If you’ve found this post, I can only assume that you’re looking to visit Laurel, Mississippi, and if you’re looking to visit Laurel, Mississippi, I have a funny feeling that it’s because you love HGTV’s Hometown! Well me too friend, me too! Hometown is one of my all time FAVORITE shows on HGTV (and not on HGTV if we’re being honest 😂). Being from a small town in Alabama, I absolutely love the heart behind the show, and I love seeing all of the growth and progress Erin and Ben have brought to their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. Not to mention, Erin and Ben are the sweetest people ever, and I just love seeing them bring these old homes back to life and bring so much joy to the people in their community.
In the past year (as of May 2021), my best friend and I have visited Laurel two times, and we just absolutely love this little town. It’s the perfect place to visit for a fun weekend getaway, and 2-3 days is the perfect amount of time to experience the food, shopping, and historic charm of this sweet little town.
In this blog post, I’m going to share all of our favorite places and things to do in Laurel, Mississippi. From where to stay, what to eat, and where to shop, this post is the perfect guide to making the most of your weekend in Laurel!
THINGS TO NOTE BEFORE YOU VISIT LAUREL
First, remember that Laurel is a small town. There are a lot of fun things to do on Friday and Saturday (and the weekdays too), but very few places are open on Sundays. If you’re planning a weekend trip to Laurel, I would definitely plan to make Sunday a travel day, and try to get there earlier on a Thursday or Friday.
Second, remember that normal people like you and me live in these houses that we’ve seen on TV! It’s totally okay to walk or drive through the historic district and admire all of the gorgeous houses (many of which you’ll likely recognize from the show), and, in fact, I would highly recommend it, but it is SO important to respect the privacy of these home owners, and that includes Erin and Ben. I’ve heard stories of total strangers walking onto their property, knocking on their door, and invading their privacy in the one place they should be able to rest, relax, and escape from the limelight. So, while the historic district is a beautiful place to visit and see on your trip, remember to respect the privacy of the residents as you admire these amazing homes from a distance 🙂
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re visiting Laurel, I would highly recommend staying in an Airbnb! One of the biggest charms of Laurel is the quaint, small town feel and the southern hospitality that radiates from the locals. By staying in a locally owned Airbnb, you really get to experience the charm of the city, while simultaneously putting money in the hands the local residents of this small town. There are so many amazing Airbnb’s to stay at in in Laurel, many of which lie in the historic district, and quite a few that were actually renovated on the show, or owned by people from the show! My recommendation would definitely be to stay somewhere in or near the historic district, or in one of the downtown lofts so you are close to all the fun shops and restaurants that lie in the heart of the city.
Like I mentioned earlier, we have been there twice, and stayed at two different Airbnb’s. We LOVED each of these places, so I am going to share a little bit about them below, along with the link to their listing on Airbnb so you can check them out!
On our very first trip to Laurel in the summer of 2020, we decided to stay in this cozy little Airstream at the Laurel Cottages!
The Laurel Cottages are owned and operated by Mallorie and Jim Rasberry, Erin and Ben’s best friends from the show! The cottages, along with the Airstream, are located right in the heart of the historic district behind Mallorie and Jim’s house. The Laurel Cottages consist of two separate units stacked on top of one another. The unit referred to as The Cottage is on the first floor, and the unit referred to as The Carriage House is on the second. Next door to the cottages (but still behind The Rasberry’s main house), the 25 foot, 2019 Airstream is permanently parked on the property.
The Airstream may be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in coziness! This luxurious little camper is beautifully decorated and fully stocked with all the amenities you would expect at a boutique style hotel, and more. It has a large, sofa style seating area with a TV (because you absolutely have to watch Hometown in THE Hometown), a plush and cozy queen sized bed, luxurious robes and linens, a fully functional AC, heater, hot water heater, shower, and toilet, and so many thoughtful touches like snacks, coffee, and wine to enjoy during your stay. In addition to all of that, there are bikes and a large pool and cabana on the property that can be utilized by guests during their stay.
All in all, we loved our stay in the Airstream, and Mallorie and Jim are amazing hosts. Although we haven’t had the chance to stay in The Cottage or Carriage House yet, I would totally recommend any of the stays on the Laurel Cottages property. The location is perfect, the amenities are amazing, and the thoughtful touches and southern hospitality from the hosts radiate the small town charm of Laurel.
To read more about amenities and the history of the Laurel Cottages, visit their website at www.thelaurelcottages.com.
To book the Airstream and see more information and pictures, visit the listing on Airbnb by clicking here.
