32 Things to Do in Baton Rouge, LA (+ Beignet Fingers!) (2024)

The best things to do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, involve digging into the unique history of the state’s capital but also eating all of the things.

We spent a full month in New Orleans bopping around town and eating our weight in beignets. It wasn’t until closer to the end of our time there that we decided we had to make time for Baton Rouge.

We’re all about state capitals, but it somehow wasn’t at the top of the list, even when it came to New Orleans day trips we’d done in the weeks prior.

Don’t sleep on Baton Rouge like we did. Use this guide, instead, to have yourself a delightful time exploring all of the best attractions in Baton Rouge.

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What is Baton Rouge best known for?

Baton Rouge is best known for its multiple state capitol buildings and Louisiana State University, or LSU. This is the home of the Tigers and all kinds of school pride.

This city in the southeast-central part of Louisiana also has a great food scene. Beignet fingers are a great place to start with that.

How do I spend a day in Baton Rouge?

You can spend a day in Baton Rouge like this:

  • Order a plate of beignet fingers at Coffee Call.
  • Get to the top of the Louisiana State Capitol Building.
  • Stroll Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park.
  • Learn the local history at the Capitol Park Museum.
  • Grab lunch at City Pork.
  • See the Old Governor’s Mansion.
  • Visit the Old State Capitol.
  • Walk the Louisiana State University campus.
  • See Mike the Tiger.
  • Visit a Baton Rouge brewery.
  • Enjoy dinner in downtown Baton Rouge.

Fun Things to Do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

If you’re traveling to Baton Rouge from New Orleans as we did, start your day early. It’ll take you about an hour and a half to get there with light traffic. It could take you a bit longer to get back depending on when you hit the road for your return.

Once you’re there, Baton Rouge parking can be a little tricky to navigate. We were able to find free parking downtown within a few blocks of the major sites, but navigating campus was more of a pain.

Interested in a map of everything I’ll get into here? Follow my Google link below:


1. Get the beignet fingers at Coffee Call.

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You would think I had my fill of beignets after a month in New Orleans, but that turned out to be incorrect. When I hear about something called “beignet fingers,” I need to answer the call…the Coffee Call, that is. (Don’t hate me.)

They give you a substantial amount of the fingers, which we compared to elephant ears, for an insubstantial amount of money. Brian also got a king cake iced coffee which felt very special.

The location seems weird. You’ll be around all kinds of big box stores that don’t suggest you’re about to do something awesome, but do something awesome you will!

2. Check out the goods at the Red Stick Farmers Market.

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If you’re visiting on a Saturday, you may want to start your morning in Baton Rouge at the Red Stick Farmers Market, instead. You can also bring your beignet fingers to the market as you shop for additional treats. There’s no shame in that game.

From 8am-noon on Saturdays, produce farmers and local vendors sell all kinds of yummy goodies at this downtown Baton Rouge market. Expect live music on nice days, too. It’s a whole scene.

3. Take in the view from the Louisiana State Capitol Building.

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The tallest capitol building in the U.S. deserves some time on your Baton Rouge activities list. Head to downtown Baton Rouge for a gander and walk the grounds at the very least.

If it’s open (it wasn’t on our visit), you can head up to the observation level for what I assume are great views of the city.

4. Stroll Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park.

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On a sunny day, stroll around the Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park or any of the pathways along the Mississippi River once you’re done at the capitol building. If you’re as lucky as we were, you’ll see some very fancy ducks doing what they do best: precarious crossings across the street.

Note: You’ll be within a short walk of the Governor’s Mansion from here, too. You can plan a tour of the place, but it’s by appointment only.

5. Learn about local history at the Capitol Park Museum.

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Take a short walk to the Capitol Park Museum, part of the Louisiana State Museum system. The museum was closed on the day we visited Baton Rouge, so do better than I did and make sure there aren’t any private events happening when you’re planning all of the fun things to do in Baton Rouge.

It looked like a wedding, so I won’t be too upset.

Expect a colorful history of Louisiana told through exhibits on life along the Mississippi River, the importance of agriculture — and, as a result, slavery —in the city and the state, and the state’s musical roots.

Note: If you book more than two museums during your visit to Baton Rouge, you’ll get a decent discount.

6. Visit the Old Governor’s Mansion.

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The Old Governor’s Mansion is known as Louisiana’s White House, and it’s just as grand as the new mansion near the capitol building.

The lovely building and gardens are home to the Foundation for Historical Louisiana today, but back in the day it was home to all kinds of wheeling and dealing, I imagine. Getting married? You can do so here, too.

