A Love Letter to Baton Rouge: All the Things We Miss

As my family begins its seventh week of isolation, home-centeredness, physical distancing, lockdown or whatever you want to call it, we’re all feeling itchy, missing the things we love most. Beyond missing physically seeing our family and friends, of course we miss going to school and regular activities like birthday parties, gymnastics, swim lessons and soccer, and generally having a routine that includes other people. (Also: Target, oh Target.) Many things we miss most are only available here in the greater Baton Rouge area. I’m not a native, but my husband and I are coming up on a decade living here. My kids, who are native Louisianans, helped me compile this list, and I’m sure you can think of many, many more. We’d love to read them in the comments and miss them together!

Knock Knock Children’s Museum
A Facebook friend once asked me if I’d set up a cot at Knock Knock because of how often I would post from there. My girls and I would make use of our membership and visit at least twice a month. From the big backyard to the storybook climber, my girls and I love everything about our local children’s museum and miss being able to stop by on a Friday afternoon after carpool.

East Baton Rouge Parish Library
Our favorite haunt is the Bluebonnet Regional Branch, and we’re on a first name basis with the children’s librarians there. We miss the AWE computers, bringing home stacks of books, the story times and special events. 

BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo
Just a quick drive to the north live honest-to-goodness giraffes, including the new baby Burreaux. My girls and I love riding around the zoo on the train, and they especially enjoy the playground near the children’s petting zoo. We miss laughing at the otters’ antics and walking the big loop around under the trees.

BREC’s Playgrounds
This one hits a little closer to home, as we can walk to a great neighborhood park. Seeing it wrapped in caution tape is a dagger in the heart, but we know it’s for the best and everyone’s safety. We look forward to the day of swinging, sliding and meeting up with friends for a park play date again.

Lil Bambino’s Playtorium
In Gonzales, this indoor play area is tops with my girls and the thing my four year old talked about the most when we stopped leaving the house beyond neighborhood walks. We haven’t been super recently, since it’s more of a drive for us and I make the most of it when we go. The indoor jungle gym, grocery store, blocks and LEGOs, musical instruments and book corner are magical when combined with a center seating area for me to get some work done and hit my deadlines!

Mall of Louisiana
Oh, carousel, we miss you. Not that we went to the mall often, but when we would need to take a trip to the mall we’d make the effort to take a spin. The mall play area was an easy, air conditioned, non-rainy place to be for a break. 

To list them all would be committing a crime of sorts, as I would certainly forget one of our favorites. We are blessed in the Red Stick with an abundance of delicious food options. And although we can get takeout from most any of our favorites, there’s nothing like rolling up, getting a table for four with the crayons, kids’ menus and TVs to look at (you can imagine the family-friendly restaurants we frequent!). I miss not having to do any set-up, cooking or clean-up to feed the family, and I miss not feeling a sense of tension or riskiness when picking up a to-go order. Oh, and I miss QUESO and communal bowls of chips.

Our Church
Even more than Lil Bambino’s, my younger daughter would talk about going to our church. It is such a touchpoint in our lives, routine and weeks that the abrupt stop to attending was jarring for us all, including her, maybe a close second to not being able to go to school or see her classmates. We’re engaged with our church virtually, and I’m actually involved in producing the video content for worship streaming. Being physically present with our church family might be the thing about Baton Rouge we miss most of all.

We all miss our “before” lives. I don’t know what parts we can have back and when. Of course, no one really knows. I’m not able to accurately replicate any of these beloved Baton Rouge places and experiences for my girls, although I’ve tried mightily where it makes sense for things to translate online. What are some other places you love and miss? What does your love letter to Baton Rouge look like?

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27 Apr 2020

By Mari Walker

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