Upon reaching Baton Rouge on his trip down the Mississippi, Mark Twain described Louisiana's capital thus: "Baton Rouge was clothed in flowers, like a bride ? no, much more so; like a greenhouse. For we were in the absolute South now ?no modifications, no compromises, no half-way measures." The second-largest city (discounting the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the size of New Orleans) in the state, semi-tropical Baton Rouge is located west of New Orleans and east of Lafayette, an urban center with a lot more to offer than just lazy days on the river.
Start your city tour with a trip to the 27th floor of the looming State Capitol building for views out over Baton Rouge, then enjoy an easy tour through the historic State Capitol down the street. It just wouldn't do at all to come this far and not see some of the lovely historic plantations within reach. Some serve duty as museums, a good number are bed and breakfasts, while a further few are still inhabited.
Touch base again with modernity ? both scientific discovery and artistic endeavors ? at attractions like the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, Louisiana State University (LSU) Museum of Art, or the LSU Museum of Natural Science. History buffs can get a glimpse of the past at Louisiana State Museum, Zachary Historic Village (just north of the city) or the Old Arsenal Museum (on State Capitol grounds).
Renowned for its genealogical research center, the Louisiana State Archives is the place to go if your looking for Louisiana roots; your own flesh and blood brood might be more entertained by the Baton Rouge Zoo, or some Friday night star-gazing at the Highland Observatory.
Don't get bogged down in Baton Rouge and bypass a bayou excursion. Local operators offer trips of varying lengths to big name swamps in the vicinity. Anyone looking rather to do some footwork should head for the nature trails in Bluebonnet Swamp.
If you've got cash burning a hole in your pocket, lighten the load at one of the boat-based casinos moored up along the banks of the Mississippi River.
Baton Rouge is 81 miles northwest of New Orleans and just over 57 miles east of Lafayette.