20 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Baton Rouge

You’ve heard about New Orleans, and maybe even Lafayette. However, don’t discount Louisiana’s capital city — Baton Rouge. Home of Louisiana State University, the Red Stick (as its known to locals) is an affordable and fun option for those looking to live down south.

1. Baton Rouge is a large, sprawling area full of towns and neighborhoods.

There’s Baton Rouge the city, then the surrounding areas within the city called the Greater Baton Rouge area. Outside of the city are smaller towns like Port Allen, Gonzales, Zachary, Baker, Denham Springs, Walker and Gonzales. Those towns are a 5 to 30 minute drive to the city, depending on traffic.

2. Traffic can be hectic.

There is a ton of traffic. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the population of Baton Rouge grew by nearly a third. If you drive on the main highways (Interstate 10 or 12; Airline Highway) during peak morning or evening hours, you might get stuck, especially if there’s a wreck.

3. But it’s pretty easy to get around.

There are multiple ways to get to a single destination. If a highway or road is closed, or there’s traffic, there are options. A few drives on the main roads in the city (Highland Road, Perkins Road, Bluebonnet Boulevard, Burbank Drive, Seigen Lane, Acadian Thruway, Jefferson Highway and Airline Highway), and you’ll quickly find alternate routes.

4. You’ll need a car.

All this talk of traffic means you’ll need a car. Public transportation options are slim, and you’re going to be driving a lot. However, certain neighborhoods are becoming more bike and walk-friendly. Invest in something with good gas mileage.

5. LSU football is a year-round topic.

If you love SEC college football, you’ve come to the right city. Saturdays at LSU’s Tiger Stadium are a must. If not for the game, then for the tailgating. Fans line roads outside campus to grill, party and make new friends throughout the day.

6. You’re going to want to try boiled crawfish.

You’re in Cajun country now, and you’re going to see a lot of crawfish boils in the mid-Spring. A good boil is full of spice and comes with corn and potatoes that have been stewing in the pot with the crawfish.

7. Restaurant scene is on the rise.

Baton Rouge has a ton of restaurants. You’re going to want to try some local favorites (Louie’s, The Chimes, Fleur de Lis, Beausoliel, Juban’s) as well as some newer greats (Nino’s, Mr. Taco, Pimanyoli’s, Tiger Deaux-nuts, The Overpass Merchant and Curbside Burgers). It’s overwhelming the number of options of restaurants there are here.

8. Enjoy all of the parks.

Want to take an afternoon stroll with the kiddos or dog? Baton Rouge has its fair share of parks across the area, each with its own amenities and specialities.

9. It’s a parish, not a county.

Louisiana is the only state that uses the term parish, not county. Small difference, but now you’ll know what the locals are talking about when they say the word.

10. There are a lot of festivals.

Throughout the year, you’ll notice big events that happen seemingly every weekend. It’s true, the area and cities around Baton Rouge have festivals all the time. The biggest festivals in the area include the Blues Festival, Ebb & Flow, Louisiana International Film Festival, Pride Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade.

11. Looking for fresh produce?

Each weekend, at the intersection of Fifth and Main Streets in downtown Baton Rouge, you can check out fresh produce and meet local vendors at the Red Stick Farmers Market. The market also includes weekly cooking demonstrations in the nearby, indoor Main Street Market. The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge also hosts monthly arts markets.

12. Rent isn’t cheap, but it’s not too expensive, either.

Depending on the neighborhood, the rent can be a little high, but not big city high. The average rent per month is a little more than $1,000.

13. You might see a movie star.

Baton Rouge is part of “Hollywood South.” Over the past years, films like “Green Lantern,” “Battleship,” and movies from the “Twilight” franchise have been filmed in the Baton Rouge area. More recently, Tom Hanks was in the area, filming a new World War II drama.

14. This is the home of Raising Cane’s.

If you’ve never heard of Raising Cane’s, you’ll quickly get introduced to the fast food staple. It serves fried chicken fingers, and that’s pretty much it. Sure, there are sides of slaw, fries and toast. But most locals order a box combo (4 fingers), sub the slaw for an extra toast. The sauce is addicting, and you’ll probably get an extra cup of that with each order, too.

15. We’ve got breweries and distilleries.

Looking for a good drink? Baton Rouge has a wealth of local options, including Tin Roof Brewing Company right outside the LSU Campus, Southern Craft Brewing Company on Airline Highway, and Cane Land Distilling Company in the downtown area. More breweries are also planned to open within the next two years.

16. If you look, there’s something to do every night.

Look around, and there’s always something fun to do or see. If it’s not a festival or concert, there’s an open mic comedy night, pop-up dinner or intimate singer-songwriter show happening.

17. You’re going to want central AC.

It does get hot. As in: “Oh my God, I just walked outside to my car and I’m sweating.” A/C is a necessity. Don’t deal with a window unit. You want a place with central A/C because you will be blasting that from April to November. It gets cold for about two months, at most.

18. Check out flood insurance.

Also on the weather tip, when it rains, it pours. A ton. If you’re in a low-lying area, flood insurance is a must.

19. Soak up that Southern hospitality.

The locals aren’t being weird. Down here, local just tend to say hello and smile at everyone. You’ll also notice that locals say words like “y’all.” Relax and go with it, and you’ll learn the language quickly.

20. A short drive from Lafayette and New Orleans.

If you’ve exhausted all the options while living here and still looking for a good time, the good news is that you’re a short drive from two other fun cities — Lafayette to the west, and New Orleans to the east. Lafayette is about an hour drive, and New Orleans is about an hour-and-a-half away.

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Matthew Sigur