In a Nutshell: Baton Rouge offers visitors year-round access to affordable events, unique dining opportunities, and a plethora of cultural experiences. Visit Baton Rouge keeps tabs on the city’s numerous attractions so tourists can make the most of their visit. Food and music festivals abound in Baton Rouge, and visitors can watch the city’s hometown team, the Louisiana State University Tigers, compete in athletic events.
If you’re a sports fan living in America, you’re likely familiar with Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Baton Rouge is home to Louisiana State University (LSU) and its 21 varsity sports teams. The LSU Tigers are instantly recognizable in their purple and gold uniforms, and the school has a rich history of success in athletics.
In addition to fielding highly competitive teams, LSU is also responsible for introducing the world to some of the biggest names in sports. From prominent athletes of yesteryear, such as Pete Maravich and Shaquille O’Neal, to current superstars Joe Burrow, Olivia Dunne, and 2023’s Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels, LSU has had no shortage of world-class athletes.
But Baton Rouge is about much more than sports. We spoke with Tamaria Williams, Communications Manager for Visit Baton Rouge, about the variety of attractions the city offers visitors.
“Baton Rouge is known to be on the affordable side,” Williams said. “Gas is affordable. Food is affordable. It depends on what you’re looking for, but I feel like we have the advantage of being one of the more affordable destinations in the South. And we really take pride in that.”
Known as a college town, Baton Rouge is also home to Southern University and A&M College, the largest historically black college or university in Louisiana. Williams said students who move to Baton Rouge for higher education have access to affordable housing and dining options.
“You can find really good food at a low price here,” Williams said. “You’ll pay a fraction of the cost you would have to pay for a similar meal somewhere else like New York or Dallas. I don’t think people realize Baton Rouge’s affordability because they think living in a city is automatically expensive. But that’s just not the case at all.”
Williams said Visit Baton Rouge is collaborating with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to attract more young professionals (ages 25-44) to the Capital Region and encourage them to want to visit, work, and live in Baton Rouge.
Events Fill the Fall and Spring Calendar
Williams said the fall season is a popular time for tourists to visit Baton Rouge. Football fans and their families pack the town on fall weekends to watch the Tigers play in Tiger Stadium. While in town, football fans can visit LSU’s mascot, Mike the Tiger, in his multi-million dollar habitat.
“Mike has his own home where he can roam free and do as he pleases,” Williams said. “People love to visit his habitat, which is located right across the street from Tiger Stadium.”
Spring is also a busy time in Baton Rouge. Williams said the city hosts festivals in the spring that attract visitors from surrounding areas. Food festivals, including the Baton Rouge Soul Food Festival, highlight Louisiana’s unique cuisine and often feature live bands to entertain attendees as they sample local fare.
The Baton Rouge Blues Festival occurs each April and celebrates local and national blues artists. The festival is free and family-friendly.
“The weather in Baton Rouge is scorching hot in the summer,” Williams said. “But it’s much more tolerable in the spring and fall. We usually see a ton of tourists visit the area during the fall and spring seasons because of the events held during those times and the pleasant weather.”
Though special events and festivals fill the fall and spring calendar, Williams said Baton Rouge offers fun activities throughout the year. In addition to LSU”s sporting events, the city’s hockey team, the Baton Rouge Zydeco, provides low-cost access to professional hockey.
Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana, and visitors can tour the Old State Capitol’s free museum in downtown Baton Rouge. Williams said the Old State Capitol was where Louisiana’s lawmakers convened until the new Louisiana State Capitol building opened in the early 1930s.
“The capitol buildings are big attractions,” Williams detailed. “They’re always open and always free. I feel like, if you come to Baton Rouge, visiting the capitol buildings should be at the top of your list of things to do while in town. They really explain the history of Baton Rouge and give you a better sense of what the area’s about and what the people here represent.”
Outdoor Activities Provide Access to Scenic Vistas and Wildlife
BREC is the agency that manages Baton Rouge’s parks and recreation programs. Williams said there are more than 180 parks spread across Baton Rouge. Admission into BREC-managed parks is free.
The Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is a more than 100-acre facility that educates visitors about fauna and flora native to Louisiana. Williams said visitors to the nature center can walk along a boardwalk and view various species of birds and vegetation.
“The Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is a beautiful oasis, and it’s kind of like an escape within Baton Rouge,” Williams explained. “You don’t have to go outside the city to see these plants and animals — it’s right there for you in the middle of the city.”
BREC also manages the Baton Rouge Zoo, which Williams said is being renovated. The renovation project, anticipated to continue through 2024, will provide the zoo with a new entrance and exhibits.
“We’ve already seen a mock-up of the zoo’s new designs,” Williams said. “We’re really excited for people to see the enhancements once they’re completed.”
Tourists will likely work up an appetite while experiencing all Baton Rouge offers. Baton Rouge’s abundance of culinary delights suits a variety of tastes. Williams said City Slice Pizza & Pints, located adjacent to LSU’s campus, is a must-try pizzeria with affordable prices.
The Chicken Shack, which Williams said is the longest-running restaurant in Baton Rouge, is known for its soul food.
“It probably only costs around $15 to feed a family of four at Chicken Shack,” Williams said. “It’s very cheap, but it’s very good.”
Baton Rouge Offers Something For Everyone
Baton Rouge’s diverse activities and attractions make it an ideal family vacation destination. Its Live After Five concert series features musicians performing for the public for free. Food trucks are available during Live After Five, and attendees are encouraged to bring a folding chair, relax, and enjoy the music.
“Everybody comes out for Live After Five to have a really good time and sing and dance to free music,” Williams said.
Cycling enthusiasts should consider bringing their bikes on their trip to Baton Rouge. Williams said Baton Rouge’s cycling opportunities include trails along the riverfront, and cyclists can enjoy scenic views of the Mississippi River at sunset.
Williams said tourists vacationing in New Orleans should consider visiting Baton Rouge for a day. Baton Rouge is only 80 miles from the Crescent City.
“New Orleans is fun, but it’s also big and crowded,” Williams explained. “Baton Rouge is only a little over an hour away, and, though it’s a smaller city, it still has tons of great things you can do at an affordable price.”
Visitors can fly into the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, which provides direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, and Washington, D.C.
“The Baton Rouge airport is small, but it provides flights to bigger cities to get you where you need to go,” Williams said. “The experience at the airport is very convenient. I can get through TSA and be at my gate within 10 or 15 minutes. I feel like it’s a hidden gem and one of Baton Rouge’s best-kept secrets.”