15 Things to Do in Baton Rouge

Situated in East Baton Rouge Parish, Baton Rouge is the capital and second-largest city in Louisiana. With a population of over 220,000 residents, it serves as a bustling center of commerce, education, and government.

Beyond its boundaries, Baton Rouge is surrounded by other prominent cities that contribute to the region’s allure. New Orleans, with its iconic French Quarter and vibrant music scene, lies about 80 miles southeast, offering an enticing day trip opportunity. The culturally rich city of Lafayette, known for its Cajun and Zydeco music, is located approximately 55 miles west of Baton Rouge.

The city’s name, French for “Red Stick,” originates from a red cypress pole adorned with animal bones that marked the boundary between Native American hunting grounds. This historical significance is just one of the many layers that make Baton Rouge a captivating destination.

Baton Rouge is renowned for its rich history, particularly its pivotal role in the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. The Old State Capitol, a magnificent Gothic-style building perched on a bluff overlooking the river, stands as a reminder of the city’s storied past.

However, you might know Baton Rouge only as the home of Louisiana State University (LSU), which gives it a vibrant college town atmosphere, but the city has lots of history attached to it.

Join me as I embarked on a 3-day journey through this captivating city, discovering its iconic attractions, indulging in its culinary delights, and uncovering the stories that have shaped its unique identity. So get ready to fall in love with Baton Rouge!

1. Louisiana State Capitol

Louisiana State Capitol

As I stepped foot in Baton Rouge, the vibrant Louisiana State Capitol stood tall before me, exuding a sense of grandeur. Intrigued by its majestic presence, I couldn’t resist beginning my adventure with a visit to this historic landmark.

With an impressive height of 450 feet from its base to the top of the ornate tower, the construction began in 1930 and it was completed just in 14 months!

The construction of the Louisiana State Capitol was initiated under the leadership of former Louisiana governor and senator, Huey P. Long. He envisioned a grand capitol building that would symbolize the power and progress of the state.

While visiting, make sure you do not miss standing on the observation deck. You can marvel at the panoramic views of the city and the mighty Mississippi River flowing gracefully alongside and the good part is that is free!

TIP: The observation deck is open 7 days a week, however only from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Address: 900 N 3rd St, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, United States.

2. USS Kidd Veterans Museum

USS Kidd Veterans Museum

During the same day, I made my way to the USS Kidd Veterans Museum. Exploring the impressive World War II destroyer, I couldn’t help but imagine the bravery and sacrifices of those who served aboard this vessel.

The USS Kidd (DD-661) was launched on February 28, 1943, and played a crucial role in various naval operations during World War II. It served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, participating in significant battles such as the Battle of the Philippines, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and the Battle of Okinawa. After the war, the ship was reactivated for the Korean War.

Climbing aboard, you can admire the architecture and gain a newfound respect for the men and women who fought for our freedom.

Address: 305 South River Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, United States.

3. LSU Rural Life Museum

Interested in knowing more about Louisiana’s rural heritage and culture, I headed to the LSU Rural Life Museum.

The museum spans over 30 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, so make sure you allocate at least 2 hours for your visit here.

The museum features an extensive collection of historic buildings, artifacts, and exhibits. As you explore the outdoor museum, you’ll encounter various structures such as homes, barns, a church, a schoolhouse, a general store, and more.

Address: 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, United States.

4. Dinner at a Cajun Restaurant

Cajun traditional food Louisiana

Ok, so if you come to Baton Rouge make sure you stop at a Cajun restaurant. Dining and trying Cajun food is a must-try experience everyone talks about. I personally recommend Bellue’s Fine Cajun Cuisine, this might not look fancy but it will be the best Cajun food you have ever tried.

Here you can indulge in a rich variety of dishes that showcase the unique flavors and culinary traditions of Louisiana and some of these are gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys (iconic Louisiana sandwiches served on French bread), or crawfish étouffée.

5. Louisiana Art and Science Museum

The museum boasts a notable collection of fine art, showcasing works from various periods and styles. From classical to contemporary art, visitors can explore paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and photography that highlight the creativity and talent of Louisiana artists and beyond.

The museum’s notable highlight for me was the Ancient Egypt Gallery. This captivating exhibit showcases authentic artifacts from ancient Egyptian civilization, including mummies, sarcophagi, and intricate religious and funerary objects.

Address: 100 South River Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, United States.

