Editor’s Note: Looking for a weekend getaway that won’t cost a fortune with the high price of gasoline? This series, Tank of Gas Getaway, offers up travel locations that Jackson metro area residents can make on a tank of gas.
Many folks may know of Laurel, located just 90 miles down the road, because that is where HGTV “Home Town” series stars Ben and Erin Napier reside. But shopping, sightseeing, dining and more await Jackson area residents looking for a quick getaway.
Any visitor needs to stop by the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, 565 N. Fifth Ave., called Mississippi’s first art museum. It was founded in 1923 and designed by Rathbone DeBuys of New Orleans. It is located on the tree-lined Fifth Avenue, among the turn-of-the-century houses just one block from the center of Laurel.
The museum has an extensive collection of Native American baskets. It also has a selection of American art by Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt and John Singer Sargent. The museum receives 32,000 visitors a year.
Feel free to embark on the Historic District Walking Tour when you leave the museum. The area is the most extensive in-tact contiguous collection of turn-of-the-century craftsman & bungalow-style housing in the area. Go ahead and do as the locals do: mosey, wander and stroll through the area. All of the information you need for the self-guided walking tour can be picked up at the museum.
Downtown Laurel has a lot to offer. There is plenty of shopping and things to do.
Try some classic soul food at Pearl’s Diner. Her fried chicken is to die for and if you are there on the weekend, get there early, listen to some live music, and strike up a conversation with pearl herself.
If you are looking for a burger and fries, they don’t get a lot better than Phillip’s Drive-In. Just pull up, order and then visit with the locals while you wait on your food. Don’t forget to get a milkshake while you are there.
Don’t forget the Bird Dog Café, featured in the Home Town series. The Bell brothers offer a variety of menu items, including lattes, scones, soups, chicken salad and dinner dishes. There is also a truffled short rib pot pie.
After grabbing your coffee at Bird Dog, wander over to the Leontyne Price Music Park and relax or stroll to the Trustmark Art Park and take a selfie with one of the many murals.
And yes, there is something for the HGTV Home Town fans as well. Go by and visit the Napier’s stores, including The Laurel Mercantile Co. and Scotsman General Store. There is a new snowball stand for kids and adults alike and an observation deck and food truck yard.
No trip to Laurel is complete without swinging by Landrum’s Homestead. Thomas Landrum and his family built a village that is a replica of a late 1800s settlement. It is now a destination to want to take a step back in time and take a walking tour.
If you have stayed and walked and eaten and want to stay over for the night, stay at one of the dozens of AirBNBs, many of which are downtown and some have been a feature on Home Town. A couple of B&B’s to try would be The Wisteria or Grandiflora in the historic district.