The capital of Louisiana, 'Baton Rouge' has a diverse and rich culture with plenty of things to do all across the city. The city’s three-hundred-year-old history serves to highlight its Cajun cuisine (every visitor should take the food tour), architecture, and great 18th and 19th-century attractions.
It’s very family-friendly and offers thrills for children of any age. The feeling in Baton Rouge is one of overwhelming pride in what it was and what it has become. Baton Rouge attractions, such as the Riverfront Plaza & City Dock to Hilltop Arboretum, make this an ideal destination for strolling and finding hidden, historical gems.
Without further ado, let's begin to explore the top attractions & things to do in Baton Rouge.
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This vessel is named after Medal of Honor beneficiary Isaac C. Kidd Sr., the hero who was killed aboard the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
This rare destroyer remains one of four of its kind and the only one that has been restored as a museum.
The Historic Naval Ships Association calls the USS Kidd the most reliably restored battleship anywhere. Visitors can take a self-guided tour.
The attached Louisiana Veterans Museum contains many interesting artifacts relating to naval history.
One of the things to do in Baton Rouge is to camp out overnight on the destroyer to experience the genuine feeling and courage required to do so.
Every year on the fourth of July, the guns aboard the USS Kidd are fired during a reenactment of it being attacked during World War II.
The entrance fee to the USS Kidd is $14.63 for adults, $12.54 for veterans, and $10.45 for children. The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Address: 305 S River Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Also Read: Best Battleship Museums In the USA
One of the places in Baton Rouge that can surprise visitors is the Old State Capitol.
It is built to resemble a castle and is affectionally referred to by locals as the Castle of Baton Rouge or the Castle on the River.
The Gothic architectural gem is situated on a bluff overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. Despite its usually striking aesthetics, the state capitol served a serious political function.
It is meant to educate visitors about Louisiana's history and inspire a love for the state. Visits to the capitol are free Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Groups may request a tour.
The 12-minute film, "The Ghost of the Castle," is a tale of the haunting of Baton Rouge’s beloved castle and tells its story and history. The cost to see the movie is $3.00.
Address: 100 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
One of the attractions in Baton Rouge that increases the heartbeat of any sports fan is the LSU Tiger Stadium, nicknamed "Death Valley," as it instills fear in any opponent.
When there is a game, the stadium turns into Louisiana's fifth-largest city with over 100,000 fans going wild. Home games are a true event.
The Louisiana State University sports complex includes the recently opened 160,000 square-foot Tiger Racquet Club with programs for all tennis players – not just students.
The gates to LSU stadium open two and a half hours before the start of a game. Reserved parking opens at 7:00 a.m. Go Tigers!
Address: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
The Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest capital in the country, and Louisianans are proud of every one of the 34 floors that reach up 450 feet to the sky.
Remarkably, it was constructed in just over a year. This is one of the Baton Rouge attractions filled with symbolism in the building's entire design as well as the house and senate chambers, along with fabulous gardens.
The observation deck on the 27th floor offers one of the best views of Baton Rouge and the Mississippi River. The "Top of the Shop" gift shop has a large selection of Louisiana-oriented gifts and memorabilia.
The immaculately kept garden has paths to wander, benches to rest, and trees for shade.
The building is open from 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily except for major holidays.
Address: 900 North Third Street, Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge Zoo is one of the fun places to visit in Baton Rouge for the entire family. Here, close to 1,500 birds and animals live in natural habitats.
There is also an aquarium for fish and amphibians. The zoo's goal is to connect people with different species of animals, and it attracts 200,000 visitors annually. Keepers provide talks and information about all the residents.
Some exotic animals to see here are the Malayan and Sumatran tigers and the Siamang gibbons, and conservation is one of the zoo's primary objectives. Much of that is done through workshops, classes, and day camps.
Children love their own children's zoo with a playground. Strollers can be rented.
For over-21 visitors in September, check out the annual Brew at the Zoo with food tasting, beer, and entertainment.
Admission to the Baton Rouge Zoo is $8.75 for adults and $5.75 for children. It is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except for major holidays.
Address: 3601 Thomas Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70807
Also Read: 30 Best Zoos in the USA
For visitors looking for Baton Rouge attractions with the most to offer, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM) fits the bill.
