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Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Family Vacation Ideas – Bayou Adventures, and Zulu Patrol. 135LABRGlobalWildlifeGiraffe Imagine a family vacation spot with sunshine and Southern hospitality, Zydeco, Blues and Cajun music plus cafe au lait, and etouffe. A spot where having fun is easy and days include spotting alligators, counting turtles, living history, water rides and sky watching; nights include music, theatre, delicious menus and maybe a fais do do.

You are imagining Baton Rouge - a place where it is easy to create your own Cajun family vacation and share joie de vivre (zhwah duh viv-re) with your kids. We have assembled a list of the absolute best options for families. You are on your own for ice cream and beignets.

Connect with creatures in the wild. The Global Wildlife Center located in Folsom conducts educational and entertaining safari tours well-suited for parents who wish to have fun sharing an animal conservation experience with their children. Guides share the importance of life and conservation of natural resources while providing oodles of anecdotes about the residents. Passengers learn using all senses including touch, as they feed animals from all over the world. The Center is the largest free-roaming wildlife preserve in the country – the 900 acre reserve is home to more than 3,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from all around the world. A standard tour of the reserve in covered wagons takes roughly an hour and a half and there are several opportunities to feed and interact with the animals. Take your camera. Bonus points: A new baby girl giraffe was born December 30, 2008 and the staff is asking for suggestions on a name. Checkout the slideshow of the baby giraffe at the website.

Go on Zula Patrol. Louisiana Arts and Science Museum is the spot to join the 21st century’s newest space team - Stalwart Captain Bula, brainiac Professor Multo, feisty hot-doggin’ space pilot Zeeter, the amazing space pet Gorga, and twin flying companions Wizzy & Wigg set to take young visitors (and young- at-heart adults) on an entertaining ride across the Universe while spouting facts about science and astronomy. The LASM has something to inspire everyone, from art exhibitions and workshops to hands-on science exhibits and treasures from eastern Egypt. Discovery Depot is a creative, interactive area that teaches basic art concepts while another area of the museum, Science Station Gallery & Lab, demonstrates scientific concepts. The planetarium shows make the night sky and distant galaxies come alive. Bonus points: For a surreal sensory experience take in one of the high energy multimedia light shows complete with surround sound and music. Pink Floyd has never sounded so good.

Cast your vote. Standing on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River is Louisiana’s Old State Capital, one of the state’s greatest Gothic architectural structures. The building is now the Museum of Political History. Rewarding for kids as well as adults, the facility features many interactive exhibits and hands-on activities designed to teach children voting process, Louisiana history and heritage. Bonus points: The museum offers a special tour book for children: “Check out the OSC.” Need to know: Children six years of age and younger are admitted free of charge.

Get a key to the zoo. 135LABRZooTigerMore than 1800 animals reside at beautiful Baton Rouge Zoo. The zoo is divided into many different zones: The Otter Pond features a replicated fishing cabin with underwater viewing of the otters, while L’aquarium de Louisiane features the fish, reptile and amphibians of Louisiana, rare and colorful birds from the tropics can be found in “Parrot Paradise”. The zoo also has a live animal show with Asian elephants, and a narrated tour of the zoo on the White Tiger Tram or ride the Cypress Bayou Railroad. The zoo even has specific zone for youngsters – the Safari Playground and the KidsZoo where kids can have hands-on encounters with farm animals. Arrange to sleepover at the zoo. Need to know: To add to the enjoyment of your day at the zoo make sure to purchase a ZooKey® - the key to 15 audio-interactive stations throughout the Zoo. Each ZooKey® unlocks a relevant “Jungle Jingle” and exciting animal facts. Bonus points: Now families with children ages five and older can spend a wild night at the Zoo on selected nights throughout the year. The cost is $25 per person.

Remember using a hoe? Maybe not, but The LSU Rural Life Museum docents demonstrate rural life and make it look easy. The museum is divided into three sections: The Louisiana Folk Architecture features seven buildings showing divergent construction traits and cultural influences of Louisiana settlers. The second section, entitled the Barn, displays hundreds of artifacts associated with everyday rural life from prehistoric times up to the early 20th century. The third section, the Working Plantation, features a complex of buildings which have been authentically furnished to reconstruct all the major activities of daily life on a typical 19th century working plantation. Bonus points: Annual events created for children are held in October and December featuring living history demonstrations, storytelling, music, food and fun.

