Baton Rouge, Louisiana simply cannot compare with the romanticism of New Orleans; however, the capital city is rich with history. If you are in town and looking to expand the scope of your experience beyond the blur of alcoholic beverages, here is a list of activities that do not necessarily involve overworking your liver.
Old Governor's Mansion - Niagara | Wikimedia Commons
The USS Kidd & Veterans Museum
Located on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Downtown Baton Rouge, is the iconic USS Kidd and Veterans Museum. First, walk through the passages of the gallery, and discover the names and events that transformed the world over the course of two eras of war. Then, stroll down the long brow leading to the deck of the ship, aptly nicknamed “Pirate of the Pacific.” Stand on the bow, look out over the water, and transcend your cognizance to a time when this relic road the waves of the ocean, fighting for the greater good of our world.
The former residence of Governor Huey P. Long, the Old Governor’s Mansion is a fantastic piece of antediluvian architecture. Step back in time, as you discover the rooms and halls, on a one-hour guided tour through the magnificent house. A spiral staircase greets visitors in the foyer. The influence of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is apparent by the many parallels between the two floor plans. If you find yourself in the capital city, stop by The Mansion, and explore this treasured piece of Louisiana’s history.
Unfortunately, much of history is devastating, but these tragedies must be remembered so the same mistakes are not repeated. The Magnolia Mound Plantation House is one of Louisiana’s many preserved examples of the atrocities committed by past generations. Originally, a 900-acre piece of 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 South Louisiana.
Louisiana New State Capitol - thepipe26 | Wikimedia Commons
Louisiana Arts and Science Museum
Boasting a collection of over 4,000 artifacts and works of art, The Louisiana Arts and Science Museum’s permanent collection is constantly growing, and the exhibits are continuously revolving. If you’re an art and science buff touring through the capital city, stop in and enjoy all this museum has to offer. Do not miss the gallery on Ancient Egypt, containing a mummy dating to 300 BCE.
Louisiana Old State Capitol - Farragutful | Wikimedia Commons
Louisiana New State Capitol
Huey P. Long – better known as “The Kingfish” – was arguably Louisiana’s best, yet most corrupt, governor. One thing is certain about the man – he got things done. Louisiana’s New State Capitol building is one of the many construction projects undertaken and completed during the reign 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; Huey P. Long was shot by Carl Weiss on September 8, 1935, and died of his injuries two days later.
Of all the historical architecture in and around Baton Rouge, the Old State Capitol building may be the most unique. A Gothic design, with brilliant stained-glass windows, the magnificent structure resembles a medieval castle. Today, the building which has stood for more than 165 years serves as a museum to educate people on the political history of Louisiana. Stand on the steps of this ecclesiastical vestige, perched atop a grassy knoll on the bank of the Mississippi, and take in the ambiance of this unforgettable, picturesque scene.
There is no better place in downtown to satisfy your stomach than Pastime. Revered by locals, 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 at this casual restaurant. Located under the I-10 Mississippi River 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 was named a Historic Landmark.
Take a step back in time and experience the rural lives of Louisianians during the 18th and 19th centuries. Hailed as “Louisiana’s best kept secret,” the LSU Rural Life Museum is an absolute wonder. The world-renowned museum is aesthetically stunning and accurately depicts the injustices suffered by millions of people, enslaved for generations. The scene appears virtually untouched by time – climb inside the claustrophobia-inducing slave quarters and then visit the spacious church used to reinforce the disturbing social injustice of slavery.
If the museums and old buildings aren’t quite satisfying your need for danger, 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 okay – head over to the cheap slots and take advantage of free drinks. If you happen to be a regular gambler, there are other options which might be of interest. The Belle of Baton Rouge is located just south of the Hollywood Casino, in the downtown area. Further down river you’ll find the newest addition, L’auberge Casino, which opened in 2012.