The hands-on, participatory Children’s Museum of Acadiana entertains children aged 2 to 12 while boosting their understanding of art, human development, and cultural awareness. The Bubble Factory exhibit engulfs children in a life-sized bubble while they concoct massive bubbles of their own. Stuffee teaches future surgeons the proper placement and usage of internal organs without the use of tiny tweezers and an electric buzzer. Children stage their own TV newscast at the Le TV des Enfants exhibit, where they learn the ins and outs of being a camera operator, meteorologist, or a newscaster.
West Baton Rouge Museum houses a chronological arsenal of artifacts and exhibits that represent Louisiana's rich history. In the Interest of Our Parish: Three Hundred Years of History in West Baton Rouge visually outlines the city's beginnings, from the building of river levees to a discussion of how the crawfish came to be the state bird. An outdoor neighborhood of six antique structures showcases historically decorated slave cabins plucked from the 19th-century Allendale Plantation, and the Reed Shotgun House opens its doors to provide patrons a peek at life as a 1938 migrant worker. The remainder of the museum's cache includes a model of a 1904 sugar mill and regular rotating exhibits, as well as a cash-crop garden and photogenic courtyard. Visiting families can opt to shuttle through the grounds with the informative lead of a museum tour guide or by following a careful trail of beignets from sight to sight.
Having given residential refuge to nine governors and their families, the Old Governor’s Mansion stands as one of the state’s foremost historical structures. Amble across floors once trampled by the feet of such men as governor and country-music legend Jimmie Davis, Governor O.K. Allen, and Governor Huey P. Long, the “Kingfish,” feared for his shrewd political skills and mighty mackerel militia. Some of the mansion’s most majestic spaces include the terrazzo-floored and crystal-chandeliered East Ballroom, once used to host visiting VIPs, and an opulent marble staircase, the site of marathon slinky races used to set tax policy. The library, completely coated in dark-wood paneling and a hard candy shell, features an enormous fireplace, as well as secret doors that lead to North Dakota.
The Enchanted Mansion whisks guests away to a storybook land of diminutive proportions, where fairies and first ladies alike commingle in a series of themed display rooms. Tucked into a picturesque Southern setting, the quaint mansion houses a diverse collection of hundreds of dolls dating back to the pre-Revolutionary era. The building’s deceptive three-story façade gives way to a single floor filled with oversized furnishings to promote tolerance for persecuted porcelain by making guests feel doll-sized themselves. Presidential dolls hold forth on foreign policy and puppet regimes in the White House room, and childlike figurines develop literacy in the storybook room as an antique collection watches proudly nearby.
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.