Want to experience Laurel, MS like a local?

We’ve hand-picked some of our favorite “Laurelite” experiences, hidden spots, shops and boutiques, and secrets – just for you! Explore these resources for a behind the scenes look at the filming location for Home Town on HGTV.

Laurel’s Art Scene

Laurel has been a hub for innovators, artisans, and creatives since its founding in 1882. Our history is rich with artists of all kinds that have truly made their mark on The City Beautiful.

From the iconic Downtown Laurel mural, to Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, the first art museum in Mississippi, there’s a creative sight to behold everywhere you look.

Murals, Windows, and Signs

Luckily, we’ve got 2 uniquely talented sign painters in Laurel, Mississippi! Our friends, River Prince and Will Sellers, are driving forces that keep Laurel beautiful!

Neither of them are limited to sign painting–they’re behind our murals and most window art. 

The Best Spots to View/Buy Art

Before you leave town, take a piece of Laurel home with you. The best souvenir you could have is a piece of original art by a Laurel artist!

#new #line #statement #piece #february #marklandis #art in #jparker #gallery #space

A post shared by JParker Reclaimed (@jparker_reclaimed) on

Locals Tip: Wanna meet a Laurel artist? Adam Trest is almost always in his shop on Magnolia Street! Stop by and tell him his friends at Visit Laurel sent you! And before you leave, grab one of his Laurel maps or pillows.

Some of our Favorite Local Artists

We love all of our local artists, and we hope that you’ll explore all of their art! Here’s just a few that we know you’ll love too.

Locals Tip: We’ve got more amazing visual artists! Graphic Designers, calligraphers, photographers, and don’t get us started on our sculptors! If you want to see even more wonderful artisans, visit one of our local festivals like Day in The Park, The Market Beautiful, or Loblolly Festival. 

Convinced yet? There’s plenty of sights to see while you’re in town that will spark your creativity.

Come visit us, take a stroll, and admire some local art!

Want to find out more about Laurel? Sign up for weekly email updates and follow our Instagram for more Laurel fun!

Why Moving Home to Laurel After College Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

Laurel is a vibrant, growing city, where small businesses and groups of regular people, who love to dream, have bonded together in the spirit of community and are dedicated to restoring Laurel to her original glory. But around five years ago, our Home Town was a lot different.

If you would’ve asked me what I wanted to be when I graduated from high school or college, I would have said, “Anything! Just don’t make me move back to Laurel.”

I yearned for the bright, crowded streets of New York, bursting with opportunity for young talent; the willow-lined paths of Charleston, full of sweet tea and social charm or any city with a Chili’s and a Super Target. “Get me out of this hometown box of torture” is probably something I’d be caught saying in the Sonic parking lot on a Friday night.

A little dramatic, you think? Absolutely.

It’s a belief that infests teenagers and college students. That if you don’t run away as fast as you can from your hometown, you’ll never leave it or be successful.

There is some truth to the stigma that small towns don’t offer many opportunities for creatives or fast-paced millennials that hold infinite information at their fingertips. Everyone has experienced or knows someone with a negative connotation of small-town life, no matter where your roots may lie. But we have the ability to change that.

In Laurel’s case, the main obstacle was showing other people how much she had to offer instead of focusing on how much she lacked. As Erin Napier says, “Laurel’s like the pretty girl who doesn’t know she’s pretty.”

I’m here to confess to the world that moving back to my home town after college was the best thing that has ever happened to me and here’s why.

1. I’ve had the chance to recreate what #iliveinlaurel means to me.

my two worlds collided today & I’ve just been smiling all day? #iliveinlaurel #thankful

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

Hidden gems on the ride home ? #iliveinlaurel #HappySunday

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

2. It all begins with perspective …

And finding the beauty in what it’s front of you. No matter where you are – big city or small town.

Sprang #iliveinlaurel

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

When people ask me what I do, I sometimes struggle to put it into words. But today, I figured it out when I took pictures of Mae-Mae and posted them on @laurelmercantile. She is the most joyful woman I’ve ever encountered and #LMCo. personified to a T. She shares her life and love with anyone that comes through those doors each day. Truthfully, those kinds of people are hard to come by. People like Mae-Mae would never ask for an applause or a thank you but usually deserve it most. She is just pure gold and a brilliant giver for no other reason than that’s just who she is. I learned today that what I do is a privilege— I get to share the beauty of others and their goodness. I show people my home town and the people who work tirelessly to make it better. I get to show off Mae Mae, who makes me a better person just by being around her. I get to share the quiet, unnoticed stories that don’t circulate in the media and shine a light on the neighbors around me who deserves the biggest praise. My job is far beyond social media or communications— every day I get to see beauty in others that they don’t often see in themselves. Tomorrow, Mae Mae will see how many people remember her stories and the way she made them feel. I can’t wait to remind her that her goodness is valued and she is loved beyond measure. I am lucky. #iliveinlaurel

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

it feels like I’m living on a movie set some days ??? #iliveinlalaland

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

3. It’s affordable to live here as a young adult, which is super important.

I can live in a comfortable house and enjoy dining out with my friends on a regular basis.

on this season of New Girl

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

finally, a shop with my name on it :)

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

4. There are creatives and inspiration at every turn.

5. It’s not hard to build a side-hustle.

Stores across downtown offer young and experienced artists a place to showcase their work and locals are beyond supportive of the arts in Laurel.

back on my blooms. She’s for sale! ? hello.lindsaymiller@gmail.com

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

Every morning is a chance to bloom again #HappyThursday ?

