Looking for things to do in Baton Rouge? We’ve got you!
So, you’re headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sweet! You’re in for a treat. As the capital of Louisiana, New Orleans‘ smaller sibling has tons of southern charm and a personality of its own.
With plenty of history and culture, unique nature, and, of course, southern food, what’s not to love? You’ll discover all of this and more when you visit Baton Rouge, and you’ll do it without the NOLA crowds.
Table of Contents
Things to Do in Baton Rouge
So what are the best things to do in Baton Rouge? We picked 19 options based on what we think are the most interesting activities and attractions in Baton Rouge. Of course, there are far more things to do than these 19, but our selections involve historical attractions, cultural education, and outdoor exploration.
Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center
Let’s start with a bit of nature that you won’t find anywhere else in the country. Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center stretches across 103 acres of land and is also home to a 9500-square-foot exhibition center.
Dedicated to conservation, the exhibition center houses ecology and art exhibits as well as live animals, photos, artifacts, and more. Across the rest of the nature center, you’ll find paths and boardwalks throughout the swamp.
Take your time strolling along the boardwalks to reach the various observation decks where you can see the wildlife in its natural habitat. You’ll encounter birds, snakes, turtles, armadillos, coyotes, otters, and more.
This is the perfect destination in Baton Rouge for those interested in native wildlife and environmental conservation.
Old State Capitol
Built on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the Old State Capitol is fondly nicknamed the Castle of Baton Rouge. This Gothic-style building was the seat of the Louisiana state legislature from the early 1800s up until the 1930s.
Today, the building houses the Museum of Political History. Home to artifacts, exhibitions, documents, and art, this is the place to go to learn about the political history of Louisiana.
As a bonus, it’s completely free! The building is also on the US National Register of Historic Places and is a US National Historic Landmark.
Louisiana State Capitol
And now on to the modern Louisiana State Capitol. Located downtown, visiting the seat of the current state government is one of the best things to do in Baton Rouge.
It was built in the Art Deco style in the early 1930s. Standing 450 feet tall with 34 floors, it’s the tallest capital building in the country and the tallest building in Baton Rouge.
Not only is the outside photo-worthy, but you can also book a tour of the inside to learn about how today’s government works. Just like the Old State Capitol, this is also on the US National Register of Historic Places and is a US National Historic Landmark.
Old Governor’s Mansion
Located near the Old State Capitol, the Old Governor’s Mansion served as the residence for Louisiana’s governors from 1930 to 1963. Built during Governor Huey Long’s term, it is said that he modeled the mansion after the White House. This is most evident in the columns that welcome you at the entrance.
The mansion is no longer used as a governor’s residence today. After serving its governmental duty, this building housed the Louisiana Arts and Science Center for a short time.
In the late 1970s, the mansion was reopened as a historic house museum. Today, you can book a tour of the mansion to witness the lives of luxury that Louisiana’s governors once lived.
Red Stick Farmers Market
If you want to get a taste of some of the best local food, head to Red Stick Farmers Market. The main location is on Main Street, but during peak season you’ll find pop-ups in up to seven locations around the city. This open air market is open every Thursday and Saturday and is a Baton Rouge essential.
Here, you’ll find fresh produce from local farmers as well as local meats and freshly baked bread and pastries. As you’re in the south, you’ll also be able to pick up fresh seafood, as well as cheese, homemade pickled goods, honey, and jam.
This is the perfect place to shop if you want to make a good home-cooked meal during your trip.
Explore downtown Baton Rouge
One of the best things you can do during your trip to Baton Rouge is simply to wander the streets of downtown. Situated right on the Mississippi River, you’ll find some incredible viewpoints here.
You’ll also find some incredible Cajun, Creole, and Southern food dining options downtown (more on that later). And as for nightlife, the city has plenty. One of the most popular evening activities is the Live After Five free outdoor concert series at The Crest.
If you’re visiting during the spring or the fall, you’ll have to catch one of these shows.
LSU Tiger Stadium
One of the main draws of Baton Rouge is Louisiana State University, and of course, the football team. The LSU Tiger Stadium is home to the beloved LSU Tigers. The 9th-largest stadium in the world, it has a capacity of over 100,000 spectators.
If you’re looking to get a taste of the local passion, attend a Tigers game at the stadium. It has actually been nicknamed “Death Valley” because of the nature of the games played here. First opened in 1924, the stadium now features giant HD video boards, the Jeff Boss Locker Room, and the LSU Strength and Conditioning Facility.
