Best Things To Do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 12 Top Attractions

by Jen
Best Things to Do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Are you planning a trip to the heart of Louisiana? Baton Rouge, the state’s capital, is a treasure trove of unique experiences, vibrant culture, and rich history. This city, nestled on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, is a must-visit destination for any traveler seeking a taste of the true South. Here are some of the most interesting, picturesque, and unique things to do in Baton Rouge. These sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Baton Rouge is renowned for its dynamic music scene, mouthwatering Creole and Cajun cuisine, and iconic landmarks. As far as the best things to do in Baton Rouge go, there is just so much this city can offer. It’s a city where history meets modernity, where the charm of the old South blends seamlessly with a lively and contemporary vibe. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an outdoor enthusiast, or a music lover, Baton Rouge has something to offer you.

From the grandeur of the Old State Capitol to the bustling local farmers’ markets, from the lively festivals to the tranquil parks, there’s no shortage of things to do and places to visit in Baton Rouge. To help you navigate this vibrant city, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to visit and experiences to have in Baton Rouge. So, get ready to immerse yourself in the unique rhythm of Louisiana’s capital city. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Baton Rouge.

The top places to visit in Baton Rouge, Louisiana right now
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Best Places to Visit in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Ready for a deep dive into all the coolest things to do in Baton Rouge? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this underrated tourist destination. So keep reading to discover all these unique Baton Rouge places to visit.

Are you looking to immerse yourself in arts and science? Or do you like to feel like being transported back in time as you gaze at historical architectures and cultural sites? Or perhaps you prefer a relaxing getaway in nature? Whatever you’re planning, these must sees in Baton Rouge can satisfy your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that you should know about.

1. Baton Rouge Zoo

For a unique experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in Baton Rouge. Animal enthusiasts, prepare to be amazed! Baton Rouge Zoo, opened to the public in 1870, is a haven for wildlife and a champion of conservation efforts. From the unique tapirs and bongos to the classic zoo superstars like tigers and rhinos, you’ll encounter creatures from every corner of the globe.

For an added thrill, sign up for Safari Night, a sleepover that transports you to the African Savannah, where the roars and chirps will lull you to sleep. The zoo is also sensory-inclusive, with designated quiet areas and sensory kits, ensuring a comfortable experience for all visitors.

Whether you’re a seasoned wildlife lover or a curious newbie, Baton Rouge Zoo offers a captivating glimpse into the animal kingdom that’s sure to leave you in awe. So, get ready to embark on a wild adventure that will make your Baton Rouge trip truly unforgettable. Is this one of the unique things to do in Baton Rouge? You bet!

Baton Rouge Zoo showcases a diverse collection of wildlife and championing conservation efforts since 1870.
Baton Rouge Zoo showcases a diverse collection of wildlife and championing conservation efforts since 1870.

2. Visit the Magnolia Mound Plantation

Experience Louisiana in style at this unique place to visit in Baton Rouge. Step back in time and experience the grandeur of the Old South at the Magnolia Mound Plantation. This historic gem, nestled in the heart of Baton Rouge, is a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage. The plantation house, built in 1791, is a stunning example of French Creole architecture, with its wide porches, steep roofs, and beautiful gardens.

As you explore the property, you’ll get a glimpse of what life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries. The plantation includes several original and replica buildings, including the main house, a kitchen, and a carriage house, all restored to their 19th-century appearance. A visit to the slave cabin offers a sobering reminder of the plantation’s history.

The Magnolia Mound Plantation is more than just a historical site; it’s a living museum that offers a wealth of educational opportunities. From guided tours to interactive exhibits, there’s plenty to engage visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, a visit to the Magnolia Mound Plantation is one of the best Baton Rouge things to do.

Magnolia Mound Plantation is a living museum with interactive exhibits for history enthusiasts and cultural explorers.
Magnolia Mound Plantation is a living museum with interactive exhibits for history enthusiasts and cultural explorers.

