Top 10 Things to do in Baton Rouge
From museums celebrating Louisiana's storied past to brand new distilleries and restaurants, Louisiana's capital city of Baton Rouge has plenty to keep you busy.
1. Louisiana State Capitol and Old State Capitol
Two state capitols and countless stories is what you’ll find when visiting the Louisiana State Capitol and Old State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge. The Old State Capitol’s museum houses artwork and exhibits that tell the story of Baton Rouge and Louisiana. The so-called “Castle on the River” is an example of Gothic and Victorian architecture and was the state’s seat of government until the 1930s. Visit the stained-glass dome inside — it’s one of the most Instagram-worthy sights in all of Baton Rouge plus admission is free. The Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest state capitol building in the nation standing at 450 feet and is a monument to Louisiana’s history. Be sure to visit the 27th-floor for the Observation Deck overlooking Baton Rouge.
2. LSU Rural Life Museum
Louisiana State University’s reputation looms large over Baton Rouge and that’s not just football either. The LSU Rural Life outdoor museum takes visitors on a time-traveling journey through the state’s history, with hundreds of artifacts, plantation quarters and a variety of architectural styles unique to the region.
3. Mid-City and Southdowns Restaurants
Baton Rouge’s Mid-City neighbourhood is a prime destination for food lovers with numerous restaurants that put the city on the culinary map. Some standouts include Curbside - a burger joint that adds a gourmet twist on cooked beef patties; The Overpass Merchant - which has an awesome brunch menu that includes a killer Pork Benedict; and Kalurah Street Grill - an upscale Garden District restaurant located in a quirky and historic 1930s building that's literally under an overpass.
4. Magnolia Mound Plantation House
Magnolia Mound ranks among Louisiana’s oldest intact plantation homes, dating all the way back to 1791. What began as a small-scale settler’s home blossomed into a 900-acre farming operation that lasted until Louisiana became a state in 1812. You will see locally made, Colonial-era furniture, decorative arts that came by ship through the Port of New Orleans, local textiles and some of the most authentic French Creole architecture in the region.
5. Baton Rouge Zoo
Baton Rouge Zoo ranks among the top family attractions in the city. This is a place where kids’ imaginations can run as wild as the animals and explore exotic environments.
6. Louisiana Art & Science Museum
Housed in a 1925 historic railway station, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum is an inspiring collection of creative works, interactive exhibits and fascinating artifacts. Permanent science-oriented displays include the Ancient Egypt Gallery and planetarium.
7. BREC Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center
BREC Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is a wetlands wonderland right in the middle of Louisiana’s second-largest city. The 103-acre facility offers visitors a quick getaway from urban Baton Rouge and offers a taste of the south Louisiana wilds with more than a mile of boardwalks and gravel paths that take visitors through a cypress-tupelo swamp and beech-magnolia and hardwood forests. Don’t be surprised if you see some of the local residents as well, including critters such as armadillos, deer and otter.
8. USS Kidd Veterans Museum
The USS Kidd is a relic of the nation’s World War II past and today stands as a monument to those who fought in the Pacific theater. The destroyer, restored to its 1945 configuration and docked at the Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge, was nicknamed the “Pirate of the Pacific.” Walk in the footsteps of servicemen and women aboard the decks of this fascinating ship and learn the stories of soldiers living through one of the most pivotal moments of American history.
9. LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens
Walk among the greenery that comprises LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, a Louisiana State University facility that welcomes visitors and researchers including numerous gardens for visitors to enjoy. The Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie has citrus trees which, when in bloom, give off some of the sweetest smells you’ll find in any garden. Also worth exploring are the Children’s Garden, Tropical Garden and other gardens devoted to roses, camellias and swamp plants.
10. Brewery and Distillery Tours
Louisiana’s home-grown liquor and beer industries have flourished in recent years, and in Baton Rouge you can get a first-hand look at how it’s all made. Cane Land Distilling Company offers behind-the-scenes tastings and tours, where visitors can learn about how Louisiana sugarcane juice is turned into Cane Land’s phenomenal rums, vodka and whiskey. Tin Roof Brewing Co., just about a mile from downtown Baton Rouge, offers free brewery tours every Friday and Saturday. Baton Rouge Distilling has both private and group tours at its facility and Southern Craft gives free tours, including a special Saturday brewmaster tour.
SOMETHING EXTRA: Animal lovers won't want to miss a visit to the LSU campus to see Mike the Tiger, the live mascot for the state's flagship university. And if you've always wanted to pet a sloth or swim with an otter, you're in luck. Just a half hour from Baton Rouge in Clinton, you'll find Barnhill Preserve, where you can check up-close encounters off your bucket list.
NEW: The capital city is home to two new venues that are guaranteed to quench your thirst for entertainment. Located between the Mid-City neighbourhood and downtown, Red Stick Social features bowling, live music and inventive food and drinks in an eclectic mix of indoor and outdoor spaces. Whether you're a seasoned player or you've never taken a swing, TopGolf Baton Rouge is the newest destination for active entertainment and events. Reserve a bay, grab a drink and let the games begin.