Welcome to a new series on Positive Publicity called Travel Tips Tuesday, where bloggers share their must-see and must-dos in cities I’ve never been to before. We chat a lot about traveling and exploring here on Positive Publicity, and there’s so much of the world we haven’t seen yet. I love to hear a good travel story and to learn about a new city, and I’m excited that fellow blogger friends have offered to share their advice!
We’re kicking this series off with Chrystina of ChrystinaNoel.com who is giving us her take on one of her favorite cities. Chrystina is a photographer, singer, engineer, creator of beautiful handmade cards – and did I mention she’s the founder of PHLbloggers? Yea, girl is pretty incredible. For this Travel Tips Tuesday/Thursday, she has compiled a seriously impressive list and is taking us down south to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to share her tips and experiences:
Hi everyone! Thanks so much to Camille for letting me share about one of my favorite places in the United States today: Baton Rouge. As a Philadelphia girl originally from New England you might be wondering what the heck I could possibly know about Baton Rouge; just to set the stage I traveled back and forth to Baton Rouge almost every week for the better part of three years for work. And as for why you would want to go to Baton Rouge instead of New Orleans? I definitely wouldn’t say instead of, but you should definitely consider adding it into your trip if you find yourself down in the Bayou.
When I think of Baton Rouge, the first things I think of are delicious food and Louisiana State University (LSU). The thing about Baton Rouge that always struck me as amazing was how fast it was possible to feel at home there. The locals are so nice and restaurants have such a welcoming feel. It sets the stage full of southern hospitality.
What to see and do:
I’m going to be 100% honest. When going to Baton Rouge, the number one thing on my list to do is eat (followed closely behind by seeing awesome people). That said, there are a few things you should definitely check out while you’re in town besides the food:
- Visit LSU – walk around the campus, visit Mike the Tiger, and get yourself to a tailgate if you happen to be there during football season
- Walk around downtown – walk downtown along the Mississippi River and visit the Old Capital Building
- Walk around Spanish Town – Close to downtown, it’s an area of adorable houses and a lot of greenery. It’s also the location of the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras parade if you happen to find yourself there the Saturday before the big day.
- Visit the Louisiana State Museum – I have yet to actually visit this museum, but everybody in town talks incredibly highly of it.
- Attend Live After 5 – If you’re in town on a Friday during the months of April, May, September, or October you should check out the Baton Rouge downtown concert series. It’s right downtown and it’s free!
Other things to do include shopping at the Mall of Louisiana, visiting one of the three casinos (L’Auberge, the Belle, and Hollywood), the zoo, or St. Joseph Cathedral. Other general (food-related) things you must do while you are in Baton Rouge include:
- Eat a po’boy – This is just a fancy name for a sandwich
- Enjoy a snowball – This is similar to snow cone except a million times better.
- Drink some sweet tea – So sweet, so caffeinated.
- Drink some Abita beer – A Louisiana tradition.
Where to eat:
Most of the restaurants that I list below are moderately priced places where you can absolutely show up wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It’s my favorite way to feel like I’m really becoming part of the town.
I’m going to start by telling you my three favorite places in town: Yvette Marie’s, Izzo’s, and Rotolos. They’re all completely different. Yvette Marie’s is a little café only open for lunch in an antique store. They’ve got a simple menu with one alternating hot dish special each day and the most delicious cake options I’ve ever tasted in my life. It’s definitely an experience, and fun to shop your way through once you’re done eating. Izzo’s is burritos. The best burritos I’ve ever had. You know that cilantro problem that Chipotle has going on – as well as their lack of queso problem. Well, Izzo’s solves this. And it’s better than Qdoba. Get queso and chips. You won’t be disappointed. And Rotolos. They make calzones. Super simple calzones that are flipping delicious. My favorite is the the angry pig, which has spicy bbq sauce, Italian sausage, bacon, jalapenos, & cheddar cheese in it.
