Sweet Mississippi Summertime: What to Do this Summer in Laurel & Jones County

Mississippi barbecue isn’t the only thing bringing the heat! Summer is here, and we’ve compiled all the best ways to enjoy longer days surrounded by sweet Southern hospitality. From tasty ice cream and fresh lemonade to exploring downtown Laurel on a golf cart or relaxing at the spa –  are you ready to summer love and have a blast in Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi?

Refreshing Sweet Treats:

In our opinion, the best way to beat the heat is by indulging in a delicious sweet treat. If you are in the mood for ice cream – order a scoop (or 3) from Betsy’s on Magnolia or a spectacular banana split made with homemade custard from The Laurel Creamery! Also, check out the newest ice cream shop in Ellisville – Bennie & Mae’s! 

Need something more on the refreshing side? Scotsman General Store serves up great snowballs, and right down the road in Ellisville at The Coffeehouse, you can find a special kids’ refresher drink menu, and while you’re there, pick up an iced latte for mom. 

Outdoor Fun:  

Jones County has many ways to fill your pockets full of sunshine during your visit. Spend a day exploring historic downtown Laurel on a Golf Cart from Puttin’ Around Rentals, then stop at Trustmark Art Park and sit under a shaded oak tree for a picnic. If spending your day playing a round of golf is more your style, visit the Dixie Golf Club; you’re guaran-tee-d to have a great time. Are you hungry yet? Stop by 320 Fifth Street, sit on the patio, and listen to live music with a refreshing cocktail and tasty appetizers. 

Indoor Fun:  

If you want to have fun out of the sun while in Jones County, try Renew Medispa to relax and get pampered or kick off some friendly competition at Adventure Axe Throwing Co.. We even have a place for our art and history buffs, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, filled with beautiful cultural exhibits and collections. You can also create your own work of art at one of their Summer Watercolor Workshops to bring a piece of Laurel & Jones County back home with you. The Laurel-Jones County Black History Museum & Arts Laurel-Jones County Black History Museum & Arts is a great place to visit to gain insights into the history and contributions of African Americans locally and nationally. 

If you want to get crafty, HAND+Made in downtown Laurel will fulfill all your DIY dreams. Last but certainly not least, this is for all of our HGTV Home Town fans – Scotsman General Store & Woodshop. This is where all the magic happens when Ben designs and curates the wood structures shown on the show; you could even run into the star himself. 

No matter how you decide to spend your time indoors or out, with a refreshing snack or a sweet treat, you’ll be sure to have a summer sweeter than tea in Jones County.

For even more information about what to do, see, and eat in Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi, be sure to check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

Mother’s Day Getaway: Relaxing Girls Weekend Ideas in Laurel & Jones County

When it comes to girls’ getaway ideas, Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi has no shortage of girl-friendly fun waiting to be had! From bachelorette parties to Mother’s Day vacations and every excuse in between, when it’s time to grab your girls for a weekend away, relaxation, rejuvenation, and all around renewal are on the itinerary in Laurel and Jones County! 

Girls Weekend in Laurel Mississippi

Relax

Situated just outside of Laurel, The Lodge at Sweetwater is a nature retreat unlike any other. 

The Lodge at Sweetwater Studios, is a glamping tent lodge and retreat center exclusively for adults and is designed to bring together local artists, aspiring creatives, and nature and yoga enthusiasts.

Trails, spas, glamping, and the like are reason enough to plan a ladies-only retreat, but when choosing your vacation dates, be sure to check out the events at The Lodge throughout the year. Featuring a variety of themes, foraging enthusiasts, meditation fans, family-fun seekers, and yogis (and many, many more hobbyists) are sure to find an event to get away from the real world and back to nature. 

Check out the full listing of events here..

Renew

High-quality spa services with Southern hospitality? Sounds like an obvious choice for a girls weekend to us! Afterall, self care shouldn’t just be a trip to the grocery store sans kids. Hello, spa day! 

Be sure to add Renew Medi Spa to your girls weekend plans. With a goal for every customer to leave glowing, treatments like massage, IV hydration therapy, LED light therapy, and more are just what every ladies vacation needs. 

 

Rejuvenate 

What could be more rejuvenating or invigorating like a day shopping in our charming boutiques and antique shops? Sounds delightful. Scouting the most sought after spots from your favorite HGTV show? Yes, please! Sipping lattes and wine in local hot spots? Done and done! 

