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Top 10 Things to do in Baton Rouge

From museums celebrating Louisiana's storied past to brand new distilleries and restaurants, Louisiana's capital city of Baton Rouge has plenty to keep you busy.

1. Louisiana State Capitol and Old State Capitol

Two state capitols and countless stories is what you’ll find when visiting the Louisiana State Capitol and Old State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge. The Old State Capitol’s museum houses artwork and exhibits that tell the story of Baton Rouge and Louisiana. The so-called “Castle on the River” is an example of Gothic and Victorian architecture and was the state’s seat of government until the 1930s. Visit the stained-glass dome inside — it’s one of the most Instagram-worthy sights in all of Baton Rouge plus admission is free. The Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest state capitol building in the nation standing at 450 feet and is a monument to Louisiana’s history. Be sure to visit the 27th-floor for the Observation Deck overlooking Baton Rouge.

2. LSU Rural Life Museum

Louisiana State University’s reputation looms large over Baton Rouge and that’s not just football either. The LSU Rural Life outdoor museum takes visitors on a time-traveling journey through the state’s history, with hundreds of artifacts, plantation quarters and a variety of architectural styles unique to the region.

3. Mid-City and Southdowns Restaurants

Baton Rouge’s Mid-City neighbourhood is a prime destination for food lovers with numerous restaurants that put the city on the culinary map. Some standouts include Curbside - a burger joint that adds a gourmet twist on cooked beef patties; The Overpass Merchant - which has an awesome brunch menu that includes a killer Pork Benedict; and Kalurah Street Grill - an upscale Garden District restaurant located in a quirky and historic 1930s building that's literally under an overpass.

4. Magnolia Mound Plantation House

Magnolia Mound ranks among Louisiana’s oldest intact plantation homes, dating all the way back to 1791. What began as a small-scale settler’s home blossomed into a 900-acre farming operation that lasted until Louisiana became a state in 1812. You will see locally made, Colonial-era furniture, decorative arts that came by ship through the Port of New Orleans, local textiles and some of the most authentic French Creole architecture in the region.

5. Baton Rouge Zoo

Baton Rouge Zoo ranks among the top family attractions in the city. This is a place where kids’ imaginations can run as wild as the animals and explore exotic environments.

6. Louisiana Art & Science Museum

Housed in a 1925 historic railway station, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum is an inspiring collection of creative works, interactive exhibits and fascinating artifacts. Permanent science-oriented displays include the Ancient Egypt Gallery and planetarium.

7. BREC Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

BREC Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is a wetlands wonderland right in the middle of Louisiana’s second-largest city. The 103-acre facility offers visitors a quick getaway from urban Baton Rouge and offers a taste of the south Louisiana wilds with more than a mile of boardwalks and gravel paths that take visitors through a cypress-tupelo swamp and beech-magnolia and hardwood forests. Don’t be surprised if you see some of the local residents as well, including critters such as armadillos, deer and otter.

8. USS Kidd Veterans Museum

The USS Kidd is a relic of the nation’s World War II past and today stands as a monument to those who fought in the Pacific theater. The destroyer, restored to its 1945 configuration and docked at the Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge, was nicknamed the “Pirate of the Pacific.” Walk in the footsteps of servicemen and women aboard the decks of this fascinating ship and learn the stories of soldiers living through one of the most pivotal moments of American history.

9. LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Walk among the greenery that comprises LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, a Louisiana State University facility that welcomes visitors and researchers including numerous gardens for visitors to enjoy. The Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie has citrus trees which, when in bloom, give off some of the sweetest smells you’ll find in any garden. Also worth exploring are the Children’s Garden, Tropical Garden and other gardens devoted to roses, camellias and swamp plants.

10. Brewery and Distillery Tours

Louisiana’s home-grown liquor and beer industries have flourished in recent years, and in Baton Rouge you can get a first-hand look at how it’s all made. Cane Land Distilling Company offers behind-the-scenes tastings and tours, where visitors can learn about how Louisiana sugarcane juice is turned into Cane Land’s phenomenal rums, vodka and whiskey. Tin Roof Brewing Co., just about a mile from downtown Baton Rouge, offers free brewery tours every Friday and Saturday. Baton Rouge Distilling has both private and group tours at its facility and Southern Craft gives free tours, including a special Saturday brewmaster tour.

SOMETHING EXTRA: Animal lovers won't want to miss a visit to the LSU campus to see Mike the Tiger, the live mascot for the state's flagship university. And if you've always wanted to pet a sloth or swim with an otter, you're in luck. Just a half hour from Baton Rouge in Clinton, you'll find Barnhill Preserve, where you can check up-close encounters off your bucket list.

NEW: The capital city is home to two new venues that are guaranteed to quench your thirst for entertainment. Located between the Mid-City neighbourhood and downtown, Red Stick Social features bowling, live music and inventive food and drinks in an eclectic mix of indoor and outdoor spaces. Whether you're a seasoned player or you've never taken a swing, TopGolf Baton Rouge is the newest destination for active entertainment and events. Reserve a bay, grab a drink and let the games begin.

Vieux Carre Cocktail Recipe

This is the signature cocktail of the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans where Tales of the Cocktail was held. The Vieux Carré was created in 1938 by Walter Bergeron, who was then the head bartender. The name comes from the French name for the Old Quarter.

