About the Baton Rouge Region
Baton Rouge is the capitol city of Louisiana; located along the Mississippi river, the city reflects much of the culture that surrounds it. The sounds of Zydeco music and smells of Creole and Cajun cooking can be found in much of what the city offers in its fine restaurants, music venues, theater and nightlife. Baton Rouge is the home of Louisiana State University and Southern University. Baton Rouge is 157 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico and has the fifth largest seaport in the country. The architecture reflects a southern charm, Rolling hills and two-lane roads create an ambience that is much sought after thus making it a desirable place to live, retire and visit. See below for more information about Baton Rouge and its surrounding areas.
Baton Rouge Metro Area
Until recently, Baton Rouge had been Louisiana's second largest city next to New Orleans. The mass evacuation caused by Hurricane Katrina changed all that. Almost overnight, Baton Rouge not only became the largest city in Louisiana, it doubled its population, going from approximately 250,000 residents to more than 500,000! Though many of the refugees have returned to New Orleans or plan to return, there are still a great many who have decided to stay. This has, understandably, caused an enormous strain on the infrastructure of Baton Rouge. However, the southern hospitality of the Baton Rouge residents was evident as they opened their homes and resources to their displaced neighbors.
One of the largest impacts of this can be seen is the real estate market. The huge demand for housing after the storm escalated property values and created a shortage. Rental rates increased and seniors seeking retirement communities or nursing homes found waiting lists to be long. Baton Rouge has become not only a refuge but a desirable place to live and retire for those seeking residence inland from the gulf coast area. There are many diverse cultures in Baton Rouge and the city's motto is "Authentic Louisiana at every turn."
The Climate of Baton Rouge
The average summer temperature in Baton Rouge is 81° with an average winter temperature of 67°. This semi-tropical climate includes an average annual rainfall of 55 inches. The weather is mild and warm even during the "winter" months of January and February. A light jacket or sweater will carry you throughout the year. Snow is generally unheard of in Baton Rouge, but it experienced a recent snowfall in 2004 taking hours for the snow to melt. Tropical storms are infrequent to Baton Rouge and because the city is 80 miles inland from the coast, it suffers little damage from hurricanes. The city is also situated on bluffs above the Mississippi making it unusual for there to be any flooding.
History of the Area
When the French arrived in the area in 1699; they found stakes dipped in animal blood placed along the banks of the Mississippi river to divide the hunting territories of the two Native American tribes. They named the area Baton Rouge, or Red Stick. Baton Rouge's earliest existence was under French rule between 1718 and 1727. Baton Rouge was under British rule from 1763 to 1779. During the American Revolution the Spanish joined forces with the French overtaking Baton Rouge, bringing the city under Spanish rule. The Civil War, resulted in Louisiana joining with the South, and Union forces took Baton Rouge in 1862. The capitol was then moved to New Orleans 80 miles southeast. Twenty years later, it was returned to Baton Rouge in 1882. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Baton Rouge's black and white populations grew while recovering economically and psychologically from the destruction caused by the Civil War. Louisiana State University and Southern University moved to the Baton Rouge area during this time as well. The Louisville, New Orleans, Texas railroad brought about civic mindedness and economic growth along with the development of city infrastructure. By 1909, Standard Oil and Exxon moved their refining operations to the banks of the Mississippi becoming top employers in Baton Rouge. The 1930's brought about a new Capitol building thanks to Governor Huey P. Long, and the 1940's trend saw consolidation of the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish governments along with an elected mayor/president . There are French, Spanish, and Mexican influences that flavor this city's architecture, cuisine, and culture, making it a very cosmopolitan area.
Attractions of the Area
The main attraction in Baton Rouge has to be Louisiana State University. (See www.lsu.edu) The athletic accomplishments of LSU's sports teams are vast.(Visit LSUsports.net) Death Valley LSU's football stadium, boasts a seating capacity of more than 90,000 and on any given home game, the stadium is filled to capacity with shouting, cheering fans! . There are more that 35,000 students per semester at LSU. Other attractions are the Capital building, old and new, arboretums, museums, casinos and a lovely river walk. The Baton Rouge area offers a variety of attractions and amenities for everyone see categories below.