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

6. There are a plethora of professional and personal mentors that genuinely care about your well-being and growth.

Community is a really important thing here.

WE REALLY LOVE #SCARVES #ladieswholunch #interns

A post shared by Erin Napier (@erinapier) on

Over the past few years our small group has become such a sweet time of exploring God’s word with friends (that are more like family to us.) I love these people and feel overwhelmed by God’s incredible grace. They are the folks that challenge me to live out my faith and pray for me in the moments of need. True community. . . If you aren’t in God’s word, I encourage you to START. For years I struggled with daily reading of scripture—was always more sporadic and starting some new bible study and not completing it. But I have recently began to really dig in and be more consistent—I never felt smart enough to study the Bible. I felt like God wouldn’t speak to me like he does to preachers and missionaries and other people I look up to in the faith. But I was so wrong. He has a plan for me and wants me to know him and love him and do his will. *this was a huge realization for me. And he wants that for all of us. . . And though I still don’t feel very scholarly or that I know a lot, I know that I’m trying to focus my eyes on Jesus and do his work. And that’s exactly where I need to be.

A post shared by Dawn Trest (@dawn.trest) on

7. Most importantly, my hometown is open-minded.

She stands with open arms for the opportunity to grow from its people’s ideas and values.

keep Laurel kind ? #iliveinlaurel #prettycity

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

My favorite piece of advice came from one of my friends, Kaypounyers Maye at the University of Mississippi days before graduation. He told me, “The best part about leaving the place you love, is being able to come back and share everything you’ve learned while you were away.”

While I had moved away from Laurel for a couple of years, learned so much about myself and felt growth like I’d never known before… Laurel did too.

Every time I came home, a new business had popped up, or a mural had been painted.
People would talk about it and become excited. Then HGTV Home Town happened, and the rest is history.

Although this didn’t start with me, I’m choosing to dive in deep now. I want to disprove the stereotype about those who come home because they couldn’t make it in the real world.

I came home because my hometown offered me the entire world and something even better – a place to grow and try new things. I’m working every day to live a life and create the reality I’ve always dreamed of in the place that raised me. I’m choosing to give back to the city and its people that have given me so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I still wish Laurel had a Super Target. Except now I know it’s not the size of the town that makes a place home or fertile with opportunity. It’s the people that help her grow strong and the life they bring back to her once they leave.

Laurel isn’t done growing and thankfully, neither am I.

Casting for HGTV Home Town

Do you want to be on HGTV’s Home Town?

Casting HGTV Home TownAre you thinking about moving to Laurel? You could be cast on Home Town, get to know Ben & Erin, and – most importantly – get to call our sweet small-town home!

Just for you, we reached out to our friends at HGTV and RTR Media to give you all of the inside info about what it takes to be on the show! Here’s what they had to say:

How to apply to be cast on HGTV’s Home Town

“When it comes to applying to be on Home Town, be prepared to sell yourself! We’re looking for outgoing characters who love to tell a good story and are passionate about wanting to live in Laurel.

The process is pretty simple if you’re interested in being on the show – just send an email to hometowncasting@rtrmedia.com. That’s it! Well… not really, but it’s a darn good start.”

What HGTV needs to know about you:

“In the email, we’d love to know a little about yourself, your family and why you’re moving to Laurel. We’d also like to know if you’ve recently bought a house, or have your eye on one or don’t know where to start and need some help. We are looking for homes of all types, shapes, and sizes in Laurel and require that you have a renovation budget that fits the needs of your new home. Let us know what you’re looking for in your new home!”

The Home Town casting process:

“If your story sounds like a good fit, we’ll have you fill out an application form, and that’s when the excitement really begins. Since every situation is different, it could be the casting process takes 6 weeks or it could be 6 months. The amount of time depends on many factors and we’ll work those out together. For that reason, we encourage everyone to reach out and let us know the who, what and whens of their move to Laurel.”

Apply to be on Home Town today!

Send an email right now to hometowncasting@rtrmedia.com to see if you might be a good fit for Home Town!

