By Susan Van Arsdale
Published November 25, 2021 in The Burg
I admit it. I am hooked on HGTV. One of my favorite shows is “Hometown” with Ben and Erin Napier. So how about a weekend cruising in Laurel, Mississippi, where Ben and Erin Napier renovate houses?
It is definitely not a day trip. It may be even longer than a weekend because there is so much to see and do. It might be worth the 11+ hours it would take to get there.
One of my friends, April Hill said, “It took us around 12 hours to get there. It's a long drive. If you were to ask if the drive was worth the experience, we would say yes, but we would also recommend adding stops in Memphis and/or New Orleans to get the most out of all of those travel miles.” If you are going south for the winter anyway, maybe it would be a great stop on the way!
Nancy Barnett, agreed that it was a long trip, but “on your way down you gotta stop in Sikeston, Missouri, for Lamberts…home of the throwed rolls. We didn’t stay overnight.”
Besides shopping, Barnett said, “We toured the town on our own, looking for Hometown houses with Erin’s signature colorful doors. Just a relaxing day. Two days would be more than sufficient to see everything. She warned, “Don’t go on a Monday….every recommended restaurant is closed!"
Hill said they did stay overnight in the Laurel Cottages. “We chose it because we wanted to be in the community we were exploring. Jim and Mallorie are fantastic hosts. They are very friendly and welcoming. They invited us right into the community festivities for Halloween, which is something we never would have experienced staying somewhere else. It was a great opportunity to see Laurel's charm from inside the community. We got to meet some of the folks from the show - they really are as genuine and friendly and full of southern hospitality as you think they are from watching the show.”
Going shopping in the small locally owned stores is part of the charm. One of the most visited places in Laurel is the Scotsman Company. This is where Ben does most of his woodworking. On each show he makes something special for the house they are remodeling. Tourists can watch some of these wood projects being made.
Another favorite stop is the Mercantile, owned by Ben and Erin and other couples in the community. This is the place to buy souvenirs. The Visitor Center is also housed in this shop.
The Rusty Chandelier and Southern Antiques are also great places to shop.
There are many places to eat in Laurel. Some of them are seen occasionally on the show.
Hill said, “We loved coffee from Lee's Bakery!! The Loft is a great dinner spot. We highly
recommend the steak bites!” For lunch there is a butcher shop that offers free smells, fresh cut
meat and delicious burgers, plus fudge and jerky. Pearl’s Restaurant is another place featured on a show.
There are tours available to see some of the places that have been pictured on the show, but it is also possible to just drive around and find them.
Hill said they took a driving tour down 4th -7th Avenues. They looked for houses from past
shows and snapped a few pictures, “As we were driving around, we spotted the HGTV filming
crew. They were filming Erin and Ben at the end of a driveway of a house they are working on
for a show. We actually saw this from the distance.”
April and her husband were most impressed with the investment the community has made in their town. “Revitalization, in any town, is a labor of love. If you don't have people who care about their communities, you don't have community. We love living in West Central Illinois
so, for us, the experience of visiting Lauel has given us a greater sense of pride in what our
neighbors and friends have created in our own communities.”