The Laurel Cottages – Laurel, MS

{The Laurel Cottages gifted me two nights in their beautiful home for me to compile a travel piece.}

The Laurel Cottages Travel Guide Header

“My favorite vacation destination is anywhere” – me

Anytime we travel that place is my favorite. I find myself when we travel. Short road trips or long journeys across oceans, I just enjoy being somewhere new. I am always excited to arrive and I never want to leave. I have left a little piece of my heart in each place we have ever visited. From Maui to Chicago to Florence to Laurel my heart loves breathing in the air of a different location.

Greetings from Laurel mural in Laurel, MS

Welcome to Laurel, MS. A small town north of Hattiesburg this is the perfect little get away from New Orleans. Everything here is picture perfect. From the brick streets, to the Norman Rockwell store fronts and the shop owners who hug you upon leaving. Everyone here is happy and everyone here loves this town. It is apparent from the time you enter until the time you leave, a piece of Laurel lives in each of their souls.

I have never been to a place quite like Laurel. As soon as the Laurel Cottages offered me a stay in their Airbnb I started doing research on the city. Owner Mallorie was quick to send me a city guide and tell me about all they had to offer. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this as a couples trip or as a family but I quickly realized Laurel had a lot of offer for all of us.

Laurel, MS

History

Laurel, MS was a lumber town and was founded in 1882. Many of the homes in the city date back to the early 1900’s. Harvesting yellow pine, Laurel flourished milling more pine than anywhere else in the world. Like many towns across the US Laurel saw a drastic population decrease in the 60’s which started a decline of the city.

About 12 years ago, newly married, Jim and Mallorie Raspberry saw a need to revitalize their community. It started with one building and a few of their friends who committed themselves to bring life back into the beautiful community. In 2017 HGTV aired the first episodes of Home Town with Ben and Erin Napier highlighting their home renovations and restoration in Laurel. Today the Raspberry, Napier and Nowell Families are co-owners of the Laurel Mercantile and the Scotsman Co, General Store.

Laurel is back to a beautiful and thriving community with a focus on grabbing your attention and having you… Come on down to Laurel!

The Laurel Cottages

The Laurel Cottages

Owners Jim and Mallorie Raspberry generously invited us to stay in their Laurel Cottages for the weekend. Their home was originally built in 1909 by the Gilroy Family. The Raspberries took over the home and property three years ago. They renovated two cottages to use as Airbnb rentals and then renovated the home they live in. The house sits on 3 city lots that span from 6th street to 7th.

Historic Home in Laurel, MS

The home and property are innately southern and expansive. Touches of the original owners are still visible from the deep green color of the exterior of the home to the brick pathways hidden in the shrubs leading to neighbors homes. It is easy to sit outside with a cup of coffee and get lost in the silence of small town living.

There are three rentals on the property. The Home Town Cottage, The Carriage House and the Air Stream. We stayed in the Home Town Cottage which is located on the bottom floor.

The Laurel Cottages and Airstream
The Laurel Cottages
The Laurel Cottages bedroom

Where to Eat

For a small town Laurel had a good selection of restaurants. We tried as many places as we could but there are only so many meals you can eat. I am going to list them in the order we liked them and then give a few suggestions on places we wish we would have tried.

Mimmos. Hands down everyone in the family agreed this was our favorite meal. The pasta was delicious, kids loved the pizza and the garlic knots were perfect. Justin and I split the mussels which is one of my favorite seafood dishes and they were perfectly cooked.

The Loft. The Loft was really equally as delicious as Mimmos but the experience was a little different. There isn’t a lot of waiting room so things were a little touch and go with the kids for a bit. Once we sat down the food was delicious and the service was great. The waitress was super accommodating with the kids who were overly hungry and tired by the time we got our food. I read an online review which said there steaks were delicious but the burgers were really something special. I decided to try a burgerand they were right. Justin tried one of the shrimp dishes and loved it.