Be sure to include:

  1. Your story – tell them all about yourselves!
  2. Why are you moving to Laurel?
  3. Are you looking for a Laurel home, or recently purchased one?
  4. Do you have a budget for the renovations your home needs/may need?

Want to find out more about what it’s like to say “I Live in Laurel?” Click here to see some of our favorite parts of our very own hometown!

Tommy Sherrell, custom upholsterer working at his studio in Downtown Laurel, MS.

Laurel’s Home Town Folks

Lee’s Coffee & Tea; Laurel MS

There’s a few things that Home Town folks really love; food, family, community––and hosting some company!

It’s true that we have a tight-knit community. Our folks know each other by name, shop locally, and try to promote each other the best we can.

A lot of visitors tell us that we’re so charming that they don’t want to leave! Others decide to make Laurel their forever home.

But even if you don’t want to move in with us, the least we can do is take care of you while you’re here!

Home Town Treatment

Like I said, our people can’t be beat when it comes to Southern hospitality. When you arrive, we’ve got your itinerary covered. Stop by the Laurel Welcome Center first to get the scoop on our walking tour of the Historic District, brochures for things to do in surrounding areas, and some historical info you may not know!

LOCALS TIP: Ask any merchant where you can find a map of Downtown Laurel! This will come in great use to you.

After you’re rightfully welcomed, make your way around town and visit our local merchants! Those are the people who will make you feel right at home.

LOCALS TIP: You may see a few friendly and familiar faces! A few of our local merchants were featured on HGTV Home Town. Grab a selfie with them!

And last, make sure to stay at one of our local airbnb’s. You may even score some treats from Sweet Somethings Bakery or a home-cooked breakfast!

Folks Who Loved Laurel

For proof that our Home Town charm is real, we included some testimonies of visitors from all over! (Even Canada!)

“We fell in love with Laurel MS!! We live in Nashville and decided to see if what we see on the show is legit. It is!! ???We walked and drove all over (blisters to prove it), and I can’t stop thinking about it. The charm is for real. The people so friendly. We will visit again.?” -Tricia Haux Baxter; Posted in HGTV Home Town Fan Group

We spent all day today exploring my parent’s hometown of Laurel, MS. . I grew up visiting Laurel every summer and major holiday, but in the last decade or so most everyone has moved away from town and we haven’t been back too often. . Laurel has been getting some really cool national attention for the HGTV show ‘Hometown’ and a lot of neat stores are going in the downtown. . Today was such a fun trip down memory lane to see tons of spots I knew and loved plus some new and gorgeous shops that have arrived. . We also spent a good thirty minutes driving up and down every street in town so my mother could tell us the names of 75% of the houses’ former occupants and regale us with tales of sneaking in that ones backyard or secretly riding that one’s elevator up and down until someone’s mama came home or praying that one’s owner didn’t call her mother… again. (In other news – I now totally blame my mother and my husband for Bowen’s wild streak) . It was so fun to hear the history of a town that has so much meaning to our family. Laurel, we love ya! . #Laurel #LaurelMS #Mississippi #HGTV #HGTVHometown

A post shared by Christian Wash Garvey (@christianwashgarvey) on

“Visiting my childhood hometown for the day and got to meet Miss Pearl! Loved seeing Laurel come alive again!” -Kathy Myrick Reid; Posted in HGTV Home Town Fan Group

“Laurel is a lovely town. We enjoyed every moment, from last night ‘s Home Town season 2 finale, Miss Pearl’s diner and a wonderful conversation with Josh. We were treated like royalty when the chamber of Commerce saw where I put my pin to show where we’re from: Oshawa Ontario Canada. They gave us a shout out and asked us to stand. Some of Laurel ‘s citizens stopped by with welcome words. So, Canada stop by Laurel. You won’t be disappointed. ?” -Valdeen Button; Posted in HGTV Home Town Fan Group

“We are from Parkland, FL and enjoyed the first part of our adult spring break in Laurel. We have a lot going on in our hometown right now and it was nice to relax here in Laurel. It was as sweet of a town as the show portrays it! We loved it!” -Pam Turner; Posted in HGTV Home town Show Followers

The Home Town experience is one that you need to come enjoy in-person! We’d love to have you anytime. Don’t be a stranger!

Don’t know when to make your trip? Here’s the best times to visit Laurel.

Love Laurel? Sign up in the blue box to get weekly updates and follow our Instagram for more Laurel fun! 

How Erin Napier helped Laurel become “The City Beautiful” once again.

You know Erin Napier from Home Town on HGTV, where she renovates once-beautiful historic homes in Laurel, Mississippi with her husband, Ben. But did you know that she also played a significant part in returning Downtown Laurel to its former beauty?

Years ago Erin, and others like her, began to see a beautiful future for Laurel. And they set out to make it a reality.

