We’re all familiar with cities like Austin, Texas, which is known for being one of the most vibrant spots for young people in the United States. It also happens to be the state capital of Texas, which makes it an even more powerful economic engine for the state, and the Southwest in general. However, there are other, more underrated capital cities in the country. In fact, there are 50 states and 50 capitals, and several of them have been overlooked. That’s fine for locals who want to keep their towns a secret, but it means the rest of us miss out on some great places to live and work.
Lansing, Michigan is about 90 miles west of Detroit, making it the biggest city in the state. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of about 114,000, although that’s projected to have grown a bit since then. Right now, it’s the fifth-biggest city in the Wolverine State, although Lansing residents might prefer the alternative nickname of the Great Lake State. That’s because Michigan State University is located directly east of Lansing in, well, East Lansing, and the Spartans have a fierce in-state rivalry with the University of Michigan Wolverines, which are in Ann Arbor. Visitors to Lansing, MI and the Greater Lansing Area can do much more than just check out a great public university, though. They can visit the Impression 5 Science Center, or learn about the history of the state at the Michigan Historical Museum. Outsiders may not think of Michigan as having a great craft beer scene, but Lansing is home to a surprisingly high number of wineries, breweries, and distilleries, many of which offer tasting rooms for thirsty tourists. Lansing is proud of its connection to East Lansing and MSU, but it’s not defined solely by that, or by its status as a capital city. The best kind of capital city is diverse, interesting, and welcoming to newcomers, while also being proud of its unique history.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New Orleans gets a lot of attention in Louisiana. However, don’t overlook Baton Rouge, which is located about 80 miles away, via a trip on Interstate 10 West. The city’s name translates to “red pole.” With a population of well over 200,000 souls, Baton Rouge is the second-biggest city in the Pelican State. The largest public university in the state, Louisiana State University, is in Baton Rouge, so you may run into one of the school’s 30,000-plus students during your time there. The petrochemical industry is vital to the Baton Rouge economy. The Baton Rouge Refinery that’s run by Exxon Mobil is one of the largest in the country, and the company recently announced that it’s considering an expansion that could further boost its capacity.
If you hear someone shout, “Geaux Tigers!” while you’re in Baton Rouge, that just means they’re expressing support for the Tigers in a way that only LSU fans can. If you feel like joining the bandwagon, check out one of the local LSU fan shops in Baton Rouge, LA. LSU is located in the Southeastern Athletic Conference, home to some of the most intense rivalries and fandoms in the country. It’s just another thing that makes Baton Rouge a uniquely fun place to visit.