3. Explore the Louisiana State Capitol

Attractions in Baton Rouge come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is among the best! A trip to Baton Rouge would be incomplete without a visit to the Louisiana State Capitol, the tallest state capitol building in the United States. This 34-story, 450-foot Art Deco skyscraper is not just a place of governance, but also a symbol of Louisiana’s history and resilience.

The capitol grounds are a sight to behold, with beautifully manicured gardens and a statue of Huey Long, the governor who commissioned the building. Inside, you’ll find stunning murals depicting Louisiana’s history, a breathtaking Memorial Hall, and a legislative chamber that harks back to the state’s past.

Take the elevator to the 27th floor for an observation deck that offers panoramic views of Baton Rouge and the Mississippi River. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the horizon, a sight that’s sure to leave you in awe.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply a curious traveler, the Louisiana State Capitol is a must-visit. Its grandeur and historical significance make visiting it one of the coolest things to do in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest state capitol building in the US, symbolizing the state's history and resilience.
Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest state capitol building in the US, symbolizing the state’s history and resilience.

4. Magnolia Mound Plantation

A visit to Baton Rouge would be incomplete without a trip to the USS Kidd.

Anchored in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge, this is a must-visit attraction for history enthusiasts. Known as the “Pirate of the Pacific,” this Fletcher-class destroyer is a memorial to honor the men and women of the American armed forces.

Visitors can explore the ship’s deck, view the onboard exhibits, and get a firsthand look at life aboard a World War II naval vessel. The adjacent museum houses a variety of military artifacts, including aircraft and submarine models. Visiting the USS Kidd offers a unique and educational experience. This makes it one of the best things to do in Baton Rouge.

Don't miss the USS Kidd as one of the top things to do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Don’t miss the USS Kidd as one of the top things to do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

5. Louisiana’s Old State Capitol

Looking to visit one of the coolest places in Baton Rouge? Add this to your bucket list! Perched on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, Louisiana’s Old State Capitol is a must-visit for history buffs. This Gothic Revival architectural marvel, often referred to as the ‘Castle of Baton Rouge’, served as the state’s capitol from the mid-19th century until the new capitol building was constructed in the 1930s.

Today, it houses a political history museum, featuring interactive exhibits that delve into the state’s colorful political history. Don’t miss the stunning stained-glass dome and the spiral staircase, which are sure to leave you spellbound. The building’s dramatic architecture and fascinating exhibits make it a standout among Baton Rouge’s attractions.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or an architecture aficionado, Louisiana’s Old State Capitol is sure to captivate you. There’s so much to at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, that it’s no wonder this is among the best things to do in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana's Old State Capitol: A Gothic Revival marvel overlooking the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol: A Gothic Revival marvel overlooking the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.

6. Louisiana Arts & Science Museum

Looking for what to do in Baton Rouge? Look no further than the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum. Immerse yourself in a world where art and science converge at the Louisiana Arts & Science Museum. Housed in a beautifully renovated Art Deco railroad station, this museum offers an impressive collection of exhibits that cater to both the left and right sides of the brain.

From the breathtaking images of the cosmos captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in the Solar System Gallery to the historical narratives of the Louisiana Purchase and the vibrant history of Mardi Gras, the museum’s exhibits are as diverse as they are engaging. The museum also boasts a massive IMAX theater, where you can catch documentaries and educational movies that will expand your horizons.

The Louisiana Arts & Science Museum is ever-evolving, with new exhibits being added regularly, ensuring that there’s always something fresh to discover. Whether you’re a science enthusiast, an art lover, or simply curious, this museum offers a well-rounded cultural experience that shouldn’t be missed when visiting Baton Rouge.

Don’t forget to step outside and enjoy the museum’s rooftop garden. With sweeping views of the river and downtown Baton Rouge, it’s the perfect spot to reflect on the wonders of art and science. As one of the top Baton Rouge attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.

