When quarantine first began, my family was desperate to get outside in an area that wasn’t our backyard but still follow social distancing rules. This desperation led us to our downtown adventure. We learned that there is so much to explore, so many cool things to see and learn about near the River Center area and LSU campus in Baton Rouge. Since then, we’ve been a hand full more times and always can’t wait to go back. Each time we go, it isn’t crowded and it is all free! I highly recommend this as a family outing.
PREPPING THE ADVENTURE
What to bring?
I have young children and a baby. So, I pack up our bikes, helmets, and a stroller. I also pack a lunch, tons of water, wipes, a ball, a change of clothes, towels, and a picnic blanket.
WHERE TO GO
Pete Maravich Assembly Center
When we take this adventure, we make two stops. The first is to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus. Every time we’ve been there, we’ve been fortunate enough to park directly in front of the center, but if you can’t find a parking spot, there is an open parking lot to the right of the center. Once we are parked and suited up, we start the “hike” up the center’s ramps. My kids love to walk their bikes up the ramps and zoom down. It is such a joy to see their faces light up when they start to fly down the ramp. I got a good bit of cardio in the first time we visited because my middle little asked me to run beside her in case she fell off. And because children have endless energy, they make the climb up the ramps over and over and over.
When they are done with this stop, we visit Mike the tiger and explore that area. To make it educational, we chat fun facts with them about Mike and tigers in general. Can’t forget the selfies with the statue and Mike if he’s out (later in the day you probably won’t see much of him as it is too hot and he lies in the shade). After our goodbyes to Mike, we load back up in the car and head to our next stop.
For the next stop,
I type in Louisiana Science and Art Museum (5 minutes away from Pete Center) and park anywhere in that area. For this stop, we usually leave the bikes in the car and travel on foot. We bring the stroller and the picnic bag. If you are familiar with the area then you know that there is literally so much to see and do there! The river, city buildings, ships, the big bridge, city hall plaza, USS Kid, a dock to walk out over the water, water fountains to play, tons of grassy areas to play ball in, and more.
One of my favorite things to do is stroll down the river to the “glass mirror ball,” as my kids like to call it. It is such a peaceful walk and we love to strike a pose and take selfies in the mirror ball.
There are hills in front of City Hall that are a ton of fun to roll down, this is also where we often set up for a picnic.
Pro tip: make sure this is the last area you explore because this is also where the water fountains are and if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be soaked in no time. This is where we end the adventure and head to the car to dry off and change.
Every time we leave, everyone is worn out from exploring but also lively with excitement of all we have seen and learned.