100 reasons to love Baton Rouge

To mark our 100th issue, we proudly present 100 reasons to love this city we call home. Compiled with plenty of help from readers—some sent in quick suggestions, while others penned thought-provoking essays—plus a handful of staff favorites, this list is sure to ignite your passion for both the present and the future of the Red Stick. And what would a party be without plenty of surprises? Keep reading to discover more as we shamelessly geek out on all things 100 this month.

represents staff picks

1 “I’ve been many places and haven’t met people nicer than here! Whether in town or out of town together, Baton Rougeans always have fun together.”—Derek Fitch, partner, Vision City Development Group

2 The bike and running path that tops the Mississippi River levee.

3 “I love the huge variety of great music at Mud and Water. Every week there are incredible local and touring musicians performing. One night it could be country and Americana, and the next night it could be modern jazz, but it’s always about the music. It’s an incredibly vibrant addition to downtown Baton Rouge by serving as a gathering place for musicians and artists to exchange ideas as well as to support and inspire each other.”—Ben Herrington, musician

4 “Baton Rouge is the perfect mix. It is a growing economy that is becoming more diversified and creative, but also a warm community based on tradition, family and outreach.”—Stephen Waguespack, president, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry

5 “Baton Rougeans go all-out when it comes to costumes. Starting with Halloween through Mardi Gras and all the way to St. Patrick’s Day, costume season lasts for nearly half of a year here. My favorite Baton Rouge dress-up events of all are the absurdist Surreal Salon Soiree and the satirical Spanish Town Mardi Gras Ball.”Lauren Lee Stuart, project manager, Louisiana Economic Development

6 “Spanish Town and everything associated with it: the neighborhood, the houses, the residents, the pink flamingos, the parade and the ball. That unique culture is what helps keep our city interesting and will help us keep attracting the creative class.”Al McDuff, co-owner, Diane Allen & Associates Advertising

7 “I love that on any given weekend in Baton Rouge you can find some type of fundraising celebration or gala with delicious food, cocktails, live music and auctions to buy or win local artwork and other goodiesfrom Fte Rouge to the Trafficking Hope Gala.”—Gabby Loubiere, owner, Brew Ha-Ha!

8 “I love B.R. the most when it surprises me through a public, creative impulse—when I happen across an artistic expression in a space where it isn’t supposed to be, especially if it is temporary. The first devoted instigator of this, years ago, that I became aware of was Brad Jensen with his Icon posters surfacing on derelict buildings and electrical boxes, but it includes anything unannounced and/or subversive, from paintings on the columns under the interstate to the flamingos that pop up on the LSU Lakes, to this one afternoon when a single trumpeter started playing jazz on the Capitol steps mid-week, no audience or no reason. These episodes reflect Baton Rouge’s creative nature in its purest form.”—Erin Rolfs, marketing manager, LSU Press

9 Inventive and locally owned food trucks and their weekly truck round-ups.

10 “Every mid-January, my son and I take a picture in front of the Capitol, just behind the statue of Huey Long. This is always followed by a visit to see the pencil stuck in the ceiling in the Senate chambers and a visit to the observation deckgot to love that second elevator built to hold just four people. There you have it. My favorite building in Baton Rouge.”—Patrick Reynolds, LaCarte processing and travel, LSU

11 A ball game and a Tiger Dog on a sunny spring day at “The Box.”

12 “I just love Splash nightclub. I always have a blast dancing the night away. Geaux pride!”—Drew Lewis, engineer

13 “I love the city’s huge, spreading oak trees and abundant shade. I lived in Texas for several years, and I missed the enormous trees that reached such great heights. The live oaks here give a feeling of safety and shelter that the puny trees elsewhere do not.”—Robin Mayhall, senior writer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

14 BR Walls Project and the other murals that are changing the look of the city one piece of public art at a time.

15 Seasonal fruit-infused drinks at Beausoleil.

16 “A friend once told me, ‘Brennan, the only person [who] loves Baton Rouge more than you is Kip Holden!’ Well, the thing I love most about Baton Rouge is him. I believe a mayor’s success is measured not only by his politics, but also by his involvement in the community. I can’t go to any local event, it seems, without seeing him there.”Brennan Miller, staff accountant, Daigrepont & Brian, APAC