Louisiana Arts & Science Museum is a captivating blend of art and science
Louisiana Arts & Science Museum is a captivating blend of art and science.

7. Poor Boy Lloyd’s

As far as things to do in Baton Rouge go, this activity is among the coolest! For a taste of Baton Rouge’s culinary scene, make your way to Poor Boy Lloyd’s. This local institution has been serving up the city’s most beloved po’boys since 1967. The restaurant’s no-frills atmosphere is part of its charm, allowing the food to take center stage.

From the classic roast beef and shrimp po’boys to the more adventurous alligator sausage po’boy, each sandwich is a testament to the rich flavors of Louisiana. The menu also features other Creole and Cajun specialties, such as gumbo, stuffed crab, and jambalaya, ensuring a satisfying meal for every palate.

Poor Boy Lloyd’s is more than just a restaurant; it’s a piece of Baton Rouge’s history. In fact, it’s so well-regarded that it even hosted President Barack Obama during a 2016 visit to the city.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, stopping by Poor Boy Lloyd’s is a must. It’s not just about the food, but also about the experience. This includes the friendly service, the lively atmosphere, and the chance to be part of a Baton Rouge tradition. So, come on in, grab a po’boy, and enjoy a slice of Louisiana life. As such, this Baton Rouge attraction is one of the most popular sights in the state.

Don't miss Poor Boy Lloyd's in Baton Rouge: A beloved tradition with delicious po'boys and a lively atmosphere.
Don’t miss Poor Boy Lloyd’s in Baton Rouge: A beloved tradition with delicious po’boys and a lively atmosphere.

8. Louisiana State University

This is one of the coolest things to do in Baton Rouge, hands down. The sprawling Louisiana State University campus, nestled in the southern part of Baton Rouge, is a treasure trove of attractions and activities. The campus is a sight to behold, adorned with majestic live oaks, rolling hills, and meticulously manicured gardens. Within the university’s walls, you’ll discover a plethora of museums, art galleries, and other attractions.

One of LSU’s main draws is Mike the Tiger, the university’s live Bengal tiger mascot. The current Mike lives in a habitat on campus that’s fit for a king, and visitors are welcome to say hello.

If you’re lucky enough to visit during a game at LSU’s Tiger Stadium, also known as Death Valley, you’re in for a treat. This stadium is one of the loudest and most intimidating in all of college football, and cheering alongside the locals is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Located on LSU’s Highland Road, the Hilltop Arboretum is a 4-acre park filled with a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Take in the views of the ravine from the lookout point or explore the tree canopy on one of the many trails. The arboretum also hosts a number of events throughout the year, including educational programs, concerts, and family-friendly activities. So, be sure to check their website before your visit. With so much charm and personality, Louisiana State University is one of the top places to visit in Baton Rouge.

Explore the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge: A treasure trove of attractions with majestic live oaks and museums.
Explore the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge: A treasure trove of attractions with majestic live oaks and museums.

9. Red Stick Farmers Market

Looking for the best things to do in Baton Rouge? Don’t miss this one! A cornucopia of fresh, local produce, meats, cheeses, flowers, and more, the Red Stick Farmers Market is a must-visit destination in Baton Rouge. Open year-round, the market boasts over 100 vendors, offering the freshest produce Baton Rouge has to offer. Imagine honey just out of the hive, tomatoes plucked from the vine, and bread fresh out of the oven.

The market also offers a terrific selection of prepared foods, such as jams, pickles, and sauces. And if you need a break from shopping, there are plenty of food trucks on site serving up authentic Southern delights such as BBQ, beignets, and pralines.

Whether you’re a foodie, a health enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys a vibrant community atmosphere, the Red Stick Farmers Market is a delightful experience. So, bring a bag and prepare to fill it with the freshest, most delicious goods Baton Rouge has to offer.