6. Baton Rouge Zoo

In the afternoon, I ventured into the Baton Rouge Zoo, a haven for animal lovers like myself. I think this was my favorite place I visited. Zoo always reminds me of the days I was a kid going with my parents, glancing for hours at all the animals.

As I meandered through the well-maintained paths, I encountered a diverse array of captivating creatures from around the globe. Watching a majestic tiger up close and sharing a moment with a playful monkey brought a sense of wonder and joy to my heart.

Address: 3601 Thomas Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70807, United States.

7. Old State Capitol

Old State Capitol

Maybe you are wondering why there are two state capitols in one city. I was confused too so I will try my best to explain it.

While the Old State Capitol once functioned as the seat of government, the current State Capitol, constructed in 1930, took over that role. The newer State Capitol, located nearby, is a towering skyscraper and serves as the official seat of the Louisiana state government.

The Old State Capitol holds symbolic value as a reminder of the state’s history and resilience. It has withstood challenges, including destruction by fire in 1862, and has been restored to its former glory, becoming an enduring symbol of Louisiana’s heritage and democratic governance.

There is no admission charge to tour Louisiana’s Old State Capitol and they also provide complimentary audio guides.

TIP: Make sure you reserve your tour spot in advance at least one week before your visit.

8. Sunset Riverboat Cruise

End your second day with a scenic sunset riverboat cruise along the Mississippi River. The cruises are usually scheduled in the late afternoon or early evening to capture the mesmerizing colors of the setting sun.

The duration of the cruise varies, typically lasting between 1.5 to 2 hours, allowing ample time to enjoy the picturesque views and onboard amenities.

9. Magnolia Mound Plantation

On my final day in Baton Rouge, I yearned for a glimpse into the region’s plantation past. Magnolia Mound Plantation beckoned me with its graceful charm and rich heritage.

The beautifully landscaped gardens provide a tranquil setting to reflect on the stories of those who lived here and appreciate the preservation of history. Magnolia Mound Plantation is a prime example of the French Creole architectural style that flourished in the region during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The main house, built in 1791, showcases a blend of French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences. It features high-raised galleries, exposed cypress beams, steeply pitched roofs, and hand-carved details, all contributing to its unique charm

Address: 2161 Nicholson Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, United States.

10. Louisiana State Museum

Louisiana State Museum
Image source: archdaily.com

Continuing my journey through Baton Rouge’s cultural tapestry, I had one more museum on my list and that was the Louisiana State Museum. From the artistic expressions of its people to the artifacts that narrated tales of triumph and struggle.

The museum was established in 1906 and is part of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history, art, and culture of Louisiana.

Address: 660 N 4th St, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, United States

11. Baton Rouge Gallery

To satisfy my appetite for local art, I made my way to the Baton Rouge Gallery—an artist-owned cooperative that showcased the talents of the region’s creative souls.

Here you can wander freely as much as you want through the eclectic exhibits. The passion and vision of the artists can be felt through their works telling stories that transcended words.

12. Southern Food Tour

While specific tour offerings may vary, some popular Southern foods you can expect to taste on a food tour in Baton Rouge are jambalaya, gumbo, po’boys, and many more. These are all classic Louisiana dishes you should definitely try during your visit.

13. Louisiana State University Campus

Students at the university

The LSU campus is situated on a sprawling 2,000-acre plot along the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. The main entrance to the campus is located at Dalrymple Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.

Taking a walk around the picturesque lakes it was so peaceful. I also visited the LSU Museum of Art but unfortunately, I did not have enough time to catch a game at the iconic Tiger Stadium.

Address: Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA

14. Louisiana’s Old State Capitol Ghost Tour

Next on my list was the Old State Capitol. Its Gothic architecture transported me to another era, where I delved into Louisiana’s political past. The Old State Capitol is a historic Gothic-style building that served as the state’s capitol from 1849 to 1932.

The story of the tour revolved around former politicians, tragic events, and the building’s unique architecture.

Stepping out onto the observation deck, the sun began its descent, casting a golden glow over the Mississippi River—a sight I’ll cherish forever.

15. Live Music at a Baton Rouge Venue

As the sun began to set on my Baton Rouge adventure, I sought solace in the soulful melodies that filled the air at Red Dragon Listening Room. The rhythmic beats and melodic tunes enveloped me, leaving me with an indelible memory of the vibrant music scene that thrived in this city.

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