15 Best Things to Do in Baton Rouge (LA)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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Baton Rouge is the capital of the state of Louisiana, and is known for its amazing food scene, historical landmarks, and fun and quirky attractions.

Located along the gorgeous banks of the powerhouse Mississippi River, Baton Rouge is known for its stunning river views and strategic location, and whatever your interests, you are sure to find something to enjoy in this city known for its dynamism and diversity.

Baton Rouge is also the home of the Tigers, the resident football team, and if you love sports then there is no greater thing to do than take in a fast paced game at the LSU Tiger Stadium.

If you are travelling with children then consider a whistle-stop tour of the night sky at the planetarium featured at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, or you can stick to the classics and explore the historic downtown area as well as the famous retired destroyer the USS Kidd and the Old Arsenal Museum.

Lets explore the best things to do in Baton Rouge:

1. LSU Museum of Art

LSU Museum of ArtSource: design
LSU Museum of Art

Art lovers in Baton Rouge shouldn’t miss the chance to head to the LSU Museum of Art which is housed inside the larger Shaw Center for the Arts and encompasses a rather impressive 13,000 square feet as well as fourteen galleries.

The LSU Museum of Art is known for being one of the most-visited places in Baton Rouge, and you will find artwork of all different kinds and genres here including a huge range of art from the south of the United States.

Aside from regional artwork, you will also find international collection such as Chinese art, and there are a huge number of different mediums on show here such as carvings, paintings, sculpture, pottery, and media installations.

You can even buy some of the amazing pieces designed by local artists here at the onsite store.

2. Mike the Tiger Habitat

Mike the Tiger HabitatSource: commons.wikimedia
Mike the Tiger Habitat

Mike the Tiger is the official mascot of Louisiana State University, and one of the top things to do in this city is to visit his residence.

A tiger has long been used as the mascot of the university, and Mike the Tiger I was first acquired in the 1930s.

Things have evolved for Mike the Tiger in recent years, and the habitat has been upgraded from the 2,000 square foot enclosure to a 15,000 square foot compound in the present day.

3. Magnolia Mound Plantation

Magnolia Mound PlantationSource: flickr
Magnolia Mound Plantation

Magnolia Mound Plantation is not actually a plantation at all but a house built in 1791 in the French Creole style.

Located close to the picturesque banks of the Mississippi River, the plantation spreads over 16 acres including some out buildings, and can now be visited for an amazing glimpse of how the people of Baton Rouge would have lived in days gone by.

4. Old State Capitol Building

Old State Capitol BuildingSource: flickr
Old State Capitol Building

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol Building is one of the most historic buildings in the whole of the state and was the head of the State Legislature from the 1800s through to the 1930s.

The location of the building is simply stunning, as it was built on a bluff that offers fantastic views over the Mississippi River and is known for its Gothic design which has made it a local landmark, as well as meaning that it is often mistaken for a castle rather than a state capitol.

The building is part of the U.S National Register of Historic Places and is now filled with memorabilia from political history, and if you visit then you can expect to find educational documents, photographs, and period artifacts related to the state of Louisiana.

5. Red Stick Farmers Market

Red Stick Farmers MarketSource: 30dayadventures
Red Stick Farmers Market

If you want to try some of the freshest produce in Baton Rouge then you need to head to the Red Stick Farmers Market which is open every Thursday and Saturday.

The market is open air and you will only find produce from local farms or growers in the area in order to keep things locally sourced.

Crisp fruits and vegetables are available here as well as meats and homemade freshly baked breads.

As this is Louisiana, you can also expect seafood to feature heavily, as well as homemade products like honey, pickles, and jams.

6. Baton Rouge Zoo

Baton Rouge ZooSource: flickr
Baton Rouge Zoo

Baton Rouge Zoo first opened its doors to the public in 1970 and has been going strong as an animal sanctuary ever since.

The zoo now houses almost 2,000 animals and has reptiles, fish, birds, and primates from all over the world.

As well as aiming to educate visitors on a range of national and international species, the zoo also has a conservation program, for endangered animals like the Arabian Oryx and the Guam rail.

The zoo is designed with younger visitors in mind and you can expect different themed exhibits such as the Otter Pond and Parrot Paradise which showcase different kinds of animals.

7. Capitol Park Museum

Capitol Park MuseumSource: wikipedia
Capitol Park Museum

Capitol Park Museum is dedicated to the culture, history, and industry of the great state of Louisiana and there are both static and rotating exhibitions here that let you get a taste of this part of the United States.

One of these is ‘Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America’ as well as ‘Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation’. The galleries touch on subjects such as the Civil War and slavery, as well as the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott which happened in 1953. You can also learn all about famous industries in Louisiana such as shrimp, sugar cane, and oil production that have supported the state for centuries.