Pop in for a look at the grand ballroom and marble staircase.

7. See the immersive Old State Capitol.

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The Old State Capitol was a highlight of our Baton Rouge trip. It’s all free, and the exhibits are informative and, at times, a little spicy.

If you know anything about Louisiana’s political history, you know that Huey P. Long can be a polarizing figure. There’s an exhibit here that embraces that fact with separate sections that display the pro/anti stances for and against the former governor and state senator.

Long was assassinated, by the way, something they also explore in a bit of a mysterious way.

In any case, I loved this stop. The stained glass throughout and impressive dome are worth the visit alone if you’re not into all of that political backstory I described.

If you have the time in Baton Rouge, you can spend a full afternoon just in the vicinity of the Old State Capitol.

8. Pop by the Louisiana Art and Science Museum.

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This museum is across the street from the Old State Capitol, so it’s an easy add-on to your list of activities in Baton Rouge if you’re being efficient.

The arts portion includes pieces from Louisiana and European artists and photography exhibits. The science portion includes the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium for my space nerds out there.

I say this with love. Brian is a big space nerd.

9. Tour the USS Kidd Veterans Museum.

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We didn’t make it inside the USS Kidd Veterans Museum, but it’s worth checking out from the outside as it’s a short walk from the Old State Capitol.

The ship itself saw all kinds of action during World War II. It was decommissioned by 1946 but returned to active duty during the Korean War. By 1964, it was chosen as the site of a new memorial for Louisianians who served in World War II.

Fun fact: The ship was named after Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr., who was killed aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The museum closes earlier than most, so if you do want to head inside, reserve your tickets online in advance.

Visiting on a sunny day? The surrounding Riverfront Plaza is a lovely place to spend some time and look for more fancy ducks.

10. Check out the Red Stick Sculpture.

It may not look like much, but the Red Stick Sculpture at Southern University and A&M College speaks to the history of Baton Rouge and how it got its name.

When French explorers arrived in Baton Rouge to claim it for their own, they noticed a pole sticking out of a bank on the Mississippi River in a spot now known as Scott’s Bluff. The pole was actually a marker dividing the border between rival indigenous tribes.

The pole was bloodied from recent hunting activities, so the French naturally called it “le bâton Rouge,” or “the red stick.” The sculpture commemorates that magical moment for all to see.

11. Indulge in barbecue at City Pork.

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The City Pork Brasserie & Bar is an excellent lunch option for barbecue sandwiches and gator sausages.

Fun fact: No, really. Brian ate an alligator sausage po’boy and lived to tell the tale.

Make a reservation if you’re visiting during peak lunch hours to avoid a wait. We booked one about an hour before our arrival time with no problems.

If you’re not into delicious barbecue, the same folks also run City Taco, a ghost kitchen on Chimes Street.

12. Explore more Baton Rouge restaurants.

Lunch and a stop for beignet fingers were enough to sustain us on our day in Baton Rouge, but with more time, the Louisiana city has quite a few options for delicious eats. Here are a few that looked all kinds of yummy:

  • Beausoleil: Experience contemporary Louisiana cuisine with delights like pumpkin and crawfish bisque, deviled lobster, and truffled fried oysters. Make reservations via OpenTable.
  • The Chimes: You’re likely to see some students, or at the very least alumni, at The Chimes. This one is positively beloved by LSU folks. I’m going to say the extensive beer menu and crawfish mac and cheese have something to do with it.
  • MJ’s Cafe: Vegetarians and vegans rejoice. MJ’s Cafe caters almost exclusively to plant-based palates. Choose from light options like chickpea salads and large helpings of daily soups with this option.
  • The Overpass Merchant: This gastropub serves up elevated favorites like spicy chicken sandwiches alongside inventive fare like their “semi-world famous” chicken skins and Wisconsin cheese curds. Book a table via OpenTable.
  • UMAMI: It’s true. Baton Rouge has bangin’ sushi. Chef Cong Nguyen comes to town with a background in Japanese cuisine and Louisiana fishing. Order à la carte or go with their omakase option. Call 225-768-8808 for reservations.

13. Walk the LSU Campus.

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If you’re visiting Louisiana State University (LSU) at any point during your trip to Baton Rouge, check to see whether there are any events, sporting or otherwise, happening during your visit.

There was something going on when we were there, and it was a pain to sit in traffic on some of those narrow lanes.

Now that that’s out of the way, that doesn’t make the campus any lovelier. Find your favorite green space and do some people-watching.

