Mississippi is not just famous for its mighty river full of fascinating history.
This state is also famous for its small towns and cities that offer travelers a unique experience they won't find anywhere else.
For example, try visiting Laurel, a small but charming city in Jones County, south of Mississippi.
This small city is several hundred miles away from the famous Mississippi River, but it has a unique way of treating travelers.
In 2016, the town also appeared on the hit TV show Home Town on HGTV.
The show might have brought Laurel to the public, but this city has more to it than what appeared on the show.
Laurel boasts one of the most precious downtown areas filled with well-preserved historical buildings.
In addition, it has charming shops, cafes, and attractions, making it an excellent weekend getaway destination.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Laurel, MS:
Check Out the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art
The first art museum in Mississippi is the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.
Getting there is already a trip on its own.
You'll pass tree-lined streets filled with turn-of-the-century buildings from one block to another.
Upon arriving, you'll see the gorgeous Georgian Revival building that houses the art museum.
Constructed in 1923, this building was Lauren Rogers' official residence.
Rathbone DeBuys designed the structure.
As the first art museum in Mississippi, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Arts holds a special place in the hearts of locals.
It's where you can find many of Rogers' precious art collections, including artworks from Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and Albert Bierstadt.
Stroll the Famous Laurel Main Street
One of the best ways to start your Laurel travel adventure is by strolling through its famous Main Street.
Laurel's Main Street features a bustling scene of small shops, restaurants, cafes, and galleries, which locals have run for many years.
In addition, Main Street hosts most of Laurel's local events, such as the annual State of the City Address, Chili Cook-Off, and other community affairs.
Likewise, the city of Laurel recently initiated a major development project to enhance the tourism potential of Main Street.
Today, Main Street still gives you a fascinating and fulfilling experience because of the locals' warm greetings and eclectic businesses you can check out.
Explore the Veterans Memorial Museum
Another fascinating place in Laurel is the Veterans Memorial Museum.
This historical museum is a 6,000-square-foot facility that features military equipment and memorabilia, honoring the men and women in service.
The museum opened in 1996 and built its massive collection from donations from Mississippi's veterans, families, and those who settled down abroad.
Visiting this museum offers you a fascinating historical experience.
You'll find various military equipment, photos, documents, videos, and other fascinating stuff you won't see anywhere else.
Amazingly, each of the items in the Veterans Memorial Museum has its backstory, featuring the bravery of the men and women in the armed forces.
Wander the Vast Mason Memorial Park
If you're looking for Laurel's biggest outdoor recreation venue, then head to Mason Memorial Park along 7th Avenue.
Mason Memorial Park is the city's most extensive public park and playground where you and your family can enjoy.
Bring your kids to the Mason Memorial Park and let them play and run around to their hearts' content.
This park in Laurel boasts a well-designed playground where your kids can have fun.
Meanwhile, it has picnic tables under towering pine trees, giving you the perfect shady spot for a lovely picnic.
Overall, Mason Memorial Park in Laurel is an excellent place to have fun, pass the time, and watch the day pass by.
Travel Down Memory Lane at Landrum's Homestead and Village
If you want to know how people in Mississippi lived back in the day, then head to Landrum's Homestead and Village.
This unique historical attraction in Laurel takes you back to the 1800s through its exhibits and numerous historical buildings.
Landrum's Homestead and Village features an educational tour for individuals and groups to discover Mississippi's history.
In partnership with the Mississippi Forestry Commission and the USDA Forest Service, this historical attraction in Laurel has preserved its original environment and historical value.
The entire location spans 30 acres and doubles as a famous events venue in Laurel.
You can regularly see events such as weddings, parties, field trips, and family outings at Landrum's Homestead and Village.
Play Outdoor Games at Gardiner Park
If you haven't had enough of Laurel's community parks, then head to Gardiner Park.
This community park in Laurel is similar to Mason Memorial Park.
It has a vast green open space, a playground, and picnic areas.
Bring your friends for some frisbee or football at this park.
