Back in February, I took a road trip to visit my college best friend and fellow Phi Mu sister Delia, along with her lovely parents. And what a fun trip it was! If your only knowledge of Louisiana comes from Duck Dynasty or Bourbon Street stories, then you are missing out. Every visit to Baton Rouge I fall more in love with the city, from the food to the history it has it all without being overcrowded with tourist like the iconic city of Louisiana. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the time I have spent in New Orleans, but I would pick the Baton Rouge area any day!
Now I have several travel guides in the works for Baton Rouge, where to eat and what to do, plus a plantation guide but I wanted to share if Y'all a recap of my most recent Baton Rouge adventure!
The drive from Birmingham to Baton Rouge is roughly five and a half hours, so I spent most of Thursday driving. When I got into town Delia, and I went straight to our favorite "no-nonsense" bar for a quick bite. Georgie's is an iconic local joint and known for the signed dollars on the wall. During my last visit to Georgie's a group of us had written our names on one but sadly we could not find ours this time, like a game of needle in a haystack, impossible! Oh, but once our food came, we didn't care about the dollar anymore. Best. Shrimp. Po Boy. EVER. I know that is setting a high standard, but the shrimp was fried perfectly, and the sandwich was dang good. Also super big, we split a large order of fries and the Po Boy, and both came away super full.
We spent the rest of the evening catching up and watching the Winter Olympics.
The day started with a quick breakfast before heading downtown to visit my favorite coffee place PJ's Coffee. It is a New Orleans based brand but there are a couple of locations in Baton Rouge, and oh my the Carmel Granita is maybe my favorite coffee drink ever. Sorry, Dunkin and Starbucks! I seriously think about PJ's Coffee more often than someone should think about a coffee place, even made a quick trip back on the day I was leaving to grab one last frozen coffee and a bag on their coffee beans. (Slipping on some right now while writing this on my balcony, I am blessed!)
Anyways enough about coffee, after we grabbed our heaven in a cup (okay I am done), we walked around downtown. Past the Old Louisiana State Capital, which looks like a castle, and down to the levees along the Mississippi River. Around lunch time we headed towards Delia's church and old lower school St James Episcopal for their Gumbo Fridays. During Lent, they serve the most delicious gumbo! Then we got special permission to tour the school, which was a lot of fun because so much had changed since Delia went to elementary school there. These kids have technology resources we could have only dreamed of grouping up! Smartboards! Green screens! I want to go back to elementary school!
After her mom finished helping with Gumbo Fridays and we finished touring the school, we all went on a tour of a local plantation Magnolia Mound. Magnolia Mound has a unique history starting in 1791 when the original French Creole house was built. Our tour guide also was terrific! She helped explain what is historically accurate compared to the myths usually told during similar tours. She recommended the book Death by Petticoat by Mary Theobald, which I got and also recommend to any history nerd like myself. This one house tour sparked Saturday's grand plantation tour day.
Friday night we went to a play on LSU campus, Arcadia. The British play was, well, very intellectual. The actors did amazingly, and we still talk about it and reference it, but man was I confused at times during the THREE-hour play. We ended the night with a little Winter Olympics before heading off to bed.
We ate a quick breakfast and then headed on an adventure with Delia's mom to see and learn more about Louisiana's history. They may have that I was losing it, but I got REALLY excited when we crossed the Mississippi River. I have honestly never been that far West (East coast gal here) and was giddy about it.
After a 30 minute drive, we were at our first destination, Nottoway Plantation. Now a resort, this used to be the site of a massive sugar plantation. We went on a tour of the main rooms of the house, all of the bedrooms are actual hotel rooms now! (Adding that to the bucket list.) The ballroom is an all-white room and oh man the aesthetic was before its time. Nottoway was an excellent representation of antebellum architecture. But what we all notice when we drove up was a delightful smell of burgers. By the time we ended the tour, we were on the hunt for the scent. Luckily we found it in the resort's restaurant and man it was delicious!
With our bellies full we got back in the car to see what other homes we could find along the famous River Road. With the help of a map from the lovely lady at Magnolia Mound and modern GPS, we spent the rest of the afternoon driving by the most jaw-dropping homes. We drove past Oak Alley, Laura Plantation, and several other beautiful properties before crossing back over the Mississippi River.
River Road is a strange mix of ancient places and large industrial settings. I now understand how petroleum in the number one export from Louisiana! One of the very old properties between industrial facilities was the San Francisco Plantation. By the time we reach San Francisco Plantation we were almost in New Orleans, we had driven so far down the river! It was time to head north back toward Baton Rouge.
While traveling north on River Road, we came across a beautiful old building that turned out to had been a former convent and now religious retreat campus. Look at all those columns!
The last spot on the plantation tour was the ever so glorious Houmas House. Oh man, what a place to end the trip! The property alone is almost mystical, with the sun setting over the live oak trees and leeve it was breathtaking. The house tour was very educational and one of the most unique tours I have ever been on because the current owner lives in the house. And due to our fantastic tour guide, Susan! She taught us not only so much about the property, the owners but also about Louisiana and plantation life. To finish off our the day we had a drink in the Turtle Bar of the old Garçonnière. Perfect ending to the perfect day!
We didn't get back to the house until about nine o'clock but no worries we still watched some Olympics!
Sunday started slower because our only big plans for the day was the LSU gymnastics meet that afternoon. So we enjoyed watching more Olympics and binged watched some of our fave, Parks and Rec. After lunch, we headed to campus to meet Delia's cousin for the gymnastics meet. I L O V E gymnastics and college gymnastics has grown to be one of my favorite sports to watch. The exciting atmosphere in the stadium is thrilling. LSU gymnastics team put on a great show, with breathtaking routines and energy. Then to top it off they won their home meet!
After the meet we took the rest of the day slow, eating dinner and guess what watched more Winter Olympics!
As my last day in town, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and walk the LSU lakes. Now that turned from a relaxing walk into exercise at about a mile and a half, but we did it. And we walked up to an appetite! For lunch, we enjoyed the best homemade red beans and rice, ever. I ate way too much! I rolled myself to the couch for some more tv time before we went to the historic LSU dairy for some ice cream. Oh man, it was yummy!! Then we hung out at the house for awhile relaxing before heading to get pizza at, Rocco's. We got a white pizza with roasted hazelnuts, and it was a delicious end to the saga of the fantastic food from the trip.
Tuesday I drove home to sweet olde Birmingham, with my bag of PJ's Coffee.