Laurel, Mississippi, is a quintessential Southern town located in the Southeastern part of the Magnolia State. It makes or a great road trip destination and has a wide array of festivals to keep you coming back for more. The charming town really wowed me and I thought you might, too. Check out these five things I think you’ll love about Laurel, Mississippi.
1. A Famous TV Show is Filmed There
If you watch HGTV, you are probably familiar with the popular Home Town show. Home Town features Laurel residents Ben and Erin Napier who are devoted to Southern traditions and ways of living. They revitalize historic turn-of-the-century properties to make them more modern and desirable. And you guessed it, all in their hometown.
Ben and Lauren have done a beautiful job of not only sprucing up the town of Laurel, but they’ve put it on a larger map. As a result, visitors are flocking to Laurel, Mississippi to check out the Napier’s hometown and the properties they’ve renovated.
Can’t get enough of Ben and Erin? Stop in the Laurel Mercantile Co. store which they co-own. Just driving around Laurel, I were able to spot several houses that underwent makeovers on Home Town.
FYI: Ben popped in a dinner party that I was attending and was even nicer in person than I ever imagined.
2. An Incredible Art Museum Awaits You
The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is filled with artwork, a library, and a large selection of treasures that will keep you browsing for hours. Dale Chihuly glassworks were my favorites, while the British Georgian silver was a close runner-up! The impressive American and European artwork is a great draw, too. The 18,000 square feet Georgian-revival style museum opened 1923 originally as library and art gallery. It is a lovely place to explore, but came with a heavy price tag.
Until 1882, the timber industry’s railroad ran through Laurel, Mississippi, called the yellow pine capital of the world. The Eastman Gardiner Lumber Company’s Lauren Rogers (son of the owner and Princeton graduate) was slated to take over the company. Unfortunately, Lauren died of complications after an appendectomy before that plan came to fruition.
Lauren’s grieving father built and dedicated the lovely Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in memory of his son as a place to bestow his wealth for the whole town of Laurel to enjoy.
3. Delicious Beer
(CLOSED PERMANENTLY AS OF OCT 2020)One of the things you’ll love about Laurel is the beer. Really good beer. The Slowboat Brewing Company’s motto “Hand crafted in the Free State of Jones” makes reference to the historical story which was made into a movie (see #4). It is creative while the taste of the beer is delicious! Pop into Slowboat Brewing Company for a good cold one, or how about a beer flight, board game, game of cornhole, live music, or conversation with Laurel locals? It was a really fun place to hang out.
Slowboat’s beers are cleverly named after famous songs. My favorites were the Dairy of a Mad Man milk stout and Into the Mystic Belgian style Hibiscus ale.
4. A Famous Movie is Based on the Area
In 2016, The Free State of Jones movie, starring Matthew McConaughey, was filmed inspired by the life of Laurel, Mississippi’s defiant Southern farmer, Newton Knight. Knight was known for his amazing armed rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War. Though the movie got mixed reviews at the box office (and is controversial), the story is intriguing and shares a look at the state’s history.
5. Historically Recognized Houses Reign Supreme
Because of successes and great paying jobs in Laurel, Mississippi (timber industry), many people built elaborate mansions to live in. Nearly 1,800 homes were built in total over a 30-year span beginning in 1899. Many of these intricate and beautiful properties remain and are on the National Register of Historic Homes. It is the largest contiguous historic district in the state of Mississippi.
Pick up your self-guided walking tour map showcasing 24 locations at the Laurel Welcome Center, Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Jones County Chamber of Commerce, or Laurel Mercantile. I can’t get enough of these gorgeous Southern beauties with wrap porches, high ceilings, tall windows, intricate cornice boards, and mature gardens.
A Laurel Bonus
Local artist and designer Adam Trest has an adorable shop in Laurel. Adam’s clever gifts, catchy artwork, and amazing notecards, can be found at Adam Trest Home.
Care to shop in Laurel? A few other noteworthy places include Southern Antiques, The Rusty Chandelier, and Lott Furniture Company. Pick up something to satisfy your sweet tooth from Sweet Somethings Bakery.
Festival lovers can get their fix at:
Loblolly (celebrates Laurel’s heritage as a sawmill town)
Get Familiar with Things You’ll Love About Laurel
Laurel is a charming Southern city to explore when you are in the state of Mississippi. From historic homes to tasty brews, I hope these 5 things you’ll love about Laurel make it to your travel itinerary.
**I was a visitor to Laurel with the Travel South conference. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% my own and unbiased.
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