During our most recent stay in Laurel, we stayed in Allen’s Bungalow. If you’re an avid Hometown fan, you might remember Judi and her blue bungalow with the coral door from Season 3, Episode 11: Moving to Main Street. If you recall from this episode, a guest house was noted at the back of the property that Judi had intended for her son, Allen, to live while he was in college. Unfortunately, the guesthouse ended up being termite ridden, and had to be completely torn down and rebuilt. During the time it was being rebuilt, however, Allen actually ended up moving closer to the university, so Judi now rents her newly built guesthouse to visitors through Airbnb! Although Allen never lived there, she often gets asked if he does, so she found it fitting to name this cozy little guesthouse Allen’s Bungalow.
Allen’s Bungalow is truly in the PERFECT location. As the episode’s name would suggest, it is located in the historic district, right near main street and downtown Laurel. You could very easily walk to all of the downtown shops and restaurants from the bungalow, which is great for a weekend stay when downtown may be crowded with limited parking. In addition to the great location, Allen’s Bungalow is the perfect size for 2-4 people. It has a cozy living area with a smart TV, a beautiful, fully stocked kitchen equipped with everything you could need during your stay, a large, family friendly bathroom with fresh linens and extra toiletries, a full sized washer and dryer, a cozy queen bed (with the softest sheets ever), and a queen sized air mattress if you need to sleep more than 2 people.
We really loved our stay in Allen’s Bungalow. Judi thought of everything when it came to this space, so you are sure to have everything you need and more during your stay.
To book Allen’s Bungalow and see more information and photos, visit the listing on Airbnb by clicking here.
WHERE TO EAT
One of my FAVORITE parts about visiting Laurel is the food. There are so many local restaurants, bakeries, and cafes to choose from, and every single one that we’ve tried so far has been great! I seriously don’t think I’ve had one bad thing to eat in Laurel. Since our stays have been rather short each time, and most locally owned restaurants are closed on Sundays, we haven’t been able to try everything we’ve wanted to yet, but I’ll share the ones we have had so far with you here, and tell you about some more that are on our Laurel bucket list for next time!
If you watch the show regularly, you’ll probably recognize the Bird Dog Cafe from Season 4, Episode 15: The Cafe House! The Bell brothers, Connor and Elliot, moved back to Laurel to open this farm to table restaurant and cafe, and, in this episode of Hometown, Erin and Ben help them find and renovate the perfect historic home for their new business.
On our first trip to Laurel, Bird Dog Cafe wasn’t quite open yet, and on our second trip, we only had the chance to stop by for coffee. Although we didn’t get to try the food this time, it all looks amazing (if you want to see their menus and photos of their yummy food, check them out on Instagram @birddogcafe), and the indoor and outdoor dining spaces are so quaint and charming. Eating a meal at Bird Dog is definitely on our Laurel bucket list for next time!
Bird Dog Cafe is open Tuesday-Saturday from 6:30 AM – 8:30 PM, so they’re the perfect stop for anytime of the day!
Season 2, Episode 7: Colorful, Custom Cottage featured Mrs. Pearl, the owner of a favorite local restaurant, Pearl’s Diner. Pearl’s diner is a MUST if you’re visiting Laurel. It is your typical southern style, home cooked meal, and the fried chicken and mac and cheese are to die for! They are only open for for breakfast and lunch (11 AM – 2 PM on Mondays, 10 AM -2 PM Tuesday-Saturday), and have been pretty crowded on the weekends that we’ve been there. If you’re visiting over the weekend, I would recommend getting there early to grab a table! Either way, the food is absolutely worth the wait!
Bill and Julie Hogue, featured on Season 3, Episode 4: Everybody Wants a Porch, moved to Laurel from Arizona, and with them came their Food Truck: The 5000. Parked right next to the Scotsman General Store, this blue and white food truck has quickly become a favorite among the locals, and, after eating there on our last trip to Laurel, I absolutely see why! Open Monday-Wednesday from 10:30 AM – 2 PM and Thursday-Saturday from 8 AM-7PM, The 5000 is the perfect stop for lunch while you’re out and about shopping downtown. From salads and sandwiches, to tacos and specialty fries, the 5000 has something for everyone.
I got a grilled cheese with American and bacon, and my friend Hayley got Sam’s Roasted Turkey Club! Both were AMAZING, but Hayley let me try her club and I have to say, Sam’s Roasted Turkey Club was probably one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. Next time I go, that’s what I’ll be ordering for sure! I also feel like we need to talk about their fries. They are crispy, cooked to perfection, and absolutely delicious. We didn’t try any of the specialty fries, just the regular ones that came as a side, but Luke’s Philly Fries are definitely on my Laurel bucket list for next time!
