How to Spend an Afternoon in Laurel and Jones County

Although we want you for the whole weekend, if you only have a few hours to spend in our hometown, we’ll make every second count!

Begin your afternoon adventure with a stroll or golf cart ride through our historic district. The tree-lined streets and beautifully preserved architecture provide a glimpse into Laurel’s rich history. Speaking of history and architecture, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and Caron Gallery South are great places to explore Mississippi’s culture and art heritage. 

 

After diving into Jones County’s hub of history and arts, take a break and enjoy a flavorful lunch at one of our many restaurants. No matter what you are in the mood for, seafood, pizza, or even a juicy burger, we’ve got a spot that is sure to satisfy your taste buds. 

 

An afternoon out of town is never complete without a little (or a lot) shopping. Wander through the charming storefronts of our local boutiques and gift shops to partake in some retail therapy. We have something for everybody, from kids’ and women’s apparel to home goods and unique antiques!

 

Finally, you must indulge in something sweet to add a cheery on top of your afternoon in Laurel and Jones County.  And not to brag, but we have some of the most delicious bakeries in the South. Or if you need a little caffeine pick-me-up before you get back on the road, stop by one of our quant cafes or coffee shops for a boost of energy! 

 

Every corner tells a story here! Whether you’re drawn to history, shopping, or culinary delights, spending an afternoon in Laurel and Jones County promises a charming and enriching Southern experience.

 

If one afternoon simply isn’t enough, check out our 6 Things to Do in Laurel & Jones County in 2024 blog!

Fall in Love with Laurel & Jones County

Fall is in the air, which means it’s the perfect time to enjoy pumpkin spice, autumn leaves, sweater weather, and exploring our charming Home Town! Whether you are looking for festivals to attend, delicious food to eat, or places to stay, we’ve got a list of activities that will make you fall in love with Laurel and Jones County this season! 

Fall Festivals & Farmer Markets 

It’s the perfect weather to enjoy a day of fun in the sun, and Laurel and Jones County have fall fairs and festivals to put you in the mood for the season! Join us for our Fall Fest in the Ville’ for a day of pony rides and fun jumps, live music, food trucks, and shopping! Stick around as the sun sets for Trunk or Treat and a costume contest! Take the family to the Kiln to Kitchen Farmers Market, where you can get the full local experience on Saturday mornings. Discover locally grown and garden fresh plants and produce from our Home Town community. And you can’t miss out on the South Mississippi Fair every October for eight days of thrilling rides, yummy fair food, + more! 

Flavorful Food and Drinks!

Southern cooking is our specialty, and you won’t want to miss out on these delicious dining options in Laurel and Jones County! Enhance your dining experience at 320 Fifth Street – enjoy delicious American cuisine while participating in trivia, open mic night, or live music. Want to be in the spotlight? Mark your calendar, and get ready to stroll around downtown for Wine Down Downtown Laurel 2023. Enjoy walking around our beautiful downtown while sampling wines from all our participating merchants. Not a wine connoisseur? No worries! You can visit our 30-plus merchants and restaurants that are open to serve you! For some delicious Southern breakfast food, head over to Grits and Some. If you are in the mood for BBQ, Hog Heaven BBQ is the place for you! Looking for a fancy date night restaurant? Edgar’s Steakhouse is the perfect fine-dining restaurant for you and your special someone! Laurel and Jones County have no shortage of restaurants that will satisfy your taste buds this fall!

Cozy Lodging

When booking a trip for the holidays, lodging is one of the most important parts of the planning process! We’ve got you covered with these charming housing options in Laurel and Jones County! For a perfect home away from home experience with delicious home-cooked food, check out one of our Bed and Breakfasts! The Grandiflora Bed and Breakfast, and Wisteria Bed and Breakfast are sure to provide you with the southern hospitality we are known for! If you are looking to stay in an Airbnb, check out one of our vacation rentals, such as Happy Blue Cary and Company. We also have a plethora of hotels with numerous amenities to enhance your stay!  

We can’t wait to share our countless entertainment options, dining, and lodging with you so you can fall in love with Laurel and Jones County, too!

For even more information about upcoming events and dining and lodging options 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+.

Home Town Fans: Your Second Visit Itinerary

You’ve been to Laurel & Jones County to see the sites, but now you’re back for round 2! We love hearing how many fans of HGTV’s Home Town come back again and again to shop, dine, and play in Laurel & Jones County, Mississippi. If you’ve seen the highlights of our hometown, here are some great spots to add to the itinerary of your second visit. 

HGTV's Home Town's Ben and Erin Napier on Porch Swing

First Trip Recap 

For your first visit, you’re definitely going to hit the highlights of what you’ve seen on the show. We’ve got your perfect itinerary here, but let’s recap. 

