Me: I’ve never really been to Baton Rouge.
My Co-Worker: WHAT?!
This was pretty much the reaction from everyone I told that I hadn’t gone to Baton Rouge before, but when I say I’ve never been to Baton Rouge, I mean I’ve never really explored or seen any sites in the city. The first time I went to Baton Rouge was for this FBLA competition in high school (#nerdalert), and we didn’t leave the hotel. The second time I went was for a wedding, so I only got to see the Old Governor’s Mansion and eat at Parrain’s. I would hardly count that as going to Baton Rouge, but I digress.
For the long Labor Day weekend, the boyfriend and I wanted to take a trip somewhere. The first choice was New Orleans, but with the hurricane, we didn’t want to venture too far down south. Plus, New Orleans was set to be packed with the LSU vs. BYU game being relocated to the Superdome, and we weren’t about that life.
Side note: I was recently asked if I was keeping my boyfriend a secret, and I realized I haven’t really written much about my dating life (or even too much about my personal life) over the past two years. When I became single back in 2015, I was battling a lot of demons, and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster since then (Shout-out to y’all for sticking with me and being a beacon of light when I needed it most. I’ve read over the comments that y’all left on the post I linked above multiple times, and they literally make my heart so happy.). As bloggers, sometimes we tend to keep things very surface level, but now that I’m in a better place, I do want to open up and share more about myself again, so stay tuned for that and an official intro of my boyfriend, Kyle. For now, here’s a cute picture/my favorite picture of us:
CHICOT STATE PARK (in Ville Platte, Louisiana)
I think one of my favorite things about Kyle is his spontaneity and the fact that he’s up for anything. This was further proven to me on our drive to Baton Rouge when he decided we should pull over on some random exit to visit an arboretum. So if you happen to be driving from up north and want to make a stop off of I-49, I 100% recommend visiting Chicot State Park (assuming you like the great outdoors). It’s located about two hours outside of Baton Rouge in Ville Platte (which ironically, we learned earlier that day at breakfast that this town is where the spice “Slap Ya Mama” is made).
There are several trails for you to walk and explore different parts of the park. We walked about 3ish miles even though I was wearing the wrong shoes. We saw tons of tiny frogs, a couple lizards, a snake and the biggest spiders of my life. Y’all, in theory I’m super into nature, but when I almost ran into the web of this gigantic spider, I almost lost my mind. We also saw a snake, and admittedly, this was the first time I ever saw a snake of that size outside of a zoo. I practically dragged Kyle away when he tried to get closer to it because he didn’t see it initially. I’m unbelievably grateful for his patience with me because I was a mess.
For more information about Chicot State Park, click here.
LOUISIANA’S OLD STATE CAPITOL
I’m a sucker for a good museum, and this one was a priority because it’s at the top of pretty much every travel blog and site that I found when I was looking up things to do in Baton Rouge. The building itself is gorgeous, and the displays are very well done. My only complaint would be that in the temporary exhibit room, they had these audio clips that I was super interested in for about sixty seconds. After that, they seemed never-ending. Each section had about three of them, and I had zero desire to spend any extra time standing there listening to them. They would have held my attention more had they been shorter and gotten down to the nitty gritty.
A good portion of the museum was dedicated to Huey Long, and his exhibits were pretty fantastic. The first room we walked in was divided in two – one half was arguing in favor of his time in office and the other was the opposition. The next room had a stage with a statue of him and audio from one of his speeches. The last room was dedicated to his death. They did an awesome job putting these rooms together.
The upstairs had beautiful open spaces. It’s often rented out for weddings and other events. We didn’t spend too much time up there because we were getting pretty hungry.
The Old State Capitol Museum is free of charge and well worth your visit. You can find more info about it by clicking here.
LSU AgCenter BOTANIC GARDENS
Apparently we didn’t get in enough nature in Ville Platte, so we decided to walk a few trails at the LSU AgCenter. We walked less than a mile, but I was still wearing the wrong shoes. Luckily, we didn’t run into any spiders or snakes on this trail. Instead, we saw some pretty butterflies and interesting-looking bugs.
If you’re in Baton Rouge, and you’re looking to get outside, the LSU AgCenter has several different trails for you to walk. There’s also a few other things to do there, including visiting the Barton Arboretum and going to the Rural Life Museum, which I’ll talk about below.
For more info on the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, click here.
RURAL LIFE MUSEUM
I liked the Rural Life Museum a lot more than I initially thought I would, and I’m actually disappointed that we didn’t get to spend more time there. The museum is huge, and we went pretty late in the day, so we only got to spend less than an hour there.