Laurel Mercantile did a blog post on the Hogues and their business, and it was such a great article about this sweet family. If you want to read it, click here!
Lee’s Coffee and Tea is a family owned business that has been serving coffee, tea, and food to the Laurel community for over ten years. The shop is located in a historic building that used to be a Sears showroom, and, as a result, the shop has a unique architecture and design that differs from your usual cafe. We’ve only eaten at Lee’s Coffee and Tea for breakfast (and coffee of course), but both times the food and coffee were fantastic.
The great thing about Lee’s Coffee and Tea is that they are one of the few downtown restaurants that are open on Sundays! During the week, they are open from 7 AM – 8PM, on Friday and Saturday they are open from 7 AM – 9 PM, and Sundays they are are open from 9 AM – 4PM. Since they are one of the few that are open on Sundays, we made this our last stop on the way out of Laurel on our latest trip. It was the perfect place to grab breakfast and end a great trip to Laurel!
Okay, so The Loft is probably my absolute favorite restaurant in Laurel! They are open Tuesday-Saturday for dinner from 5 PM – 9 PM, and if you only get to eat one dinner in Laurel, this is the place I would recommend!
Located in the heart of downtown Laurel, The Loft specializes in steak, seafood, and pasta. In my opinion, they have a pretty diverse menu that has something for everyone to enjoy. On both of our trips to Laurel, we had dinner at The Loft, and both times the food was absolutely fantastic.
The Loft is definitely a favorite among the locals, and both times we have been there on a weekend, there has been a fairly long wait (45 minutes to an hour). I promise you though, the food is 100% worth the wait! If you’re not looking to wait though, I would recommend getting there early and getting your name on the list ASAP.
So unfortunately, I did not snap a picture of the exterior of Mimmo’s, but thankfully I did have some pictures of our amazing food!
Mimmo moved from Italy to South Mississippi, and with him, he brought the taste and feel of an authentic Italian restaurant. I really wish I had a picture of the interior, because it is gorgeous, and the atmosphere is great! It has extremely high ceilings, beautiful brick feature walls, and a beautiful fountain and chandelier right in the middle.
We’ve only eaten here once for dinner, but the garlic knots were hands down some of the best ones I’ve ever had. They are a must if you eat at Mimmo’s! During the week, Mimmo’s is open from 11 AM – 9 PM, and on Saturdays they are open from 4 PM – 9 PM for dinner.
Sweet Somethings Bakery is THE place to go for baked goods in Laurel. They have so many options to choose from, and I literally haven’t had anything less than delicious from here (and we tried A LOT on our visits). If you’re looking for a sweet treat to get you through your afternoon full of shopping and exploring, Sweet Somethings is the place to go!
If you’re like me and LOVE eating raw cookie dough, you have to try Shug’s Cookie Dough & Candy Bar. Shug’s is locally owned and operated by the Mathews sisters, Amanda and Alise. If you watch the show, you’ll recognize Amanda from Season 1, Episode 7: Porch Dreams and Alise from Season 3, Episode 10: Small Budget, Big Style!
What makes Shug’s special is that they serve an edible cookie dough that is completely safe to eat raw (not that that has ever stopped me…😅), in addition to other sweet treats and candy! Monday – Saturday they are open from 10 AM – 6 PM, and they are actually open on Sundays as well from 1 PM – 5 PM! It is definitely a must on your Laurel trip if you love cookie dough.
Hand + Made is actually a locally owned home and gift shop with a DIY studio where you can create custom signs, paintings, t-shirts, and more! It is a super cool little shop located right in the heart of downtown Laurel, and recently, they’ve started selling Lemonade (with a splash) right outside their store. You start with a regular lemonade, and from there you can choose to add a splash of flavor, such as strawberry or blueberry. In addition to flavors, you can also add a “spitzer splash” (if you’re 21+) of your choice, choosing from a few different flavors of spiked seltzer. We opted for a strawberry lemonade with a splash of sangria for me, and margarita for my friend. These lemonades were SO yummy, and were the perfect drink to sip and shop in downtown Laurel. Just down the street from Hand + Made, there is a small little turf covered park where you can sit and relax in some Adirondack chairs and finish your drink.
Hand + Made could definitely fall into the food & drink, shopping, and things to do categories, but I want to go ahead and share the store front now, since I’ve already told you a little bit about the store. I haven’t had the chance to take advantage of their DIY studio, but we did walk through it on our last visit to Laurel, and it looked like it would be such a fun thing to do on our next trip!
MORE RESTAURANTS ON OUR LAUREL BUCKET LIST
We haven’t had the chance to try these yet, but I’ve heard lots of good things!