If you’re working with a sunny day, check out the Memorial Tower first. The 175-foot clock tower is actually a memorial to Louisianians who died in World War I. Set against some impressive open green space, it’s a lovely place to start on a visit to LSU.

14. Find hidden sculptures at the LSU Rural Life Museum.

The LSU Rural Life Museumis dedicated to the architecture and agricultural materials of rural Louisiana. Explore historic outbuildings and the Windrush Gardens — try to find the hidden sculptures in the botanical park along the way — on a self-guided tour.

15. Meet Mike the Tiger.

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I know you want to see Mike the Tiger.

It started to rain just before we got to him, so we drove to the Mike the Tiger Habitat and parked right up front. Do NOT follow Apple maps to get to his habitat. You can park right along Stadium Drive, seriously right out front. It’s free to visit.

If he’s feeling saucy, he’ll come right up to where you’re standing against the 15,000-square-foot space and give you a little purr. Take a look at the large LSU Tiger Stadium next door if you’re a college sports fan.

16. Get artsy at the Shaw Center for the Arts.

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The Shaw Center for the Arts is a full city block made up of multiple venues for you to experience. Those include:

  • The Manship Theatre
  • LSU Museum of Art
  • Glassell Gallery
  • The River Terrace

The LSU Museum of Art actually started in Memorial Tower on the LSU campus back in the day, expanding to the Shaw Center in 2005. Good on you, art museum.

17. Catch a tour at the Magnolia Mound Plantation.

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I’m not a huge fan of plantation tours, but from what I’ve read, they do address the enslaved population that worked the grounds here when it was a working plantation.We didn’t have time to head out for our own visit, but if I’m wrong here do let me know.

The house you’ll see is an 18th-century home that is one of the oldest in the city. As it’s run by the city and the Recreation and Park Commission for the Paris of East Baton Rouge (BREC), I feel comfortable about the historical perspectives you’ll get here.

That said, it’s also important to visit these places with the facts. The indigo, sugarcane, tobacco, and cotton operations that thrived at the plantation did so thanks to the enslaved people who worked the land. The number of enslaved individuals who worked at the plantation grew from six to nearly 80 by 1860.

18. Sip on pints at Tin Roof Brewing Co.

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It’s time to ponder all of the fun you had today with a beer or two at Tin Roof Brewing Co. This is the city’s largest brewery featuring pours like their King Cake Cream Ale or the Parade Ground Porter, a coffee porter.

Interested in a brewery crawl? Here are a few more to try:

  • Agile Brewing: The name of this microbrewery is a nod to the brewery’s response to changing beer styles. You can expect them to embrace the flavors of the moment with whatever they have going on during your visit.
  • Cypress Coast Brewing Co.: This smaller operation is one of the newer kids on the block, but that doesn’t mean their brewers aren’t passionate about their craft. Expect small-batch and experimental pours at this one.
  • Rally Cap Brewing Company: This one is another newbie, but the brewers have just as much passion for sports as they do for beer. I’ll allow it, especially when superstitions are involved.

19. Check out the nightlife on Third Street.

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Third Street is the heart of downtown Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge tourism, and your best bet if you’re seeking things to do in Baton Rouge for adults. For a full lineup of live music, karaoke, and open mic opportunities, head to Boudreaux & Thibodeaux’s.

To get a little more bespoke with your entertainment in Baton Rouge, head to the co*cktail bar at The Gregory. For drink specials no matter when you wander in and the most casual of vibes, try Happy’s Irish Pub. Can you ever really go wrong with an Irish pub?

20. Book a guided Baton Rouge tour.

Baton Rouge is easy enough to explore on your own, but I’m all about a solid guided experience if it makes your life easier. Red Stick Adventures is the most popular tour company in the city. They can take you on a haunted city tour, historic walking tour, or foodie tour if you’re here to snack.

I’m always here to snack, so have at it!

Even More Baton Rouge Attractions

With more time, check out a few more places to go in Baton Rouge on your visit to the Louisiana city:

  1. Learn about regional military history at the Old Arsenal Museum.
  2. Stroll the boardwalks of the BREC’S Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, a great place to spot wildlife like snakes, turtles, and maybe an armadillo or two.
  3. If you love all things flora, don’t miss out on the Hilltop Arboretum at LSU, just south of the nature center I just described.
  4. Meet over 800 animals at the Baton Rouge Zoo, one of the best family-friendly things to do in Baton Rouge.
  5. Looking for more things to do in Baton Rouge with kids? Try the Knock Knock Children’s Museum.
  6. Catch a show in the balcony seats at the Manship Theatre.
  7. Plan your trip to coincide with the Baton Rouge Blues Festival.
  8. Travel to Baton Rouge during the winter holidays for their annual Festival of Lights.

Things to Do Near Baton Rouge

While I loved our extended time in New Orleans, I’d have no problem returning to Baton Rouge for an extended stay as a base for more adventure. Here are a few more Baton Rouge points of interest just outside of the city.

29. Greenwood Community Park

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This lakeside escape in Baker, Louisiana, is just 15 minutes north of central Baton Rouge. It’s one of the largest parks in the area and best known for its 18-acre lake. Fish, kayak, or just have yourself a relaxing stroll around the lake in this spacious natural space.

There’s also a golf course here, something that may be relevant if you’re traveling with a golf fanatic like Brian.

30. St. Francisville

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This charming town just about 35 minutes north of Baton Rouge is perfect for fall travel. The Myrtles Plantation there is known as one of the country’s most haunted spots.

If you’re not here for ghost-hunting, visit the tranquil nature of the Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area or the Afton Villa Gardens.

31. Drive the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.

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The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is described by many in the region as one of the scariest drives you’ll make while you’re here. I didn’t think it was that bad — I go into it in my detailed guide —but I also wasn’t driving.

The causeway itself is just an hour and a half from Baton Rouge, so it’s a pretty easy day trip possibility if you like a nice long bridge.

32. Take a trip to New Orleans.

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New Orleans is awesome, and it’s just an hour and a half from Baton Rouge. If you’re in Baton Rouge for any length of time, that easy drive to NOLA may be pretty tempting. Answer the call, if only to sample a more classic style of beignet.

If you’re not sure where to start with a day trip to New Orleans, I have a detailed guide to all of our favorite New Orleans things during our time there. I include everywhere we ate, too, so the list is pretty long.

Must-Do in Baton Rouge: FAQs

What are things to do in Baton Rouge for free?

Things to do in Baton Rouge for free include visiting Louisiana’s Old State Capitol building and the Mike the Tiger Habitat on the LSU campus. Baton Rouge also has a number of free days at its museums, so make sure that you peek at museum websites if you’re trying to time your visit right.

What can couples do in Baton Rouge?

Couples can do quite a bit in Baton Rouge. Explore any of the gardens or museums that are part of the LSU system, visit the city’s best breweries, or share a plate of beignet fingers. This city may not evoke romance in the obvious sense, but it’s certainly worth a closer look if you’re a traveling couple for its food, art, and history scene.

What is the trendy area of Baton Rouge?

The trendy area of Baton Rouge is Mid City. This is home to the city’s creatives, so expect a good art scene if you find yourself here. Spanish Town is another enclave for artists, but it doesn’t trend as young as Mid City. That certainly doesn’t make it less cool!

Where to Stay in Baton Rouge

We were in New Orleans for a month during our day trips to Baton Rouge, but that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have great accommodation options.

Use the map below to browse Baton Route hotels and apartment-style stays:

Is Baton Rouge good for tourists?

Baton Rouge is definitely good for tourists if only to see the Louisiana State Capitol building. The newer capitol building is the tallest in the United States.

If that doesn’t intrigue you, what does?

I know I’d love to come back for those beignet fingers alone. I’ve yet to meet a beignet I didn’t like, by the way!

Ready for What to Do in Baton Rouge?

Your Flight: I use a variety of tools to find cheap airfare, but if you’re looking to book during a particular period of time, you should use Skyscanner. It’s a great tool for when you’re more flexible, too, as it allows you to compare travel based on length of travel, departure date, etc.

To get to Baton Rouge, you’ll likely want to fly into New Orleans for better deals. Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport is a thing, but it’s much smaller than Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. From New Orleans, it’s about an hour and a half to Baton Rouge.

If you need a car, reserve a car ahead of time using a site likeHotwireorPricelineto find the best deals. You can search by car rental company, too, if you feel a loyalty there.

For adventurous folks who travel on the reg, I also subscribe toGoing, formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights. You’ll get cheap flight deals from your home base straight to your inbox.

Your Accommodations: I typically recommend sites like Booking.com and Hotels.com for your accommodation needs. Vrbo has become my preferred Airbnb alternative. Scroll up for recommendations for both Baton Rouge hotels and Baton Rouge apartments.

Seeking even more wallet-friendly accommodations? TryHostelworld. Their picks are heavily vetted and reviewed to offer you a safe experience on a budget.

Etc.: For general travel goodies, visit my Favorite Things page. For more information on planning your travel, visit my Travel Tools page.

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32 Things to Do in Baton Rouge, LA (+ Beignet Fingers!) (2024)
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