17 “One of the things I love the most about Baton Rouge is Tony’s Seafood on Plank Road.Boiling shrimp on Christmas Eve has been part of our family’s tradition for many years. People from all walks of life and from every part of town flock to Tony’s for the same goal: cooking good Louisiana seafood for family and friends.You’ll understand just how culturally, racially, and economically diverse Baton Rouge really is while appreciating how similar we all really are during the holidays.”—Patrick Mulhearn, executive director, Celtic Studios

18 “The pelicans come back every year. What an amazing sight at University Lake and City Lake! Also, the flamingos come back year after year, too. Now that is a sight!”—CaroleJo Nugent

19 “The emergence of a more forward-thinking culinary industry in Baton Rouge. The growth of new restaurants really speaks a lot for [the] opportunity that I feel this city brings and the status of what the future holds for the industry.”—Troy Deano, chef de cuisine, 18 Steak

20 “Budgets for the arts have all but been destroyed in Louisiana, but the grassroots movement in Mid City to keep creativity alive is fighting back. White Light Night in the fall as well as Hot Art Cool Nights in the spring are two major examples of a neighborhood partnering with small businesses to keep an incredibly important part of our culture alive.” —Brian Edwards, general manager, Bistro Byronz

21 “I travel all over the world, and Baton Rougeans are warm, friendly and real. But it’s even more than that. They have a natural ease in relating with people that I believe is unique.”—Rick Naqvi, vice president of sales, PreSonus Audio Electronics

22 “Spending time kayaking the lakes at LSU.”—Carl Carver, vice president, Lofton Staffing & Security

23 “The running community. There are so many different organizations that support running that there’s a group running almost every night! Run, drink and be merry!”Scott Shaheen, director of marketing, St. James Behavioral Hospital

24 “The Greater Baton Rouge State Fair, with profits going to charity and being put on by volunteers, is a great family event.”—Cliff Barton, payroll specialist, City of Baton Rouge

25 “I’ve never felt so supported, loved and needed like I do here. That comes down to the folks who are valiantly trying to make their community better.”—Tess Brunet, owner, Lagniappe Records

26 The heaven-on-Earth lunch that is the tenderloin Caesar salad at Maxwell’s Market.

27 “I love that Baton Rouge has become so film-friendly!”—Melinda Walsh, owner, Melinda Walsh Communications

28 “It’s easy to meet new people and discover the connections shared among all of us here. Baton Rouge is an easily traversable community.”—Isral Duke, designer, Duke Branding

29 “My favorite dish is shrimp and grits at Stroubes, coupled with a cold Woodchuck Hard Cider-Amber beer, and I’m instantly happy and maybe 2.14 pounds heavier, give or take a pound.”—Tiffany Dickerson, comedian

30 Because we have our own beer, Tin Roof Brewery, and it makes exciting seasonal beer that represents Louisiana well.

31 “I love Baton Rouge because it holds the opportunity that leads the demand for change.”—Chad Ortte, owner, Rising Realty Group, LLC

32 “I love the way that the creative class of Baton Rouge is lovingly taking the bull by the horns. The sheer volume of fun, interesting, thought-provoking, entertaining and unique events and programs that have been offered in recent years speaks to the way B.R. is embracing art, music, entrepreneurship, murals, theater, literature, fashion, dance and more like never before.”—Jason Andreasen, executive director, Baton Rouge Gallery

33 “The thing I like most about Baton Rouge is that it is a multifaceted place. The style, the pace and the food all make this city a great place to live. If I had to choose one meal in the city, it’d be the smoked prime rib at Bin 77. It is epic! The executive chef there is a magician.” Clay Young, owner, Clay Young Enterprises

34 “I love strolling my son around the Red Stick Farmers Market when it first opens to see all the local produce and products that are available to us here in Baton Rouge. There’s so much! It’s a perfect Saturday morning outing if you have kids, and a great way to get them involved in learning where our food comes from and all the colorful food options that are available.”Katherine Holly Everett, photographer and calligrapher

35 “As someone who moved away and came back to Baton Rouge recently, it is exciting to see how much the city is changing—and for the better!”—Melissa Thompson

36 “I love that over the past three decades I’ve seen this city constantly evolve. I love seeing people stay in Baton Rouge to keep pushing this city forward. There’s always a hunger for more.”—Hunter Territo, creative director, Xdesign, Inc.

37 RocketChix Triathlon Series and the sheer number of locals it has inspired to exercise.

38 “I appreciate Baton Rouge’s willingness to evolve into a reputable metropolitan city. The continual modernization of downtown as well as a few other developments have been met with minimal resistance, and prove that we want our city to feel like somewhere that’s great to live. We still have a long way to go in regards to combating many of the isms and prejudices that exist in the city, but the next generation of Baton Rougeans seems to be willing to work toward changing the social landscape.”—Donney Rose, program director, Forward Arts Inc.