It has a huge ancient Egypt gallery with artifacts, a mummy, and more items from the Ptolemaic era. The planetarium offers films, sky shows, and information about space science.
There are separate galleries devoted to the sciences and arts. And visitors can also learn more about the solar system and the universe.
If it pertains to knowledge, the LASM is likely to be involved.
There are hands-on galleries for children in the Science Station that are open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
The museum is closed Monday and Tuesday. It is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 10:00 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $15.00 for adults and $12.00 for children under 12.
Address: 100 South River Road, Baton Rouge
Also Read: 20 Best Art Museums in the USA
Spots in Baton Rouge to cool off on a hot summer day are the splash-friendly Blue Bayou Water Park and Dixie Landin' theme park, both of which are great places to enjoy thrills, spills, and family fun for all ages.
The Blue Bayou has 20 water rides, some of which are guaranteed to pump up the adrenalin with twists and turns. There are kiddie rides, as well, and the relaxed Lazy River. Plenty of opportunities to grab a cool drink and a snack.
Visitors over 48 inches tall pay $36.99, while anyone shorter gets in for $29.99. There are also season passes.
The Bayou is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the summer when guests can enjoy swimming, picnics in the park, and concerts.
Dixie Landin has 26 heart-pumpin' rides, especially the Ragin Cajun roller coaster that soars down at high speed from 14 stories. No worries, there is also a gentler Kiddie Section.
Visitors can rent beach houses and cabanas for a truly comfortable day. The fees vary, so please click on the attached.
The beach houses come with a table and benches, and.... so welcome on a hot day …. air conditioning. These are especially practical for families.
The cabanas have lounge chairs, a fan, and small tables.
Address: 18142 Perkins Rd, Baton Rouge
One of the exciting places to go in Baton Rouge for a genuine 18the-century French Creole plantation house by the Mississippi River is the Magnolia Mound Plantation.
Here, everything has been restored to resemble authentic Creole plantation living and culture, including slave quarters and overseer’s house.
The plantation property includes a museum, carriage house, and open-hearth kitchen. Much of the furniture and decorations are from the colonial period and are indicative of the wealthy Creole lifestyle in Louisiana.
The plantation is frequently used for special events such as weddings and holidays. Tours are available by appointment.
The outdoor open-hearth kitchen has 18the-century utensils and reflector ovens. Cooking demonstrations are provided between October and May.
The double slave cabin and the overseer’s house have retained their original furnishings.
The gift shop has a large selection of Louisiana-made crafts and gifts with a special section for children.
The plantation has two buildings in addition to the main house that is rented out for special events. The smaller, elegant Hart House can hold 50 people. The LaGrange House can accommodate 250 guests.
Guided tours of the plantation are $12.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under 17. It can be visited Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00m p.m.
Address: 2161 Nicholson Dr, Baton Rouge
Riverfront Plaza is a scenic event venue on the banks of the Mississippi River and one of the scenic Baton Rouge tourist attractions in the downtown area.
There is something to attract everyone, from meadows, water gardens with native plants, lovely walking paths along the river with benches, and an amphitheater for highly anticipated concerts.
The sloped levee is a great place for kids to roll down the incline or play some soccer.
The Riverfront has optimal seating atop the river levee with access to the USS Kidd destroyer.
The dock at the Riverfront, with its fascinating "shade" design, literally provides shades for events and uses vibrant lights during specific holidays.
Address: 300 S River Road, Baton Rouge
As the name implies, the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is one of the best places to go in Baton Rouge for nature lovers.
They will find over a hundred acres of paths and boardwalks leading to a swamp and forests filled with wildlife such as snakes, raccoons, deer, and many different bird species.
The exhibit building houses more animals and exhibits of the swamp's flora and fauna.
Nature lovers are welcome to explore the nature center every Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday admission begins at noon.
The fee is $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for those under the age of 17.
The connection between the center and childhood education is strong. There are group tours Tuesdays through Fridays for wild animal encounters and to explore the trails through the swamp.
Parents with toddlers between the ages of two and five years old can hit the trails with guides, tell stories, see live animals, and identify the sounds of nature. These trail explorations usually happen on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
For children between the ages of six and ten, they and one adult can attend Swamp School twice a month. This takes the toddler exploration concept further and may even add to the parent’s knowledge of nature.
