Home to top class museums, historic landmarks, and a mouth-watering food scene, the former French settlement of Baton Rouge is awash with unique things to see and do.
Perched on the banks of the Mississippi River, the capital of Louisiana attracts large numbers of visitors throughout the year. Many of the city’s attractions serve as a legacy of its French colonial heritage, while more contemporary enticements can be found in the bustling downtown district. If you’re coming to Baton Rouge, you might want to check out our list below of fun and unique ways to spend your time here.
Visit two state Capitols old and new
Located in downtown, the Louisiana State Capitol is one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks and at 450 feet high lays claim to being the tallest State Capitol anywhere in the US. Designed in the Art Deco style, it is both visually arresting and historically significant, having served as the seat of the Louisiana government since 1932. As well as admiring it from ground level, visitors can enter the building and discover memorabilia from political history, including educational documents, photographs, and period artefacts. You can also travel to the 27th floor where an observation deck provides spectacular panoramic views of the cityscape and Mississippi River.
900 North Third Street
To complete your Baton Rouge State Capitol circuit, the Old State Capitol Building enjoys a scenic setting on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The head of the State Legislature from the 1800s through to the 1930s, when it was replaced by the New State Capitol (see above), it’s renowned for its eye-catching Gothic design that gives it the appearance of a castle. The building is a historic goldmine inside and out, with regular tours allowing the public to discover fascinating artefacts and items relating to the past.
100 North Boulevard / Tues-Fri 10am-4pm Sat 9am-3pm Closed Sun-Mon
Check out a top class museum
Housed inside the Shaw Center for the Arts, the LSU Museum of Art is one of Baton Rouge’s most prestigious cultural venues. Spanning some fourteen galleries, the museum is home to a huge variety of artwork, including carvings, paintings, sculpture, pottery, and media installations. The work on display is primarily from the southern US, but also further beyond, including a collection of Chinese art. There’s also an onsite store where you can purchase pieces designed by local artists.
100 Lafayette Street / Tues-Fri 10am-8pm Sat 10am-5pm Sun 1pm-5pm Closed Mon
Dedicated to the culture, history, and industry of the state of Louisiana, the Capitol Park Museum hosts both permanent and rotating exhibitions that explore themes that shine a light on this part of the United States. The galleries touch on notable events and subjects such as the Civil War and slavery, as well as the famous Baton Rouge Bus Boycott which took place in 1953. Visitors can also learn about the industries that have driven Louisiana’s economic growth down the years, such as shrimp, sugar cane, and oil production.
660 North 4th Street / Tues-Sat 9am-4pm Closed Sun-Mon
If you’ve visiting Baton Rouge with small kids in tow and are faced with a rainy day, then the Knock Knock Children’s Museum is one of the city’s most popular indoor family attractions. Sitting atop Knock Knock Hill overlooking a vast public park, the museum is packed full of hands-on, fun-filled interactive exhibits – or ‘learning zones” – each designed to create teachable moments that will connect children’s everyday experiences to learning. Among the favourite zones are Go Go Garage, where little ones get to play at being car mechanics, or even design the car of their dreams.
1900 Dalrymple Drive / Tues-Sat 10am-4pm Sun 11am-4pm Closed Mon
Attend a fun-packed festival
With a unique history of residents, from Canary Islanders and Spanish settlers to freed slaves after the Civil War, the historic district of Spanish Town has become a creative haven where diversity and culture flourish. And never is this more evident than in February each year, when the district plays host to Baton Rouge’s largest Mardi Gras parade. Held annually since 1981, the event sees hundreds of revellers dress up in elaborate costumes to embark on the fun-filled parade through the streets, with pink being the dominant colour in honour of the animal that has come to symbolise the carnival more than any other – the flamingo.
Spanish Town / February each year
Fans of Blues music who happen to be in Baton Rouge during the month of April are in for a treat as the city stages its annual Blues festival. First held back in 1981, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival is one of the oldest free blues celebrations in America, and features a stellar line-up of local, national and international acts. Notable names from the music world to have appeared at the festival down the years include Bobby Blue Bland, Marcia Ball, Phil Guy, Larry Garner and Charlie Musselwhite, as well as hometown favourite, Buddy Guy and Louisiana darling, Mavis Staples.
Downtown Baton Rouge / April each year
Discover a historic navy ship
Named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died aboard his ship during the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Kidd serves as a memorial to the servicemen from Louisiana who gave their lives in battle during World War II. Put out of service in 1946, only to return in 1951 to fight during the Korean War, today it sits moored in the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge as the centrepiece attraction of the USS Kidd Veterans Museum. Visitors can board the ship to tour its decks and immerse themselves in this amazing piece of American naval history.
305 South River Road / Mon-Sun 9.30am-3.30pm
Join a bar crawl by pedal bike
Baton Rouge has a bustling nightlife scene and visitors can discover it for themselves by joining a guided pedal bike bar crawl. But don’t worry, there’ll be no pedalling under the influence – you’ll have a designated driver doing all the hard work while you sit at the back drinking and chatting with your fellow revellers as you traverse the city streets. Over the course of the two-hour adventure, you’ll stop off at a handful of popular watering holes to soak up the atmosphere and sample some of Baton Rouge’s best booze. You can also BYOB if you prefer.
Explore a restored plantation home
Dating back to the late 18th century, Magnolia Mound Plantation House is today a nationally accredited museum and historic site that draws a steady stream of visitors keen to see how the people of Baton Rouge would have lived in days gone by. Spread across sixteen acres of land, the former French Creole plantation also serves as a reminder of those who were enslaved in such homes, with authentically restored outbuildings, including a rare circa 1830 cabin for enslaved families, telling their story. The house and its landscaped gardens also play host to regular educational programmes, workshops, lectures, festivals, and other special events
2161 Nicholson Drive / Mon-Sat 10am-4pm Sun 1pm-4pm
Catch an exhilarating football match
There’s no more quintessentially all-American activity than attending a football game. In Baton Rouge, the LSU Tiger Stadium is home to the Louisiana State University Tigers football team – and not for nothing is it known by the imposing nickname of ‘Death Valley’. On match days (and nights), the vast arena is positively electric, with up to 100,000 spectators voicing their raucous support from the packed stands. Visitors can also take guided tours of the stadium.
Louisiana State University
Try your hand at paintballing
If you’re looking for a fun activity to enjoy with family or friends in Baton Rouge, then a day out at Guerrilla Warfare Paintball could be just the ticket. Located in the city’s northeastern suburbs, the 75-acre venue offers competitive but fun paintballing adventures for everyone from beginners to seasoned paintballers. A variety of courses and game styles are available, with such gripping names as ‘Speedball’, ‘Woodball’ and ‘Scenario’ all played in a friendly and inclusive atmosphere.
5442 Joor Road / Sat 7am-5pm Sun 1pm-5pm Closed Mon-Fri