We’ve got plenty of itineraries for your next girls weekend to Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi. Don’t miss these: 

The Ultimate Guide to a Laurel and Jones County Girls Getaway

Experience the Filming Location of HGTV’s Home Town

Fan Favorite Spots to Shop & Play in Laurel, MS

 

For even more information about what to do, see, and eat in Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi, be sure to check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

Interview: Amanda Mathews, Season 1 of HGTV’s Home Town

Some dreams come true right in your hometown. Amanda Mathews was born and raised in Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi. She moved off, but couldn’t stay away for too long. After moving back, she has reunited with old friends, her favorite restaurants and shops, and the sweet Jones County hospitality + she has a newly renovated home. Keep reading to get the inside scoop on Laurel / Jones County living and her HGTV Home Town experience (Season 1, Episode 7). 

Photo courtesy Laurel Mercantile Co.

Visit Laurel & Jones County: Tell us a little bit about your episode on HGTV Home Town. 

Amanda Mathews: My episode was from Season 1 “Front Porch Dreams” Ben and Erin gave me two dreams: a front porch on the prettiest street in Laurel and a custom calligraphy table! They captured my style perfectly and I still love my home to this day.

 

Visit Laurel & Jones County: Laurel has gained a reputation for being the best small town in the US. Part of this is due to the people here. What people have made a difference in your experience? 

Amanda Mathews: Certainly moving back closer to my family has been wonderful, but I think some of my favorite friendships are with Aly Smith and Brooke Warren. Brooke and I moved back around the same time and ended up working in the same school together. This journey just wouldn’t be the same without having her as a friend! And Aly! There is just too much good stuff to say about Aly! Her wit and her genuineness are at the top of the list. She is really one of my favorites!

 

VLJC: What is your favorite thing about living in the South? Mississippi? Laurel?

AM: No doubt the hospitality. I think kindness just flows through the people here. I love that about southern culture. There is always a hello, a hug, or a how ya doin’? Waiting for you! 

 

VLJC: What does hospitality mean to you?

AM: For me, it’s creating space for people. We are all busy. Life gets in the way, but I think as a community we have been intentional about loving our people but also creating space for people to move to Laurel and feel welcomed. Ultimately a sense of belonging is so important and I think hospitality is what begins to create that for each of us.

 

VLJC: Why have you chosen Laurel to be home?

AM:  For me, it made sense to come home. I wanted to invest in the community that gave so much to me. I am close with my family and have really loved being near them.

 

VLJC: What’s your favorite shopping spot in Jones County? 

AM: Southern Antiques. I actually think Andrea curates her store with me in mind! 😉 Okay that’s a stretch, but really I love everything about her store. It’s my go-to for all things gifts!

 

VLJC: What is your favorite meal in Jones County?

AM: This is such a tough choice! I think I’d have to go with biscuits and gravy from Vic’s! But the club with fries from Café Le Fleur is a close second!

 

VLJC: Where is your favorite outdoor spot?

AM: Aside from my front porch, the walking track at Mason Park. I love walking through the entirety of the park.

 

VLJC: What makes you want to stay in your hometown? 

AM: I appreciate small-town culture so much and love to feel connected to so many people.

 

VLJC: What is your favorite new (or new-ish) thing about Jones County?

AM: The Scent Library. I am 100% obsessed with the concept and about 5 scents. I just think it’s such a fun store.

 

VLJC: Tell us about a place you like to take out-of-town guests.

AM: I love to take them on a downtown walking tour through the shops and restaurants and especially to the museum. I think it is such a gift to have the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in our community. We also have to go to my sister’s candy store Shug’s! Honestly we probably start and finish there. 

 

VLJC: What’s your favorite souvenir to recommend or gift?

AM: I love the Laurel or Gardiner park candle from Laurel Mercantile/Scent Library or any Laurel shirt that you may find! 

 

VLJC: We’re talking off-the-beaten-path in Jones County – what’s your favorite secret spot? What is something – or somewhere – people haven’t heard about that is a must-

see/eat/do? 

AM: I’d say grab a burger from Barry’s on 84 and head to Big 10 campgrounds for a picnic! Scenic and relaxing!

 

For more information on Amanda’s episode of Home Town, check out RTR MEDIA’S detailed list. Be sure to watch Home Town on HGTV or Discovery+.

