August 15, 2017, posted by Gina – After months of trying to schedule a day trip to Laurel, Mississippi, home of Erin and Ben Napier of the HGTV Series Hometown, we were finally able to take to the road this past weekend.
The Mississippi landscape looked very familiar on our short trip until we arrived about 25 miles outside of Laurel. Suddenly, the land began to slightly roll, the trees somehow had a different look and there was more Kudzu than I think I have seen in a while. We drove right to downtown Laurel and at first sight you could see the rebirth of what was undoubtedly a wonderful, booming town. In many small Mississippi towns, the downtown area consists of one main strip that is cherished. Laurel is host to several brick laid streets and the famous criss-cross string lighting strung across the downtown buildings.
As we drove the streets looking for Lee’s Coffee and Tea, a few businesses caught our eye. They looked so fresh, new and welcoming. We also loved the brick laid streets and lights as they seemed to bring so much life and charm to the area.
Pretty soon we reached Lee’s Coffee and Tea where we were able to park right in front. The inset entrance seemed to bring you back years with the colorful tile right outside the door.
Inside Lee’s we initially thought the restaurant had been there for years but later found out they were the first to take a chance and locate in downtown which is said to have created a domino effect on the revitalization. I could not pass up the pimento cheese sandwich and in my mind white bread is the only choice for such. Mr. GDFC enjoyed a grilled chicken panini. We enjoyed every bite.
Turns out that Laurel Mercantile is right down the street from Lee’s, so we made our way there. We first saw the iconic building sign and the bright blue truck that we sometimes see Ben driving in the show. Mr. GDFC insisted I get in the photo with the truck. We turned the corner and were face to face with the store. Inside, we were given a proper Southern welcome and began perusing the goods.
Tew Pottery is located in Laurel and it seems to fit right in at the Mercantile. You know how I love anything blue and white!
I am sure it is not surprising that this section of table linens caught my eye.
This selection of quilts was so colorful and perfect. I have a love for anything that is hand made and wanted to take each one home with me.
This display of blue and white plates on the black background was so striking and creative. It goes to show that art comes in many forms. And speaking of paintings, this print from none other than Erin Napier made the trip back home with us. It as if it was done especially for my house that happens to be filled with blue and white.
Mr. GDFC spied this collection of family recipes from Laurel Mercantile. Many of the recipes have a short blurb about their origin or interesting facts. While some of these recipes are familiar, they have a bit of a different twist and sometimes that is all it takes to bring a recipe from so-so to fabulous!
Okra Magazine published its second edition and none other than Erin and Ben Napier were featured on the cover. The article that followed was very nice. I love Okra Magazine and will share more on it in another post.
The ladies working in the Mercantile quickly ascertained we were not locals which happens in small towns quite frequently. They were so nice to us and made sure to tell us all of the places we should visit. They gave us this cute list of things to see in Laurel.
We took to the streets, list in hand. This sign is evidence of the collaboration on the downtown area. It is a beacon of hope and progess.
We had seen Southern Antiques on the show and knew it was a must to see. It was filled with all types of treasures from home goods to artwork to clothing. It was a great store and we recommend you stop in if you find yourself in Laurel. Across the street from Southern Antiques was Patina and we could not stop to visit as time was working against us but it will be one of the first on our list on our return visit.
We wanted to see the neighborhoods that brought HGTV to the area or was it the Napiers? I can’t imagine anything prettier or more inviting than a tree lined street and they have their fair share of them. The streets were filled with large homes, cottage size homes and everything in between. They all seemed to blend beautifully. I suddenly could see why HGTV loved this town.
Even the local junior high school was beautiful.
Our time was short but we packed in as much as possible and loved every minute of it. Upon returning to our home we spoke with several friends who want to take the trip with us again and I am ready.
If you find yourself wanting to experience Laurel but don’t want to be rushed as we were, you might want to check out Wisteria Bed & Breakfast. I mean just based on the purple exterior, I want to stay there.