By Vince Mancuso, Storage.com
Baton Rouge, La., is undergoing a revival of urban living with growth in both residential living and commercial property in the downtown area. In addition to the city’s growth, there’s Southern culture, delicious Cajun cuisine, and opportunities for higher education, all of which are good reasons for people to relocate to the area. If you’re planning to move to Baton Rouge, here are some things to know.
1. DOWNTOWN IS BOOMING.
The Downtown Development District in Baton Rouge released a 2014 year-end report showing that 191 units are now in construction with 109 more still in the works. Many are smaller apartment buildings near the center of downtown, but there are several mixed-use developments, such as 440 on Third. Another perk to downtown is a new IBM office building, bringing hundreds of new technology jobs to the area.
2. KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORHOODS.
While Downtown Baton Rouge is the city’s central business district, you can also check out nearby historic neighborhoods like Spanish Town. Founded in 1805, it’s the oldest community in Baton Rouge and an artistic paradise for those who believe poor taste is better than no taste. If you’re one of the more than 37,000 college students in the city, though, you’ll likely get familiar with the neighborhoods of University Hills, University Gardens, College Town, State Street, and Lakeshore, which are near the Louisiana State University (LSU) and Southern University campuses.
3. A FAMILIAR SCENE.
While you’re getting to know Baton Rouge, you may feel as though you’ve already been there. That’s because Louisiana is known as the Hollywood of the South, so you may see some stars from time to time. Baton Rouge has set the scenes for movies like Pitch Perfect, JFK, and Ray and TV shows like True Blood. The yet-to-be-seen Fantastic Four reboot also filmed in Baton Rouge in May 2014.
4. OLD-WORLD CHARM.
Baton Rouge’s landscape is filled with history. For instance, the Old State Capitol Building, otherwise known as the Louisiana Castle, dates back to the 1850s when it was built to look and function as a real castle. It was even garrisoned by African-American troops once the Union forces captured New Orleans during the Civil War. Fun fact: Mark Twain was said to have hated it, calling it a “whitewashed castle…with turrets and things.” Other historic sites include the U.S.S. KIDD, a Fletch-class destroyer turned museum and memorial, and 57 buildings on the LSU campus that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
5. BATON ROUGE CULTURE.
The Cajun French culture is strong in Baton Rouge, and it’s never more prevalent than during Mardi Gras each year. The Capital City welcomes thousands annually for festive carnivals, costume balls, and six different parades through Downtown Baton Rouge, Spanish Town, and Southdowns. They even have one dedicated to Mutts! There are other cultural celebrations throughout the year, too, such as FestForAll, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, and the Downtown Festival of Lights.
6. A WHOLE SEASON DEDICATED TO CAKE.
Each year, January 6th marks the beginning of Carnival in Baton Rouge, but it might as well be called King Cake Season. These ring-shaped cakes are usually topped with icing and colored sugar—purple, green, and yellow, to be exact—and hide a small plastic baby. While it once had more of a religious history, the baby now signifies obligations, such as buying the next cake, for the person who finds it. Be sure to check out local bakeries like Thee Heavenly Donut, where you can get specialty King Cakes.
7. GEAUX TIGERS.
Even if you aren’t watching the football game, chances are you’ll hear it. Tiger Stadium, known as Death Valley, was voted as one of the scariest venues for opposing teams by ESPN in 2007. LSU fans once cheered so loud in a 1988 game that a seismograph on campus registered the event as an actual earthquake. Among the cheers of the fans, you may occasionally hear the roar of Mike, a Bengal-Siberian tiger mix who lives in a 15,000 square-foot habitat near the stadium. Also, take note—locals and students are proud of the Cajun French history of Baton Rouge, which is why they use “Geaux,” not “Go.”
8. THE HUMAN JUKEBOX.
Baton Rouge is also home to Southern University and its famous Human Jukebox marching band. This group is known for its powerful sound, precision stepping, and entertaining drills. The NCAA even named it the second best marching band in the country in 2014. In fact, you may have seen them before. They’ve been in the Jonas Brothers’s music video for “Pom Poms,” the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., and six Super Bowl halftime shows.
9. THE MALL OF LOUISIANA.
Shoppers can enjoy the Mall of Louisiana, which has everything from Abercrombie & Fitch to restaurants, a movie theater, and a children’s play area. Also, you can’t forget about the Mall of Louisiana’s Carousel located on the second floor near the food court. It’s boasted as the second largest carousel in the world.
10. CAJUN DINING.
If you’re going to be living in Baton Rouge, you’re not going to escape Cajun cuisine. Be sure to try local favorite Parrain’s Seafood Restaurant off of Perkins Road and Prince Place. Residents say it’s one of the best seafood joints in town. You should also check out The Chimes. Locals love it for its upbeat pub grub, like Blackened Alligator Poboy, as well as its wide array of beers.
11. HIT THE PARK.
While parks are usually places to relax, Baton Rouge definitely makes it a place to have some extreme fun. Perkins Road Community Park has a skate park, BMX raceway, and rock-climbing wall on its 52-acre grounds. But it also includes more normal park features like a playground, tennis court, and trails for walking, skating, or biking for those less extreme park-goers.
12. VISIT THE SWAMP.
South Baton Rouge is home to the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center—a 103-acre facility dedicated to conservation, education, and recreation. Visitors can check out live animal exhibits and displays about the local flora and fauna. There’s also more than a mile of gravel paths and boardwalks for guests to see the habitats of hundreds of bird species, as well as snakes, turtles, opossums, armadillos, foxes, and otters.
Is there anything we missed? What do you think makes living in Baton Rouge great?
If you’re moving to Baton Rouge, LA, and need storage space to help with the transition, view Storage.com’s directory of storage units in Baton Rouge.
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