39 “I love that people here like to have fun, whether it’s singing, dancing or hunting and fishing. I love that there are dances for senior citizens, sports of every kind for our children and endless opportunities to cook.”—Iva Tullier, retired middle-school teacher

40 “TEDxLSU captured the innovation, excitement, intellect and creativity of our beloved Baton Rouge in one event. The Communication Across the Curriculum (CxC) office at LSU did a great job of highlighting local inventors, activists and organization leaders under the theme evolve.'”—Jensen Moore, assistant professor, LSU

41 “My favorite thing about Baton Rouge is the potential that the city and its citizens hold. As a lifelong resident, I’ve actively followed the city’s progress. Slowly, and at times unsurely, it seems like we are headed in the direction of greatness.”—Jason Broha, marketing project manager, Turner Industries

42 “When I am in heavy traffic and want to make a turn or get onto a street, I sit in panic wondering if it will ever be possible, and then someone stops, and with a graceful gesture of their hand, signals me to pull in ahead of them. There is such grace in this act, and it gives the rest of my day a secret joy.”—Ellen King, CPA

43 “I moved here six years ago, and I immediately fell in love with the Southern hospitality. There’s nothing like it!”—Ashley Baxter, media specialist, MCWA

44 “I love how Baton Rouge is the melting pot of Louisiana culture. We have influences from Cajun country to the west and New Orleans to the southeast. As the Capital City and home to LSU, we also have significant influence from the northern part of Louisiana and the traditional American South. Our culture is a mash-up of all the distinct Louisiana cultures, and I think we should embrace that.”—Jay Ducote, owner, Bite and Booze, LLC

45 “As Baton Rouge continues to grow, I love going to the one place that hasn’t changed over the years: Coffee Call. Now that I’ve moved away, it’s the best place to meet up with old friends and reminisce on the memories made there.”—Sheila de Guzman, marketing operations senior advisor, Dell Inc.

46 “Besides LSU football, the one thing I love about Baton Rouge is the St. Paddy’s Day Parade, especially if it is followed by a crawfish boil and live music at Chelsea’s Cafe!”—Amber Pearly, founder and designer, Pearl Southern Couture

47 “Being someone that has lived in several different states and toured the U.S. countless times, I can say I would be hard-pressed to find another city where great talent seamlessly works together to make the community a better place. That is why I am thankful to be in Baton Rouge.”—Matthew Schwartz, musician

48 “I love that our local vendors and city government officials go the extra mile to deliver goods and services in the rushed time frame a movie or television production often works within. In the end, the producers [who] film in Baton Rouge walk away knowing how compassionate our city is about working together.”—Liza Kelso, executive director, Baton Rouge Film Commission

49 “I love our sense of family, fun, sharing, and all that goes with living in the Sportsman’s Paradise.”Randy Tullier, retired refinery worker, Motiva Enterprise

50 “Tiger Stadium! Stand right up and roar!”—Starr Driesse, mission advancement, St. Jude the Apostle School

51 “Shrimp po-boys drenched in mayo and Tabasco at George’s under the Perkins Road overpass. Old Marcel can keep his madeleines; I dwell in the eternal sunshine of the George’s shrimp po-boy.”—Rod Dreher, author, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming

52 “I find my client relationships often become friendships in B.R. Hearts tend to be warm and embracing and forever friends. We know how to create great joy in the routine of the everyday. We know how to work hard, play effortlessly, live generously and love deeply.”—Katie Swetman, creative director, The Curious Design

53 “I love The Jim Engster Show. We are so fortunate to have this show on air in Baton Rouge. Other markets our size simply do not have such a show that includes guests from across the country ranging from bestselling authors to sitting U.S. senators. It’s a vital part of this community.”Swede White, graduate student, LSU

54 “I love not having to shovel snow during the winter. I also love introducing out-of-towners to boudin balls!”—Melissa Eccles, exercise specialist, FITT

55 “The progress of nightlife downtown! Not very long ago this area was deteriorating. Now it’s hip and happening.”—Carole Turner, case manager, Capital Area Reentry Coalition

56 “The amount of unbelievably talented musicians in Baton Rouge. You can literally walk down the street and trip over a musical virtuoso.”—Jason Martin, musician and graphic designer