While in Baton Rouge, do not miss the Greater Baton Rouge Zoo that has over 1,800 animals on display and includes a Louisiana aquarium featuring native fish and reptiles, The Hilltop Arboretum is 14 acres of cultivated native Louisiana plants. Parrot Paradise and Cypress Bayou Railroad is excellent for something diverse. In nearby Zachary you can visit the Port Hudson State Historic Site. Here, the longest siege of the Civil War was fought during which 6,800 Confederate soldiers stood off against approximately 30,000 Union soldiers for 48 days. The historic site features living history programs and a wealth of information about this part of the Civil War.
The U.S.S. Kidd and Nautical Historic Center features the Fletcher class U.S. destroyer U.S.S. Kidd, along with an atomic submarine, and fighter jets from the World War II era to Vietnam. Visit also the U.S. Civil War Center. The Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is worth a good walk There is much to see about the culture and lives of those swamp dwellers of times gone past. Do not miss the Audubon State Commemorative Area, home of naturalist/artist John James Audobon. For leisurely outdoor fun there are two wonderful golf courses, the Briarwood golf course and the famous Louisiana State University Golf course.
Baton Rouge restaurants abound with BBQ, Cajun, Creole, French and Mexican cuisine. Five of Baton Rouge's top dining places are, Mike Anderson's Seafood Restaurant (rated number one in the area for service and fresh food). Ichiban Sushi Bar & Japanese Grill (noted as a wonderful place to dine with fresh Sushi). El Rancho Mexican Grill (a favorite for those desiring some delicious tacos, enchiladas, and sopapillas). Copeland's Restaurant (upscale and trendy). O'Henry's Food & Spirits (for a little bit of everything). For more information on dining, please refer to the Baton Rouge web links.
Culturally, Baton Rouge offers ballet; a symphony and live theater. The Manship theatre, housed inside the Shaw Center for the Arts, includes a state-of-the-art orchestra pit. There one can discover a variety of entertainment to include musicians, dancers, and actors. Louisiana Mud Painting Gallery, depicting works of Henry Neubig, is a must see. BREC's Louisiana Art and Artists' Guild Gallery is superb. BREC's Baton Rouge Gallery is the city's oldest contemporary art gallery and cultural center. The Claibourne art collection displayed in the Claiborne State office building offers a variety of exhibits. The Enchanted Mansion boasts a delightful tearoom along with animated exhibits. Add to your list of cultural adventure the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. For those seeking architectural experiences, Baton Rouge's St. James Episcopal Church, circa 1895, is fabulous for its Gothic Revival architectural style, and St. Joseph's Cathedral, circa 1853, is exceptional for its modern inspirational style.
Art and History
Baton Rouge matches any major city for Art and History museums. The Museum of Natural Science has over 2.5 million objects in its collection. The Louisiana Art and Science Center Riverside Museum includes a Challenger Learning Center with a "space station" and a planetarium. The Old State Capitol, reminiscent of a castle, is an architectural wonder. Mark Twain called it "the ugliest building on the Mississippi River." This magnificent historic structure from 1849 was originally home of Louisiana's legislative power. Today, it houses permanent state archives and exhibits, displaying relics such as Governor Huey P Long's pajamas and Governor Jimmie Davis' guitar (He wrote "You are my sunshine") along with other memorabilia from former governors.
The new state capitol building is the tallest capitol building in the country at 34 stories. Built during the Depression by Governor Huey P. Long, it is also the site of his assassination. The River Road African American Museum is located in Donaldson, about 40 miles from Baton Rouge. The museum covers over 300 years of history of African Americans and their contribution to the Mississippi river region. Tours and festivals highlight their many challenges and achievements. Do not miss the Pentagon Barracks Museum, LSU Rural Life Museum, and Windrush Gardens. The Shaw Center for the Arts includes the Brunner Art Gallery within its structure, featuring some of the finest works of upcoming artists local and regional. Other Galleries of interest include, Old Capitol Gallery, Beauregard Gallery featuring folk, traditional, and contemporary works, The Oculus Gallery, and The Baton Rouge Gallery.