  • Of course you’ll shop at Ben & Erin Napier’s stores, Scotsman General Store & Woodshop and Laurel Mercantile Co
  • You’ll peruse the Historic Downtown, and you’ve taken your picture with at least one blue truck and a few murals. 
  • You saw the Arabian sign at Laurel Little Theater and took a tour of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. 
  • We’re hoping you grabbed some delicious food and one too many desserts while you were here! 

 

Back for Seconds

Your second visit will likely still include much of what you saw during the first time through our hometown (we’re hoping you brought some new folks to show Laurel & Jones County, after all), but here are a few ideas for things to add to your itinerary during Round 2. 

 

Something Old, Something for You! 

As you likely already discovered, our town is full of plenty of unique antique malls and stores. Antiquing in Laurel & Jones County is no amateur sport. Whether you’re looking for high end antique furniture, unique vintage collectibles, or funky finds from days gone by, the treasure you seek is definitely in our plentiful shops. Here are a few waiting for you to peruse: 

 

Carpenter Brother’s Emporium of Wonderful Whatnots & Hole in the Wall Food Joint – A step back in time located in Ellisville 

Rusty Chandelier – So many booths, you could spend the whole day perusing! 

Peddlers’ Junktion – From furniture to clothing to niche finds like knives and silver, you’re sure to find something to take home! 

Southern Antique Gift Mall – Be sure to head upstairs for antique booths, including lots of furniture.

Bookstore in the Window – Located on Central Avenue, fans of used books will enjoy browsing. (Note: the store features new books and other gift items as well).

The Remnant – Your go-to place for used clothes, plus some household items 

 

Veterans Memorial Museum

Did you know that the Veterans Memorial Museum in Laurel holds a piece of the USS Arizona which sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor? It’s one of only three private museums in the world that feature a piece of the Arizona! Fans of Ben’s Workshop will remember this from the episode where he builds a new display for the museum. Stop by to see this and more including thousands of artifacts, memorabilia, weapons, uniforms, vehicles, and educational materials related to the armed forces and military history of the ​United States.

 

More Murals, Please 

How many murals can you count? You’ve seen them on the small screen, but we’re adding even more! The new observation deck at Scotsman General Store & Woodshop (coming soon!) is sure to be a crowd favorite and a must for an Instagram-worthy pic while you’re here

 

We can’t wait to welcome you to our hometown! For more ideas of where to shop, eat, and stay while you’re here, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. 

Laurel, MS: Experience the Filming Location of HGTV’s Home Town

 

Get a firsthand peek into HGTV’s Home Town with a tour of the area where the show is filmed: Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi.

The HGTV’s Home Town Experience

On HGTV’s Home Town, the darlings of Mississippi, Ben and Erin Napier take old houses and turn them into dream homes as they lovingly welcome people to Laurel, MS. With hotels, local Bed and Breakfasts, and Air BnBs, there’s plenty of room to make our hometown yours for the weekend so that you can enjoy Laurel, MS beyond the TV screen. Here’s a list of must-see places to complete your HGTV’s Home Town experience.

 HGTV Home Town Laurel MS | Ben and Erin Napier

 

Take a Historic Home Tour

Start your Laurel experience at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art or the Laurel Welcome Center where you’ll find the official Laurel Walking Tour brochure. Wandering the oak-lined streets of the Laurel Historic District will give you and up-close-and-personal view of so many historic and stunning homes, plus the beautiful parks and streets you’ve seen on episodes of HGTV’s Home Town.

Shopping

Laurel Mercantile Co in Laurel MS

Downtown Laurel is basically its own character on the show. Episode after episode, viewers will see the twinkling lights, plus watch Erin grabbing fabrics, antiques, knickknacks, and more from the darling shops throughout the town.

To truly get a sense of the style showcased on Home Town, start your shopping at Laurel Mercantile Co. and Scotsman General Store. Style and American Made are the theme of Laurel Mercantile Co. This retail store includes apparel, candles (oh the candles!), sundries, kitchenware, bath-ware, home décor including pillows, fabrics, vintage finds, and art for your walls back home.

Meanwhile the Scotsman General Store is a step into Southern days gone by. An ode to general stores that were known across the south decades ago, visitors will find apparel, preserves (and other delicious perishables), soda pop, and a peek into Ben’s woodshop. Pro Tip: stop by during the filming of HGTV’s Home Town to watch him create custom pieces featured on the show!

For more places to find toys, apparel, accessories, and antiques, check out our list of where to shop in Laurel and Jones County.

 

Dining

If there’s one thing we Southerners know how to do, it’s gather around a table, so it comes as no surprise that there have been many dining establishments featured on HGTV’s Home Town. Here are a few fans may remember.

Sweet Somethings Bakery in Laurel MS

  • Pearl’s Diner is Southern cooking at its best. From fried chicken to mac ‘n cheese and everything in between, you’re sure to get your fill of both mouth-watering fare and sweet Southern hospitality.
  • Lee’s Coffee & Tea is the perfect spot to grab a cup of soup, a sandwich, fresh baked goods, and (as the name implies) a hot cup of coffee or tea.
  • The Loft on Central Avenue features seafood, steak, and pasta in a beautiful setting. Settle in for a perfectly cooked steak in the courtyard, and you’re guaranteed a perfect Southern night.