Have twice as much fun. Dixie Landin’ Amusement Park is fun at its best. There are twenty-six rides, ten games, retail shopping, and of course fair food. The special Kiddie Section of the park features small-scale rides for the young ones including: “The Delta Crop Dusters,” “Gasoline Alley” and the spectacular “Grand Carousel.” Several of the rides at the park are designed to be enjoyed as a family – the Iron Horse Train travels over ½ a mile around the park perimeter, while the “Gilbeau Galaxi” is a family roller coaster and both the “Giant Wheel” and the “Grand Carousel” are meant to be enjoyed by everyone. 135LABRBlueBayouSidewinderNeed to know: Partnered with Dixie Landin’ is the Blue Bayou Waterpark (open for the summer season), offering families a way to stay cool while having fun. Blue Bayou is home to Hurricane Bay with ongoing three to four foot wave action. You will also find the world's largest Racer Slide, world's largest Tornado Slide, the world’s largest Dark Behemothbowl Slide and Conja' the world's largest inline water slide. Bonus points: Tickets for Dixie Landin’ and Blue Bayou give visitors two great parks for the price of just one.

Explore small town history. Sharing living history with your kids is always rewarding and Zachary Historic Village makes the sharing easy with three 1900-era homes. Miss Sis’ Magic House makes connection with early school days. The Victorian McHugh House showcases the richness of an earlier time. And the Allison Farm House where docents demonstrate daily life in early 20th century Zachary. Bonus points: Recently The Village has expanded to include the Barn and a Native American settlement with lots of hands-on activities for children and adults. Need to know: Alongside the historic buildings there is a picturesque nature trail – great for burning energy.

Experience the magic of dolls. Fall under the spell of the unique architecture and clever exhibits of The Enchanted Mansion. The collection spans from antique to contemporary dolls all featured in realistic settings including the White House scene with the presidents. Other dolls of history include Mark Twain. The museum features a walk-through Victorian doll house filled with many beautiful and rare antique dolls. This is the spot for anyone who loves dolls and doll furnishings. Need to know: This remarkable collection is displayed behind glass but the gift shop plenty of tactile enjoyment ready for purchase. Bonus points: Each Thursday afternoon complimentary tea is served to museum guests and everyday children are admitted at half price.

Cruise the bayou and count gators. 135LABRAlligatorBayouOne of the highlights of travel to Louisiana is exploring the majestic wonder of the Louisiana bayou. Alligator Bayou, located only 15 minutes from Baton Rouge, offers families tours of the wild and beautiful wilderness of the Spanish Lake Basin, home to alligators, birds, cultural history and the Cajun joie de vivre. Cajun culture has thrived in and around the swamps, bayous and lakes of Louisiana for almost 300 years. Alligator Bayou invites families to laugh and learn during their entertaining eco-swamp tour. Bonus points: For an up-close look at the native gators check out the Alligator Bayou 15-acre eco-habitat, the spot to see a gator show and watch the giant alligator snapping turtles in the freshwater pond. Need to know: To extend the experience, stay overnight in one of Alligator Bayou’s one-of-a-kind Cajun cottages.

Make it happen. Sharing a sense of place can’t be beat when it comes to making memories and Baton Rouge is authentic Louisiana. Create your own Cajun family vacation and share joie de vivre (zhwah duh viv-re) with your kids. 

Planning Details
Louisiana Arts and Science Center. 100 South River Road, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802. (225) 344-5242 or www.lasm.org.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol. 100 North Boulevard at River Road, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70801. (225) 342-0500 or www.sos.louisiana.gov.
LSU Rural Life Museum. 4650 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70809. (225) 765-2437 or http://rurallife.lsu.edu.
Blue Bayou Waterpark & Dixie Landin’ Amusement Park. 1942 Perkins Road, 1842 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70810. (225) 753-3333 or www.bluebayou.com.
Zachary Historic Village. 4524 Virginia Street, Zachary, Louisiana 70791. 1(226) 654-1912 or www.zachary.la.nww.net/historical.
The Enchanted Mansion, A Doll Museum. 190 Lee Drive, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70808. (225) 769-0005 or www.enchantedmansion.org.
Global Wildlife Center. 26389 Highway 40, Folsom, Louisiana 70437. (504) 624-WILD or www.globalwildlife.com.
Baton Rouge Zoo. 3601 Thomas Road, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70807. (225) 642-8297 or www.brzoo.org.
Alligator Bayou Swamp Tours. 3509 Alligator Bayou Road, Prairieville, Louisiana 70769. 1(225) 642-8297 or www.alligatorbayou.com.
 
Content researched and created by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for theFamilyTravelFiles.com with images provided Global Wildlife Center, BlueBayou Water Park, and Baton Rouge Tourism. Updated copyright 2014.
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