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A Bucket List Trip to Laurel, Mississippi

My husband and I are big fans of Ben and Erin Napier, hosts of the HGTV show Hometown.  We like their talents, but we also love their loving relationship and how they truly keep the homeowner's needs at the forefront.  If I could have my house made over, I would choose these two in a heartbeat.  Laurel is located in the center of the southern part of the state, south and east of Jackson.  While Mississippi isn't a top travel destination, it is known for its Southern hospitality.  Laurel takes that hospitality very seriously, by welcoming new residents who come to remodel one of the historic homes. Enjoy this round-up of not-to-be-missed things to do while in Laurel, Mississippi.

On our way home from our trip to the Gulf Coast (Mississippi), we made a detour to Laurel.  It was about 90 minutes out of our way, but we both didn't mind the extra time on the road since we were so excited to be visiting in the first place!  

What's Special about Laurel, Mississippi?

Besides the fact that the show Hometown is filmed there,  it's known as the Yellow Pine Capital of the World due to its early founding as a sawmill town.  It is also home to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, which houses an impressive collection of art masterpieces.  Southern antiques fill the many shops that are located in the historic district.  Downtown Laurel is charming with remodeled storefronts including Laurel Mercantile and the Scent Library.  

Where to Stay in Laurel

Because we made a last-minute decision to visit Laurel, we were unable to stay at one of the 55 Airbnbs that dot Laurel.  We ended up at a local hotel, just minutes from downtown.  It was clean and fresh and offered a hot breakfast, but we chose to opt out because we wanted to try another Laurel restaurant before leaving for home.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Jefferson Street.  There were many Airbnbs to choose from. Some of the Airbnbs are restored homes from the HGTV show Home Town.  

Where to Eat and Drink in Laurel

We had a little over 24 hours in Laurel, so we decided to stick with highly recommended restaurants.  We had the strawberry lemonade at Handmade as a refresher, and let me tell you, it's the best lemonade I have ever had.  For lunch, we went to Pearl's Diner.  Pearl was featured on one of the Hometown episodes and I knew I wanted to try her place.  The lines are long but the wait relatively short.  She sat us with two unknown women who we had the most delightful conversation.  Both were teachers in Austin, TX and were making their way home in their camper.  We were unable to get exactly what we wanted as some of the options ran out, but what we had was divine.  I highly recommend the banana pudding!

For dinner, we headed to Cafe la Fleur.  It serves mostly cajun food and everything we ordered was delicious.  We truly enjoyed the beignets with chocolate and caramel sauce.

We ate breakfast at Lee's Coffee and Tea and had delicious omelets with fresh fruit.  It was a good way to start our journey back home.

What to do in Laurel

Laurel has a walkable downtown area that is full of wonderful shops.  We spent our time at the Laurel Mercantile, The Scent Library, and The Scotsman Co.  All were wonderful stops.  I was grateful I had the car to carry my items back home!  I purchased candles, matches, and a tee shirt from the Scent Library and art prints from the Laurel Mercantile.  These shops are well-curated and a delight to browse.  Some shops we loved that are unrelated to the Home Town market are Southern Sisters,  Bella Bella, and The Cotton Boll.  

One of my favorite stops was the Adam Trest studio.  The studio is filled with wonderful pieces from other artists and it is the studio where Adam works.  He happened to be in his studio when we visited and we had a short visit with him.  He is delightful!  I plan to own an original by him one day!

We took a golf cart tour of the homes that Erin and Ben have remodeled during the six seasons of their show.  That was a lot of fun and our guide was wonderful!  He had a lot of stories to tell and since he was born and raised in Laurel, he knew many of the people from the show.  This tour focused on historic Laurel around the downtown area, so we didn't see many of the homes that were remodeled in North Laurel. 

For our next visit, we will plan time for seeing the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and hopefully visit the church with the Tiffany windows. 

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