The Loft Restaurant Laurel, MS
Burger from the Loft in Laurel, MS

Phillips Drive In. Saturday we were looking for someplace that was easy and fun for the kids. The outdoor drive-in was perfect. Basic items like burgers, hotdogs, corndogs, onion rings and fries. I wanted to try the milk shake but we were headed to Shug’s next so I didn’t try. Side Note, they take credit cards! I was a little worried when we pulled up that they would be cash only. Only downside was there is not a public bathroom so plan accordingly.

Phillips Drive Inn

Shug’s. I was the most EXCITED about trying out Shug’s. They are a bakery and candy shop but they also serve scoops of cookie dough in a variety of flavors. I thought the kids would be ecstatic to try the cookie dough but they were not into it…which was fine because more for me! I loved the pumpkin spice which should surprise no one. The boys didn’t get left out so don’t worry. They each found something in the sweet cabinet to eat.

Shug's Cookie Dough and Candy Bar

Pearl’s Diner. Not eating here is the only disappointment of the trip. Pearl’s is serving up good old fashioned southern soul food and it smelled delicious. One of the boys said they couldn’t possibly eat chicken with a bone in it and to avoid a meltdown we decided to go somewhere else. It’s possible I may drive up there for lunch in a few weeks because the desire to try her mac and cheese and greens is real bad.

Café La Fleur.

Lee’s Coffee and Tea.

Sweet Somethings.

What to Do

Home Touring. This was something I was so excited to do when we decided to come to Laurel. I knew the houses would be large and beautiful southern manors. Sixth street did not disappoint.

The Laurel Cottages
Home on 6th street
Home on 7th street

Laurel Mercantile and Scotsman General Store. These were both on our list for the boys. We picked up a few Christmas gifts at the Mercantile from their extensive collection of stationary, candles and real deal flannel shirts. The General Store was one of the kids favorite stops. We found candy, maple syrup and a beautiful assortment of jams.

The Knight Butcher. This was Justin’s pick. The Knight Butcher is a authentic butcher shop with more meat selection than you know what to do with. They offer fresh meats and also frozen for you to take home with you. The shop also has it’s own line of jerky which was what Justin was looking for. Oh and they are also known for their fudge counter.

Sweet Somethings. Bakery on the bottom floor. Airbnb on the second floor. Best pies in town!

Leontyne Price Park. This park contains the Greetings from Laurel postcard mural and also a outdoor musical park. Kids can play all of the instruments within the park to their hearts content making beautiful sounds for all of Main Street.

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

Gardiner Park.

Trustman Art Park.

Shopping

Crescent Line Toys. This was one of our favorite shops. The owner could not have been nicer or more educated about his toys. He was fun and let the boys play with so many things although their favorite was the large wooden train in the middle of the store with the big bell. The highlight of this little gem is the fact that he stocks so many older toys from when I was a kid. Things like wooden pick up sticks, spirographs and light brights.

Crescent Line Toys Laurel, MS
Crescent Line Toys Laurel, MS

Southern Antiques and Gift Mall. Something for everyone!

Guild and Gentry. Gentleman’s shop in the front and barber shop in the back. It is the perfect one stop shop for southern men.

The Boutique on Central. This shop was so cute and carried a lot of boutique items from XS to 3XL. The shop owner was friendly and ready to help. I found so many cute things!

Murals

In my research before going to Laurel I knew about the large red Welcome to Laurel mural and the one on the side of the Laurel Mercantile. I didn’t know how many little gems their were…both new and old! If you are looking for a family picture location or an Instagrammable location this may just be it!

Everything from the murals, to the window signs in the storefronts has hand painted elements.

Laurel Mercantile Mural
Location: Laurel Mercantile
Welcome to Laurel mural
Location: 6th and Central Ave
Artist: Erin Napier and Will Sellers
Laurel looks good on you mural
Location: 6th Avenue
Artist: River Prince
Greetings from Laurel mural
Location: Central Ave. in Leontyne Price Park
Artist: River Prince
Be Kind mural
Location: 6th Ave on Central Creativity
Artist: River Prince and Will Sellers
Laurel, MS mural
Location: West Oak and Front Street

Final Thoughts

We truly loved our time in Laurel. It would be a great escape for a romantic trip, relaxing girls weekend or fun family road trip. Whatever you are looking for Laurel has a lot to offer! We hope to visit again soon.

Laurel Mercantile