LSU vs. Ole Miss
Cajun and Creole food, crawfish, and college football run deep through the waters of the Mississippi River in Southern Louisiana. Lying in the shadows of nearby New Orleans, Baton Rouge is Louisiana's capital city with a rich history of food and culture that's hard to rival in the United States. Experiencing all this city has to offer gives you a taste of Louisiana you can't help but savor.
On the football field, Louisiana State University has many rivals, though few can compete with the passion, enthusiasm, and tailgating traditions at Tiger Stadium. Experiencing a Saturday night game in Death Valley is enough to make the ground tremble beneath your feet.
Game day tips
Long lines of traffic welcome you, as I-10 becomes a slow moving mass of purple and gold riding into Tiger Stadium on the LSU campus. Arrive early so you can miss most of this traffic and park in one of the free parking lots, or arrive later and pay $40 to park in game day lots. To help you navigate your way into Death Valley, use the LSU parking guide for home football games.
An essential part of LSU game day is the tailgating experience. While you can pick up some Cajun tailgating food on the way to the stadium at Tony's, I suggest making new friends with the experts of Louisiana cooking – the LSU fans.
On my visit to Baton Rouge, a Friday lunch conversation at a plantation led to a football tailgating invitation with a new group of friends. On Saturday morning, Danny cooked sausage, boudin, and gumbo as we gathered in the tent to drink Bloody Marys, eat shrimp, and watch college football on TV. We weren't alone. Thousands of fans fired up the generator to cook their own savory dishes with a variety of meat, seafood, gumbo, and plenty to drink.
Visit Mike the Tiger before the game in his habitat on the north side of the stadium and watch the masses dressed in purple and gold welcome the players, cheerleaders, and band as they walk down Victory Hill into Tiger Stadium. Once the game starts, the atmosphere is electric. Known as one of the loudest stadiums in the country, LSU fans go crazy at night. Every home game, loud cheers and ringing signal another exciting LSU football game as one of the best teams in the country takes the field.
Where to stay
If you're staying in the Baton Rouge area, rent a car and be patient. For football games, stay as close to the LSU campus as possible. Just east of campus on I-10, you will find a number of hotels near College Drive and Perkins. For a comfortable stay with a smaller budget, stay at La Quinta, Best Western Plus Richmond Inn, Comfort Suites, or the Radisson Hotel. For a few more dollars, many fans enjoy the Embassy Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, and the Crowne Plaza.
If you want to stay close to LSU campus, The Cook Hotel and Staybridge Suites are affordable and comfortable. Moderately priced rooms downtown near many of the top Baton Rouge attractions include the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, Hotel Indigo, or Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hotel.
If you want to save a few dollars, drive across the Mississippi River to Port Allen. The Magnuson Hotel Port Allen is located on Highway 1 and is your clean, basic hotel. A few more miles on I-10, you will find a Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Suites, and Hampton Inn.
Where to eat/drink
Food is an essential part of the Baton Rouge culture. For a taste of Creole and Cajun cuisine, Juban's and Mansurs offer a fine dining experience with dishes including seafood, wild game, and gumbo. At Juban's, the Hallelujah Crab is a work of art, which combines seafood into the shape of a crab to please the palate.
Mike Anderson's offers a casual family dining experience with a mix of seafood and Louisiana-style southern cooking. Other popular local restaurants include Chelsea's, Fleur de Lis, Brew Ha Ha, and many more. For something completely different, enjoy the popular chicken fingers at Raising Cane's.
After a late night football game, head to The Chimes the next morning for a unique twist on breakfast with brunch and a variety of beers. Boudin omelets, seafood French toast, and Bloody Marys start your Sunday morning off right.
What to do
Southern plantations, French and Spanish heritage, and Louisiana history offer visitors plenty of things to do in Baton Rouge.
Visit a large plantation at Houmas House, Myrtles Plantation, or Nottoway Plantation to experience what life was like for the rich and famous during colonial times. Magnolia Mound, one of the oldest plantations in Louisiana, gives you a simple look at slave and plantation life before the days of big mansions and sugar cane.
Downtown Baton Rouge offers political and military history, along with fun activities for kids. Visit the New State Capitol to see the Senate and House chambers, and learn about the assassination of Governor elect and US Senator Huey Long, before enjoying views of Baton Rouge 27 floors above ground. Visit the Old State Capitol and Governor's Mansion to learn more about political life and history in Louisiana's capital.
Capitol Park and Arsenal Park, both located near the capitol buildings, offer green space to enjoy a leisurely walk. Also nearby, the USS KIDD honors veterans and military heroes with a tour of a Navy warship and the Louisiana Memorial Plaza. Across the street, kids can explore the Louisiana Art and Science Museum and Pennington Planetarium.
In the evenings, walk along the mighty Mississippi River or try your luck at the nearby casinos. For the cultured and curious, learn more about history and art at the LSU Rural Life Museum and the LSU Museum of Art. A few minutes from downtown, make new friends at the Baton Rouge Zoo or explore nature at the Bluebonnet Swamp.
And lastly, no trip to Baton Rouge is complete without a visit to LSU. Whether you experience LSU football or wander the streets of campus, LSU and the city's many activities make Baton Rouge a special place to visit.
Jeremy Branham lives in Sacramento, California and is a budget traveler, sports fan, and travel enthusiast. With his College Football Travel Tour, he explores the culture of college towns as travel and sports collide. Get more stories and photos from the College Football Travel Tour along with destinations, travel tips and stories, travel guides, and hiking adventures on his blog Budget Travel Adventures.