What to do in Baton Rouge
A few highlights from the capital city of Louisiana
Louisiana is known for its colorful personality and overall happy lifestyle. Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge, is located in the south-central part of the State and does its best to uphold this lifestyle. Baton Rouge is actually not known for being the most exciting city in Louisiana, although it is one of the largest. It receives a lot of competition from Lafayette and New Orleans, two nearby neighbors. Baton Rouge is roughly halfway between each. If you know where to look though, you can find some exciting things to do in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is best when school is in semester as it is in many ways, a college town. Louisiana State University (referred to as LSU) is, to an extent, the nucleus that holds the city together. Much of the nightlife, local economy, and even restaurants are centered around the university. If you are interested in some things to do in Baton Rouge this weekend, check out my suggestions below. After, you will find a list of my favorite places to eat in Baton Rouge.
- Visit the State Capitol Building – The state capitol building in Baton Rouge is a very unique building. From the outside, most wouldn’t think that there was anything overly significant about it, but in fact it has a unique history. For starters, the state capitol building is the tallest state capital building in the United States. It is also decorated in many types of marble and granite, many of which are considered extinct. There was also a bomb that was set off once inside the building. The bomb shot a pencil into the ceiling of one of the chambers, and it remains to this day.
- Tailgate for a LSU football game – If you happen to be in Baton Rouge during the fall, then I’d say that it is certainly worth it to stick around for a Saturday game. Louisianans party hard. Tailgating with them is a great way to experience many aspects of Louisiana culture, including food, hospitality, and attitude.
- Watch an LSU football game in Tiger Stadium – In addition to tailgating, I’d suggest trying to score some tickets for a night game in Tiger Stadium. It is quite the experience for someone who has never been.
- Walk the levee – One of my favorite ‘getaways in Baton Rouge’ is the levee. The levee can be very peaceful and serene if you get on it in the right area. I used to travel away from downtown a bit then jog the levee some when I wanted to be alone for a bit. It is a nice area.
- Party downtown – There are two main party scenes in Baton Rouge. The nightlife in Baton Rouge is not really that diverse, but there is some difference between the two. Downtown is more of a young professional and mixed older crowd, where as Tigerland near LSU’s campus is more of the college crowd. There are some trendy new bars downtown that you might enjoy having a drink in.
- Run the LSU lakes – LSU’s lakes are large and cover a great area just outside of the campus area. The lakes are a nice place to exercise if you wish to get out. The larger lake is around 4.5 miles in circumference. Most of the lake has concrete sidewalks.
- Eat at the Chimes – Chimes is the most famous restaurant in Baton Rouge. Chimes is classic and a staple near the campus of LSU. You can drink beer from around the world, enjoy the game, or grab some food. They have a few nice Cajun dishes.
- Drive River road – Cyclists, motorcyclists, and even cars would enjoy a nice drive south on River road. River road runs completely to New Orleans if you travel south. You can take river road to #16 –>
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade – St. Patrick’s day parade is a good time in Baton Rouge. Every year on St. Patrick’s day, there is a parade that passes on a few streets in Baton Rouge. After that, people just have fun and party the day away.
- Check out the Old State Capitol Building – Mark Twain once said something to the extent of, “the British failed to destroy the ugliest building in Louisiana when they sailed up the Mississippi.” He was talking about the old state capitol building in Baton Rouge. This building looks almost castle-like. However, for some reason, Twain didn’t like it much.
- Relax on the parade grounds – Take your time, and enjoy the day on the parade grounds on LSU’s campus. The parade grounds is really nice, spacious, and welcoming for a nice afternoon.
- Spanish town parade – The Spanish town parade is one of the major Mardi Gras parades in Baton Rouge. In 2013, the parade will take place the Saturday before Mardi Gras (February 9th).
- Catch a show at the Varsity – The Varsity is a retired theatre turned bar that adjoins the Chimes. Now, the bar serves as a venue for both famous and local musicians to show their talent.
- Greek and Lebanese food – If you enjoy Mediterranean or Middle-eastern cuisine, then I’d suggest checking out one of the restaurants around. Baton Rouge has some of the best Mediterranean cuisine in Louisiana. There are several restaurants in the area with a varying style. See some suggestions below.