Just like the vibrant and diverse Rhode Island food scene, Baton Rouge’s Red Stick Farmers Market is a testament to the city’s rich culinary heritage and commitment to fresh, local produce. It’s a place where community and cuisine come together, creating an experience that’s as nourishing for the soul as it is for the body. As such, I recommend this thing to do in Baton Rouge to everyone I meet.

The market offers a variety of prepared foods, including jams, pickles, sauces, and authentic Southern delights from food trucks.
The market offers a variety of prepared foods, including jams, pickles, sauces, and authentic Southern delights from food trucks.

10. Shaw Center for the Arts

Looking for Baton Rouge activities that don’t break the bank? Then this is what you’re looking for! Overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, the Shaw Center for the Arts is a must-visit for anyone seeking a cultural respite amidst their Baton Rouge explorations. This multi-purpose facility, with its stunning architecture, houses a museum, art gallery, performance hall, and movie theater, offering a diverse range of experiences for art and culture enthusiasts.

Constructed in 2005, the Shaw Center for the Arts has quickly become a cornerstone of Baton Rouge’s vibrant cultural scene. The center hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, theatrical performances, movies, and art exhibitions. Many of these events are free, making it an accessible cultural hub for all.

The center’s rooftop garden is another highlight, offering breathtaking views of the river and downtown Baton Rouge. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and soak in the city’s beauty after a day of sightseeing.

Whether you’re an art aficionado, a theater lover, or simply someone looking to immerse themselves in the local culture, visiting the Shaw Center for the Arts is definitely one of the best things to do in Baton Rouge as it offers a unique blend of experiences that are sure to enrich your visit.

Shaw Center for the Arts: A cultural haven with museum, gallery, performance hall, and movie theater, overlooking the Mississippi River.
Shaw Center for the Arts: A cultural haven with museum, gallery, performance hall, and movie theater, overlooking the Mississippi River.

11. Baton Rouge Blues Festival

Yearning for a getaway like no other? This thing to do in Baton Rouge has got you covered. Immerse yourself in the soulful rhythms of the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, a cherished tradition that has been echoing through the streets of downtown Baton Rouge since 1980. This free, family-friendly event is one of the oldest blues festivals in America, paying homage to the rich blues culture that permeates this southern city.

The festival showcases a diverse range of blues musicians, from local legends to international stars. As you wander through the festival grounds, you’ll be serenaded by the soulful sounds of the blues, a genre deeply rooted in African American history and the struggles and triumphs of the human experience.

But the festival isn’t just about music. It’s a celebration of Baton Rouge’s vibrant culture and community. You’ll find local artisans selling handmade crafts, food vendors offering a smorgasbord of southern cuisine, and interactive workshops where you can learn about the history and influence of the blues.

Whether you’re a blues aficionado or a casual listener, the festival offers a unique opportunity to experience the heart and soul of this dynamic city. So grab your dancing shoes, bring your appetite, and prepare to be swept away by the rhythm of the blues. The Baton Rouge Blues Festival is more than just a music festival; it’s a cultural experience that encapsulates the spirit of Baton Rouge. There’s no doubt this is one of the coolest things to do in Baton Rouge.

12. Atchafalaya Basin

Nature lovers will love this top thing to do in Baton Rouge. Just outside Baton Rouge, you’ll find the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest swamp in the United States. Embarking on a swamp tour is a unique and thrilling adventure that you won’t soon forget. The Atchafalaya Basin is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, snakes, and herons. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s an experience that will leave you with lasting memories.

Cruise through the swamp on an airboat, getting up close and personal with some of Louisiana’s most fascinating wildlife. There are numerous companies offering swamp tours in the Baton Rouge area, with decades of experience under their belts. While the swamp is full of surprises, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands.

For those seeking a more hands-on experience, you can also explore the Atchafalaya Basin on a kayak or canoe. This approach allows you to get an even closer look at the wildlife, and it’s a great workout, too!

