Baton Rouge Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in Baton RougeWhere to Stay
One of the unique aspects of the Baton Rouge area is that several plantation homes also serve as bed and breakfasts. These offer a historical experience with personalized service. Bocage, situated 20 miles south of Baton Rouge (just a stone's throw away from the Mississippi River) is refreshingly "off the radar" for now. In downtown Baton Rouge, you'll also have your pick of familiar lodgings like the Hilton and Best Western, as well as luxury casino hotels.
Caution: Public transport isn't the best, so you'll need your own wheels to visit the plantation homes.
Hot Tips: If you visit a plantation in the off season, you may have the entire place to yourself.
What to Eat
One of the great things about French-infused Baton Rouge is the Cajun cooking! Just a bit south is the town of Gonzales, the "jambalaya capital of the world," but you'll also find fried alligator, catfish, crawfish etouffee, shrimp and andouille sausage gumbo at many of the local restaurants in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area. The Chimes is one of the most famous, with a great beer selection, brunch favorites like crawfish omelets and barbecue shrimp, and a location right next to the LSU campus.
Be Sure to Sample: Boudin, a sausage casing stuffed with pork and rice.
Things to See
Both the old and new capitol buildings make a great stop when touring Baton Rouge attractions. The new building is the tallest capitol in the US and is beautiful on the inside, while the old capitol building looks like a castle. Watching a game at Tiger Stadium is a rite of passage for visitors, while the levee offers a more relaxed experience and is a perfect daytime stroll or bike ride on the 2.5-mile path. Pack a lunch and take your time.
Hot Tips: If you can, try to be at the levee at sunset.
Places to Party
Baton Rouge is a college town; where there are college students, there is sure to be a vibrant nightlife. Downtown has its share of microbreweries, pubs, bars and dance clubs, but you can also try Funny Bone Comedy Club, the Texas Club and the Varsity theater for live acts and musical performances.
Hot Tips: Be sure to take in some Zydeco music before you leave!
Where to Shop
Baton Rouge has a plethora of traditional stores like Barnes and Noble, Bass Pro and clothing outlets, but it also has some truly unique shopping centers. Specialty shops include Maison Victoria antique shop, Bayou Tobacco, Baton Rouge's oldest cigar humidor, and Cabela's store - with huge aquariums and trophy animals, it's part shop and part exhibit. The Baton Rouge Arts Market is an open air market featuring over 40 artists from South Louisiana with pottery, jewelry, woodwork, photography, stained glass and more.
Caution: The arts market is only open mornings on the first Saturday of each month.
Hot Tips: Don't miss the Cajun Village, full of restored historic Acadian style homes with specialty boutiques and live alligators.
Best Local Souvenir: An alligator skin wallet and Louisiana hot sauce.
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About Baton Rouge
Set along the Mississippi River, Baton Rouge is a city of presence, both Louisiana's capital and seat of East Baton Rouge Parish. The state's second largest city, however, wasn't always the political and manufacturing force it is today. When claimed by the French in 1699, the area was a threshold between Bayougoula and Houma Indian hunting grounds. Marking the division was a stripped tree, reddened with the blood of slaughtered animals. Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, a Frenchman leading an exploratory party from New Orleans, christened the area "Baton Rouge" after the improvised landmark, and the city's name was set for posterity. After the United States brokered the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the town grew measurably, and by the late 19th-century, Louisiana State University was founded, and the city's status as state capital was cemented. These days, Baton Rouge is an amalgam of commerce and tradition, its oil refineries and chemical companies juxtaposed against antebellum plantations and a prominent Cajun heritage. The port city's history also includes Governor Huey Long's controversial public tenure and violent death in the Capitol he built. The edifice is still a tourist draw, as are the Old State Capitol,... Read more »