The LSU Museum of Art is more than a testament to visual art. It's also a testament to the beauty of its hometown, Baton Rouge, with huge windows offering panoramic views of the Mississippi River. Its galleries host a similarly impressive permanent collection, whose displays run the gamut from Chinese jade to treasures from the early days of the American arts and crafts movement. Rotating exhibits complement those mainstays. Going on now, The Visual Blues explores how blues and jazz music, dance, and social clubs inspired Harlem Renaissance artists.
As the Jackson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s reigning Travel Attraction of The Year, as well as the subject of accolades from the Jackson Free Press and Parents & Kids Magazine, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science delights and enlightens attendees of all ages. A family membership grants two adults all the benefits of joining, including one year of free admission and a 10% discount at the museum gift shop. Parents may extend their membership to include any number of offspring under the age of 18; grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other guardians may include up to four children; lonely puppet-makers may not include any wooden wards they’ve wished to life.
Spanish moss drops from the branches of Afton Villa Gardens’s 250 live oaks, brushing the shoulders of Apollo, Diana, and other faded statues of Greek gods. The vitality of the greenery stands in stark contrast to the remnants of past grandeur dotting the landscape. A Gothic Revival mansion stood in the center of Afton Villa Gardens 130 years ago, but crumbled in a 1963 fire. But signs of the estate remain: classical statues carved from Italian stone dot the 250 acres of fertile land, and the mansion’s brick foundation now supports English wallflowers, wild ferns, and exotic Post-it notes.
As the newest residents and caretakers, the Trimble family pays homage to the past not only by preserving the ruins, but by nurturing plants typical to 19th-century southern gardens and West Feliciana parish. Camellias and sweet olive border a formal boxwood parterre, and honeysuckle and silverbell compete for the affections of bumblebees beneath cherry trees. Visitors are welcome to tote along food and beverages to savor a picnic lunch on the idyllic grounds.
Now in its second year, the Baton Rouge Halloween Parade benefits Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, and the Big Buddy Program—whose children receive costumes collected during the 10/31 Consortium club's costume drive. These costumed children march in the parade each year, in keeping with the organization's efforts to preserve the practice of trick-or-treating.
The parade follows a surprise theme each year, and community individuals and Krewes, who drive and march along a downtown route, contribute and construct colorful floats. The 10/31 Consortium organizes this annual parade in an effort to nurture community creativity and inspire local youth.
A sense of excitement begins to build every weekend at BREC BMX Raceway. Each Sunday evening?weather permitting?USA BMX sanctions a race at BREC and invites bike riders to register for the competition. At 5 p.m., the race commences, and 20-inch bikes fly along the dirt track. Before reaching the finish line's glory, competitors must navigate sharp turns, jumps, and the occasional dimensional tear.
In West Monroe's countryside, 20 acres of grapevines sway among gently rolling hills and tall, old trees. This is Landry Vineyards, tended by Jeff and Libby Landry and their four sons. They began growing hybrid blanc du bois grapes?specially bred to withstand the South's climate?at their first vineyard in Folsom back in 1999. However, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina leveled their crops, inspiring them to move to higher ground.
Today, the Landrys ferment a full roster of wines from blanc du bois and other hardy Southern grapes. The crisp fruit flavors of semisweet blanc du bois white pair well with spicy Cajun and French-inspired fare, whereas the Envie Rouge?made with red Cynthiana-Norton and black spanish grapes?acquires its spice from oak-barrel aging. The Landrys also import and ferment many grapes that they can't grow, including hand-picked bunches of cabernet from Washington state and California. Though locals have been enjoying the fruits of the Landry family's labors for several years, the vineyard's appearance in a 2012 episode of Duck Dynasty introduced the Louisiana-made wines to a national audience, drawing in droves of customers from all over the country.
Besides sipping wines, customers can visit the picturesque vineyard for tastings and cellar and winery tours. And during regular concerts, they can sip wine among the sounds of blues, jazz, and grapes quietly gossiping about which grape pickers have the softest hands.