Louisiana has centuries of rich history that can be found with every turn around the bayou. When most think of Louisiana, New Orleans is the first name that often comes to mind. Three hundred years of unique mingling of language, culinary arts and culture make it stand out to many who have enjoyed Bourbon and Frenchman street on more that one occasion.
But… west of New Orleans Baton Rouge Louisiana’s “Capital City” is the true hub of the Cajun state; centrally located, within an hour drive away from New Orleans and Lafayette. It is the consummate city in exploring the eclectic culture of Louisiana. Nicknamed the “Red Stick,” from Baton Rouge in French, it all began in 1699. French explorer Iberville was traveling up the Mississippi River and saw a bloodied, red pole on the shore.
The “red stick” was marking the boundaries between hunting grounds of two Native American tribes. He named the location le bâton rouge, or the red stick and thus the rest is history, both French and what would become much later the United States. 300 years of narrative can be tasted in its food and seen in its distinct architecture.
The Hotel Indigo Baton Rouge Downtown Riverfront is chic, sophisticated, and recently renovated. This boutique hotel lends a nice respite for visitors who want an escape from the common hotel experience.
An upscale casual bistro offering breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, full bar, 24-hour fitness center and modernized rooms featuring plush bedding and spa-like bathrooms please and pamper. Located right in downtown Baton Rouge, Hotel Indigo it is well within walking distance to attractions, restaurants, the river and a diverse selection of dining options.
Watermark Baton Rouge is part of the prestigious Autograph collection by Marriot and offers 144 rooms of pure luxury in the former Louisiana Trust and Savings Bank. Guests dine and relax in Art Deco and Greek Rival ambience surrounded by gleaming marble and classic furnishings with industrial modern accents.
Dine at the Gregory, named after the legendary women artist Angela Gregory whose bas-relief murals and sculptures tell the story of Louisiana’s culture and commerce capturing the romance of a bygone era. With a comfortable lounge and bar area, counter service deli and event spaces for business travelers, this is a place for those wanting a historically elegant setting with a modern feel. The Watermark exudes southern pride, local culture and of course local cuisine under the direction of Chef Justin Lambert bringing traditional flavors together with tradition.
Baton Rouge food culture embraces the contemporary Creole cuisine of New Orleans and the traditional Cajun fare from Acadiana, blending the best of both scrumptious worlds. It is very easy to see why Baton Rouge is known worldwide for exquisite cuisine that incorporates the flavors and textures of both Cajun and Creole. Pull up a seat and dine at some of the best restaurants the Red Stick has to offer. Your taste buds will be grateful to enjoy authentic Louisiana fare from boiled, broiled, fried and baked.
Boudreaux & Thibodeaux is THE Cajun place to be when downtown. Boiled crawfish are plentiful when in season. The menu includes classic crawfish etouffee, sliders with curly fries, fried seafood plates, and of course boudin balls. At night, those 21+ enjoy libations, live local music, karaoke and so much more.
Located in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge, Stroubes is best described as elevated southern cuisine. It is a consummate way to enjoy an evening downtown while indulging in dishes from one of Baton Rouge’s finest seafood and steak menus.
The southern inspired menu captures the freshest local ingredients and seafood from Gulf of Mexico. Their hand cut steaks; seared duck breast, fresh seafood, prepared with a unique spin on classic preparations, affords guests a dining experience that is second to none.
There is plenty to enjoy in the southern capital on the banks of the Mississippi. Perfect place to start is Louisiana’s Old State Capitol.
Predominately placed on a bluff overlooking the mighty Mississippi, this historic landmark houses the Old State Capital Museum of Political History and contains several state-of-the-art exhibits for all ages to enjoy.
The rotunda is strikingly exquisite with a colorful kaleidoscope of stained glass windows. A climb up the spiral stair case is worth the effort in taking in the grandeur of this historic landmark. Having been called Louisiana’s “castle on the river” It’s and perfect example of Gothic –Victorian architecture that holds the many artifacts that tell of Louisiana’s history and culture.
Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge is certainly a sight to behold that attracts thousands to celebrate every year. Mardi Gras here features a family friendly party with traditional floats, balls, beautifully designed floats, marching bands, costumed canines, lawn mower-pushing krewes and dancing for hours in the streets. Every bakery, restaurant and food store in Baton Rouge crafts their own traditional King Cake along with themed bread puddings, martinis, cake balls, cupcakes, popsicles, ice cream, donuts and so much more.
There are two major universities, Southern University and A&M College, and Louisiana State University that add vitality and vibrancy to the city. Football is certainly the main attraction on Saturdays in the fall and known for their game day events and iconic tailgating.
On a football weekend thousands stream into “Death Valley”, where tents, RVs and grills come to town en mass filling the area with the aromas of pure southern Louisiana cooking with a competitive festive fashion.
Find a Boudin and enjoy it Link-style or fried into a ball. The traditional boudin is filled with pork, rice, seasonings, onions and peppers and is a must-try in Baton Rouge. One must have a Jambalaya in the “Jambalaya Capital of the World” just south of Baton Rouge.
Of course, there is Mascot Meat. It is not uncommon to see tailgaters cooking up the opposing teams’ mascots and doesn’t make a difference whether they’re playing the hogs and having a cochon de lait, or grillin’ up some gator meat, these fans are serious and for making their loyalties known in this manner. If you can batter it, these people will fry it.
Shopping is abundant and enjoyable for visitors from all over the world. For those wanting LSU gear, the university’s massive retail space and bookstore is the place to find just the right “tiger” attire. Anthropologie invites a one-of-a-kind compelling shopping experience that makes all feel welcome. It’s a world of its own from the moment you enter the store. Their website and catalog are certainly worth a look as well. Choose from unique local items made by Louisiana artists offering everything from art to spices and sauces to hand-crafted jewelry. Support local artists at AuthenticLouisiana.com
Baton Rouge imparts the vibrancy of a college town along with the sophistication of a state capital. Its people, culture, activities rich in history all merge to make this southern state capital worth a stay for business or pleasure. Just a short drive from busy New Orleans, tradition, football and great food wait to be discovered in Baton Rouge.