8. Louisiana Art & Science Museum

Louisiana Art & Science MuseumSource: museums.wanderbat
Louisiana Art & Science Museum

If you are interested in art and science then look no further than the Louisiana Art and Science Museum which has galleries dedicated to both subjects as well as an in-house planetarium.

The building itself is something of an antique, as it used to be a railway station that was built in 1925, and the aim of the museum is to educate and showcase the best of art and science in the Louisiana region.

Visitors here can expect to find fine art galleries as well as eclectic and quirky exhibitions such as the Ancient Egypt Gallery that features mummies.

If you are interested in the galaxy, then the Irene W. Pennington planetarium has sky shows and workshops to take you on a tour of the solar system.

9. The USS Kidd

The USS KidSource: usskidd
The USS Kid

The USS Kidd is known for being a destroyer that was first launched in the 1940s and has the nickname of the ‘Pirate of the Pacific’. The ship was used during the Second World War and was put out of service in 1946, only to return to service in 1951 to fight during the Korean War.

Nowadays the USS Kidd serves a memorial to the World War Two servicemen from Louisiana who gave their lives in battle and you can visit the ship and take a tour of the decks of this amazing piece of American naval history.

10. Louisiana State Capitol

Louisiana State CapitolSource: flickr
Louisiana State Capitol

As Baton Rouge is the capital of the state of Louisiana, you can’t come to this city and not visit the Louisiana State Capitol building which is located in the downtown area of the city.

The Capitol is the seat of the Louisiana government and is 450 feet high, giving it the claim to fame of being the tallest state capitol building in the whole of the United States, reason alone to make sure that you don’t miss this impressive site.

The building is also part of the US National Register of Historic Places and is designed in the Art Deco style, making it a true icon in Baton Rouge.

11. Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

Bluebonnet Swamp Nature CenterSource: flickr
Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

Spanning 103 acres of prime land, Bluebonnet Swamp has a 9,500 square foot exhibition center and there are paths running all over the swamp where you can find observation decks.

These decks and boardwalk areas are perfect for sighting the many local species that live here including armadillos, otters, coyotes, and deer, and you can also take in gorgeous forestlands and marshy wetlands at the same time.

If you like bird watching then you will find a huge number of species all year round and the Exhibit Building has animal and mineral galleries as well as interactive exhibits for youngsters.

12. LSU Tiger Stadium

LSU Tiger StadiumSource: flickr
LSU Tiger Stadium

If you want to catch an all-American football game then you need to head to the LSU Tiger Stadium which is also the home of the Louisiana State University Tigers football team.

The stadium is known as ‘Death Valley’ thanks to the electrifying games that are played here and this also has the claim to fame of being the ninth largest stadium in the entire world with a capacity of over 100,000 spectators at one time.

13. LSU Rural Life Museum

LSU Rural Life MuseumSource: flickr
LSU Rural Life Museum

Nestled on the Burden plantation which stretches for 40 acres, the LSU Rural Life Museum is made up of 30 historically significant buildings that tell the story of Baton Rouge.

The aim of the museum is the showcase the history of rural life in Baton Rouge from the 18th century onwards and you will find period artifacts and static exhibits to that end.

There are also tours that you can take here with friendly docents who will explain the cultural and historical significance of the various buildings and as the museum is open air you can stroll around at your leisure and take in the gorgeous scenery at the same time.

14. Downtown Baton Rouge

Downtown Baton RougeSource: flickr
Downtown Baton Rouge

Downtown Baton Rouge is a great place to come if you are looking for some nightlife and dining opportunities in this city.

The downtown area stretches along the picturesque banks of the majestic Mississippi River, and is known for being a culturally and historically significant area in the city.

You will find restaurants, bars, and even casinos here, and there is also the Live After Five showcase, which takes the form of a series of outdoor concerts which are also completely free.

15. Old Arsenal Museum

Old Arsenal MuseumSource: flickr
Old Arsenal Museum

The Old Arsenal Museum sits on the grounds of the new State Capitol Building and dates from 1838. The museum is actually a powder magazine that was used to defend this area in the 19th century, as the Mississippi River was considered a highly strategic location in the city.

The museum is full of historical relics related to military history and you can learn all about the powder museum as well as the history of the State Capitol and the surrounding area.

There are also exhibits related to the infamous Battle of Baton Rouge in 1862.

15 Best Things to Do in Baton Rouge (LA):

  • LSU Museum of Art
  • Mike the Tiger Habitat
  • Magnolia Mound Plantation
  • Old State Capitol Building
  • Red Stick Farmers Market
  • Baton Rouge Zoo
  • Capitol Park Museum
  • Louisiana Art & Science Museum
  • The USS Kidd
  • Louisiana State Capitol
  • Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center
  • LSU Tiger Stadium
  • LSU Rural Life Museum
  • Downtown Baton Rouge
  • Old Arsenal Museum