Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, is a hidden gem in itself. While New Orleans may take the show when it comes to exploring the Creole State, Baton Rouge is a short, hour-plus drive north-west from the Birthplace of Jazz that’s filled with rich history, culture, and state-of-the-art attractions.
Whether you live in Baton Rouge and are looking for new things to see and do in your hometown, or are a visitor coming to explore all Baton Rouge has to offer, we’re here to help. In this off-the-beaten-path guide to Baton Rouge, you’ll find hidden treasures and unique attractions that most tourists don’t even know are there. When it’s time to go home, you’ll have a greater sense of Baton Rouge’s culture and history.
Baton Rouge is proud of its heritage. The city was settled by Europeans on Native American hunting grounds and is heavily influenced by French, Spanish, English, African, and native cultures. This melting pot of Cajun, European, and Creole cultures brings mouth-watering southern comfort, Bayou, and Caribbean foods that will make you want to dine out forever.
There’s no better way to explore the culture and heritage of a city than through food. This is because food allows cultures to express their identity and preserve their heritage. Traditional cuisine is passed down from generation to generation and serves as an expression of cultural identity. With Baton Rouge’s deep history, from early French colonization to the Antebellum period and beyond, comes a blend of Creole, French, Spanish, and African American cuisine.
Take a look at some of the top food attractions and Baton Rouge restaurants you must visit during your stay:
City Pork Brasserie and Bar
If you want to experience true Louisianan food, you must visit City Pork Brasserie and Bar. The casual atmosphere and rustic charm make you feel right at home, while the seasonally-inspired menu with culinary delights like rabbit, duck, and Gulf Seafood, make your tastebuds scream. City Pork Brasserie and Bar is also known for its Charcuterie and Cheese Bar, where diners can converse with staff about their famous cheese and charcuterie boards. For all the cheesemongers out there, Chef Scott Gautreau and his culinary styles won’t disappoint.
Location: 7327 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA
Bellue’s Fine Cajun Cuisine
For true Louisiana Cajun food, you need to visit Bellue’s Fine Cajun Cuisine. This is the perfect spot if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat to take on the go while you’re in between visiting attractions. From Pecan Smoked Boudin to Fried Cajun Spiced Turkey, this hole-in-the-wall eatery shows you what Louisianan cuisine is all about.
Location: 3110 Scenic Hwy, Baton Rouge, LA
Louisiana Lagniappe Restaurant
Looking for time-tested Louisiana favorites? The Louisiana Lagniappe Restaurant is your best bet. Not only do they have an excellent wine list, but they also have classic staples like Seafood Gumbo, Fried Gulf Shrimp, Louisiana Crawfish, and Grits and Grillades. This is the perfect spot if you want a romantic dine-in experience or to get a taste of some of the best seafood that comes straight from the Gulf.
Location: 9990 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA
Cane Land Distilling Company
Cane Land Distilling Company, owned and operated by The Three Roll Estate, is a state-of-the-art bar and southern vodka distillery. If you’re looking for a refreshing drink during your stay, this farm-to-table distillery will hit the spot. The Three Roll Estate is family-owned and creates their spirits using sugar straight from their farm’s sugar mill. As one of the world’s only estate-owned distilleries, you’re due for a unique experience with out-of-this-world cocktails made from their own rum, vodka, and whiskey.
Location: 760 St. Phillip Street, Baton Rouge, LA
Not only is Baton Rouge known for its food, but it’s also home to world-class entertainment attractions. With famous clubs that blast blues and jazz and exceptional colleges and universities, you’re sure to find an activity that will make your time in Baton Rouge worth-while.
Baton Rouge is located on a bluff that overlooks the Mississippi delta. This picturesque location is perfect for watching the sun set over the flood banks or cruising down one of America’s largest rivers on a floating casino. There are plenty of Baton Rouge casinos where you can test your luck and win the jackpot. The Belle of Baton Rouge and The Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge are two popular Native American-run floating casinos that allow you to experience the fresh air coming down the river while playing classic games like slots, blackjack, and poker.
LSU Football Games
Louisiana State University’s football program is one of the best Division I programs in the country. The LSU Tigers have sent countless athletes to the NFL and won four national championships, with two in the past decade (2007, 2019). With that said, you can bet attending an LSU football game at Tiger Stadium will be filled with intense rivalry and competition. If you happen to find yourself in Baton Rouge in the fall, an LSU football game will be a great way to interact with the local community and experience college football traditions.
Mike the Tiger’s Habitat
LSU is not only home to top-tier athletic teams, but also to their live mascot, Mike the Tiger. Mike the Tiger is the only live tiger on a college campus and is located across the street from Tiger Stadium. Visiting Mike the Tiger is free, and when you go and say hello, you’ll be able to see him in his 15,000 square foot habitat, which is one of the largest tiger enclosures out there.
Along with entertainment attractions, there are plenty of historical attractions where you can experience the Deep South and its historied past in Baton Rouge. From illustrious museums to Antebellum plantations, below are some worthy attractions you should cross off your list.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol
Along the Mississippi River, you’ll find Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, a Gothic, castle-like statehouse that is now a museum filled with the state’s political history. This National Historic Landmark is 165 years old and boasts an inspiring dome and collections that span the statehouse’s history through wars, fire, scandal, abandonment, debates, and restoration. Even better, touring this museum is completely free, and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Nottoway Plantation House
On the western banks of the Mississippi River, you’ll find the Nottoway Plantation house, which is the country’s largest antebellum mansion and completed in 1859. It boasts Greek and Italianate style architecture, and was commissioned by John Hampden Randolph, and survived through the Civil War and numerous owners.
While plantations have troubled pasts that stem from slavery and human suffering, they are a part of our nation’s history and shouldn’t be forgotten. Through plantation tours and visits, you’ll be able to learn about the slave experience and the dark history of America, and gain a better sense of how we’ve progressed since this time period.
Capitol Park Museum
At the Capitol Park Museum, you’ll be able to experience a variety of cultures that shaped Louisiana and Baton Rouge into what it is today. From American Indians and French, Spain, and English colonists to enslaved Africans and Acadians from Nova Scotia, you’ll be able to learn about the rich culture that drives Louisiana history through thematic exhibits and eclectic displays.
Visiting Baton Rouge
There are plenty of reasons to visit Baton Rouge—historical landmarks, rich culture, fantastic food. These are just some of the many attractions and experiences you’ll be able to enjoy when you take a visit to Louisiana’s capital. With this off-the-beaten-path guide to Baton Rouge, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the community and experience all this charming city has to offer.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com as well as runs a personal blog, mixedbitsmedia.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.