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Plenty of historic sights and a dynamic, college-town feel make Louisiana’s capital city a must-visit. city. Tasty Creole-inflected Southern cuisine, riverboats on the Mississippi, venerable landmarks, and Louisiana’s largest malls add up to plenty of things to do in Baton Rouge, with attractions to suit whatever you’re in the mood for.
Bounded by Capitol Lake, the Mississippi River, and a pair of interstate highways, the central business district has upscale hotels and convention centers alongside the city’s oldest churches, historic houses, and centers of government. Both the castle-like Old Louisiana State Capitol and the new State Capitol building share the area with the State Library, waterfront casinos, and museums on the bluffs overlooking the river.
Dating back to the early days of the 20th century, the Garden District holds some of the city’s best-preserved historic neighborhoods, with elaborate Queen Anne-style houses on roads lined with great oak trees. Just to the south, City Park hosts a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, and the contemporary art exhibits at the Baton Rouge Gallery.
A collection of eclectic neighborhoods whose simple frame houses belie one of the city’s most diverse populations, the Mid City offers a network of eateries and small merchant shops lining the quiet residential roads. The area hosts some of the city’s favorite music clubs, and all 5 of Baton Rouge’s historic cemeteries can be found here.
Covering Louisiana State University, the City Park and University lakes, and a stretch of green space along the Mississippi River, this area is defined by greenery, performance spaces, and boutique shops. The suburban atmosphere extends to an equestrian center at Farr Park, while the college campus fuels a vibrant arts and theater scene.
There’s a unique brand of Americana to be found in the sights of Baton Rouge. The Gothic-styled castle of the Old State Capitol and the Art Deco skyscraper of the modern building are both among the most striking statehouses in the country. The capitol’s observation deck is one of the highest vantage points in town, and the bluffs that stand over the Mississippi give you some terrific views over the river. See where a retired World War II destroyer, the USS Kidd, rests along the river, visit the old plantation houses that formed a part of the Sugar Trail, or get to know the wildlife at the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center.
Baton Rouge has a variety of performing arts centers to showcase its wealth of entertainment options, from the River Center complex and Shaw Center for the Arts to the Reilly Theatre at LSU, home of the Swine Palace theater company. The Louisiana Art & Science Museum combines paintings and historical artifacts with a grand planetarium, and the Pentagon Barracks offers the stories of the 5 different countries’ armies that garrisoned there over the years.
If you’re here to explore, head outdoors and get to know the sea of greenery just north of the Mississippi River delta. The LSU Rural Life Museum assembles the traditions and culture of native peoples from across 3 continents in a recreation of 19th-century plantation life, and you can visit a half-dozen preserved estates in the countryside around the city. Ride an airboat through the swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin, go tubing along the Amite River, or just take on one of the water parks for some splash-filled fun as you find your favorite way to enjoy Baton Rouge.