Nestled on the southeast side of Louisiana is the Bayou State's capital, Baton Rouge. Named by French explorers after Sieur d’Iberville discovered a mysterious bloody cypress pole on a Mississippi River bank in 1699 (which may have acted as a land dividing line between the Indigenous Bayougoula and Houma tribes), as per Explore Louisiana, the "Red Stick" city is known for the American Revolution's Battle of Baton Rouge, its rich Cajun and Creole cultural influences, and Blues music history.
Despite the Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning Commission's FuturEBR master plan, which envisions a healthy, walkable "20-minute neighborhood" among other environmental protection goals, a 2015 WalletHub report found that "Baton Rouge is the least green city in America" out of the 100 most populated cities, as per WAFB.
For those traveling to the Louisiana capital, don't fret, because there are plenty of eco-friendly things to do. Check out our Green City Guide for Baton Rouge, La.
Where to stay: Baton Rouge's sustainable Hilton hotel has a secret underground tunnel system.
Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center:
Situated on the Mississippi River at 201 Lafayette Street, the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center hotel is just two blocks from the Old State Capitol building, a national historic landmark and stunning museum that's well worth a visit. Additionally, the hotel — which occupies what used to be the Heidelberg Hotel built in 1927 — is just a five-minute walk from the Shaw Center for the Arts and the River Center Convention Center.
The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center is part of Booking.com's Travel Sustainable program, earning a Travel Sustainable Level 3+ stamp of approval for its third-party sustainability certifications in the ares of environmental management systems, energy management systems, and quality management systems.
During your stay, be sure to check out The Tunnel Speakeasy for an underground drink to remember.
Where to eat in Baton Rouge: Enjoy vegan king cakes and Louisiana-inspired meals made with local ingredients.
At 445 N. 6th Street sits a rustic eatery with a "harvest-inspired" menu that "pays tribute to the region's traditions." Cocha is proud to offer dishes made with local seasonal produce and "sustainable" seafood, as well as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu options.
MJ's Café at 5162 Government Street is dedicated to offering the "freshest farm-to-table plant-based culinary creations while promoting healthy eating habits." Its delectable vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu options include buffalo cauliflower pizza with vegan mozzarella and Thai peanut crunch salad.
Personally, we're intrigued by MJ's specialty vegan "baecon," a plant-based bacon alternative made of coconut flakes!
Inspired by Italy's fresh farm-to-table cuisine and coffee culture, James and Lina Jacobs opened the first Magpie Cafe in 2012. Located at 3205 Perkins Road, Magpie offers sweet and savory pastries, craft coffee, cakes, breads, sandwiches, teas, and more, many of which are vegan! Go on, pick up a vegan mini king cake (the Mardi Gras treat isn't only in New Orleans!) and a breakfast sandwich with tofu "egg," vegan cream cheese, and arugula on focaccia.
Where to shop in Baton Rouge: Snag vintage pieces and handcrafted gifts, accessories, and knickknacks from Louisiana makers.
Time Warp Boutique:
Let's do the Time Warp again! If you're looking to shop secondhand without compromising on style, take a trip to Time Warp Boutique at 3001 Government Street. The shop prides itself on being a "haute spot for vintage clothing, accessories, jewelry, and unique gifts from local vendors in Baton Rouge."
Whether your passion for fashion aligns with '70s disco divas, '80s glam rockers, or slinky Y2K playfulness, Time Warp has something that'll tickle your fancy.
Local Supply at 1509 Government Street, Suite F, offers an array of unique gifts "with Louisiana flavor," all from local makers and artisans. By purchasing sweet treats, paper goods, and kitschy decor and accessories at Local Supply, you'll be supporting the Local Pop-Up Collaborative ("an extension of Local Supply") as well as other Louisiana small businesses and artists.
As we've mentioned before, shopping small and local is a simple way to cut down on waste and pollution caused by shipping and transportation.
What to do: Explore Baton Rouge museums to learn about Louisiana's history, art, culture, and nature.
Louisiana Art & Science Museum:
The Louisiana Art & Science Museum at 100 S. River Road is proud to "encourage discovery, inspire creativity, and foster the pursuit of knowledge." Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the LASM has highlighted the importance of environmental protection on numerous occasions.
A 2019 educational collaboration with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority provided river dynamics and coastal erosion education, for instance. Additionally, a 2022 to 2023 photography exhibition sponsored by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, titled "Wild Bees," focused on the importance of wild bees as essential pollinators.
Burden Museum & Gardens:
The 440-acre Burden Museum & Gardens at 4560 Essen Lane includes the Louisiana State University Rural Life Museum, which was founded by Steele Burden in 1970. The indoor-outdoor museum "holds the largest collection of Louisiana vernacular architecture and the most extensive collection of material culture items from the 18th and 19th centuries."
Explore 32 historic outbuildings across 25 acres and walk through the Windrush Gardens, which include gorgeous green flora like aspidistras, crape myrtles, azaleas, nandinas, and camellias.
For those looking to get some exercise alongside nature, the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens feature three miles of walking paths winding through the Burden Woods. Plus, The Rose Garden, Children’s Garden, and All-America Selections Display Garden offer up natural beauty and gardening and plant science education.
According to the website, the LSU AgCenter's research programs "support coastal restoration of Louisiana's wetlands as well as the state’s nursery, landscape, farming and forestry industries."
In “Green City Guides,” a travel series from Green Matters, we break down what to do, where to stay, what to eat, and more in various cities around the world — while staying sustainable.