Baton Rouge, LA
Located just 80 miles from New Orleans, Louisiana's state capital, Baton Rouge, is a large metropolitan city with a small city vibe. Home to the celebrated Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers and the hub of Louisiana government, Baton Rouge is both a political and college town, rich in history and host to many cultural events and festivals year-round. Of course, many visitors come to Louisiana to eat and you won't be disappointed in what you'll find in Baton Rouge's many fine restaurants that showcase the creole and Cajun delicacies you'd expect when you visit any city in Louisiana. From the Old Governor's Mansion, built by Governor Huey P. Long as a replica of the White House, to a thriving downtown area replete with stunning riverfront views, casinos, parks, museums, restaurants, and a town square, there's something for everyone in your travel party to enjoy when you visit Baton Rouge.
âMust see in Baton Rouge
A visit to Baton Rouge would not be complete without a stop at Louisiana State University (LSU), where you can see Mike the Tiger, LSU's live mascot. Speaking of LSU, your next stop should be the LSU Rural Life Museum, which features an outdoor museum that is the best representation of what life was like in rural Louisiana in the 19th Century. Before you leave, try your luck at one of Baton Rouge's casinos, like the Hollywood on River Road; even if you lose, there's a fantastic view of the Mississippi River.
Where to stay in Baton Rouge
If you're traveling with kids, the best area to stay in is downtown. It's safe, walkable, has lots of good restaurants to chose from and is close to many family-friendly attractions like the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, the USS Kidd, the Old State Capitol and the Shaw Center for the Arts .
Young travelers might want to consider the area surrounding the LSU campus. There are a number of bars in this area catering to the college crowd, however, you can still access the downtown area easily. In addition to bars like Mike's in Tigerland and Reggie's, this area also has numerous affordable chain restaurants like Mellow Mushroom and Walk-Ons, plus neighborhood joints like Fat Cow Burgers and Salads.
If you're looking for a deal, consider finding accommodations through AirBnB. The Baton Rouge area has several hosts offering entire cottages, backyard bungalows, or apartments, as well as rooms with private entrances, baths and courtyards.
Best and worst time to go to Baton Rouge
When you think of Mardi Gras, invariably New Orleans comes to mind, but Baton Rouge hosts a tamer, family-friendlier, but equally nice Carnival, making this an ideal time to visit. Unless you're planning on attending an LSU game, avoid visiting Baton Rouge on the weekends during football season when there's a home game. With tailgating and die-hard fans, the traffic, especially around the LSU campus and downtown, is horrendous and the crowds are quite thick.
Where to get lost in Baton Rouge
Perkins Rowe is the perfect blend of shopping, dining and entertainment and is a great spot to spend a day getting lost. This mixed-use property also features a movie theater, a park, commercial and residential space and a town square where events are held periodically.
The best deal in Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge boasts an impressive 184 parks and recreation facilities, operated by BREC, the Recreation and Park Commission for East Baton Rouge Parish. A great deal is to check out one (or more) of these facilities during your stay and take advantage of the wide variety of free and low-cost offerings, including a 52 acre extreme sports park, a seasonal water park, tennis, traditional and disc golf and facilities offering canoeing and kayaking.
Transportation in Baton Rouge
Transportation in the city is provided by Capital Area Transit, or CATS, an affordable and relatively dependable system that will get you around town. However, if you're staying in the downtown area, you can easily walk to most attractions and destinations. A free trolley also operates in the downtown area during the week, but the hours are restrictive (check the website for schedule and stops) and if you're headed out to take a peak at LSU, you can also take a free trolley to the campus.
Getting In from Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport
Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport services the Baton Rouge area and is a mere 10 miles north of downtown. Several shuttle services are available including Tiger Airport Shuttle and
the Airport Shuttle Service. Also, check with your hotel because many of them provide free shuttle service to and from the airport for guests.
Local tip for visitors to Baton Rouge
If you're in town on the first Sunday of the month, take advantage of First Free Sunday which offers free admission to the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum , the USS Kidd and the LSU Museum of Art.
Author's bio: Myra Faye Turner lives and writes from New Orleans but enjoys taking the 80-mile trek to Baton Rouge to enjoy all of the attractions her sister city has to offer.