Beyond the show, Erin and Ben regularly feature all the best spots to grab a bite in Laurel on Instagram.  They’ve named many local favorites including Café La Fleur, David’s grocery, The Knight Butcher, Shug’s Cookie Dough & Candy Bar, PDI / Phillips Drive-In (we hear Ben gets the #3), Mimmo’s Restaurant, The 5000 MS, and more!

For a full list of restaurants in Laurel and Jones County, head to our Where to Eat page.

 

Local Favorites Featured on the Show

Erin dropped the sweet tidbit that her parents went on their first date at The Little Laurel Theatre, and it’s definitely a must-see sight in Jones County, MS. Located in the heart of Downtown Laurel, Laurel Little Theatre features a varied season of shows every year, so check out what shows are playing during your visit. Be sure to nab a pic under the neon Arabian sign during your visit!

ThHGTV Home Town Stars Ben and Erin Napier | Discover Laurel MSe Loblolly Festival is one of the most annually anticipated events in Laurel. On the first Saturday of October, Laurel’s heritage as a sawmill town is the center of attention as folks gather to celebrate, shop, and eat. This free festival features arts and crafts vendors, live music, rides, and all of the best festival food (hello, funnel cakes and corn dogs). Demonstrations take place throughout the day, and the local shops are available for perusing as well.

 

The murals seen on the show are a big thing here in Laurel and Jones County. Literally a big thing. Covering walls and the sides of buildings, these gorgeous quotes are both charming and Instagram-worthy. See how many you can find (and be sure to tag us in your Instagram posts).

 

Whether visiting in the fall, spending the holidays in Jones County, or joining us for a quick weekend getaway to Laurel, we’re so happy to get to share our little corner of Mississippi with you! Welcome to our hometown!

 

Find out more about how to Visit Mississippi responsibly, and be sure to visit our FAQ page for the most current community and safety information.

4 Reasons to Visit Laurel & Jones County

If you need a reason (or five) to visit Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi, we definitely have you covered! Let’s talk about why you should plan to eat, play, stay, and explore The City Beautiful! 

 

4. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun 

If a girls’ weekend is in the works, Laurel should absolutely be the destination. Split an AirBnB or stay at a name brand hotel, and get ready to eat, shop, and take pics to document the fun! From coffee to wine and pastries to pasta, there’s plenty to please your palates while you dine at our local restaurants. Ready to shop? Hit our cute boutiques or spend the day discovering antiques. Museums? Check. Casino? We’ve got it! TV-worthy Historic District ready to be explored? Of course! We’ve got it all for your next girls-only getaway! 

Start planning your Girls’ Weekend

Reasons to Visit Laurel & Jones County

Photo courtesy haless_yeahh_ via Instagram

 

3. Love is in the Laurel Air 

Grab your sweetheart and hit the road. A road trip with a stop to cozy up in a B&B and explore a charming small town like Laurel, MS? Now that’s Nicholas Sparks-level romance. Discover treasures as you peruse our unique shops, dine deliciously at our local eateries, and don’t leave without visiting one of our bakeries or candy stores downtown for a sweet treat! 

Start planning your Couple’s Getaway

Reasons to Visit Laurel & Jones County

Photo courtesy lisaann_rippy via Instagram

 

2. HGTV Fans Can’t Get Enough 

We’ve heard it time and time again, fans of HGTV’s Home Town come for the as seen on TV experience, but they come back again and again because they simply can’t get enough of our small-town charm! And we really don’t blame them. In Laurel & Jones County, the food is fantastic, the shopping is undeniably charming, and everywhere you turn, we’re serving up Southern hospitality in helpings as big as a side of mac and cheese at Pearl’s Diner! 

Plan Your HGTV Home Town Fan Vacation 

Reasons to Visit Laurel & Jones County

Photo courtesy hometownrealtor_with_heart via Instagram

1. We Really Do Want You Here

Whether you call it Stars Hollow or a Hallmark Channel movie, Laurel, Mississippi is a tv-worthy setting (literally). We really are the kind of town where please and thank you are heard. Where family, helping out your neighbors, and making things beautiful are taken seriously. We have a deep affection for pancakes in December, we think the loblolly is the best darn tree this side of the Mississippi, and we’ll take any excuse to gather downtown and celebrate something or nothing as a community. We’re proud to say we’re from here, and even more proud to show you around. We love our visitors and take care to make them feel welcome. We hope you’ll be next! 

Find out more about why we love our hometown

Reasons to Visit Laurel & Jones County

Photo courtesy allyelyse04 via Instagram

For more information about visiting Laurel and Jones County, Mississippi, be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest