Located by the breathtaking Mississippi River, Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s state capital, is an incredible city to explore. It’s full of museums, historic landmarks, attractions, great food, and all sorts of fantastic culture. There are just so many things to do in Baton Rouge!
The following is our guide to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Whether you’re traveling alone, with your spouse, and/or with your kids, Baton Rouge will have something to meet your needs. Come for the gorgeous views, the exciting atmosphere, and the dynamic energy of this iconic city.
There are so many great things to do in Baton Rouge you’ll want to stay as long as possible. And if you can’t, you’ll want to come back soon and often! And the 15 places and activities we’ve chosen for our list are just the beginning! Baton Rouge is so full of attractions, a full list could fill up a book!
Things To Do In Baton Rouge – Museums
For lovers of culture and history, Baton Rouge has a number of world-class museums to explore. The following are some of our favorites to begin your journey.
1. Shaw Center for the Arts
Address: 100 Lafayette Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Mon: 9 AM – 4 PM; Tues – Thurs: 9 AM – 10 PM; Fri: 9 AM – 11 PM; Sat: 10 AM – 11 PM; Sun: 11 AM – 5 PM
If you’re a lover of the arts, you must visit the Shaw Center for the Arts. It isn’t only one of the best things to do in Baton Rouge if you want to see beautiful artwork. It also celebrates the performing arts and film.
The Shaw Center for the Arts is a massive venue the size of a full city block. Its 125,000 square feet actually encompass a conglomeration of smaller museums and performance spaces.
Housed within it are the LSU Museum of Art, the LSU School of Art’s Glassell Gallery, and numerous theatres. They are the Hartley-Vey Theater, the New Venture Theatre, and the Manship Theatre, which seats 325.
The campus also houses a beautiful park, event venues for weddings and such, and a number of restaurants. If culture is what you’re looking for, this is the place to be.
2. LSU Museum of Art
Address: 100 Lafayette Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Tues – Wed: 10 AM – 5 PM; Thurs – Fri: 10 AM – 8 PM; Sat: 10 AM – 5 PM; Sun: 1 PM – 5 PM; Closed Mondays & Major Holidays
While we just covered the Shaw Center, the LSU Museum of Art located within it deserves its own entry. Located on the Shaw’s 5th floor, this museum is another of the best things to do in Baton Rouge.
With 15-foot ceilings, this magnificent art museum has 14 galleries spread out over an impressive 13,000 square feet. Thanks to its massive art collection, one of the largest in the South, it’s one of Baton Rouge’s most-visited attractions.
Its collection encompasses a wide variety of art, from small to large paintings and other sorts of media. Some of its famous pieces include work by Clementine Hunter and Newcomb College Pottery, and historic jade carvings from China.
Meanwhile, the lovely museum shop carries a number of artworks from local artists on sale. Therefore, it’s also a great place to support the Baton Rouge art community.
3. Louisiana Art & Science Museum
Address: 100 South River Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Wed – Fri: 10 AM – 3 PM; Sat: 10 AM – 5 PM; Sun: 1 PM – 5 PM; Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Another of the best things to do in Baton Rouge, especially with kids, is the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. Something that really makes this museum stand out is its located inside a converted railway station from 1925!
Inside, you’ll find galleries devoted to art as well as science. On the art side of things, it has a permanent fine art collection as well as temporary exhibits. Meanwhile, its science galleries explore the latest advances in how we understand the world.
We also recommend taking in a breathtaking sky show at the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium. The museum’s Ancient Egypt Gallery is also extremely popular. It’s filled with all sorts of Egyptian artifacts including a real mummy! Naturally this makes it a big hit with the kids.
The museum also often puts on various educational programs, classes, events, films, and shows. Check their schedule for upcoming events!
4. Capitol Park Museum
Address: 660 North Fourth Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Hours: Tues – Sat: 9 AM – 4 PM; Closed Sundays & Mondays
There are nine museums located in various cities of Louisiana that make up the Louisiana State Museum complex. The Capitol Park Museum is the one in Baton Rouge, and it’s another of the best things to do in Baton Rouge.
Located at the State Capitol’s mall, Capitol Park Museum focuses on educating visitors about the history and culture of Louisiana. It explores the state’s social history as well as that of its industry and commerce.
The museum’s permanent exhibits are Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation, and Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America.
Over the course of visiting them, you’ll learn the tragic history of slavery and the impact of the Civil War. You’ll also be taught about the African American battle for civil rights, specifically the famous bus boycott of 1953.
The museum also regularly features temporary exhibits and events. You can learn about what’s on now by checking their schedule.
