Baton Rouge, Louisiana, may not have the romanticism or pizazz of New Orleans, but the state capital is still rich in history with plenty of ways to enjoy your time here. From museums and mansions to the arts and even a casino, there is much to see and do. Read on for Culture Trip’s top tips.
USS Kidd Veterans Museum
Located on the east bank of the Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge is the famous USS Kidd Veterans Museum. Stroll through the passages and discover the names and events that transformed the world during two world wars. Then, walk down the long brow to the deck of the ship, nicknamed the Pirate of the Pacific. Stand on the bow, look out over the water and remember how the last people here were fighting for the greater good of the world.
Old Governor’s Mansion
The Old Governor’s Mansion is the former residence of Governor Huey P Long and a fantastic piece of architecture. Step back in time and survey the rooms and halls on a one-hour guided tour through the magnificent house. A spiral staircase greets you in the foyer, and the influence of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is immediately apparent.
Louisiana Arts and Science Museum
With more than 4,000 artefacts and works of art, the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum’s permanent collection is constantly growing, with revolving exhibition. If you’re an art and science buff touring through the capital city, stop in and enjoy all that this museum has to offer. Do not miss the gallery on Ancient Egypt, which features a mummy dating to 300BCE.
The Magnolia Mound plantation house is one of Louisiana’s many preserved examples of the atrocities committed by past generations. Originally a 900-acre (364ha) property overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, the estate is now dedicated to educating people on the French Creole roots that have become the staple of southern Louisiana.
Louisiana State Capitol
Building, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Huey P Long – aka the Kingfish – was arguably Louisiana’s best, yet most corrupt, governor. One thing is certain about the man: he got things done. Louisiana’s State Capitol building is one of the many construction projects undertaken and completed during the time of this ambitious political giant, who often used unorthodox methods to accomplish his aspirations. He would meet his fate inside the capitol building he had fought to erect; Long was shot by Carl Weiss on September 8, 1935, and died two days later.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol
Of all the historic architecture in and around Baton Rouge, the Old State Capitol building is unique, with its gothic design and brilliant stained-glass windows resembling a medieval castle. Today, the Capitol, which was built 170 years ago, serves as a museum to educate visitors on Louisiana’s political history. Stand on the steps of this ecclesiastical vestige, perched on a grassy knoll on the bank of the Mississippi, and take in the ambience of this memorable spot.
Pizzeria, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $
There is no better place downtown to satisfy your cravings than Pastime, revered by Baton Rouge residents. You can’t go wrong ordering a pizza, calzone or po’ boy. There is an option for even the pickiest individuals on the extensive menu here. Located under the Horace Wilkinson Bridge, Pastime began as a grocery store in the 1920s. In 1945, the building was reopened as the restaurant that still stands, and in 2007, it was named a historic landmark.
LSU Rural Life Museum
Take a step back in time and experience the rural lives of Louisianians during the 18th and 19th centuries at the LSU Rural Life Museum. This aesthetically stunning building accurately depicts the injustices suffered by those enslaved for generations. The scene appears virtually untouched by time – climb inside the claustrophobia-inducing slave quarters, followed by a visit to the spacious church used to reinforce the disturbing social injustice of slavery.
If the museums and old buildings don’t quite satisfy your need for excitement, head down to the boat and put it all on black. The Hollywood Casino is a great place to blow off some steam. Don’t have enough to bet big? That’s OK – head over to the cheap slots and take advantage of free drinks. Other options include the Belle of Baton Rouge, just south of the Hollywood Casino, in the downtown area. Farther down the river, you’ll find the newest addition, L’auberge Casino, which opened in 2012.
Shaw Center for the Arts
The Shaw Center for the Arts is the perfect way to spend an evening in downtown Baton Rouge. Inside, take in the magnificent visuals provided by the LSU Museum of Art and the LSU School of Art Glassell Gallery. Cap off your evening with some of the best dining spots in the city. Stroubes is a local favorite, and you can’t go wrong with Capital City Grill. The rooftop experience at Tsunami is where you can order some of the best sushi in the city while enjoying the most spectacular scene Baton Rouge has to offer, as the sun sets over the Mississippi.
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