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Louisiana's capital is smaller and more conventional than nearby New Orleans, but it definitely has its charms. An industrial stronghold and college town – it’s home to Louisiana State University (LSU) among others – Baton Rouge offers a taste of the architecture, history and cuisine of Nola without the fuss.
Located on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, "Red Stick" (as it was dubbed by French explorers in 1699) is peppered with architectural gems. Check out the castle-like Old Louisiana State Capitol (1890) and the many Old South plantation homes. Take in the view from the 27th floor observation deck of the Louisiana State Capitol – this Art Deco high-rise is still the tallest capitol building in the US.
The lively student population ensures lots of culture, including emerging performance and visual arts scenes. Don’t miss the excellent Louisiana Arts & Science Museum with its 2300-year old mummy. And then there's Georges, home of Louisiana's best po-boy. Tucked below an Interstate-10 underpass south of downtown, it’s worth the trip here alone.