Best Things To Do in Baton Rouge
Travelers with a particular interest in Louisiana history will be delighted by the top things to do in Baton Rouge. Attractions like the Capitol... READ MORE
Travelers with a particular interest in Louisiana history will be delighted by the top things to do in Baton Rouge. Attractions like the Capitol Park Museum, the LSU Rural Life Museum, Magnolia Mound and both state capitol buildings help visitors understand the state's unique (and sometimes strange) history. Meanwhile, families will be entertained by the Baton Rouge Zoo, the Knock Knock Children's Museum and the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. And no visit to Baton Rouge would be complete without attending a football game at LSU Tiger Stadium.
Updated September 29, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in Baton RougeFree, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDFree, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
A National Historic Landmark, Louisiana's Old State Capitol is not your average capitol building. Designed in a Gothic Revival architecture style and constructed between 1847 and 1852, the exterior of the building looks like a medieval fortress. Created by architect James Harrison Dakin, the building is accented with towers, stained-glass windows and cast-iron – a design aesthetic that Dakin referred to as "Castellated Gothic." Though it's no longer used for official government business (lawmakers started using the new state capitol beginning in 1932), it's open to the public and houses a number of exhibits, including a multimedia presentation about the ghost of Sarah Morgan, a Civil War-era figure who kept diaries of her experiences throughout the war.
Past visitors called the building a "must-see" while in Baton Rouge. Reviewers were particularly impressed by the stained-glass windows and spiral staircase.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Baton RougeMuseums, Tours, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Tours, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Named for Medal of Honor recipient Isaac C. Kidd Sr., who was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Arizona, this Fletcher-class destroyer is considered one of the world's most authentically restored vessels, according to the Historic Naval Ships Association. Along with the preserved ship, there is also an attached museum that displays a variety of artifacts related to veteran and naval military history. Artifacts on display include ship models, a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and a helmet worn by an infantryman who stormed the beaches of Normandy, among other items.
Past visitors highly recommend making time for a tour of the USS Kidd and the adjoining museum. Many said the experience helped them understand the lives of Navy sailors. They also applauded the staff for their willingness to answer all sorts of questions. Several reviewers did warn that spaces within the ship can be tight, which can pose a challenge for visitors with mobility limitations.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Baton RougeMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
For a big dose of Louisiana history, plan a stop at the Capitol Park Museum. Spanning nearly 70,000 square feet, the museum houses a variety of hands-on exhibits and artifacts depicting the unique history of the state. Among the museum's temporary exhibits, there are two permanent exhibits, "Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation" and "Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America." Items on display include a Civil War submarine, a 48-foot wooden shrimp trawler, a two-row sugar cane harvester and Clifton Chenier's Grammy Award, among many others.
There are also exhibits dedicated to the Black experience in Louisiana, exploring everything from slave markets, resistance, revolt and Jim Crow. Among the displays is an exhibit on the Baton Rouge bus boycott of 1953.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Baton RougeMuseums, Free, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Free, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
At 450 feet tall, the Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest capitol in the United States. Designed in an art deco architectural style, the building is one of only four skyscraper capitols in the U.S. and one of only nine capitol buildings that do not have a dome. Aside from its unique structural design, the building also has an interesting history. It was commissioned in 1930 by Governor Huey Long – one of the state's most controversial political figures – who was nearly impeached on allegations of bribery. Though Long was ultimately not impeached and went on to win a Louisiana Senate seat, in 1935 he was assassinated at the very capitol he fought to build. Today, visitors can tour the capitol and admire the city from the observation deck on the 27th floor.
Past visitors were impressed with the building and the manicured grounds. For many, the view from the observation deck was the highlight. Others appreciated the informational plaques found throughout the building.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Baton RougeTours, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDTours, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Between 1930 and 1962, this Georgian mansion served as the official residence to nine Louisiana governors and their families. Though the historical record is disputed, some believe that Governor Huey Long wanted the residence built to resemble the White House so that when he became president he would be familiar with the White House (unfortunately, the governor's mansion was the closest Long got to the White House). Indeed, the mansion does have a similar look in part thanks to four large, 30-foot Corinthian columns that support an intricately carved pediment. You'll see more similarities between the two structures during a tour of the interior. Highlights include a curving marble staircase, black-and-white checked marble floors, west wing offices and east wing guest bedrooms.
Past visitors called the mansion a "must-see" while in Baton Rouge. Along with the impressive architecture and design, reviewers were also complimentary of the entertaining information guides provided about the Louisiana governors that occupied the home.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Baton RougeMuseums, Tours, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Tours, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
History buffs won't want to skip a visit to the LSU Rural Life Museum. Boasting the largest collection of material from 19th-century Louisiana, the museum comprises more than 30 historic buildings and a 25-acre landscaped garden. Highlighting the working classes of the 18th and 19th centuries, the site features an exhibit barn that displays hundreds of artifacts representing everyday rural life up to the early 20th century. Other buildings include a blacksmith's shop, a sugar house and a grist mill, among other structures. There are also slave cabins on-site that allow visitors to see the conditions of an enslaved person working on a plantation. The Windrush Gardens, which feature live oaks, colorful crepe myrtles, azaleas and camellias, are also located on-site.
