Baton Rouge constantly emphasizes the importance of hospitality. For example, during Hurricane Katrina, the city took in victims from New Orleans. The faith-based traveler will feel comfortable with the spirituality that the local inhabitants share here.
Religious Attractions in Baton Rouge
St. Joseph Cathedral is located in downtown Baton Rouge. The building isn’t hard to miss with its bright red front doors. The cathedral was established in 1792 and modeled after Notre Dame in Paris. Also in the downtown area is St. James Episcopal Church, a landmark founded in 1844.
Experience a gospel service at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. This welcoming congregation of over 400 invites visitors to services that include an uplifting sermon and gospel singers.
On the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge are LSU Indian Mounds. These mounds date back to about 2,500-3000 B.C. and are believed to have served a socio-religious purpose for “ceremonial and marking point purposes” for Native Americans. The mounds overlook the floodplain of the Mississippi.
Sightseeing in Baton Rouge
Known as a museum of political history, Louisiana’s Old State Capitol overlooks the Mississippi River. The architectural style is Neo-Gothic Medieval inspired by 15th century Gothic cathedrals and built to look like a castle. On the main floor are a magnificent stained-glass dome, black-and-white-checkered floors, a spiraling staircase and mirrors that create a kaleidoscopic perception. The “old grey castle” was occupied by the Union Army during the Civil War when the Union invaded Louisiana and captured New Orleans; it was used as a holding place for prisoners as well as shelter for troops.
The “New” State Capitol Building, built in 1932, houses the Louisiana state legislature, the governor’s office and parts of the executive branch. On the 27th floor is an observation deck with panoramic views of the Mississippi River and city.
World War II destroyer USS Kidd is known as the “Pirate of the Pacific.” Located in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge, she is the focus of a memorial that honors the men and women of our Armed Forces.
Take a tour of the LSU Rural Life Museum, an outdoor folk museum that is a re-creation of a 1800s plantation. The museum is divided into three areas to explore: the barn area, the plantation area and the folk architecture area to evoke cultures and lifestyles of pre-industrial Louisiana.
The Louisiana State Museum-Baton Rouge offers an insight into the historical, cultural and industrial foundation of Louisiana. The museum includes two permanent exhibitions, entitled Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation and Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America.
The Historic Highland Road is full of restaurants, shops, hangouts and boutiques, along with some of Baton Rouge’s most magnificent homes like Mount Hope Plantation, the oldest home on the road, built in 1790-1817. Overnight stays and guided tours are available.
BREC (Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge) offers the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center. There are 1.3 miles of trails through cypress swamps and magnolia-beech forests. Bluebonnet’s nature center has live animal exhibits.
Festivals in Baton Rouge
Sunday in the Park is a series of free outdoor concerts at Lafayette Park. Events go for six consecutive Sundays in the spring and fall.
Baton Rouge’s Blues Festival, one of the oldest blues festivals, features local, regional and national blues and jazz artists who perform all day on Saturday from noon to 10 pm during the spring, honoring legends of home-grown blues.
Live After Five is every spring and fall. Music of all genres is performed and downtown merchants keep their doors open late.
Fest for All, held every spring in downtown Baton Rouge, has been going on since 1973. Exceptional fine arts are featured from both local and national juried artists, along with crafts and kids’ art activities. Live music, from the blues to classical, and a variety of Louisiana cuisines are featured.
Major Markets in Baton Rouge
On the third Saturday of every month beginning in April is the Art Gumbo Market. It is an open-air market with fresh produce, baked goods and original arts and gifts.
The Baton Rouge Arts Market is an open-air market with over 70 artists who sell pottery, woodwork, jewelry, photography and more. It is on the first Saturday of every month.
In downtown Baton Rouge every Saturday morning is the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. See why Baton Rouge, which in French is “red stick,” is known for foods using fresh ingredients from Louisiana products.
Main Street Market is open every Monday through Saturday downtown. The marketplace is filled with cafes, coffee shops, garden exhibits, artists, retail merchants, cooking demonstrations, musicians and neighborhood events all day long.
Baton Rouge is full of sights to see and distinctive foods. Religious travel groups will feel a sense of hospitality and spirituality in every inch of this Southern city.
–By Hannah Grossman