57 The fried glory of tender yard bird and indulgent Southern sides at Chicken Shack.

58 “Mid City has a chance to become Baton Rouge’s definitive cultural center. The shops are here, the people are here, and the vibe is contagious!”—Kerry Beary, owner, Atomic Pop Shop

59 “I always love a spring picnic at Highland Road Park on a cool Saturday afternoon.”Max Zoghbi, founder, Loupe Theory Studios

60 “The Baton Rouge Arts Market! Paired with the Red Stick Farmers Market on the first Saturday of every month, it is the perfect blend of juried-quality artisans, loyal customers, great food and music.”—Ana Andricain, owner and artist, Jewel of Havana

61 “I love B.R. for the same reason I love my friends: its unique character and personality. From elegant architecture to game-day madness to the spiciest of flavors, this Red Stick of ours is a treasure trove.”—Rebekah Johnson, content coordinator, Covalent Logic

62 “Riding my bicycle at night through downtown, the Garden District and Mid City, alone, free, loving the coolness of the night and the way things look under sodium- and mercury-vapor light.”—Mark E. Martin, processing archivist, LSU

63 “My favorite thing about Baton Rouge is that you can see a live tiger whenever you want. Mike VI, LSU’s live tiger mascot, is the only live tiger living on a college campus in the United States.”Ginger Guttner, director of public relations, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine

64 “I love the kitschy bars that play the blues, like Teddy’s Juke Joint, Phil Brady’s and The Blues Room. Always a fun time.”—Stephanie Sander, owner @Stephsandy Consulting, LLC

65 “I love Baton Rouge’s growing local foods scene! Luckett Farm, Inglewood Farm and The Country Table offer community-supported agriculture shares, which are great for families or a house full of roommates.”—Tyler Thigpen, senior scientist, Chicago Bridge & Iron

66 “Our really good local businesses and establishments that have weathered the storm of changing economic conditions and the onslaught of corporate franchises.”—Robert Bigelow, library associate, LSU

67 “Crawfish Aquatics.”—Charles Jantzi, director of ancillary services, inforMD Solutions

68 “Baton Rouge has some of the best chicken laws in the nation. You can have three hens if your lot is less than an acre. That means anyone not in an apartment can keep enough hens to provide more than enough eggs to keep their family fulfilled.”—Chris Frink, caucus director, Louisiana House of Representatives

69 Intimate music performances by touring and local musicians alike at Haven Gallery and Listening Room and Red Dragon Listening Room.

70 “We have wonderful, soft, great-tasting water, something I really appreciate when visiting other cities. Our water is wonderful on our skin, and it tastes so good, too, even right out of the tap.”—Marie Presedo, wedding officiant

71 “I love the ever-growing support and love for the animal community in the Baton Rouge area. Whether it’s through the works of no-kill organizations like CAAWS, dog-friendly bar and restaurant patios or BREC’s dog parks located around the city, there is always a way to get involved and enjoy this great city with your favorite four-legged friend.”—Denis Ricou, public affairs specialist, Louisiana National Guard

72 “Southern University! I love the rich tradition that Southern students and alumni uphold. It’s a historical gem that attracts international acclaim and has given me inspiration as a musician.”—John Gray, musician

73 “One of my favorite things about Baton Rouge would have to be my favorite restaurant: Rama. I’ve had Thai food all over the world, and Rama’s is still the best and the most reasonably priced.”—Jesse Hoggard, director of marketing and business development, Louisiana Tech Park

74 “I live in a rural area directly between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. I always choose Baton Rouge! Here is why: You have a wide selection of restaurants, movie theaters and shopping venues easily accessible off of the interstate.”—Karen Dunn

75 “Baton Rouge is still a clean slate. We can do anything here. This is an entire metropolitan city that the youth and younger middle-aged can do anything we want with. There are very few barriers to battle past. The youth can build anything, and there are huge swaths of people here [who] will celebrate it. People just need to keep building it. And they will. That’s what I love.”—Sam Terito, estimator, Apex Industries Corporation

76 “My absolute favorite thing about Baton Rouge is the Krewe of Apollo. There is usually an Apollo event every month, not just during Mardi Gras. I love the sequins and feathers and over-the-top costumes. They are such a great group of guys, and so much fun!”—Staci Brimer, photographer

77 The proliferation and variety of locally owned Greek and Lebanese cuisine restaurants that are so unique here in the Deep South.