Things To Do In Baton Rouge – Government Buildings
If you’re a state government and history buff, there are a lot of great places to visit in Baton Rouge. It’s the state capital after all!
5. Louisiana’s Old State Capitol
Address: 100 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Tues – Fri: 10 AM – 4 PM; Closed Sundays through Mondays
One of the best things to do in Baton Rouge for state history is visiting Louisiana’s Old State Capitol. This beautiful Gothic building used to be where the State Legislature of Louisiana used to be located. This was from the mid-1800s till the 1930s, at which point the current building was erected.
This classic building, located on a high hill above the Mississippi, could easily be mistaken for a castle. And, in fact, that’s what many people call it. It’s known as the Castle on the River, the Castle of Baton Rouge, and other similar nicknames.
Visiting there today you’ll experience some breathtaking architecture and views. It’s protected as a National Historic Landmark, and the United States Register of Historic Places has officially listed it.
Inside, you’ll also find the Museum of Political History, which houses historical documents, artifacts, art, and more. History buffs really can’t afford to pass up the opportunity to explore this fascinating place.
6. Louisiana State Capitol
Address: 900 North Third Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Mon – Sun: 8 AM – 4:30 PM; Closed on Major Holidays
After checking out the Old State Capitol, the current State Capitol should be your next stop! At a whopping 450 feet and thirty four stories tall, it’s the United States’ tallest capitol building! It’s also hard to miss as it’s Baton Rouge’s tallest building as well!
Fans of early twentieth century architecture will salivate at the sight of this gorgeous Art Deco construction. It’s like time traveling back to the 1930s, just as interesting visually as it is in its governmental capacity.
It’s where the governor lives, and is also home to the State Senate and House of Representatives. In short, it’s the seat of Louisiana’s government.
To this day, some people also call it Huey Long’s Monument. Huey Long was a former governor of Louisiana who worked tirelessly to get this gorgeous building built. These are just some of the reasons visiting it is one of the best things to do in Baton Rouge.
7. The Old Governor’s Mansion
Address: 502 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Tues – Fri: 10 AM – 4 PM; Closed Saturdays through Mondays
Although the Louisiana State Capitol is now home to the state governor, this wasn’t always the case. From 1930 to 1963, Louisiana governors used to live at what is now referred to as the Old Governor’s Mansion.
And now, visiting the mansion is one of the best things to do in Baton Rouge! For just over 30 years it was the official home of the governor, beginning with Huey Long. Several others lived there after him.
Once governors moved to the State Capitol, it then became the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum until that moved too. Beginning in 1978, it was reopened yet again as a historic house museum, which it still is today.
The house does guided tours on weekdays other than Mondays, and if you book in advance, you can get a group tour. They also have special rates for school trips. Additionally, they often host weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other similar events.
Things To Do In Baton Rouge – Attractions
Baton Rouge, Louisiana is also full of lots of attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Here are some of the best things to do in Baton Rouge, alone and/or with your spouse and kids!
8. Mike the Tiger Habitat
Address: North Stadium Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Mon – Sun: 8 AM – 8 PM; Sometimes slightly later on Thursdays, when yard work is done.
The official mascot of Louisiana State University is Mike the Tiger, and yes, he’s an actual tiger! And one of the most fun and unusual things to do in Baton Rouge is to pay him a visit. His habitat is on North Stadium Road, and anyone can come on over to say hi.
In the 1930s, the original Mike had only a very small enclosure. At only 2000 square feet, it sadly didn’t give him a lot of room to move around in. It also only had a few logs for him to climb.
Luckily, the modern habitat, built in 2005, is much larger, at an impressive 15,000 square feet. Not only does he have lots of room, but his habitat even re-creates his natural environment. It has a waterfall, a flowing stream, and a pond, in addition to plant life.
Only the best for Baton Rouge’s beloved Mike!
9. USS Kidd
Address: 305 South River Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Mon – Sun: 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Another of the great things to do in Baton Rouge for history buffs is the USS Kidd. A World War II era Fletcher class destroyer ship, the USS Kidd was first launched in the early 40s. It was named for Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died during the infamous Pearl Harbor attack.
The USS Kidd was involved in many battles during World War II. After being decommissioned after the end of that war, it was even re-commissioned for the Korean War! So it’s rich with history.
In 1964, it was decommissioned yet again, and became a museum and war memorial for Louisiana’s WWII veterans. Today, it’s fun for the whole family to explore the ship that used to be called the “Pirate of the Pacific”! Tours allow you on the deck and inside this massive ship.
If you’re in the area on December 7th, we recommend you come for their annual Pearl Harbor remembrance. It’s a moving event every year.
