & culture scene in Jones County for nearly 60 years. To find out what shows are playing this season, visit LaurelLittleTheatre.com.

 

Historic Walking Tour

Laurel, MS simply oozes with charm, and there’s no solitary attraction that highlights it more than a walking tour through the Historic District. The homes are charming and the oak-lined trees and quaint parks make it simply magical.

 

Bok Homa Casino

If gaming is your thing, Bok Homa Casino definitely needs to be on your Jones County itinerary. More than 800 slot machines, old school classics, and new thrills plus dining options make a day of fun a sure bet!

 

Landrum’s Homestead & Village

Self-described as a living history museum, Landrum’s Homestead & Village is a replica of a standard 1800’s settlement and offers visitors a unique way to experience a time gone by. From a country store to family events, this exceptional attraction is definitely a must-see in Laurel!

 

Veterans Memorial Museum

The Veterans Memorial Museum in Laurel, MS houses thousands of military artifacts and memorabilia that reflect the service and sacrifice of countless courageous servicemen and women.  The museum also offers a reference library, guest speakers, book signings, reenactments, and special events.

 

Shopping

Shop ‘til you drop may be a silly saying, but it could easily become reality in Jones County. Explore our occasional markets and antique stores to find treasures of days gone by, including the Carpenter Brother’s Emporium of Wonderful Whatnots in Ellisville. Spend your day perusing popular downtown shops, plus sweet boutiques and places to grab a bite. Don’t forget to swing by the Sawmill Square Mall for the name brand stores you love. For a full list of places to shop, head to our Shop page.

 

For more things to do and see in Laurel and Jones County, MS, head to our Discover and Events pages.