If you’re looking for some Louisiana cooking, go to The Chimes, Bistro Byronz, or Harrington’s. The Chimes is where I take everybody who came to visit first. The appetizers alone cover most of the southern specialties: hush puppies, crab legs, blackened fried alligator, and more. Honestly, don’t even both ordering a meal, just fill up on appetizers. It’s right on LSU’s campus, has a lot of delicious beers on tap, and really sets the vibe for the city. Bistro Byronz is a great lunch choice. They have a lot of sandwiches and salads, delicious soups, and a never-ending supply of sweet tea. Oh, and 100% absolutely don’t forget to get the blue cheese chips as an appetizer. Harrington’s is only open for lunch. They have a limited menu and a different special every day of the week (red beans and rice on Mondays in true southern fashion). It looks like a hole in the wall – it is a hole in the wall – but the food is delicious. And don’t forget to look at the menu of side dishes. That’s really where it’s at.
If you’re looking for Italian food, check out Monjunis or Pinetta. Monjunis sauce is sweet. Pinetta’s sauce is spicy. Monjunis is in a venue that has a good amount of seating and checkered table cloths. Pinetta’s is in a place that seats about 15 people and you can barely see across the table.
If you’re looking for sushi, check out Tsunami or Rock-n-Sake. Tsunami is a bit more upscale, but has a great view of the city at night – and specials on sushi on Tuesdays and wine on Wednesdays. Rock-n-Sake is closer to LSU’s campus and has more of a fancy hipster vibe to it. Make sure to try the LSU roll, it’s delicious.
If you’re looking for Indian food, go to Bay Leaf. How this flipping delicious restaurant ended up in Baton Rouge I have no idea, but it was one of our team’s favorites.
If you’re looking for a burger, go to Fat Cow or Burgersmith. Fat Cow’s options are fancier, Burgersmith is much more casual. Go to Fat Cow for the burger with tomato, basil, and mozzarella on it – and pretty fast service. Go to Burgersmith for your traditional burger (that said, you can absolutely still get an egg on top) and delicious sweet potato tots, but plan for a longer wait.
If you’re looking for hangover food, go to Kolache Kitchen. We don’t have kolaches up north. They’re essentially a hot dog, but fully encapsulated in the bun. But the bun is sweeter. And they can put cheese and jalapeños inside. I spent 2 years looking for the perfect hangover breakfast sandwich with no avail. After that I discovered kolaches and wondered what the heck I had done with the past two years of my life.
If you’re looking for drinks hit up The Bulldog, Radio Bar, the Cove, or Tin Roof Brewery. The Bulldog is also near campus, has a bunch of beers on tap, and has a pint night where you get to take home all the pint glasses. It’s a fun vibe with all ages of people and they have a great back patio. Radio bar is a little fancier, will make you specialty cocktails, and has a ping-pong table. Definitely more of a hipster vibe, but super fun. Tin Roof Brewery is a big open, industrial-looking space with delicious beers – and super close to downtown.
If you’re looking for some LGBTQ late night fun, check out George’s Place and Splash. Admittedly, I spent far more time at these places than anywhere else in the city. Between George’s karaoke on Wednesday night and Splash dance parties on Thursday night, you’ve got a whole week of fun lined up for you.
Why you love this city: I love this city because it’s so easy to see its culture and the people are so gosh darn genuine. It was in this city that I started singing barbershop music (I sang bass with the Baton Rouge chorus for my whole time there), it’s where I learned exactly how flipping useful the word y’all is, what a “come to Jesus moment” is, and I definitely took about 15 pounds of the city with me when I left.
Anything else we should know? You probably should avoid going to Baton Rouge (or anywhere in Louisiana) in the months of July or August. The humidity is a whole new level of special. Outside of that you’re golden though. The ideal travel months I would say are: September – December, or mid-February to June (where you could combine it with a trip to Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras in New Orleans).
Be on the look out for the next Travel Tips Tuesday coming next week!