Address: 0503 North Oak Hills Pkwy, Baton Rouge
Places in Baton Rouge that excel at learning through playing is the Knock Knock Children’s Museum, by using "Learning Zones."
Eighteen different Interactive exhibit zones include a pretend veterinary space with stuffed animals and stethoscopes for would-be veterinarians or an art zone for tiny future Michelangelo.
It’s about learning and having fun at the same time. There is even a special zone for toddlers.
This is one of the Baton Rouge attractions open to children as young as one year old. The entrance fee for everyone is $14.00.
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday, a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Address: 1900 Dalrymple Drive, Baton Rouge
Also Read: The Best Children's Museums in the USA
The Hilltop Arboretum is a 14-acre gift to the city of Baton Rouge dating back to 1929 and displays 150 species of local wildflowers, trees, and shrubs. The site has since become a part of Louisiana State University.
The trees form huge hanging canopies that recreate the soothing peace of a cathedral.
Visitors can cross a footbridge spanning a ravine and simply stroll through this natural spot of tranquillity where the only sound may be the wind whistling and birds singing. Further, visitors will encounter sunlight and colorful wildflowers in a meadow.
There is no charge for enjoying this haven of contemplation, and the arboretum is open from sun up to sunset. The office (with restrooms) is open Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Address: 11855 Highland Rd, Baton Rouge
Old Governor's Mansion is one of the top Baton Rouge attractions with an interesting past.
It was constructed by the questionable, power-hungry, womanizing Governor Huey P. Long, who was assassinated in 1935.
The self-aggrandizing governor demanded the largest, most splendid mansion in Louisiana’s history.
He deliberately chose designs that copied elements of the White House in their lavishness, with several types of marble and textiles to proclaim his own power. He even had a secret staircase installed.
These days, the Old Governor's Mansion is a popular wedding venue.
The Old Governor’s Mansion is open for tours Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This will include the mansion and the gardens.
Its regular hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The general admission is $10.00.
Address: 502 North Blvd, Baton Rouge
Also Read: Most Famous Historic Homes in America
One of the best things to do in Baton Rouge that relate to performing art is visit to the Shaw Center for the Arts.
This center blends visual, singing, and performing arts in a single great facility comprised of the Manship Theatre, the LSU Museum of Art, and the School of Art Gallery.
The entire complex covers a city block overlooking the Mississippi River. The Manship Theatre has 325 seats and only 11 rows, providing a very intimate setting.
The center also has fantastic dining options, especially the Tsunami Sushi. The museum store highlights and supports the work of local talent by selling their jewelry, ceramics, paintings, and more.
The building hours vary every day, so click here for more information.
Address: 100 Lafayette St, Baton Rouge
Looking for things to do in Baton Rouge that don’t involve a cell phone, car, or elevator? The LSU Rural Life Museum recreates 18the and 19the-century Louisiana when life was simpler and perhaps somewhat harder.
And it is a lifestyle we know too little about. Plantations were big in Louisiana, but of far greater importance was the culture of the regular worker eking out a living.
The museum is a collection of blacksmith shops, school buildings, doctor's offices, open-hearth kitchens, slave cabins, and even outhouses.
A separate area has a corn house, potato house, barn, jail, and a small cabin. The barn contains several artifacts that were used in the past, including several horse-drawn carriages.
All in all, 32 historic buildings are leading us through the past.
Although unrelated to the past, the museum’s Windrush Gardens consists of five acres of natural beauty.
Three miles of trails lead to vegetable gardens, rose gardens, and 150 different types of plants. There is also a garden for children to learn about plant life. Shade is provided by a canopy of tall oak trees.
The LSU Rural Life Museum and Windrush Gardens are open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Address: 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge
One of the amazing places to go in Baton Rouge includes the Red Stick Farmers Market, a hymn to fresh local produce and delectable treats. They also have helpful cooking demonstrations.
In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, the market sells meat (from grass-fed cows and lamb), seafood (especially wild-caught shrimp, crab, and crab dip), dairy products, honey, and homemade bread and pies. Wine is also sold here. Credit and debit cards are accepted.
The market is open Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to noon. During the growing season, the farmers market has several locations. Not only is food for sale here but books from the LSU Press and hand-crafted note cards can also be bought.