Interview: Rebekah Staples, Season 6 of HGTV’s Home Town

In Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi, a love for our hometown is a through line for many of our current and former residents. Rebekah Staples is no exception. Friend to Erin Napier, Rebekah Staples is a Laurel native who has a deep appreciation for Jones County. We’re chatting about her episode of HGTV’s Home Town (Season 6, Episode 5), about coming back to the town that shaped her, and where to eat, shop, and play in our hometown.

HGTV Home Town Season 6, Episode 5, Grand Millennial | Rebekah Staples

Photo courtesy Laurel Mercantile Co.

Visit Laurel & Jones County: Laurel has gained a reputation for being the best small town in the US. Part of this is due to the people here. What people have made a difference in your experience? 

Rebekah Staples: Oh gosh, the people here are simply the best. Even within the state of Mississippi, which is known for having friendly residents, I think Jones County natives are among the most welcoming. I would describe our residents as having a healthy mixture of hospitality, good-nature, strong independence, and a touch of contrarianism. (We are the Free State of Jones, after all!) My dad is the youngest of fourteen children, so the people that have most impacted my life are my family members (Mom – Kay, Dad – Sam, brother – Jonathan, sister-in-law – Hope, niece – Sydney, nephew – Jon Caleb, aunts, uncles, dozens of cousins, etc.). I often joke with political friends that my large family constitutes at least one-quarter of the Jones County electorate. Beyond my family, I love the can-do spirit of Laurel business owners, the accessibility and genuine care of our local elected leaders, the thriving arts and music community members who bring unique activities to the area (from trivia night to live music to arts festivals), and the dedication of Laurel Main Street staff and volunteers to ensure our city is fun for both visitors and residents alike. 

 

Visit Laurel & Jones County: It’s that sort of people who prove that Laurel is a place where hospitality shines. What does hospitality mean to you?

Rebekah Staples: I have a long history with hospitality, from growing up in The Hospitality State to being crowned the state’s “Miss Hospitality” years ago (and, yes, I was in fact legally bound to be hospitable to others for a whole year!). Hospitality is more than a nickname for Mississippi; it’s a way of life. My non-southern friends are surprised when I wave at passersby and always ask, “do you know that person?” Often, my response is “no,” and yet it feels only natural to wave at the stranger driving down 16th Avenue or walking down Oak Street. That’s what Mississippi hospitality means to me – treating others like friends, whether or not an actual relationship exists. 

 

VLJC: It seems like your love for the state is obvious, so there’s no surprise you live here. But why have you chosen Laurel specifically to be home?

RS: As many folks know, I split time between Laurel, my hometown, and Jackson, our state capital.  About four years ago, I had the opportunity to purchase a Laurel homestead with roughly 16 acres (that also happened to be an eight-minute drive from my parents’ house) and jumped at the chance to purchase Jones County real estate. Spending much of my recent time in Laurel has been a treat: getting to attend special events with my niece and nephew, calling my brother to help me clear trails in the woods, hanging out with my lovely sister-in-law, and driving my parents crazy as I search for food at their house are experiences I had missed out on by not living locally. I’m loving every minute of it. 

 

VLJC: Let’s get down to sharing your love for Laurel with others. Time for some lightning round questions…. 

 

VLJC: What’s your favorite shopping spot in Jones County?

RS: This is such a tough question.  I love all things downtown, of course, with particular affection for Merle Norman. The ladies in that shop are so friendly, knowledgeable, and fashionable – what more could I ask for from a make up shop?  Also, their pink exterior and highly decorated storefront is just adorable.  

 

VLJC: What is your favorite meal in Jones County?

RS: There are so many places I love to eat in this county, so it mostly depends on my mood.  I very frequently dine on the edamame at Sake Café and enjoy the brunch at 320 Fifth Street.  A personal favorite dining spot is David’s Grocery, located outside the city limits in the Myrick community. David’s is off-the-beaten-path but worth the drive; I recommend their large salad with shrimp (and ranch dressing, of course) along with a sweet potato side.  

 

VLJC: Where is your favorite outdoors spot?

RS: My favorite outdoor dining spots are 320 Fifth Street (they have a great courtyard out back) or Bird Dog Café on Short 7th, which is a fun place to take furry friends. 