- Cafe La Fleur
- Phillip’s Drive In
- Blue Crab Grill
WHERE TO SHOP
As Laurel continues to grow and progress from the love the community has for their hometown, and the exposure from HGTV, the downtown area is continually gaining new businesses. Our two visits to Laurel weren’t even quite a year apart, and new businesses had already popped up downtown when we came back on our second trip. With that being said, there are so many amazing small businesses downtown Laurel, some of which we haven’t even had the chance to go to yet, and some of which might not have even been there yet on our trips. So, first and foremost, my recommendation would be to check out as many of these local downtown shops as you can. I do, however, have some favorites to share with you from our trips that I think should be a must on any visit to Laurel!
Laurel Mercantile is the iconic place to shop for any Hometown fan! Jointly owned by Erin, Ben, Mallorie, Jim, Emily, and Josh, Laurel Mercantile specializes in American Made goods and home ware that are thoughtfully curated for their customers. Inside you’ll find home goods like candles, soaps, kitchen ware, tea towels, art, and decor, along with clothes, accessories, and lifestyle items, all manufactured right here in the USA!
If you’re looking for a quality souvenir item to take home with you, Laurel Mercantile is the place to go. I’ve gotten t-shirts from here on both trips (because who doesn’t love t-shirts) and they are some of my favorites!
Don’t forget to grab a photo with their mural and replica of Ben’s iconic blue truck while you’re here!
If you want to read more about the history of Laurel Mercantile, or shop their goods online, check out their website at www.laurelmercantile.com!
Scotsman General is another part of the Laurel Mercantile family, and home to Ben’s infamous workshop that everyone knows and loves from the show! Inside, you’ll take a trip to the past in this old fashioned shop “inspired by general stores of yesteryear”. From unique candies and glass bottle sodas, to American made clothing and leather goods, Scotsman General has something for everyone to enjoy. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see Ben working and filming for an upcoming episode of Hometown!
Southern Antiques is one of my favorite shops in Laurel! Downstairs, Southern Antiques has almost anything you could possibly think of in a home and gift shop! They have furniture, home decor, boutique clothing, jewelry, baby gifts, wedding gifts, and more! Funny story though…on our first trip to Laurel, we ended up here twice! The first time, we went in and looked around at all the amazing home and gift items, but were a little bit confused, because we didn’t really see any “antiques” as the name would suggest. As we were browsing in some other stores downtown, a local actually asked us if we had checked out the upstairs at Southern Antiques, and we were both like, “there’s an upstairs?!”. Well let me go ahead and tell you that YES, there is an upstairs and it was 100% worth heading back over to Southern Antiques for the second time in one day. The second floor is FULL of antiques and unique booths with home goods and clothing, a totally different vibe than what you find downstairs. In my opinion, the contrast between upstairs and downstairs is what makes this little store so unique and special, and they have so many amazing things to choose from both upstairs and down. Southern Antiques is definitely a must on any trip to Laurel if you ask me!
If you love antique shopping, Peddlers’ Junktion is the place to go! It is located just off of main street downtown, but definitely still in walking distance. It’s just across the road from the Bird Dog Cafe, so you can grab a coffee and head right on over to the Junktion!
The Peddlers’ Junktion is your typical antique mall: rooms and rooms of booths full of antiques, collectibles, furniture, hand made items, clothing, and more! This place is BIG and has so many amazing vendors with AMAZING prices. I seriously have been so impressed both times we’ve gone with both the selection and prices at the Peddlers’ Junktion. This is a place where you’ll probably want to spend a good chunk of time (if you like to meticulously look through each and every booth like me 😂), so plan accordingly (and park close by if you can… you’ll probably find way too much to carry around)!
So if you’re over at the Peddlers’ Junktion, you’re actually already at The Shoppes at Sawmill Marketplace! The stores pictured above, however, are easy to miss if you don’t know they’re back behind the Junktion! You can actually access both the Junktion and these little shops from this parking lot, as the wooden ramp leads to an open lobby like area with bathrooms that connects directly into the Peddlers’ Junktion.
Unfortinately, I don’t have pictures from each of these stores, but we have been to all of them and they are definitely some you’ll want to add to your Laurel bucket list!
Quarter Century is a high end boutique that has designer shoes, clothes, and accessories from brands like Hobo, Free People, Bedstu, Frye, Lucky Brand, Johnny Was, and more! The first time we visited, they were having a really great sale and I found some leopard print mules that I still wear ALL. THE. TIME. It is a great place to find high quality clothes and shoes from brands that are often times (at least where I live) only accessible online. It’s great to be able to touch, feel, and try on things before making the investment into these high quality pieces from the brands we all know and love.