Recent visitors offered high praise for the LSU Rural Life Museum and recommended budgeting plenty of time to explore all the buildings. Many were impressed with the period artifacts on display and applauded the knowledgeable, friendly staff.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Baton RougeSportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Nicknamed "Death Valley" because it's so hard for visiting teams to win here, Louisiana State University's Tiger Stadium is certainly a sight to see, especially on football game days. On game days, the stadium welcomes more than 100,000 fans, making the stadium the fifth-largest city in the state of Louisiana. If you can, try to time your Baton Rouge visit so that you can attend a game and get a sense for the stadium's memorable game day atmosphere, which recent visitors described as "electric."
While you're at the stadium, you may also want to make time to pop over to see Mike the Tiger, the only live tiger residing on a college campus in the U.S. The 15,000-square-foot tiger habitat is located across the street from Tiger Stadium and is a must-see LSU tradition, according to past visitors. Mike is usually outside daily and visible from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; it's free to view his enclosure.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Baton RougeMuseums, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Calling all nature lovers! While in Baton Rouge, you may want to plan a trip to the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, a 103-acre facility that boasts more than a mile of gravel paths and boardwalks that connect a variety of habitats, including a cypress-tupelo swamp, beech-magnolia and hardwood forests. Among the wildlife that call the area home are hundreds of bird species, snakes, turtles, racoons, opossums and more. For even more animal viewing, head to the 9,500-square-foot exhibit building, which is filled with live animal displays, photos and other artifacts related to the center's flora and fauna, such as feathers, pelts and skulls.
Past visitors said this was a great place to bring young children thanks to a helpful staff eager to answer any questions. Reviewers reported seeing plenty of snakes and turtles and recommended visiting the exhibit building displays for a dose of air conditioning and more small animal exhibits. Travelers also described the center as being well-maintained.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Baton RougeZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
A hit with families, the Baton Rouge Zoo is home to a variety of animals both big and small. Everything from alligators and rhinoceroses to parrots and hissing cockroaches call this zoo home. Visitors will find a variety of exhibits here grouped by region, including Africa, Asia and South America, as well as by environment, including an aquarium and an otter pond. In addition to the animals, the zoo also offers a playground, multiple cafes, daily animal feedings and educational chats and demonstrations. There's also a train ride that takes visitors into the wetlands surrounding the zoo's perimeter.
Recent visitors said the zoo is a fun activity for families. A few felt the zoo was too small, but others said it was sized just right, especially for the price of admission.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Baton RougeMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Spanning 26,000 square feet, the Knock Knock Children's Museum attracts families with its interactive exhibits that the museum calls "Learning Zones." In total, the museum boasts 18 Learning Zones. Exhibits include an art studio that allows kids to create with paint, fabric, beads and clay, a play cafe and a mock veterinary space equipped with stuffed animals, lab coats, stethoscopes and more.
Recent visitors were highly impressed with the museum, saying they spent at least three hours exploring the facility's various exhibits. Others described the space as clean and said it's a great indoor activity for children ages 2 to 10.
- #11View all Photos#11 in Baton RougeMuseums, Tours, Monuments and MemorialsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Tours, Monuments and MemorialsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
For a peek into the lives of Louisiana's early settlers from France and the West Indies, pay a visit to the 900-acre Magnolia Mound. This plantation house dates back to 1791 and serves as a notable illustration of the French Creole lifestyle of the early 19th century. Aside from the house itself, the property also showcases a collection of Louisiana-made furniture from the state's colonial period, as well as English and French ceramics, decorative arts and crystal.
Magnolia Mound also serves as an important reminder of the role of enslaved people in Louisiana's history and prosperity. It is believed that as many as 79 enslaved people worked on Magnolia Mound by 1860. Though the plantation's original slave quarters were demolished, visitors will see a double slave cabin that was relocated to the property from another historic site in Louisiana. Other buildings on-site include an open-hearth kitchen, an overseer's house, an outhouse and a building used to house game birds called a dovecote.
- #12View all Photos#12 in Baton RougeMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Located in a historic railway station that dates back to 1925, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum features a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as a planetarium. The museum also houses a selection of hands-on galleries, including the "Science Station," where kids ages 7 to 12 learn the elements of life science, earth science, physical science and math via a series of interactive exhibits. One such exhibit is "Calories in, Calories Out," which teaches participants about the amount of time and energy it takes to burn off the calories of various snacks. Among the museum's permanent exhibits is one dedicated to ancient Egypt that displays a mummy from the Ptolemaic period.
Along with its science-focused exhibits, the museum also houses a permanent collection of 4,000 artworks and artifacts. A selection of items from the museum's permanent collection are on display in the museum's two small galleries at any given time. Visitors can expect American and European art – including works by the likes of Jean Victor Bertin and Charles Burchfield – as well photography, and Louisiana modern and contemporary art.
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