Big cats, beauty pageants, and blues. These are just some of the best things to do in Baton Rouge. The capital of Louisiana shows its historic ties to French exploration and Native Americans in its name, Baton Rouge. When Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville first came to the area in 1699 he found a red pole along the Mississippi River that marked the dividing line between the Houmas and Byougoula Indigenous territories. He named the place Baton Rouge, meaning Red Stick, and it’s since grown to be the second-largest city in the state of Louisiana.
The Best of Baton Rouge
On my fourth visit to Louisiana, I wanted to explore Baton Rouge so I left New Orleans for the 90 minute drive to this beautiful city. Leaving New Orleans, you can meander along one of America’s great highways, Louisiana’s River Road. If you do, make sure and stop at Whitney Plantation Museum, the only plantation that focuses on the lives of enslaved people, telling their stories through sculpture and art.
Or you could take the more direct route on Highway 10. The 80-mile drive can take you an hour and a half, or one or two days if you stop at every mom-and-pop diner and wedding-cake plantation. That drive alone can change your life and make you fall in love with Louisiana. It did it for me.
Miss Baton Rouge pageant
Rolling up to the Baton Rouge Marriott, I found the lobby full of young ladies decked out in fluffy tulle skirts and sparkly tiaras. They were taking part in the Miss Baton Rouge pageant and hoping to make their way to the Miss Louisiana pageant, and who knows how much further, one day.
In the meantime, their moms were happy to chat and explain that every little girl deserves to shine. It was fun to ride in the elevators with these charming little ladies, who left a trail of glitter everywhere, on the way up to my comfortable hotel room. The Baton Rouge Marriott is a hotel of choice for these bevies of well-behaved pageant participants.
Tiger Stadium at Louisiana State University
Another important dividing line can be found mid-field at Louisiana State University’s Tiger Stadium. Billed as the loudest stadium in the USA, the cheers from the crowd in a 1988 game against Auburn University caused an earthquake reading on the seismograph at the campus geoscience complex.
At 102,321 seats, LSU is the eighth largest stadium in the world. On every game weekend, the entire campus is taken over by tailgate parties where fans compete for the best spots to set…
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