While shopping for the market, note that there are several restaurants on location serving healthy breakfast and lunch.
Address: 501 N 5th St, Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Also Read: Best Farmers Markets in the USA
One of the coolest things to do in Baton Rouge is to meet the city’s most famous tiger, Mike, the beloved LSU athletics Siberian and Bengal tiger mascot.
Mike lives in style in his $3.7 million, 15,000-square-foot animal “condo” with plants, a stream, and a waterfall.
Incidentally, this is Mike VII, born in 2016. His lovely home was funded by private donations to the Tiger Athletic Fund. Next to his habitat, there is a bronze tiger statue that kids love to climb.
Mike lives across the street from Tiger Stadium. He wanders outside between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. most days, and on a hot day, he is likely to take a dip in his wading pool.
Address: 16 N Stadium Drive, Baton Rouge
A must-see in Baton Rouge are the five restaurants included in the city's great food tour.
Baton Rouge is famous for its Creole cooking, and this is the best way to experience several hidden gems. Eating at local favorites is part of the fun of visiting, especially since it’s another way of seeing the city.
Begin your food tour with a very light breakfast of your own since you want plenty of room for more food.
And it’s not a bad idea to wear pants that stretch a bit. Keep in mind that the food tour is also a shopping tour – an opportunity to buy spices and oils.
Prepare yourself for a tasty day. There are usually four stops, each of which includes something savory and something sweet. The cost is $69 for adults and $49 for children under 17.
Foursquare has rated Bistro Byronz as the number five eatery in Baton Rouge. It is one of the Baton Rouge attractions with a French flavor – as in, Paris comes to Louisiana.
It’s an unpretentious neighborhood bistro that kicks it up a notch with French specialties such as their Croque Madame burger with accompanying Steak Frites. Food is homemade here, and it tastes like it. Their wine selection is extensive.
Happy Hour, or Bontemps Hour, offers $4.00 beer, wine, and cocktails with dips Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Bistro Byronz has four locations. Operating hours are Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The Bistro is open from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Address: 8200 Village Plaza Ct, Baton Rouge, LA 70810
One of Baton Rouge attractions that blooms most of the year is the preternaturally grand 20-acre Afton Villa Gardens, where nature has created her masterpiece just outside the city. The floral displays are nothing short of dazzling.
A fire destroyed the mansion that belonged to the gardens, but the gardens have been restored to their earlier magnificence and include a valley of daffodils, a parterre garden, and lots more.
Throughout the year, wisteria, tulips, and azaleas thrive. Spring, of course, is the best garden time. The ruins of the mansion are incorporated into the landscape, hauntingly reminding us of what was.
The gardens are peaceful, and the silence is only occasionally interrupted by a bird song.
Afton Villa Gardens can be seen and enjoyed each day of the week from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission for adults is $5.00, while children are free.
Address: 9347 US-61, St Francisville, LA 70775
For all its known history and cuisine, Baton Rouge is most famous for having the tallest capitol building in the US and as the city where major athletes such as Shaquille O’Neal went to college.
With hot, humid summers, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the best times to visit Baton Rouge, with comfortable temperatures between the 70s and 80s. The winters are mild and lovely, but the holidays and Mardi Gras can attract large crowds.
Baton Rouge’s fabulous Creole and Cajun cuisine will draw visitors from everywhere.
The Old Governor’s Mansion, built by vain and ambitious Governor Huey P. Long to resemble the White House, is still an architectural marvel and living monument to unbridled political ambitions.
Visitors should not miss the Shaw Center for the Arts for all forms of art.
Baton Rouge uniquely has two State Capitol Buildings, and they are both worth a visit. The Old State Capital Building is a grand castle-like design overlooking the Mississippi River. The New State Capital Building is the tallest capital building in the U.S., with a breathtaking view.
For all its historical value, Baton Rouge is bursting with action, whether visitors stay for a weekend or a week. There are plenty of things to do in Baton Rouge with the most popular being visiting the Old State Capitol, the USS Kidd Veterans Museum, and the Tiger Stadium with its live tiger mascot. The number of museums keeps growing, and stopping at the Red Stick Farmers Market is always worthwhile. Or stop by one of the other Baton Rouge attractions, the popular eatery, Bistro Byronz.