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.
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.
Offering BYOB art classes in a welcoming, instructor-assisted atmosphere, Corks N Canvas provides a laidback setting for self-expression. Participants will receive step-by-step instruction to craft striking artwork they can take home at the end of the session and place above their mantle, secret trap-door bookcase, or army-men-figurine reenactment of the battle of Pork Chop Hill. Choose among several sessions (click on the address of your chosen location to see a calendar of events) that teach budding strokesters to paint vibrant doggie portraits, landscapes, or abstract-expressionist renditions of the DMV. The creative paintventure may finally spark the dormant artist within that’s been reclusively hiding like Boo Radley since the finger-painting period.
Devoted to preserving Cajun culture by sharing it with the public, Cajun Pride Tours’ knowledgeable and passionate guides lead groups on tours that explore area swamps, plantations along the Great Mississippi River Road, and the historic districts of New Orleans. They also stroll along city streets in the French Quarter in New Orleans, the Garden District, and areas that display the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. On boat trips, groups can spot friendly gators while floating through the Manchac Swamp—a protected area that prohibits any hunting, fishing, or tickling of the native wildlife. A short drive past the swamps drops tourists off near the area’s plantations that are notable for their history, architecture, landscaping, and insight into Creole culture.