The indoor area is set up like a traditional museum with some really interesting displays, but I liked exploring outside. When we stepped out, the first thing we saw were these hugs cows. I was surprised that they were so tame. They’re enclosed by a wooden fence, but if they decided to go savage, I’m sure they’d be able to knock it down.
The museum covers 25 acres and has 32 buildings. We got to see a handful of them, and they were setup in such a neat way. My favorites were the cemetery and the church.
We had a heart-pounding incident when we were walking back to the main museum area aka the Visitor Center. There was a bell, and Kyle naturally decided to ring it then three wasps flew out of it. I literally bolted and abandoned him to fend for himself. I was zero help in spite of how good he was to me when we encountered the spiders and the snake at Chicot. In my defense, I got my first ever wasp sting earlier this year, and I’m still traumatized.
The entry fee is $10 for adults, and you can find out more about the Rural Life Museum here.
MIKE THE TIGER HABITAT
Just as a disclaimer, even though I’ve been living in Louisiana for over a decade, I still have yet to be converted into an LSU fan, but in the spirit of getting the full Baton Rouge experience, we decided to visit Mike the Tiger VII. This Mike just moved into the habitat and is apparently only 11 months old. He was sleeping the whole time we were there, but he was so cute that it made me think about becoming a Tigers fan. (Just kidding. I’ll remain faithful to my LA Tech Bulldawgs in spite of that horrifically embarrassing fumble against Mississippi State. I’m not sure how they can bounce back after this third and 93rd incident, but I’ll forever loyal be.)
If you’re in Baton Rouge, visiting Mike is a must. They also have a little display where you can read more about the history of the mascot and a little somethin’ somethin’ about the Mikes that came before the current one. We also walked around the gift shop, but we left empty-handed.
You can read more about Mike the Tiger by clicking here. You can also watch him live on the Tiger Cam because apparently that’s a thing.
I include this begrudgingly because Tigerland definitely appeals more to the younger crowd. There were moments when even we felt too old to be there. I had been to Reggie’s in Tigerland once before, and it’s this savage little bar where all the college kids go.
During this visit, we met up with Haley and went to Fred’s to watch the LSU game. It was a hot mess of a night, but not nearly as messy as the first time Haley and I went to Tigerland together. Lawwwd.
As an aside: I just Googled “Tigerland” and it was basically article after article talking about a bunch of fights and underage drinking, so there’s that.
DOWNTOWN BATON ROUGE
Admittedly we didn’t really spend much time downtown, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway. After our visit to Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, we took a little stroll because it was a beautiful day, and we had a little bit of a walk back to the car anyway. We didn’t do anything of substance, but according to the travel blogs, there’s plenty to do.
EAT ALL THE FOOD
My favorite thing about traveling down south is eating some delicious food. I love Cajun cuisine. The spicier, the better.
Olive or Twist
This was easily my favorite meal that I had the entire trip and 100% the best brunch I’ve ever had in my life, and I eat a lot of brunch. I think the bottomless mimosas may have pushed me into this opinion a little bit, but who’s to say?
I wanted to come here purely for the name of the restaurant. We sat at the bar to avoid the hour-long wait (which, having worked in the restaurant business, I would have waited that long. A long wait time is usually a sign of a good meal.). I got the Napoleon Avenue Shrimp & Grits Cakes, and holy cow, y’all. As soon as I saw it on the menu, I couldn’t look at anything else. It’s probably the best food-related decision I’ve made in a long time, and I don’t say this lightly.
We ate here on our first night in Baton Rouge, and I was not disappointed. I had the Pepper Jack Chicken, and it was divine. Pepper Jack is probably one of my top five favorite cheeses (because everyone has a list of their favorite cheeses, right?). For dessert, we shared the White Chocolate Blueberry Bread Pudding. I love a good bread pudding, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one with this much stuff in it. It was pretty delish.
This was my third time eating at Parrain’s, but I had only ever been for brunch, so I was excited to try something that wasn’t breakfast-related (though I would have happily devoured a bowl of cheesy grits). I had a shrimp poboy, and while it wasn’t the best poboy I’ve ever had in my life, I still enjoyed it.
There’s so much of Baton Rouge that we didn’t get to explore, but I’m glad we fit as much as we did into the few days that we spent there. It was nice being able to explore our state’s capital city. The food alone makes me excited to take a trip back.
You can check out a few moments I caught on camera in my latest YouTube video:
What’s your favorite thing to do in your state or country’s capital?