Goodness Gracious is a serene home and gift shop with everything from home accents and luxurious bedding and bath items, to candles and home fragrances! On both occasions, the shop has smelt AMAZING, and there were so many cute home items to shop. If you’re looking for a gift for your mom, grandma, best friend, or just a treat for yourself (because TREAT YO SELF), Goodness Gracious is sure to have the perfect thing!
So The Remnant was a actually a new addition to The Shoppes at Sawmill Marketplace that was not there on our first trip to Laurel, but I’m so happy we stumbled upon it on our second! The Remnant is a thrift store, but not your typical, everyday average kind! It is a carefully selected and curated resale shop that helps support Dwell, the transitional housing community for women that was featured on Hometown Season 5, Episode 2: Color Psychology. Dwell has such an amazing purpose and mission, and all proceeds from The Remnant go to support this life changing non profit.
I actually had quite a few pictures from The Remnant, so you can see from below that this is definitely not your normal thrift shop! The owner told me that they’d like to think if Anthropologie and Goodwill had a baby, it would be The Remnant, and I totally agree! They had an amazing aesthetic with high quality brands and vintage finds, all at amazing prices! The Remnant is an absolute must if you love finding a good deal and supporting a locally owned business with a purpose!
The Rusty Chandelier is an occasional vintage market that used to only be open the third Thursday weekend of every month, but now they are open every weekend Thursday-Saturday from 10 AM-5 PM! The Rusty Chandelier is a HUGE Antique Mall with aisles and aisles of booths from all sorts of vendors. They have everything from antiques and collectibles to contemporary home decor and clothing! This is another one of those stores where you’ll want to spend a good chunk a time looking around at all of the booths, so make sure you plan accordingly before heading over to the Rusty Chandelier!
The Laurel Leaf is a HUGE gift shop with anything you could possibly need for any woman in your life (including yourself). From Capri Blue candles to doormats with cute southern sayings, the Laurel Leaf has an amazing selection of gifts and home accents! They also have the cutest little mural painted right on the front of their shop (shown above) too, so it’s the perfect place to stop and take a pic!
You might recognize the the last name Lott from Season 3, Episode 9: A Modern Millennial Makeover, where Erin and Ben create a dream home for Keri and Laekin Rowell! Keri’s family owns Lott Furniture Co., which happens to be the oldest business in downtown Laurel! Inside of Lott Furniture Co., you’ll find a show room full of high quality furniture and home decor, with an entire section dedicated to Ben’s very own line of furniture! Even if you’re not in the market for furniture, you absolutely should check out this family owned Laurel staple. You may not come home with any furniture, but if you’re like me, you might come home with some of the perfectly styled home accents, pillows, and throws scattered around the store!
WHAT TO DO BESIDES SHOPPING AND EATING
So I’ll be honest… shopping and eating are two of my favorite things to do, and Laurel is THE place for both of those things. While shopping and eating are definitely at the top of my list for what to do in Laurel, Mississippi, there are a few other things we’ve enjoyed on our trips, or have added to our bucket list for next time, so I’ll share those with you here:
- Take a walk or drive through the Historic District and admire all of the pretty homes. The gorgeous homes you see on TV are seriously even more amazing in person. Taking a stroll through the historic district honestly feels like something out of a movie, and it’s definitely a fun way experience the small town charm that Laurel has to offer. Plus, a good walk will absolutely be necessary after a big lunch at Pearl’s Diner (because trust me, you will want that extra serving of banana pudding)! Like I said in the beginning though, remember to respect the privacy of these home owners as you’re admiring their houses and strolling or driving through the streets they call home!
- Take a class at Hand + Made. This is something we actually haven’t had the chance to do yet, but I think it would be so fun to do a DIY project here on our next trip to Laurel!
- Watch an episode or two of Hometown while in THE Hometown! Even if you’ve seen them all, there’s something special about watching the show in Laurel!
- Visit the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art! This is another place we haven’t had the chance to go to yet, but it is definitely on my Laurel bucket list!
- Find all of the iconic murals scattered throughout the downtown area! I mean, did you really go to Laurel if you didn’t take at least one picture with a mural?
If you can’t tell from this post, we really love Laurel (especially the shopping and food)!
If you’ve been thinking about making the trip down to Mississippi to visit this sweet little town, or are in the process of planning your trip, I hope this post gets you excited about visiting Laurel, and gives you some fun ideas for what to do, what to see, and what to eat in Laurel, Mississippi.
If you’re from Laurel, or have visited, I’d love to hear your favorites and recommendations in the comments below!
Thanks you for reading, and have fun on your trip!