Welcome to Baton Rouge!
Travelers to Louisiana, in the Deep South of the United States, tend to head straight to New Orleans, AKA “The Big Easy”. However, Baton Rouge, Louisiana--the state capital--is a laid-back and charming Mississippi River town with three centuries of Cajun, French, Spanish, and Creole influences, and is well worth a look. Baton Rouge is a dynamic, yet unplanned, sprawling city that is spotted with revitalized downtown neighborhoods. It’s driven by a youthful vibrancy thanks to the 30,000 students who attend Louisiana State University.
Tourists know the well-known attractions, but a worldwide local knows how to avoid the touristy Baton Rouge traffic and seek out exciting, alternative, and authentic experiences. This is an insider guide on some of Baton Rouge’s finest spots.
Music in Baton Rouge
Whereas its brasher, louder and yes, perhaps livelier neighbor to the southeast might be the party capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge can lay claim to a serious appreciation for the Blues. The city is a music lover’s paradise, with growly country ballads, heavy roots and blues jams, and hypnotizing zydeco licks around every corner, drifting in the open windows of most hotels in Baton Rouge. For a real taste of the musical history that oozes from every pore of Baton Rouge, check out the Buddy Stewart Memorial Music Foundation & Rhythm Museum. It’s a rough-and-ready dive into the dark heart of Louisiana Blues. The vintage record shop two doors down is also a stunning treasure trove for the true connoisseur.
Worldwide Local Tip: Time your visit to coincide with the Third Street Songwriter Festival, a celebration of the city’s live talent that often flies under the radar. It’s a glorious crawl of multiple venues along downtown 3rd Street… a bit like a bar crawl with added guitars. It’s one of the liveliest things to do in Baton Rouge. If you can’t make the festival, head to the Red Dragon Listening Room, on Florida Boulevard, for some of the best live music in town.
Eating Out in Baton Rouge
Aside from music, Baton Rouge is really all about a big feed. Food is central to life here, and the remarkable melange of Spanish, French, Creole, and Cajun cultures, have created a cuisine that will leave you sated, delighted, stuffed, and yet somehow hungry for more. To get the most out of the restaurants in Baton Rouge, try the jambalaya at Rice & Roux, Cajun chicken at Bellue’s Fine Cajun Cuisine, or shrimp gumbo at The Chimes East.
Worldwide Local Tip: For the best jambalaya, seafood gumbo, and crawfish étouffée in town, there’s only one place to go: Tony’s Seafood Market. The biggest market of its kind in the Gulf South, it has been around for over 50 years and is a serious Baton Rouge institution.
The Rich History of the City
Baton Rouge is a place where history makes its presence felt daily, and the city revels in a rich and intriguing cultural heritage. Even a short stroll through the center of town, soaking in the sunny Baton Rouge weather, unearths a wealth of fascinating historic buildings and architecture. Explore Louisiana’s Old State Capitol (a survivor of war, fire, and abandonment), the Magnolia Mound Plantation House with its French colonial legacy, or the USS KIDD, a fascinating floating museum commemorating the veterans of Pearl Harbour.
Worldwide Local Tip: The LSU Rural Life Museum, is an amazing collection of over 30 preserved historic buildings from across the state, which have been brought together for an unforgettable showcase of 18th and 19th century Louisiana life.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Baton Rouge might be less heralded than The Big Easy, but it still has a huge amount to offer the discerning traveler. The city has retained an authenticity that is lacking elsewhere. As a worldwide local, you’ll really be able to experience the best and most remarkable aspects of Louisiana life.