Tour the River Road and capital for plantations, dining and outdoor fun
Follow the Mississippi River as it flows through Baton Rouge and the heart of Plantation Country.
For centuries, ghost stories and larger-than-life legends have haunted Plantation Country. The region’s homes, a medley of Creole, West Indies and English antebellum styles of architecture, tell colorful stories of the families who once inhabited them. Follow the Mississippi River as it flows through Baton Rouge and the heart of Plantation Country.
Recreation and Outdoors
Outdoorsmen will find a fisherman’s haven here. Time passes imperceptibly, until the crank of an airboat penetrates the calm. In Pointe Coupée Parish, the Old River and False River areas provide opportunities for fishing, boating and Jet Skiing. The Tunica Trace, in the St. Francisville area, is great for hiking and wildlife watching, including bird watching. Those who want wild explorations with their tee times should follow the Audubon Golf Trail to notable golf courses. Plantation Country offers much for families as well, such as the BREC's Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center south of Baton Rouge. A swamp tour with Cajun Pride Swamp Tours is another great way to get an up-close-and-personal natural experience. Not surprisingly, alligators and other swamp-loving wildlife abound in the appropriately named Alligator Bayou in Ascension Parish. For viewing in a setting that’s a little less wild, the Baton Rouge Zoo is a fun way to spend an afternoon with kids. Nearby attractions such as the Blue Bayou/Dixie Landin' Waterpark and Amusement Park thrill with rides such as Voodoo and the Ragin’ Cajun roller coaster.
History comes to life throughout the year in Plantation Country. Port Hudson National Historic Site holds an annual reenactment of the Battle of Port Hudson. In nearby Jackson, visitors can ride an old rail train or observe a reenactment of the Battle of Jackson Crossroads. At the West Baton Rouge Museum in Port Allen they can trace the local folklife and explore the area’s agrarian history at the LSU Rural Life Museum. For a peek at the military past, visit the USS KIDD Veterans Memorial & Museum in Baton Rouge.
In the 1700s and early 1800s, French Creoles from New Orleans, hardworking German settlers and planters from England traveled the Great River Road, trying to make their fortunes. They brought diverse customs that made Louisiana the mélange of styles it is today. The Feliciana Parishes are full of charming antebellum homes and bed and breakfast inns. Livingston Parish celebrates its Hungarian ties in a celebration each year. This area was first explored by Iberville and Bienville in 1699.
The region also has a legacy of grace and gentility. During pre-Civil War times, unmarried males (both guests and family members) were often housed away from the main building in a garçonnière, a small building on the plantation grounds. Travelers will find a warm welcome at plantations throughout the region. Some not-to-miss sites include Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Oak Alley and Laura plantations in Vacherie and Nottoway Plantation in White Castle. San Francisco Plantation in Garyville and Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site and Greenwood Plantation in St. Francisville are also on the must-see list. Evergreen Plantation in Edgard is a working sugar plantation (tours are by appointment only) and boasts the most intact plantation complex in the South with 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cajun, zydeco and swamp pop music fills the air in these parts. The Baton Rouge blues scene is lively. Music fans should try the popular Live After 5 concert series, which takes the stage on Friday nights in the spring and fall in downtown Baton Rouge. For an education in Louisiana art, including Newcomb Arts & Crafts period pottery, visit Shaw Center for the Arts and LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, which also hosts international exhibits.
Watch the horses run (on a virtual track) at Evangeline Downs - Races and Aces in Port Allen. Or try the fun at Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge and Belle of Baton Rouge Casino, which offer slots, poker and table games. Louisiana culture even permeates the gridiron scene. Football season brings fans of the sport as well as contemporary music to the area, as live bands play during tailgating parties at Louisiana State University and Southern University.
Food and Dining
Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow features its own style of nouveau Creole cuisine at Latil’s Landing Restaurant and Cafe Burnside, where the innovative offerings include starters such as bisque of curried pumpkin, crawfish and corn. In St. Gabriel, Roberto's River Road Restaurant is described as a hidden gem and is certainly worth a stop for their Shrimp Roberto, seafood-stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon and fried. A taste of old Acadian style can be found in a back-country snack called gratons (cracklins) or a hot link of boudin. The Gonzales Jambalaya Festival will give you the best of the best in this traditional Louisiana dish. Jacob’s andouille market in LaPlace sells the spicy, smoked sausage and gives tours and samples. The region’s rural small towns are farmed for cotton, sugar cane, corn, soybeans and pecans, making a drive through the countryside an education in farming and a culinary adventure.
Once your appetite for food is sated, try shopping on for size. Southern charm abounds in Donaldsonville, a 200-year-old river town known for its multicultural museums, quaint bed and breakfasts, interesting Louisiana architecture and unique shopping. Visitors seeking quieter times and old finds will be charmed by the antiques stores found in downtown Plaquemine and Denham Springs. The Towne Center at Cedar Lodge and Perkins Rowe developments in Baton Rouge feature upscale live/work/dine/shop experiences.