LSU Rural Life Museum
Situated on the 40-acre Burden plantation, the LSU Rural Life Museum consists of 30 historic buildings that are essential to Baton Rouge’s history. LSU’s mission in running the museum is to preserve what rural life was like in the Lower Mississippi Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries.
This open air museum hosts the largest collection of Louisiana architecture and historical objects in existence. You can either stroll through the grounds and discover the exhibits yourself or book a tour to learn more about its significance.
Oxbow Rum Distillery
Three Roll Estate is an award-winning distillery with a generations-long history of sugarcane farming and milling.
This distillery makes seven different spirits onsite, so be sure to try all of them when you go for a visit. You can choose from their signature Rhum Agricole, Brazilian Style, White Rum, Dark Rum, Red Stick Cinnamon, Spiced Rum, and vodka. Book a tasting of these “cane to glass” spirits during your time in Baton Rouge.
Magnolia Mound Plantation
The Magnolia Mound Plantation spans 16 acres of land near the Mississippi River. The main feature is a house built in the French Creole style in 1791. The house along with other buildings scattered across the plantation showcase the influence of early settlers from France and the West Indies.
When you step onto the grounds, you’ll be transported back in time to see how the early settlers lived. You can explore the historic house museum, former slaves’ quarters, the overseer’s house, the three-seat privy, and more. There’s also an open hearth kitchen where cooking demonstrations are occasionally held. You can choose to take a guided tour or a self-guided tour of the plantation.
Shaw Center for the Arts
Located on Lafayette Street, this arts center is home to some of the best attractions in Baton Rouge. This is a 125,000-square-foot building that serves as both a fine arts museum and a performance venue.
Inside, you’ll find the LSU Museum of Art, the LSU School of Art Glassell Gallery, and three different theatres. There are also classrooms, a few restaurants (including a rooftop sushi joint), a park, and more. The Shaw Center also regularly hosts musical performances, workshops, and other events that the whole family will love.
As you can imagine, you’ll find almost everything under the sun within this facility.
USS Kidd Veterans Museum
This Fletcher-class destroyer was originally launched in 1943 and served in many battles in the Pacific during World War II. Nicknamed the “Pirate of the Pacific”, the USS Kidd was also used during the Korean War in the 1950s.
Officially decommissioned in 1964, it now serves as a memorial for WWII veterans from the great state of Louisiana. You can explore the ship to see what life may have been like for servicemen who lived on board during combat.
Explore the Food Scene in Baton Rogue
If you’re visiting Louisiana you’ll absolutely have to try the cuisine. And Louisiana also has something other southern states don’t have: Cajun food. Jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, and more await you in Baton Rouge.
First, hit up Bistro Byronz. This cozy restaurant has small-town vibes reminiscent of Parisian cafes. Famous mostly for tartines and sandwiches, they also serve up delicious French classics such as Cassoulet or etouffee. You can go for brunch, lunch, or dinner, and they serve a variety of seafood and Creole dishes, as well.
Mason’s Grill grew from what once was a simple coffee shop into one of Baton Rouge’s most prized eateries. You can come for lunch or dinner, but Mason’s Grill really shines for their brunch.
With the country’s best Bloody Mary along with seafood versions of the classic Eggs Benedict, you’ll want to try everything on the menu. If brunch isn’t your thing, there are plenty of local Cajun dishes to try here, as well.
If you’re in the mood for tapas, head to Solera. This Spanish restaurant serves loads of tapas as well as bigger dishes like burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, and more. This is the place to go if you’re looking for something different in town.
Louisiana Art & Science Museum
One of the best things to do in Baton Rouge is to visit the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. Housed in the former railway station built in 1925, here you’ll find fine art galleries, science and history exhibits, and even a planetarium.
The Ancient Egypt exhibit is a crowd favorite, as it features ancient artifacts and even mummies. The planetarium often hosts workshops and sky shows, but also serves as a venue for music performances. This is the perfect place to visit in Baton Rouge if you’re traveling with kids.
Capitol Park Museum
Another landmark dedicated to the culture and history of Louisiana, the Capitol Park Museum is one branch of the Louisiana State Museum.
The museum contains two permanent exhibits: “Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America” and “Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation.” These exhibits educate visitors about the Civil War and the civil rights movement, including the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott of 1953.
You can also learn about the state’s main industries including sugarcane, oil, and shrimp, as well as the development of local music styles.
Things to Do in Baton Rouge – Wrap-up
There you have it: the best things to do in Baton Rouge.
Start exploring and then treat yourself to a delicious Cajun meal by the river. From rich history and culture to amazing food and outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone here. Louisiana’s capital certainly does not disappoint!
As always, happy travels everyone! We’ll see you on the road!