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Home to more than 300 years of history, an innovative food scene, unique architecture and sophisticated culture, Louisiana’s capital city acts as a great road-trip launching point. Immerse yourself right in the Louisiana state of mind by staying at the Watermark Hotel — an iconic skyscraper in downtown Baton Rouge which boasts a classic yet industrial aesthetic. Not only does it overlook the city and Mississippi River, but it also positions you right in the middle of some of Baton Rouge’s most beloved activities and eateries.
Although the Louisiana Old State Capitol may seem like a castle misplaced amongst city high-rises, this historic structure was once a government building housing much of Louisiana’s government activity in the mid-19th century. Today it acts as a political history museum and quintessential photo-op.
In the same vicinity, you can experience the artistic side of Baton Rouge by visiting one (or several) of the murals in the area that are a part of The Walls Project. An array of colorful geometric shapes, vibrant portraits, a tribute to Neil deGrasse Tyson portrayed across a starry night sky — these are just some of the works that call the downtown area home. More importantly, the initiative honors the local creative community and establishes progressive educational programs that revolve around the social impact of visual arts.
Of course, creativity in Baton Rouge comes in many forms. We mentioned the area’s evolving culinary scene, and if you’re looking to taste the best of it, be sure to head to White Star Market. A gourmet food hall located in Mid City, this eatery offers almost every entree, dessert and drink imaginable. Inventive taco combinations, freshly pressed juices, Asian street food, muffuletta sandwiches, and even regional craft beers make this community cafeteria the place to try multiple local favorites all in one go.
What’s better than dinner and a show? Also located within the Mid City area, Soji takes a modern twist on Asian cuisine. Something between a cocktail bar, sushi bar, nightly hangout and Instagram experience, Soji will temporarily transport you out of Baton Rouge and land you somewhere amidst the flavors of Asia. Once you’ve enjoyed a cocktail and delectable plate, head over to Bee Nice Music Park, less than one mile away. This music venue is actually a backyard park owned by Penni Guidry and Dave Mooney, who thoughtfully established a homey music space in the middle of the Mid City neighborhood. Offering a chance to hear some home-grown tunes, this locally loved favorite is an absolute must when you’re in the area.
Think of your favorite small-town road trip close to home — that’s New Iberia! Just an hour and a half from Baton Rouge, New Iberia makes a great day trip to experience a more intimate side of Louisiana. Distinguished by its 19th century homes, Bayou Teche and charming shops and cafes, New Iberia might as well have been plucked right out of a painting. It also houses a few historical and architectural wonders, too. Even amidst a sea of blooming azaleas, the Shadows-on-the-Teche mansion towers towards the tall oak trees that surround the property. At 3,750 square feet, it’s a show-stopper, and a guided tour will take you to experience one of Louisiana’s most underrated marvels. After capturing some shots for the ‘gram, head down the block to Fudge It for a sweet treat.
If you’re looking to cross Louisiana’s most renowned city off your list, you’d be delighted to know it’s just a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Baton Rouge. Although there’s much talk about the “quintessential” New Orleans experience, we’d like to argue that it starts with the Ace Hotel. Nestled in the heart of the city between the French Quarter and Uptown, you’re in the middle of it all. Within walking distance from the hotel, you’ll find the area’s revered multi-vendor food hall, Auction House Market, and a pick-up point for NOLA’s 19th-century-inspired streetcar line. Take a scenic ride through history down St. Charles Avenue where you’ll find stunning mansions and local hangouts like Hot Tin, which overlooks the entire downtown skyline, and Cure, a classy “medicinal” cocktail bar ready to cure what ails you.
Food obviously plays a huge role in any New Orleans experience. Head to Parkway Bakery & Tavern for some of the best po’boys in the city, and be sure to make time to hit Urban South Brewery’s weekly boil during crawfish season. If seafood just isn’t your thing, Molly’s Rise and Shine, Bacchanal and Josephine Estelle (conveniently located inside the Ace Hotel) are all great options to experience Louisiana’s home-grown eats.
Of course, you can’t go to New Orleans without seeking out some sort of live entertainment. Frenchman Street is an experience in itself, though the locals tell us the best venues on the block are The Spotted Cat Music Club and d.b.a. If you’re looking for something a little unusual, though, we highly recommend the Music Box Village. Created by a non-profit arts organization called New Orleans Airlift, this peculiar music venue is dubbed a “magical mini forest” that houses work from more than 80 artists, artisans, builders, inventors, engineers and tinkerers. This immersive theatrical experience involves both performers and audience members, and we can attest that you won’t find anything else like it anywhere else in the world.
Covington and Abita Springs
Take a quick trip “across the pond” (a.k.a. Lake Pontchartrain) to the Covington and Abita Springs area, both of which are just a quick one-hour drive from New Orleans. Life “on the other side” slows down just a bit, inviting visitors to get back to the basics. Running through these sister cities, the Tammany Trace is a hike and bike trail that gives you a scenic tour through town and backcountry. From the trail, you can make it to Abita Brewing Company and Abita Tap Room. You might recognize the very popular Purple Haze from the Abita Brewing collection, and even if you haven’t, you’ll want to stop by and give one of their hand-crafted lagers a taste.
Every corner of Louisiana is worth a visit, and a road trip makes for the perfect excuse to see it all. Click here to start planning today.