Downtown & Dog Friendly in Baton Rouge

Balcony view of the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge

Perfect view of the Mississippi River from our balcony

If you’re going to host the perfect party, then you need a perfect venue. That’s more easily said than done if your party includes 250 people and their dogs decked out in ball gowns and tuxedos. Fortunately for us, the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center was nothing less than that on the weekend of April 20th when we headed to town for a Fur Ball weekend.

Check-In

Check-in at the Hilton is at 3:00 p.m. (check-out is at noon, God love ’em!) and we arrived around 4:00 p.m. Since all our weekend adventures included places we could walk, I pulled up to valet and handed over my keys. With several attendants available, it wasn’t long  before the friendly staff had me unloaded onto a cart and I was watching my car disappear.

Rest A While Park in Baton Rouge

Potty area at Rest A While Park

Before heading to our room, I inquired about a potty area. The Hilton takes up a block on Lafayette between Florida and Convention Streets and the potty area at Rest A While Park is on the corner of Convention and Layfayette. You’ll have to cross Convention to get to the small green space but it isn’t too inconvenient, and at night it is well lit enough that I felt safe taking Henri there alone.

The only unpleasantry is that what should be a downtown oasis with beautifully matured Live Oaks providing shaded seating is in desperate need of a poop pick up. The park is not Hilton property, so I’m not blaming them, but whoever you people are who aren’t picking up after your dogs…YOU’RE THE REASON WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!

After our potty trip we met the valet at the elevator and followed him to our room. For our two night stay in Baton Rouge, the Hilton graciously comp’ed us a king room with a balcony over-looking the Mississippi. This made it really difficult to do our tourist duty, because after 7 hours in the car all I wanted to do was sit on that balcony and watch barges as the sun set over the water.

Friday Night

We had a little over an hour to kill before meeting my girlfriend downtown for Live After Five. That means Henri got to nap while Mommy washed off road dirt and got ready. I did at least grab a cocktail from the Kingfish Lounge in the hotel lobby and take advantage of my balcony view while sipping it.

 

Live After Five in Baton rouge

A little too live for dogs

Live After Five is a weekly concert series presented by the Downtown Business Association. It includes a stage with live music, as well as food and drink vendors, and it is FREE. No one told us we couldn’t be there with a dog, but I’m not sure I’d call it “dog-friendly.” Frankly, it was a little too live for us and we didn’t stay long.

We opted instead to find a nice restaurant with outdoor seating where we could avoid the crowd and the noise. We didn’t have to look far, as Capital City Grill is only about a block from the Hilton and it was on our route.

Metal tables and chairs sit just outside the front door of the restaurant on the plaza of the Manship Theater. Light jazz played on their speakers, but the pleasantness of that was mostly drowned out by the music echoing from Live. Good company, a bottle of wine, and a chance to catch up with one of my besties while Henri relaxed made up for that.

Since Henri had turned down food at breakfast that morning and dinner the night before, I decided he was due for something more tempting than his usual fare. I was pleased to discover a plain grilled chicken breast served with rice and a veggie of the day, which turned out to be broccoli. I placed a togo order for the chicken so it would come in a box and not on a restaurant plate, then ordered the Mahi Corn Maque Chow for myself. Based on how quickly Henri emptied his box, I’m fairly certain his chicken was as good as my fish. Mine might have been better.

With full bellies, we wandered back to our hotel and went to our room to take advantage of the warm night air and our quiet balcony. After another hour(ish) of girl gossip, it was lights out. I selected my breakfast from the room service menu and hung the tag on the door with a note that said “Dog in room. He will bark but he is nice.”

Saturday Shennanigans

Had I known what a good night’s sleep I’d get or how early I’d be awake, I’d have scheduled my breakfast to come a little earlier. I only had one package of caffinated coffee in my room and I was finished with it long before my breakfast arrived. The good news is the delay gave me time to take Henri to potty and realize his tummy was still upset. So when we returned to the room, I called room service to add an order of plain scrambled eggs to my breakfast. Yes, it was for Henri.

You may call him spoiled, but I say he’s well-kept.

Since Saturday night was the BIG night and the reason we’d come to Baton Rouge, I’d planned to take it easy Saturday morning. A trip to the farmer’s market followed by lunch was all we had planned. We took the elevator to the lobby and noticed that Fur Ball set-up was in full swing. We met our table hostess and tireless volunteer, Elizabeth, and Henri scored one of the highly coveted signature bow ties. If I’d known then, what I know now, I’d have taken a sneak-peak into the ballroom to check out those table decorations before the ceiling lights went out and the event lights came on!