78 “LSU’s Burden Center and the Rural Life Museum is my favorite thing about Baton Rouge, not just because of the research and conservation the property provides, but because it reminds me of the farmland and architecture I grew up around in Natchitoches. This Baton Rouge spot has helped me let go of one home and settle into this one.”—Teresa Day, writer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

79 “The thing I absolutely love and missed when I was away for three years is the close-knit fitness community in Baton Rouge. Being a part of fitness in B.R. is like having an extended family that shares your passions.”—Taylor Alexander, owner, Tadpole Academy of Baton Rouge

80 “The local music scene is incredible right now. Never have I seen it so full and family-like.”—Clay Achee, DJ, WHYR 96.9; assistant talent buyer, Mud and Water

81 “I love our city’s parks, and also the weathermost of the time.”—Nick Erickson, associate professor, LSU Department of Theatre

82 Drinking wine or a cocktail while watching an independent film or a cinematic classic at Manship Theatre.

83 “The sunset over the Mississippi.”—Chris Landry, marketing technology brand manager, Lamar Advertising Company

84 “I love when beads from our community parades get stuck in the trees along the parade routes and we leave them there. It’s fun to enjoy these accidental festive decorations all year long. I call them the accessotrees.”—Nicole David, corporate relocation manager, LED FastStart

85 “I love that Baton Rouge is a big yet small city. There are a lot of growing local businesses, but also a loyalty to our culture, our food and LSU.”—Sarah Tullier, co-owner, Tate Tullier Photography

86 “Leeward Park is a hidden gem. I love that it’s fenced, so I’m not constantly chasing my toddler. And the push toys left there give it extra personality.”—Ashley Suitt, birth doula, Red Stick Birth

87 The retro vibes at long-standing and delicious eateries like Pastime Lounge and Fleur de Lis Pizza.

88 “Always the corner booth at Zippy’s. Sometimes we even order food. We know we’ll continue to change, and the group will evolve as we get older, but the friendships that have grown from our time at Zippy’s are what we love most about Baton Rouge.”—Jacob Luneau

89 “Lunchtime at the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River on Southern University’s campus, eating half of a muffuletta sandwich from Tony’s Seafood. The scenery and the food can’t be matched.”—Jay Shelledy, professional-in-residence at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication

90 “I love the city’s many hidden artistic gems, like the mural painted by Joseph Konert that adorns the Denicola’s showroom building and leads to [the] Gaudet Bros. studio.”—Andi Eaton, creative director and founder, Hazel & Florange, NOLA Fashion Week and Oui We Girl

91 The sense of thrilling discovery and treasured history inside Cottonwood Books.

92 “Baton Rouge is a generous community. The people here are so givingof time, talent and treasure. We look out for our neighbors in need.”—Kendall Hebert, senior director, Capital Area United Way

93 “Dorothy’s Soul Food Kitchen. It’s a great place to go when you’re missing home because the food is delicious and comforting. The fried catfish is the best I’ve ever had.”—Lainey Latiolais, state coordinator, Louisiana Solar Energy Society

94 “Mardi Gras season is the best in Baton Rouge! Krewe Mystique de la Capitale is one of my favorite events because I grew up in the Krewe when it first began in the late 1970s. My family joined at the beginning of the organization, and I was Krewe Mystique Queen in 1980 when I was a senior in high school.” Kris Cangelosi, artistic director, Cangelosi Dance Project

95 “I absolutely love Bistro Byronz. The wait staff is friendly and accommodating, the bartenders are attentive and fun, and the food is delectable. I personally love their Creole pot roast, and their king cake bread pudding during Mardi Gras season is to die for.”Kasey Emas, writer and film professional

96 “I really enjoy walking around the lakes at LSU.”—Shannon Rosche, academic counselor, LSU

97 The revitalized North Boulevard Town Square and the many cultural events it hosts like Baton Rouge Blues Fest, Red Stick Revelry and more.

98 “As a student at LSU, there’s not really a place more significant to me than the parade grounds. From tailgating on game days to naps between classes and even the stereotypically collegiate Frisbee toss, I don’t think there’s a place in the city that holds more memories for me.”—Kevin Thibodeaux, editor-in-chief, The Daily Reveille

99 “The live music here is some of the best in the country. I have been playing in bands for longer than most folks have been alive. Whenever I travel to other parts of the country to play music, the local talent always comments on how they love that Louisiana sound.'”—Peggy Polk, executive director, Project Purr BR

100 “The city has a wonderful friendly small-town feel, while at the same time growing to big city levels!”—Renee Chatelain, executive director, Manship Theatre