*In-state, two semesters' tuition and required fees. Source: U.S. News Best Colleges 2012.
Founded in 1860, the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy near Pineville, La., burned in 1869, resumed classes in Baton Rouge and took the name Louisiana State University in 1870. LSU merged with Louisiana State Agricultural & Mechanical College in 1877.
Town: Baton Rouge (pop. 229,553)
Nickname: Tigers, derived from a Civil War infantry company, the “Louisiana Tigers”
Colors: Purple and gold
Traditions: The intentional misspelling “Geaux Tigers” on banners and T-shirts is a nod to the Cajun French history of the Bayou Bengals, a nickname applied by national sportscasters.
Tailgating food is art in Baton Rouge, where a typical menu includes shrimp creole, fried gator and boudin sausage.
Eats and treats: Parrain’s serves only Gulf Coast seafood in the mid-city district. The shrimp burger at Mason’s Grill was featured in Food Network Magazine. Near campus, The Chimes features an extensive beer menu, po’boy sandwiches and more.
Places and spaces: Mike’s $4 million habitat and statue next to Tiger Stadium are two of the most photographed campus icons. The LSU Memorial Tower, or the campanile — Italian for little bell — is on the grassy expanse known as the Parade Ground.