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).
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-
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+.