The wide skies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana look like they could swallow up the earth below. The land is so small in comparison that the expanse above the horizon. Morning skies of baby blue have extra room for puffy white clouds and the pinks, oranges, purples and yellows of Baton Rouge sunsets look as if they were streaked across the sky with the soft bristles of a paintbrush. In a city with such beautiful skies, nothing could top a day spent outdoors with your travel squad on one of the best Louisiana vacation spots.
Downtown Baton Rouge is home to the Old State Capitol building. Kids will be amazed by the Gothic architecture of the structure and entrance is free. The ornate decorations inside will be plenty for kids to take in while you provide them with a few tidbits about Louisiana’s history—we all know little ones pick up everything they hear! Take them to the theatrical production called “The Ghost of the Castle” to hear about the castle from a Civil War-era girl’s “ghost.”
After your brief stop at the old capitol building, head across the street to the Louisiana Art and Science Museum for a much longer visit and prepare to be amazed by all that this museum has to offer children. The Science Room combines life science, earth science and physical science with math, allowing kids to explore and experiment with light, sound, motion, logic puzzles, human anatomy, engineering and technology. Whisper into one of the whisper dishes and watch your child’s face light up from across the room or encourage your little one to run her fingers over an electrically charged ball of plasma.
Stop by the Discovery Depot to make some take-home art projects or visit the Ancient Egypt Gallery where your child will be thrilled to see a well-preserved Egyptian mummy. Another hit with kids is the Solar System Gallery; hop on a variety of scales to see how much you and your youngster would weigh on different planets or watch the star projector light up the ceiling. Outside the museum, climb aboard an actual railway car from the Illinois Central Railroad, a throwback to the old railroad depot that houses the museum.
Stroll down the Mississippi River to reach the USS Kidd Veteran’s Memorial. Children will be giddy as they step onto the large grey destroyer that rests in the water. As an active ship in World War II, the USS Kidd can offer kids a glimpse into the country’s past. Your guide will go into detail about the history of the war and point out where a Japanese kamikaze pilot crashed into the ship. In order to learn what it was like to live on the ship, participate in the overnight program that allows families to sleep in the old sailor’s quarters.
One of the Best Louisiana Vacation Spots
Make sure to take a walk along the Mississippi River while in bayou country. The river runs through 10 states to empty into the Gulf of Mexico and makes for a picturesque scene. Try to spot the old-fashioned white steamboat that usually sits in the river or watch your child giggle as local dogs splash through the cool water chasing sticks thrown by their owners. Heading away from downtown on your walk, you will pass local farms that lie along the road so take the opportunity to pet a cow through the fence.
A little over a mile away is the Magnolia Mound Plantation, a plantation-house-turned-museum that is a host to a different side of Louisiana’s history.
The main house is decorated in a French Creole style reminiscent of the early 1800s and on a sunny day, rays of sunlight shine through the leaves of the giant oak trees that surround it. Vintage furniture like mahogany armoires and porcelain vases make it easy to feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. In addition to the main house, there is an outdoor kitchen, a carriage house and slave’s quarters. The crop garden is home to the plants that have been historically cultivated and harvested on the property, including tobacco, indigo, sugar cane and cotton. The plantation also hosts a number of fun all-ages activities, like games, arts and crafts, physical sports, astronomical events and holiday fun.