Downtown Laurel, 1980’s

Their challenge? To repair the damage done during the period of Urban Renewal from the 1950’s to 1970’s, which turned inviting, historic downtowns throughout the United States into ugly, covered “shopping-malls” and destroyed their historic facades and charm.

Laurel After Urban Renewal - A Ghost Town

Restoring Downtown Laurel, MS

Throughout Downtown Laurel, buildings were transformed with Erin’s stunning design work – not only to hide the empty buildings but also to give folks like you a glimpse into our culture and history.

Famous People of Laurel Murals by Erin Napier

Famous People of Laurel Murals by Erin Napier

Erin told us:

“A big step in erasing urban renewal would be making it seem it had never occurred at all. I designed “ghost signs” and murals that would point to an era predating the aluminum facades and remind people of the beauty hidden underneath.”

– Erin Napier, Star of Home Town on HGTV

Visit Laurel Mural by Erin Napier

Visit Laurel Mural by Erin Napier

As local folks saw Downtown transforming into something beautiful, they started to have beautiful ideas of their own. Buildings began to fill with new businesses, foot traffic increased and soon – a certain TV network came to call.

Laurel-Jones County Library Mural by Erin Napier

Laurel-Jones County Library Mural by Erin Napier

Now, we see tourists gather every day for photos in front of Erin’s iconic “Welcome to Downtown Laurel, MS” mural to commemorate their trip to a city reborn.

And it all started with the ideas of a few, creative folks who set out to love on our little hometown.

Our Downtown Laurel merchants are rolling out the welcome mat for you with beautiful decor, charming shops and big smiles. Stop by and say hey y'all!

Why #iliveinlaurel: A Local’s Perspective

If you spend any amount of time in Laurel, you’ll quickly see the allure of our affectionally called, “City Beautiful”. There are many reasons why #iliveinlaurel, and hopefully–I can convince you to do the same.

Laurel’s History & Beauty

If you browse the #iliveinlaurel tag on Instagram, you’ll find many photos of our parks, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, blooming gardens, porch gatherings, and walks through the Historic District.

Because we have such rich history built by innovators, artisans, and entrepreneurs, our buildings and homes are awe-inspiring to look at. (And live in!)

I’m lucky enough to live in the Historic District in a very old home with tall ceilings and windows, a huge wrap-around porch, and plenty to look at right outside my door. And when I’m wanting to get out, everything is in walking distance. I’ve got a tennis court across the street, and can walk to work and Downtown in less than 10 minutes!

  • Historic Buildings

    The Arabian, now Laurel Little Theatre is celebrating their 57th season this year. Their building is one of my favorites. I recommend you try to catch them on a good day to go look inside!

  • Historic District

    Laurel’s historic district is incredibly beautiful. Long walks in any season are to be cherished. You might even see some homes you recognize!

  • Laurel in Bloom

    Laurel’s Springtime is the best for flower finds! We’ve got several types of azaleas, Japanese magnolias, and plenty more to enjoy.

Food & Fun

One of the best parts of Laurel is the culture. Our city is a central hub for creatives, musicians, artists, and foodies of all kinds.

We have great events like Open Mic Night at Lee’s Coffee & Tea, weekends at Slowboat Brewing Co., and festivals sponsored by Laurel Main Street.

And one thing you can’t miss in Laurel is the food. 

We’ve got authentic Italian, home-style cooking, a steakhouse, a coffee shop, and more!

Need refreshing after a long walk through Downtown? Stop at one of our local restaurants or coffee shops for delicious treats!

Need refreshing after a long walk through Downtown? Stop at one of our local restaurants or coffee shops for delicious treats!

Downtown Laurel during Loblolly Festival in the Fall. We have several great festivals worth getting Downtown for!

A Tight-Knit Community Who Are Proud to Say: #iliveinlaurel

Trust me when I say that I’m not the only one who loves living in Laurel! One of my absolute favorite things about my city are my friends and neighbors.

The people who live here are huge cheerleaders of each other and for our Downtown. We collaborate, we meet for lunch, and we know everyone by name.

And most of all: we are proud to say #iliveinlaurel.

Sprang #iliveinlaurel

A post shared by Lindsay Miller (@lindsaymichellemiller) on

Sweet, untouched wedding day bliss ✨

A post shared by Laura Armour Good (@lauraarmourphotography) on

Oh Lucy, your momma sure does love you. #iliveinlaurel

A post shared by Mallorie Rasberry ?? (@malraz) on

These blue skies + Laurel ???

A post shared by Dawn Trest (@hello_dearie) on

Laurel, you sure are pretty. #iliveinlaurel #notreallybutkinda

A post shared by Sarah Elizabeth Tyner (@sarahlizty) on

I hope that after reading this, you’ll consider becoming a Laurelite or at the least just paying us a visit! There’s just too much here to enjoy to keep it all to ourselves.

Sign up in the blue box to get email updates when we post, and follow us on Instagram for more Laurel fun!