- Visit Vietnamese town – Most people don’t know about Vietnamese town in Baton Rouge, but there is a significant community of Vietnamese people who have congregated on Florida Boulevard. If you drive away from downtown Baton Rouge on Florida Street to Florida Boulevard (same road), then you will eventually come into this area, where many of the signs and restaurants are completely in Vietnamese. Good food and culture for you.
- Visit a plantation – There are several large and famous plantation homes not far from Baton Rouge. Oak Alley, the most famous, is maybe 20-30 minutes from downtown Baton Rouge.
- Drive down highland road – Highland road is another drive in Baton Rouge. South highland driving away from campus, has some of the nicest houses in the area. There are some really quality houses and manors and the road makes for a pleasant drive.
- Trail running – In the northern part of Baton Rouge, there is a trail for running and mountain biking. It is a BREC park, which you can find from their website. A nice option for the outdoors in Baton Rouge.
- Tour the USS Kidd – The USS Kidd is located just off of the Mississippi river bridge in Baton Rouge. Next to the casino. It was used in World War II and the Korean war.
- Exercise in BREC park – BREC is the governing agency of all the major Baton Rouge recreation centers and parks. They maintain a variety of areas and fields around the city, which are nice places to get some exercise.
- Watch a sunset on the levee overlooking the Mississippi River – One of my favorite things to do in Baton Rouge when I am feeling like connecting with nature is catch a sunset over the levee. The levee is a perfect place to catch a sunset because it overlooks the river, the bridge, and the west. You are high up and can see a fair distance away. If you go near campus of LSU, there are benches. Perhaps a good picnic idea for you also!
- Visit the Planetarium – The Baton Rouge planetarium is located in downtown Baton Rouge just across the street from the Old State Capital building and the USS Kidd. For a small price you can visit the museum and check out the planetarium show.
Best things to eat in Baton Rouge
This is all a matter of opinion of course, but I am going to include a list of a few good places to eat in Baton Rouge. There were a few suggestions above like type, and the Chimes, but here I will give you a few suggestions based off of the food I have eaten in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge has a fairly diverse cuisine considering its small size in comparison to larger cities. The food is not really Cajun, but a mixture.
- Louie’s – A great breakfast place located near the campus of LSU. It is open 24 hours a day and is a typical late night food in Baton Rouge.
- Albasha – A really good Greek and Lebanese (Mediterranean) restaurant off of Corporate boulevard. Runners-up include Almaza and Atcha Bakery. Almaza serves a variety of Persian dishes, while the other local restaurants are geared towards Mediterranean. Atcha is the cheapest and it is near campus.
- Serop’s – A personal favorite of mine. Serop’s Mediterranean Cuisine is a great restaurant in Baton Rouge. Serop’s is a family owned business owned by a family of Armenian immigrants. Serop’s has 6 locations in Baton Rouge.
- Past Times – Past Times serves Pizza and sandwiches.
- Kaminari – Kaminari is a sushi and habashi grill located next to campus. The lunch special is only $9.99 and you get all-you-can-eat sushi and habashi.
- India’s – India’s is the best local Indian cuisine. They have lunch buffet and dinner meals, and they are the most authentic around according to some of my Indian friends 🙂 . I went recently and enjoyed it.
- Chinese combo King – Located on Chimes street. Chinese Combo King serves a variety of dishes. It is not a buffet, but serves plates of fried rice, Mongolian beef, etc. All for reasonable prices.
- Inga’s – Inga’s is a local sandwich shop. It is better than the generic subways that you will get at chain restaurants, but slightly pricier. I enjoy their Steak sub.
- Chimes – As I mentioned earlier in this article, Chimes is a classic Baton Rouge experience. A local tradition that is ingrained into the heart of LSU culture.
- American Market (a.k.a. Am-Mart) – Am-Mart is another local sandwich choice. By far the cheapest and best bang for your buck. Just $5-6 will get you a full sub with meat and your choice of dressings.
What are your thoughts?
What is/are your favorite thing(s) to do in Baton Rouge? What is your favorite thing to eat in Baton Rouge?
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