Typically our travels involve a plane ride to a faraway place but this summer we decided to find a destination we could drive to and have some quality time together. Because we live on the coast of Texas, we thought it might be fun to do a coastal drive eastward towards Florida. Our journey takes us to our first stop, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana with over 300 years of American history. Baton Rouge got its name from the French explorers meaning “red stick.” Red Sticks (or poles as some would say) marked hunting territories for those moving into the area, thus the name Baton Rouge. Before 1812 Louisiana was occupied by the French so you will find French flare in their cuisine and on their buildings. Although in the late 1800’s Baton Rouge fought in the Civil War to advocate for slavery they soon lost to the Union and much of this history is still present today throughout the city. Here you will find a wide range of delectable dishes and distinctive architecture which was created with the intermingling of different cultures that have migrated through this area of the United States.
To appreciate the historical beauty of this city we decided to stay at Bed and Breakfast, The Stockade. This large, antique estate style home has five large bedrooms, each with their private bathroom. From the main living room, you can look out the back windows which overlook the beautiful bluffs on the property which once flanked the Mississippi River. Breakfast consists of coffee, tea, and juice, a variety of egg dishes, grits or hash browns, ham, hickory sausage or bacon, French toast, Belgian waffles, pancakes or biscuits and gravy along with fresh fruit. You will dine with other guests in the lovely breakfast room decorated with antique collectibles. To say the breakfast was delicious is actually an understatement.
We only had plans to stay one night in Baton Rouge; we hit the ground running to see all the major sites we could see in less than 24 hours.
Not far from The Stockade Bed and Breakfast, is the campus of Louisiana State University. We decided to take a drive to the college to check it out! Beautifully shaded streets were lined with massive elegantly trimmed oak trees. The campus is known to have 1,200 oak trees that are approximately 80 years old valued at about $50 million. These oak-shaded streets made for a great drive through the campus.
As we approached the center of the campus, we came upon a 175-foot clock tower called the Memorial Tower. This tower was erected in 1923 and dedicated in memorial to Louisianans who died in World War 1.
Heading toward the city center, I was able to spot a beautiful white steeple peeking out behind a building. This white steeple is a part of St. Joseph Cathedral. Founded in 1792, this church has remained at this location for over 162 years. Throughout the years the church has gone through many changes but in 1853 Father Cambiaso, who was an architect, designed it in a “Gothic Revival” style which is what you see today. Later in 1891, the notable steeple was added and by 1924 the church had to expand due to the growth of its congregation. This church is so fun to photograph not only for the detailed craftsmanship but also for the bright red doors.
After taking a few pictures of St. Joseph Church we headed towards downtown Baton Rouge. We stopped at Galvez Plaza. What attracted me to stop here was the massive sculpture piece called “Head of Oliver Pollock.” Facing the sculpture is a large wall bronze plaque entitled “The Capture of Baton Rouge.” Both sculptures share the history of Baton Rouge, and a great place to wander around. The lush green space here is also home to many art festivals, music concerts, and other outdoor events.
A short walk of one block from Galvez Plaza is Louisiana’s Old State Capitol building. This Gothic architectural treasure sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. This once busy capitol building outgrew its space but was able to reserve the history it brought to this great state by becoming a National Historical Landmark and is the home of the Old State Capital Museum of Political History.
Adjacent to the Old State Capitol is the Shaw Center with the dancing water fountains. In the summer, young children enjoy running through the explosion of water out of the ground as they get wet and cool off from the hot summer days.
Heading towards the water’s edge is the Riverfront district of Baton Rouge which has a long stretch of elevated walkway alongside River Road with a panoramic view of the Mississippi River. Once you reach the levees, you will see park benches with interesting bronze sculptures as well as a Veterans Memorial Museum with statues and monuments. Over the embankment, you can embark on a tour of the USS Kidd, a World War II Fletcher-class destroyer ship or read the names of fallen military members displayed on the Louisiana Memorial Plaza monument.
The USS Kidd has many battle scars from serving in World War II and Korea. If you are a history buff, you can visit the Veteran’s Memorial Museum at the banks of the USS Kidd and learn more.
Next stop is the Louisiana State Capitol. We discovered that Baton Rouge has the tallest capitol building in the United States. The building is 450 feet tall with 34 stories. The capitol is located on 27-acres of lush gardens and ponds. The Louisiana State Capitol was designated in 1982 to The National Historic Landmark Commission.
Not far from the Louisiana State Capitol is the elegant white stucco Georgian style Governor’s Mansion. The building was constructed in 1930 and was designed to look like the White House. We did a driving tour around the home to admire it and its the beautiful landscape.
We ended our day of sightseeing with a dinner at Juban’s Creole Restaurant.
Our hostess from The Stockade B&B recommended the restaurant as a great place for excellent seafood. We started with an appetizer of Louisiana lump crab cakes topped with corn-tomato maque choux. For our main entrees, I selected the Redfish stuffed with crabmeat alongside grilled asparagus. My sweetheart had the Hallelujah Crab which is a soft-shelled crab stuffed with crawfish tails, shrimp and crabmeat, along with vegetables. We finished off the meal with light but sweet Raspberry Cake.
With our tummies full, we headed back to The Stockade for a night cap with the other guests. It is always interesting and a great deal of pleasure to visit with other travelers to learn where they are going, where they’ve been, share our stories and experiences.
Next stop on our journey is to Destin, Florida!