10. Red Stick Farmers Market
Address: Saturdays: 501 Main St., Baton Rouge, LA 70801; Thursdays: Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Sat & Thurs: 8 AM – 12 PM
If you want to soak up some of the city’s current culture, one of the best things to do in Baton Rouge is the Red Stick Farmers Market. Open twice a week at two separate locations (details above), it’s a great taste of local culture.
The farmers’ markets are open air, and everything sold there is grown by farmers local to the area. There are about 50 of them who sell everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to milk, pies, breads, and more. Jams, pickles, cheeses, honey, even seafood…You name it, they’ve got it!
Red Stick Farmers Markets are a perfect homey environment to meet up with Baton Rouge locals and enjoy great, fresh food.
11. Baton Rouge Zoo
Address: 3601 Thomas Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Mon – Sun, 9:30 AM – 4PM (Sept – March); 9:30 AM – 5 PM (April – August); Closed on Major Holidays
If Mike the Tiger isn’t quite enough wildlife for you, check out the Baton Rouge Zoo. It has over 1800 animals, making it one of the best things to do in Baton Rouge with the family.
Since 1970, it’s been a place to see all sorts of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, and more up close. Animals from all across the globe are here. They’ve even helped bring back some animals close to extinction such as the Guam rail and Arabian oryx.
The most popular exhibit is an aviary you can walk through where the birds fly free called the Parrot Paradise. We also couldn’t stop raving about the Otter Pond. It’s made to look like a cabin where you view otters swimming underwater at your eye level.
The Baton Rouge Zoo makes a perfect visit on a weekend or a less crowded weekday. The animals await you!
Things To Do In Baton Rouge – Dining and Shopping
Sometimes on vacation, all you want to do is relax, shop for souvenirs, and fill up on delicious food. Here’s our guide to the best places to shop and eat in Baton Rouge!
12. Downtown Baton Rouge
If shopping and entertainment are what you’re looking for, look no further than Downtown Baton Rouge. Located on the Mississippi River’s banks, you couldn’t hope for a more idyllic spot for a date or shopping excursion.
Whether you’re looking for a restaurant, bar, or hotel, this major commercial, entertainment, and even residential area has you covered. You can shop to your heart’s content and then have a delicious meal at Capital City Grill or Tsunami Sushi.
Each Fall and Spring, they also host a free concert series called Live After Five there. These are annually some of their most popular events, bringing people from far and wide.
13. Mason’s Grill
Address: 13556 Jefferson Hwy, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11 AM – 9:30 PM; Fri: 11 AM – 10 PM; Sat – Sun: 9 AM – 3 PM; Happy Hour: 3 PM – 7 PM (Mon – Fri)
One of the best things to do in Baton Rouge if you’re looking for a great brunch is Mason’s Grill. Not only is the food absolutely delicious but you get bottomless champagne as well.
They also have a Bloody Mary that has been voted as the best in the entire country by numerous magazines. So you definitely don’t want to miss that!
On the food end of things, they’re known for their various twists on the classic Eggs Benedict. Most involve seafood such as crabs and crawfish. They also serve up a mean (and scrumptious) steak. We also recommend their wide variety of Cajun dishes.
14. Walk On’s
Address: 3838 Burbank Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Hours: Sun – Thurs: 11 AM – 11 PM; Fri – Sat: 11 AM – 12 AM; Happy Hour: 2 PM – 6 PM (Mon – Fri)
An authentic Irish pub, Walk-On’s is another of our favorite things to do in Baton Rouge. Located near the university campus, Walk-On’s is huge and always inviting, and has a fantastic menu.
Burgers, stuffed potatoes, anything you can imagine that’s breaded and fried, salads, seafood are all on offer here. Not to mention a wide variety of beers and some very inventive cocktails. This makes it a big hit both with students and other locals.
If a satisfying meal in a lively joint is what you seek, this is the place for you!
15. Bistro Byronz
Address: 515 Mouton Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11 AM – 8:30 PM; Fri – Sat: 11 AM – 9:30 PM; Sun: 11 AM – 3 PM
Inspired by the classic bistros of Paris, Bistro Byronz puts a classically Louisiana spin on the concept. They pay tribute to the French roots of the state while also feeling modern and current.
They’re known for blending specifically Louisiana dishes with French foods like Chicken Paillard and Cassoulet. They do some great tartines and sandwiches, and we particularly love their addictive blue cheese chips!
Warm and inviting, this is one of the best meals you’ll find in the whole city.
Conclusion On Things To Do In Baton Rouge
And there you have it, our guide to the best things to do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Baton Rouge is such a vibrant, full city, though, that all we’ve done here is scratch the surface. But we hope that this will be a good start to your journey!