In addition, don't forget to bring food and drinks for a wonderful picnic with your travel buddies.
Appreciate the Classic Beauty of Laurel's Central Historic District
Laurel's locals know how to value and preserve their past.
Explore Laurel's Central Historic District, which features the city's past and its heritage in the timber industry.
Laurel boasts some of Mississippi's most extensive and finest collections of architecture dating back to the early 20th century.
Most of the buildings and architecture along Laurel's Historic District are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Don't forget to pass by these iconic buildings: White Oak, Sweet Olive, The Green Barn, Wisteria, and the Rogers-Green House.
Cast a Line at Lake Bogue Homa
This famous lake near Laurel is a haven for anglers.
Constructed in 1939, Lake Bogue Homa features an 882-acre body of water teeming with various fish species.
This famous fishing destination in Jones County is just a few miles off Laurel.
For the record, Lake Bogue Homa is Mississippi's deepest fishing Lake, currently under the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Visiting this lake presents a fun fishing experience for experienced anglers and newbies.
You need a license to fish there, but it's pretty easy to obtain one, so don't worry.
The most common fish species at Lake Bogue Homa are largemouth bass, crappie, bream, and catfish.
So, when you travel to Laurel, don't forget your fishing gear.
Take a Break at the Airstream at Laurel Cottages
Head to the Airstream at Laurel Cottages for an affordable and unique place to stay in the city.
This famous lodging in Laurel consists of two different units stacked on top of each other.
Each unit, referred to as a "Cottage," features a small cozy accommodation for visitors who want to stay long in Laurel.
The cottages' interiors are beautifully decorated and contain the essential amenities to give you a convenient stay.
In addition, this place is a few steps from Laurel's Main Street.
Shop for Home Goods at the Famous Laurel Mercantile
One of Laurel's most famous tourist attractions is the Laurel Mercantile.
This shopping center on Laurel's Main Street has become an iconic center.
It has operated since 1901 one of the oldest shopping centers in Jones County.
Today, it remains popular with many shoppers around Mississippi because of its wonderfully curated dry goods and household items.
If you're looking for souvenirs to bring home, find what you need at Laurel Mercantile.
You'll find hundreds of kitchenware, dry goods, soaps, candles, artworks, decorations, and tea towels inside this famous shop.
Don't forget to pose at its famous mural and the iconic blue truck for a photo souvenir.
Grab a Snack at Scotsman General Store
This vintage-style general merchandise is an extension of the Laurel Mercantile.
Scotsman General Store is famous for its vintage-bottle soda, delicious snacks, and other products thoughtfully designed to achieve a vintage appeal.
Visiting Scotsman General Store is like walking down memory lane.
Browse the aisles filled with various products you'll only find there.
In addition, it has appeared numerous times on HGTV's hit show Home Town.
Expand Your Antique Collection at Southern Antiques
This famous antique shop on Laurel's Main Street is a must-visit place not just for antique collectors.
It features a fascinating shop in one of Main Street's century-old buildings.
At the same time, its interior has a massive display of antique collections.
Its antique collections range from home decors, furniture, artworks, clothing, jewelry, etc.
In addition, the shop also displays present-day items like clothing, wedding gifts, and other gift items.
The entire store spans 10,000 square feet of unique products that don't only feature gorgeous antique collections but also other products.
Join the Day in the Park Festival
Mason Memorial Park isn't just Laurel's most extensive community park.
It's also where the annual Day in the Park occurs.
The Laurel Arts League organizes this famous festival every May, featuring various activities for everyone.
You and your travel buddies or family can join the mile-long fun run and the grueling five-kilometer run.
Otherwise, watch or join the art competitions and children's activities scheduled for an entire weekend.
The festival has also featured live concerts, arts and crafts, excellent food and drinks, and other activities for the past 45 years.
Watch Live Performances at Laurel Little Theatre
Whether it's a date night with your special someone or a family date, Laurel Little Theatre is a charming community theater in the city.
