Visiting Baton Rouge - What to See and Do
(Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Louisiana's capital Baton Rouge sits along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, just up the way from New Orleans. This large port city is home to the Louisiana State University and a number of regional attractions that showcase the rich heritage and history of Louisiana.
An assortment of interesting museums can be found in the downtown district, centered on African American culture, state history, and the arts and sciences. The Louisiana State University is an attraction in its own right, both for its beautiful campus and the academic institutes located here. If there is a college football game in town featuring the local Tigers, you will know it.
Theater and the performing arts have a strong presence in Baton Rouge, and you will have no trouble finding great southern and Creole cuisine around the city. On the outskirts are bayous (marshes) to explore, trails to hike and stunning historic plantations to visit. Though New Orleans always gets the tourism hype, Baton Rouge has its own little atmosphere going on without the crowds.
Ten things you must do in Baton Rouge
- Of the capital's many museum attractions, the Louisiana State Museum is arguably the most engaging. Its two floors are filled with exhibits and relics from the state's long and colorful history. Inspect Louis Armstrong's first bugle, marvel at a Confederate submarine from the Civil War or ponder any of the other hundred unique artifacts on display here.
- The Louisiana State University is one of the main academic institutes in the state. Its campus has been around for more than a century, and is covered in lush parks and towering old live oak trees. The campus is a great place to wander around, watch the students, and visit historic sites like the Indian Mounds and the Quad. If there is a Tigers football game on, this place really rocks.
- One of the highlights of southern Louisiana is its unique system of swamps known as bayous. Getting deep into one is a memorable experience, best done with the guidance of an outfit like Alligator Bayou Swamp Tours. Eerie cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss and water filled with alligators, snakes and other creatures create an unforgettable environment.
- The Myrtles Plantation is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved in Louisiana. It is located just up the road from Baton Rouge and can be toured by the day or enjoyed as an overnight experience. The inn, restaurant and plantation grounds are all top-notch. Best of all, the Myrtles is well-known to be haunted.
- Parked in the water off downtown Baton Rouge is a WWII-era US Navy Destroyer called the USS Kid. This impressive historic ship is in top condition and open to tours by the public every day. If you are a military history buff or have your children in tow, the USS Kid is a great diversion from the downtown scene.
- On Saturday mornings, one of the capital's greatest treasures emerges. The Red Stick Farmers' Market happens every weekend on Fifth Street in downtown. Some 50 vendors show up selling all kinds of tasty prepared food and fresh produce.
- Amongst the city's best places to take a leisurely walk are the LSU Lakes. This series of lakes next to the university is a popular spot for walks, bike rides or a jog. Miles of paved pathways run around these charming little lakes all linked together. Since these attractions are all part of the LSU campus, there are usually other people out enjoying the paths as well.
- Swine Palace Productions is Baton Rouge's leading professional theater group. They perform in the unique Reilly Theater on the LSU campus. This historic theater-in-the-round was once a pavilion for judging livestock for sale. Thankfully it has been called up for a higher purpose, and the plays put on by the group are well regarded throughout the state.
- The Louisiana State Capitol is the most recognizable landmark in the city. This Art Deco skyscraper was built under the reign of infamous governor Huey Long in the 1920s. There is a lot of colorful history at the capitol, not least the fact that Huey Long was assassinated inside. Visitors can tour the capitol during regular working hours.
- The city's top attraction is its zoo. BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo has a friendly family atmosphere more akin to a wildlife park than anything else. Around a dozen different enclosures showcase most of the planet's varied wildlife, from the South American Cloudforest Adventure to the Realm of the Tiger. There are plenty of species to admire here, and the grounds are lush and tidy. Book a ride on the White Tiger Tram for a slick narrated sidewalk tour of the zoo.