Travel Tips: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Angela L. Dowdy

The city of Baton Rouge is the capitol of the state of Louisiana and sits on an eastern bluff of the Mississippi River. The area was a hunting ground for indigenous native tribes when French explorers arrived in 1699. Today Baton Rouge is a thriving multicultural destination known for historic architecture, exciting festivals, fabulous food, football, and fun. Here are the best things to do in Baton Rouge.

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1. Louisiana State University

LSU was founded in 1853 and is a public research university. It has over 250 buildings in the Italian Renaissance style with over 50 of those listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This beautiful campus includes ancient Indian Mounds, huge oak trees, a dairy store, and athletic stadiums. The famous live mascot, Mike the tiger, has an on-campus habitat that is fun to visit. The LSU Tigers recently became national college football champions.

2. Old State Capitol

The old capitol building is a distinctive example of Gothic Revival architecture and is often called “the Castle”. It has a spiral staircase and a stained glass dome. Located at 100 North Blvd, it is currently a museum.

3. New State Capitol

The current 34-story capitol building was opened in 1932 and holds the honor of being the tallest in the nation at 450 feet. It includes Art Deco details and a great observation deck which overlooks the gardens where former Governor and Senator Huey P. Long is buried.

4. Horace Wilkinson Bridge

This is the highest bridge on the Mississippi River, where Interstate 10 connects Port Allen to Baton Rouge. While it is a most picturesque sight at any hour of the day or night, traffic during peak times becomes quite congested.

5. USS Kidd / Veterans Museum

Navy destroyer warship USS Kidd served in both World War II and the Korean War. Today she is moored at 305 River Road and open daily for tours. Onboard overnight camping, meetings, yoga, and parties can be scheduled in advance. The Veterans Museum is attached to the vessel and awaits your visit. Come have fun learning about history.

6. Louisiana Art and Science Museum

Just up the street at 100 River Road you can discover, create, learn, and be inspired while visiting this museum and planetarium. It is in a large historic railroad depot. There are numerous exhibits; many are interactive and great for all age groups. Louisiana Art and Science Museum has everything from Egyptian artifacts to music to a giant model of the solar system.

7. The Shaw Center for the Arts

The non-profit multi-use arts complex at 100 Lafayette Street opened in 2005. Inside can be found theaters, galleries, as well as areas for meetings and weddings. The sixth floor Asian restaurant terrace offers amazing views of downtown and the riverfront.

8. Downtown

Downtown Baton Rouge is full of excitement. Whether you get around on foot, by car, or by the trolley system, you can spend hours happily taking photos and learning about the fascinating history and unique culture of the area. Many of the government buildings are open for tourism. Around every corner there are vibrant murals and opportunities to enjoy vibrant art and several types of music. This area includes hotels, coffee shops, pastry shops, and several greenspace parks in which to relax or decide what to see next. Louisiana is known for authentic cuisine, so try crawfish, oysters, or the muffaletta sandwich.

9. Spanish Town

The city’s oldest and most eclectic neighborhood is Spanish Town. Here you will find beautifully restored and preserved houses and a quaint store that has been open since 1914 that has famous local potato chips, burgers, and po-boys. Spanish Town hosts the most unusual parade at Mardi Gras and decorates the yards with pink flamingoes.

10. Garden District

Many locals will tell you that the Garden District is the most beautiful and the best. This is due to the old oak trees, azaleas, large parks, and historic bungalows. Movies have been filmed in this location and there is a wonderful feeling of friendship and hospitality. Be sure to see Ingleside Drive, taste local pastries, or get a Creole lunch plate.

11. Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

On 103 acres off North Oak Hills Parkway you will find Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center. The award-winning exhibit building has hands-on activity, live animal displays, education materials, and souvenirs. Nature paths and boardwalks give you a fabulous view of swamp, forest, and the native wildlife. It is quite common to see birds, snakes, turtles, and rabbits. Look closer and you just might catch a glimpse of armadillo, coyote, deer, raccoon, and opossums. Every season brings special events like art spectaculars and Swamp Flashlight Night.

12. Magnolia Mound

With a mission to illustrate and interpret French Creole lifestyle and culture of the early 1800’s, Magnolia Mound is rare, unique, and so vitally important to see and experience. On 16 acres at 2161 Nicholson Drive, this remarkable assortment includes museum, separate kitchen building, triple outhouse, double slave cabin, and more. Magnolia Mound hosts tours, festivals, lectures, camps, and multiple educational events throughout each year.

13. Red Stick Farmers Market

Fresh locally-grown fruits and vegetables are available all year at the 5th and Main Street location, while up to six other Red Stick Farmers Market locations pop up during peak seasons. More than fifty local farmers also bring meats, dairy products, bakery items, herbs, and select artisan breads. Be sure to take pictures and taste the goodness of these local delights.

14. Baton Rouge Zoo

When was the last time you saw an Aldabra Tortoise or a Yellow-naped Amazon Parrot? Come connect with over 700 animals from around the world at the Baton Rouge Zoo on Thomas Road. Talk about adventure, you can enjoy a twilight tour or a safari night while hearing monkeys chatter or tigers roar! Find a new appreciation and respect for animals at the Baton Rouge Zoo.

15. Casinos

Several casinos operate in and around Baton Rouge. They range in age and condition. Two of the best are Hollywood Casino and L’Auberge Casino Hotel. Casino games of chance are even more exciting when combined with picturesque surroundings, music, and dining. Whether you plan to spend one hour or one week, you are sure to be entertained while trying your luck.

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Conclusion

You will find many historical and educational things to do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If you love food, music, and art then this is the town. The unique culture of French, Creole, Spanish, native American, and so much more, has combined to produce the perfect combination of a casual Southern city with a fun-loving vibe. Take lots of pictures and bring home a few souvenirs.

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My focus is on exuberant people and exciting places in the Southeastern United States. I love interviewing people from all walks of life because EVERY person is fascinating! I also write about Food, Art, and Travel. Because I am over 50, on disability, and female...you will easily see that reflected in my worldview. Hopefully, you will find my articles informative, entertaining, and FUN!

Tallahassee, FL
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