One can find a plethora of magnificent plantations along the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge The Magnolia Mound Plantation is a 16-acre site offering colonial heritage and French Creole architecture. Tezcuco Plantation provides a look at Louisiana's African American heritage. Madewood Plantation (1840s) offers overnight accommodations with candle light dinners. German immigrants, circa 1790, built the Mount Hope Plantation. Nottoway Plantation (1859) a unique B&B is noted as the largest plantation in the south. Oak Alley Plantation located in the beautiful setting of 300-year-old live oak trees also offers B&B services. Destrehan Plantation built in the late 1700, is a National Historic place and the oldest surviving plantation. Evergreen Plantation & Swamp Tour features alligators and other creatures. Greenwood Plantation is a Greek revival that was built in 1830. Houmas House Plantation & Gardens, circa 1828, has a wonderful display of antiques and arts. Laura Plantation, circa 1805, includes a fantastic tour and slave quarters featuring the site of the original Br'er Rabbit tales collection. Blythewood Plantation is a century old estate with Victorian furnishings and a specialty restaurant. Butler Greenwood plantation, circa 1790's, is yet another National Historic estate displaying vintage Victorian furnishings, beautiful gardens amongst live oaks and captivating cottages. Catalpa Plantation is a home still lived in by descendants of the original family. Visitors can enjoy a tour displaying five generations of relics. The Choctaw Plantation, circa 1830, is a great place for train buffs, displaying train depot, sugar mill train and miniature train collection and memorabilia. For more information about plantations, see Baton Rouge links.
Baton Rouge public transportation is served by Capitol Area Transit System (CATS), along with RTA services to and from New Orleans. Baton Rouge is also served by Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, and Amtrak along with many local and private bus, shuttle, and taxi services. Baton Rouge major highways include interstates I-10, I-12, I-110, state highways US61, and US190. See transportation links for more information.
An Overview of the Baton Rouge Area
The state of Louisiana is divided into 64 "parishes" which function much in the same way as counties in other states. The greater Baton Rouge area includes parishes such as: Ascension, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Livingston, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Ascension, and Point Coupee. Nearby larger cities are:
Baker – Located in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana with a population of 13,793 part of the Baton Rouge Metro area. Baker is currently a "FEMA city" supplying a wide range of support services for evacuees from the New Orleans area.
Denham Springs – Located in Livingston Parish Louisiana with a population of 8,757, north east of Baton Rouge Denham Springs historically is located on the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad line, which played a part in this city's early development. Denham Springs is a commercial and banking center for the Livingston Parish.
Gonzales – Located in Ascension Parish, Louisiana with a population of 8,156 and is noted as the "Jambalaya" capital of the world. Gonzales is located just south of Baton Rouge a growing bedroom community for Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Gonzales is within minutes of both cities and close to area attractions including historic plantations. Gonzales is known for its Cajun and Creole restaurants making it a convenient and popular place to live. The city of Gonzales says, "We have it all"!
Port Allen – Located in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana with a population of 5,278. Port Allen is a contrast of small town and big city living. Located between interstate 10 and the Mississippi river Port Allen as a governmental center is the Parish Seat and offers a city in a rural setting.
Other smaller cities near Baton Rouge include, Donaldson, New Roads, Plaquemine, Prairieville, and Zachary. Baton Rouge sister cities are Aix-en-Provence, France; Cordoba, Mexico; Taichung, Taiwan; Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Taipei, Taiwan.
Senior Services in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Region
Senior services are available in Baton Rouge. Housing options include independent retirement communities, assisted living, skilled nursing, continuum of care and Alzheimer's assisted and skilled nursing care. Check the website for a definition of each of the living options and search for a specific type of housing.
In addition, the website gives you a list of additional services available in Baton Rouge. Senior support services include home medical services, health agencies, and home companions. Our "Search Senior Services" link will be a quick, effective resource for finding the help you need. Baton Rouge medical facilities include general medical centers, surgical centers, research hospitals, women's hospitals, and rehab centers for your convenience and medical needs, either emergency or non emergency.