Ingredients
  • 3/4 ounce rye whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce cognac
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 teaspoon Benedictine liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1 lemon twist, for garnish

Directions

Fill an 8- to 10-ounce old-fashioned, or rocks, glass with ice. Add the rye, cognac, vermouth, Benedictine and both bitters and stir well. Garnish with the lemon twist.....enjoy!

Civil Rights

With timeless images from the many books, tv shows and movies set in and inspired by the southern states help to tell the story of plantation life, you can visit and learn about the history of these homes for yourself, dating back to the 1700's delving deep into the roots of the Civil Rights movement.

Visit New Orleans Plantation Country and learn about civil rights battles in Louisiana for the slaves who worked on the plantations, the families that owned them, the tragedy, the reality and the emancipation process post-civil war and really start to understand the rich and often beguiling history of Louisiana and the entire Deep South. 

The 106-Mile March for Civil Rights in Louisiana

In 1953, T.J. Jemison, a Baptist minister and one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led the nation’s first bus boycott against segregated seating in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His efforts then served as a model for the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama in 1955, regarded as one of the pivotal and best known events in the history of the civil rights struggle. The battle for racial justice pressed on when on 10th August 1967, students from Bogalusa, Louisiana, began a 106-mile march to Baton Rouge to raise awareness of violence against African-Americans nationwide as the civil rights battle continued to gather momentum throughout Louisiana and the Deep South. The march ended 10 days later with a rally on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol. By the time the marchers reached the Capitol, their numbers had grown from just 25 to over 600. They were protected by over 2,000 National Guardsmen and police officers. The fact that the federal government came to the aid of the marchers demonstrated the seriousness of the situation, but also the level of support from the federal government to enforce new civil rights legislation.

How One Little Girl in New Orleans Inspired a Nation

New Orleans is a landmark site for public school integration for two reasons: a courthouse and its judges, and a brave little girl named Ruby Bridges. Aged 6, Ruby was the only African-American student to attend William Frantz Elementary upon its integration. The history of the civil rights movement in Louisiana is filled with powerful images, few more so than Ruby Bridge being escorted by federal marshals as she faced an angry mob of segregationists, received daily threats to her well-being and intense harassment. Nevertheless, she continued attending the school and many community members, both black and white, stepped in to protect her. Ruby became a symbol of bravery and hope during the nationwide battle for school integration and a powerful figure in the history of the South.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit was home to the “Fifth Four” - four judges who contributed to several landmark civil rights decisions regarding school desegregation and because of these judges children like Ruby were able to attend formerly all-white schools and be educated alongside white students.

Inspired by the story of Ruby Bridges and school integration, Norman Rockwell confronted the issue of prejudice head-on with one of the most powerful paintings - "The Problem We All Live With", see below...

The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell

Top 10 things to do in Louisiana

Louisiana is a 'gumbo' created in the 1700's with a dash of French, Spanish, English, Irish, Cajun, Creole and Afro-Carribean influences. These 'cultural ingredients' have added great flavours to make Louisiana the exotic state of the South.

Here's our pick of the best things to do in Louisiana:

  • New Orleans Mardi Gras: Soak up the vibrancy of the Mardi Gras parades, New Orleans' most spectacular carnival.

  • Visit Plantation Country: Step back into the history of the South and the importance of these oh-so grand homes.

  • Cocktail Tour: Take a walking Cocktail Tour in New Orleans, the birthplace of the cocktail. French 75 or Sazerac, the choice is yours.

  • Courir de Mardi Gras: Experience the traditional Cajun Mardi Gras in Lafayette.

  • Take in an American Football game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge home of Louisiana State University.

  • Creole Nature Trail: Explore the breathtaking Creole Nature Trail in Lake Charles, over 180 miles on 1 of 43 designated Scenic Byways in the USA.

  • French Quarter: Steeped in history and Louisiana atmosphere, the French Quarter draws its fair share of visitors! Famed for its vibrant nightlife too.

  • Kayak on the Bayous and waterways of Louisiana, viewing Louisiana’s wildlife up close. Alternatively an airboat or swamp boat are options for those feeling less energetic.

  • Music! Visit a Jazz club in the city that gave birth to the Jazz sound, why not visit Preservation Hall one of the most famous music venues in the US.

  • Eat! You will not go hungry in Louisiana from Shreveport in the North with its BBQ influences to New Orleans in the South, Cajun and Creole culinary experiences and flavours abound.

Please do get in touch with our Louisiana State experts if you have any questions or need some advice to help you plan your Louisiana holiday - we are always on hand to help!

Movies in Louisiana

Louisiana is increasingly becoming recognised as the movie-making capital of the USA. In the past decade alone Louisiana has hosted the production of more than 400 films and a study by the motion picture industry reveals that one in seven visitors to Louisiana travelled because of a film or television show.

In addition, viewers are experiencing beautiful, culturally rich landscapes that Louisiana has to offer. Tom Cruise is currently in Louisiana filming the new Jack Reacher: Never Go Back until 6th February 2016, a movie based on Lee Child novels. Other Louisiana based projects include Pitch Perfect 2, Jurassic World, The Magnificent Seven, The Loft, Focus, Self/less, 22 Jump Street, Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Best of Me and American Ultra, to name a few.

Louisiana as a home also proves to be a firm favourite with actors and actresses such as Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Nicolas Cage, John Goodman and more. So visitors to Louisiana never know what actors and productions they may bump into!

Watch it on film then experience it in real life! louisianatravel.com/articles/famous-movies-filmed-louisiana

 

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