Catch some comedy shows and musicals, including Mary Poppins, Something Rotten, and many more.
The theater is nestled in the historic 1927 Arabian Theatre in downtown Laurel, which is now a go-to spot for theater lovers alike.
Feel at home in the theater's comfortable padded seats, listen to the great acoustics, appreciated the amazing cast, and enjoy the show!
You can find Laurel Little Theatre on North 5th Avenue.
Grab a Hearty Meal at Pearl’s Diner
Providing a cozy atmosphere and hometown feels, Pearl's Diner serves delicious southern comfort food that reminds you of the good 'ole days when gram used to cook a dish for you.
The restaurant is popular for its mouthwatering fried chicken, jalapeño cornbread, black-eyed peas, lima beans, and collard greens, among others.
Also, this charming diner was featured on Home Town, a show on HGTV, which gained the attention of many travelers and the whole community of Laurel.
Also, don't skip the rice & gravy—it does hit home!
Pearl’s Diner is located off North Magnolia Street.
Take on Golf Cart Tour with Bolton Home Town Tour
Will you tour the City Beautiful on a golf cart?
Did you say, yes?
Then do it with Bolton Home Town Tour, which offers a tour around the historic city on a seven-seater golf cart.
A guide will be with you throughout the tour with lots of information and details about each site to visit.
This is a perfect activity to do in Laurel if you're a traveling family or as a group of friends exploring the wonders of Jones County and the State of Mississippi.
Bolton Home Town Tour is located in Tacos & Tequila Mexican Restaurant on Central Avenue.
Go on Laurel Mural Tour
Not only that the City of Laurel is historically and culturally rich, but it's also filled with talented and skilled artists who took part in the installation of murals.
You can enjoy the Laurel Mural Tour whether a pied or in a car and take Instagram-worthy photos with these larger-than-life masterpieces.
Start the tour at The City Beautiful Mural down to the Coca-Cola & Flag Murals, Laurel Mercantile, Visit Laurel, I Believe in Laurel, Pine Hurst Park, Laurel Looks Good on You, and so on.
Laurel Mural Tour has a total of 13 stops.
And every stop is worth it!
Get Your Coffee at Lee’s Coffee & Tea
Providing an unbeatable relaxing atmosphere and delicious coffee, Lee's Coffee & Tea has been a name in Laurel since 2009.
The coffee shop is popular for its latte, mocha, espresso, and cold brew, among others.
Also, you can pair your cup with any of its delicious pastries such as croissants, quiche, and bagels, or do it with its delicious breakfast sandwiches and omelets.
So if you're touring the downtown area, don't skip to make a stop at Lee's Coffee & Tea.
This charming coffee shop is your tour's cherry on top!
Other Things to Do Nearby
Explore the Historic Deason House
The Deason House was constructed in the 1840s in nearby Ellisville, 14 minutes away from Laurel.
It features some of the most fascinating stories you'll hear in Mississippi.
Listen to the story of how the infamous deserter Newt Knight murdered Confederate Major Amos McLemore in 1863.
The movie Jonestown starring Matthew McConaughey tells this story on screen.
Meanwhile, the Deason House is full of fascinating, often horrible stories about the Civil War, besides this infamous murder.
In 1991, the Deason descendants donated the home to the Daughters of the American Revolution to preserve its historical value.
Try Your Luck at Bok Homa Casino
For a thrilling but fun-filled experience at Laurel, check out Bok Homa Casino in nearby Heidelberg, Mississippi.
It's 20 minutes away from Laurel.
It's the most famous casino in Jones County, featuring hundreds of gaming machines, card tables, sports betting, and exciting games that will keep you playing.
Amazingly, this casino is open 24/7, giving you a taste of faraway Las Vegas in Mississippi.
Take a break at the casino restaurant for a hearty meal.
This small Mississippi City is rich in history, but its community has a lot to offer visitors.
You'll hike through its parks, shop at its iconic stores, and walk inside turn-of-the-century buildings.
Start planning your trip to Laurel today!