 

In terms of general outdoor activities, I love a few different spots:  Mason Park on 7th Avenue (which is shaded and also has a dog park); Gardiner Park on the corner of North 4th Avenue and West 7th Street (which has a walking track, a play area for kids, picnic tables, and a large field for recreational activities); and Bogue Homa Lake (an 882-acre lake that’s great for fishing, picnics, and boating and/or other water activities).

 

VLJC: Tell us about a place you like to take out of town guests.

RS: Naturally, I enjoy inviting out-of-towners to my Laurel property, where we can fish at the pond (which is stocked with bass, catfish, bream, and white perch); practice shooting targets in the woods; view wildlife (so far I’ve spotted deer, geese, ducks, raccoons, and even a single turkey in the yard); and enjoy the new deck and screened-in porch. Within the city limits, I love taking my friends to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, PDI / Phillip’s Drive-In for milkshakes, Lee’s or Bird Dog Café for coffee, and Pearl’s for fried chicken.  My friends also enjoy visiting the historic district to see Home Town houses – and a trip to Laurel wouldn’t be complete without a stopover at Scotsman General Store and the Laurel Mercantile.  

 

VLJC: What’s your favorite souvenir to recommend or gift?

RS: I really love the items at The Laurel Shop in downtown.  They’ve got mugs, t-shirts, the works. I also love the locally-made pottery available at Southern Antiques (also in downtown Laurel). 

 

VLJC: Ok lastly, let’s talk off-the-beaten-path in Jones County – what’s your favorite secret spot? 

RS: I think the Carpenter Bros. Emporium of Wonderful Whatnots in Ellisville is the coolest (and probably most underrated/unknown) shop around the county. They’ve got so many interesting “whatnots” – vintage antiques, art, handmade items, furniture, clothes, and more. I’d highly recommend checking out this shop, as one visit here is like stepping back in time.

 

For more information on Rebekah’s episode of Home Town, check out Laurel Mercantile’s blog with stunning photos, plus be sure to watch Season 6, Episode 5, Grand Millennial on HGTV or Discovery+.

Indoor Experiences in Jones County: What to Do on a Rainy Day

If the forecast is rainy during your trip to Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi, no need to worry. There are plenty of fun indoor activities to experience in our hometown! When some of our outdoor attractions are off-limits, these unique spots provide plenty of fun for your whole group!

What to Do on a Rainy Day in Laurel MS

 

Buff City Soap 

Bath bombs, soaps, and bath whips! Oh my! All of your bath and laundry dreams come true at Buff City Soap in Laurel which offers delightfully scented, plant based soaps, handmade daily, in each locally-owned soap makery. Buff City Soap is on a mission to create handmade products that are free of harsh ingredients and full of nourishing plant based goodness. In store, Makers whip up enchantingly fragrant creations to share with customers. From iconic soaps and bath bombs to their swoon-worthy laundry soap, Buff City Soap’s products are plant-based and handmade daily so you can smell wonderful.

Axe Throwing  

Axe throwing has quickly become one of the most popular activities for friends and family to enjoy together, and Adventure Axe Throwing in Laurel is providing a one-of-a-kind place to enjoy a fun night or day in Jones County. An unforgettable and thrilling experience, your competitive spirit will come alive when it’s time to sling axes! 

HAND + made

HAND + made is an integrated retail and DIY experience located in Laurel. Stop in to shop in the retail store or make it a fun-filled day with a class! DIY-instructed classes are fun no matter your age or painting ability. Leave with a project that you’ve created and will treasure forever, plus memories that will last a lifetime!

Magnolia Soap 

At Magnolia Soap and Bath Co., experience hand poured, plant-based soap & beauty products. Magnolia Soap started as an alternative to traditional harsh soaps and now provides a way for people with sensitive skin to indulge in clean, perfectly-scented soaps and bath products. Stop in and grab hair products, shower steamers, body butters, scrubs, oils, and so much more. 

Scavenger Hunt at Museum 

One of Laurel and Jones County’s most visited attractions, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is an always-free museum located on beautiful Fifth Avenue. Museum patrons will take in traveling exhibits as well as a variety of permanent collections ranging from Japanese Woodblock Prints to classic European and American art.

If your crew is ready for a treasure hunt, be sure to stop by the front desk of the museum to grab an artBINGO card for an interactive exploration of the exhibits. Rainy day scavenger hunt? Yes, please!

 

For even more things to do during your trip to Laurel and Jones County, check out these fan-favorite spots to eat, shop, and play in the New State of Jones.