Daytime Downtown

St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Baton Rouge

St. Joseph Cathedral built in 1853

When doing my research for this trip the one thing I couldn’t quite figure out was the farmer’s market situation. It appeared there were two markets in Baton Rouge, one dog-friendly and one not, but I never could quite nail down which was which or where they were. One was within walking distance of our hotel, so we just decided to head there. Much to our dismay Red Stick Farmer’s Market is NOT dog-friendly. Additionally, there aren’t two markets, just the one and it moves from place to place. No dogs at the farmer’s market left us with time to kill so we got all touristy.

Downtown Baton Rouge was shockingly deserted compared to Friday night and my Saturday morning expectations. The streets were quiet and there was little traffic. Our first stop was St. Joseph Cathedral, a white, Gothic Revival church with strikingly beautiful red doors marking the locked entrance. I mean, I wasn’t gonna go to confession, but I might have lit a candle, and I would have loved to have seen the inside of that historic building.

With not much else to do or see, we wandered back to our hotel to discover a whole bunch of stuff going on! Military officers everywhere indicated some sort of convention or incident, and musicians setting up in the lobby bar provided even more activity. I soon discovered our hotel was indeed playing host to a military officers convention, in addition to being one of the local music venues for the 3rd Street Songwriters Festival. I located a festival schedule that revealed music would be starting in our lobby at 1. I could not have felt more lucky.

Songwriters Festival

Songwriters in the Hilton Baton Rouge lobby

Songwriters in our lobby

The 3rd Street Songwriters Festival is an annual event featuring local, regional, and national songwriters. Songwriters get a chance to have their original compositions critiqued by a professional panel, as well as participate in traditional Nashville-style rounds at venues along 3rd Street. Our dog-friendly lobby bar, with a lunch menu featuring selections from the Kingfish Grill, was the perfect setting for a relaxed and casual afternoon. I suggest you try the Louisiana Chicken Sandwich. It was more than enough for me, and after scraping off the fire roasted peppers, onions, and BBQ sauce, I let Henri have the rest.

Riverfront Plaza

Fletcher-class destroyer USS Kidd

USS Kid, The Pirate of the Pacific

We enjoyed about an hour and a half of music before Henri’s gas alerted me that he might need a potty break. At the very least, he didn’t need to continue laying beneath the table offending others. We walked over to the Rest A While, but he didn’t go; it was hard to blame him. I don’t like to use public restrooms when the toilet hasn’t been flushed. I thought if we did a bit more walking he might find a suitable location, so we headed toward the Riverfront Plaza walkway.

The walkway meanders along the Mississippi River levee and from where we were we could see our hotel and our little balcony. We strolled the brick-lined sidewalk to the observation deck overlooking the river and then paused in front of the USS Kid for a photo op. As Henri’s tongue began to hang further and turn pinker, I decided a return to our room and a nap before the evening’s festivities might benefit us both.

Fur Ball

Next up on our schedule was the Fur Ball, an elaborate and fabulously organized formal event where your dog can be your date. Our hotel was the party venue and what a party it was! If you’ve never been to a tailgate, a crawfish boil, Mardi Gras, or St. Patrick’s Day in Baton rouge, then I’m not sure I can adequately describe these people to you. They are next level party professionals and they know how to have a good time. 

I’ll be telling you more about the Fur Ball and Companion Animal Alliance, the non-profit it supports, in my next post. Until then, be sure to check out photos from all our adventures on Instagram and follow us on Facebook. You never know when we’ll head back to Baton Rouge or at least stop there on our way to somewhere else.

Booking with Hilton

If you’re headed to Baton Rouge, we hope you’ll consider booking your pet-friendly stay at the Hilton. They comp’ed us our room but they didn’t pay us to say they were awesome. With all the things going on at the hotel that weekend, it would have been easy to over-look a girl and her dog. Yet, somehow, every time we exited the elevator someone at the desk said hello and on several occasions offered Henri a cookie from the treat jar.

If booking your stay with Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, here are the highlights from their 16 point Pet Agreement:

  • Pets must be domesticated dogs or cats weighing no more than 75 lbs.
  • No more than 2 pets per room
  • A $50.00 non-refundable, per stay service fee will be charged to your final bill
  • Pets may be left unattended in your guest room but the “Pet Friendly Room” door hanger must be placed on the door and the front desk notified of your absence

Tell them Travel Tails sent you and PICK UP YOUR POOP!

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