This list was created in the interest of preserving the integrity of what I believe a great Baton Rouge road trip (and really any road trip) should entail:
- Weird photo ops
- Local to-dos
- Local to-eats
Because there are literally thousands of guides on what to go, see, and do in New Orleans (the best are at VisitSouth.com (wink)), I’m leaving the iconic city off the list, but if you’re traveling on I-10 and not diverting on I-12 to get to Baton Rouge, by all means stop in New Orleans (you simply must get a pomegranate mojito at El Gato Negro).
I digress. Let’s take a trip.
1. The World’s Largest Rocking Chair, Gulfport, MS
If you’re traveling eastbound on I-10 and you pass through Mississippi, there are a couple of stops you need to make. Not only will this break up your drive, but you’ll also get some great photos. The MVP stop in this case is at Dedeaux Clan Furniture off of Canal Road in Gulfport where you can drive a mere two miles off the road and take your photo next to a 35-foot tall rocking chair.
While it’s not really the largest in the world, I’m pretty sure it’s bigger than the one in your living room. Not only do you get goofy photos for the album, you also get a chance to stretch you legs, go potty, and all of that good stuff.
2. Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, Kiln, MS
The Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, a craft brewery located in Kiln, MS, boasts the honor of being the oldest in the state. Their brews are distributed throughout the South. They have several beers, the most notable being the Southern Pecan. Made with whole roasted pecans, it is a true standout among brews everywhere.
The brewery conducts tours and tastings Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. We highly recommend calling ahead and scheduling your visit.
3. Abita Mystery House, Abita Springs, LA
Located in Abita Springs off of I-12, the Abita Mystery House is the epitome of wacky and weird. It combines found art, folk art, and homemade oddities that are worth seeing. As quoted on their website by John Bullard of the New Orleans Museum of Art, it’s, “The most intriguing and provocative museum in Louisiana.”
The nice thing about swinging by the mystery house is that you can also check out the Abita Springs Brewery and take a tour. After all, when in Abita ….
Kliebert’s Turtle & Alligator Farm (pictured at left) in Hammond is so close to Baton Rouge you can almost taste it, but trust me and pull over for a tour. Open seven days a week from March 1 to October 31, Kliebert’s Turtle & Alligator Farm is a family-owned establishment that’s fun for the whole family and just in general.
Though there are tons of interesting animals, the main events are undoubtedly Marie Laveau, the 15-foot python, and the Legendary Crush, a 15-foot, 1200-pound alligator. It’s the kind of thing that will blow your mind because if you’re like me, you seriously hadn’t conceived creatures of such magnitude outside of Jurassic Park.
5. Champagne’s Swamp Tours, Lafayette, LA
If you’re traveling in from the west, plan some time to stop and play in Lafayette with Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours (pictured at top center). This top-rated activity is fun for the whole family. You really get deep into the swamp, and it’s great fun. One of the biggest compliments the tour gets paid—aside from being awesome—is that it’s an incredible way to kick off the road dust.
It is preferred that you call to make a reservation within 12 hours of your visit.
There are—of course—other swamp tours and chances for gator sighting as you travel through Louisiana toward the capital city. There are also a lot of great places to eat; make sure you check out the Louisiana Culinary Trails for inspiration (of course, after you bear witness to a 15-foot python, you might not have much of an appetite for a while).
If you’re looking for a place to pamper yourself after your Baton Rouge road trip, try the elegant Stockade Bed & Breakfast.
Swamp tour photo courtesy of Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours; Gulfport rocking chair photo by Nicole Misita, courtesy of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast; Kliebert’s Turtle & Alligator Farm photo courtesy of Kliebert’s Turtle & Alligator Farm