This is a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. So, when you’re in Baton Rouge, don’t miss out on the chance to explore the wild side of Louisiana in the Atchafalaya Basin. For those seeking a good dose of Mother Nature’s beauty, the Atchafalaya Basin is one of the best places in Baton Rouge you should know about.

Atchafalaya Basin near Baton Rouge is the largest swamp in the US, a thrilling adventure for nature lovers with diverse wildlife.
Atchafalaya Basin near Baton Rouge is the largest swamp in the US, a thrilling adventure for nature lovers with diverse wildlife.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Baton Rouge? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Baton Rouge:

What is Baton Rouge best known for?


Baton Rouge, the capital city of Louisiana, is best known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and Southern hospitality. It’s home to the Louisiana State Capitol, the tallest state capitol building in the U.S. Baton Rouge is also famous for Louisiana State University (LSU), particularly its football culture. The city’s vibrant food scene, rooted in Cajun and Creole traditions, is another highlight. Additionally, Baton Rouge hosts the annual Mardi Gras parade, a colorful celebration that attracts visitors from all over.

What is the best time to visit Baton Rouge?

The best time to visit Baton Rouge is in the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and the city’s festivals are in full swing. However, the city has a charm that can be enjoyed year-round.

Is Baton Rouge safe for tourists?

Like any city, Baton Rouge has areas that are safer than others. Generally, the city is safe for tourists, especially in the areas where attractions are located. As always, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and take basic safety precautions.

Downtown Baton Rouge: A vibrant cityscape with a mix of modern architecture and historic landmarks.
Downtown Baton Rouge: A vibrant cityscape with a mix of modern architecture and historic landmarks.

How do I spend a day in Baton Rouge?

Spending a day in Baton Rouge can be a delightful blend of history, culture, and cuisine. Here’s a suggested itinerary:

Morning: Start your day with a visit to the Louisiana State Capitol, the tallest state capitol in the U.S. The observation deck on the 27th floor offers panoramic views of Baton Rouge. Then, head to the Capitol Park Museum nearby to delve into Louisiana’s rich history and diverse culture.

Lunch: Enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants downtown. Baton Rouge’s food scene offers a mix of Cajun and Creole cuisines, seafood, and Southern comfort food.

Afternoon: Visit the LSU Rural Life Museum to learn about 19th-century Louisiana plantation life. Then, head to the LSU campus and enjoy a leisurely walk around the beautiful grounds. Be sure to stop by the LSU Museum of Art if you have time.

Late Afternoon: Explore the USS Kidd, a World War II Fletcher-class destroyer now serving as a museum. It’s a unique opportunity to learn about naval history and life aboard a warship.

Dinner: End your day with a meal at one of Baton Rouge’s seafood restaurants. Try some local specialties like gumbo or jambalaya.

Remember, this is just a suggested itinerary and there’s much more to see and do in Baton Rouge. The city’s offerings can cater to a wide range of interests, from history and culture to food and nature.

What are some must-try foods in Baton Rouge?

Baton Rouge is known for its Creole and Cajun cuisines. Be sure to try dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, and boudin. Don’t miss out on the city’s seafood, especially the crawfish.

What are some family-friendly attractions in Baton Rouge?

Baton Rouge is a great destination for families. The Baton Rouge Zoo, Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, and the Louisiana Art & Science Museum are all family-friendly attractions that kids will love.

How many days do I need to explore Baton Rouge?

To fully experience Baton Rouge and its surrounding areas, plan for at least three to four days. This will give you enough time to see the city’s main attractions, try local cuisine, and maybe even catch a festival or event.

Closing Thoughts on Touring Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a city that’s rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. From its vibrant downtown area to its serene parks and nature reserves, there’s something for everyone in this Southern gem. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to see and do in Baton Rouge. So why wait? Start planning your trip to this charming city today and experience all the amazing things it has to offer.

The top things to do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for all types of travelers
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