Baton Rouge Travel, Tourism, Attractions and Things to Do

The Early Years: Founding of Red Stick


Baton Rouge dates from 1699, when French explorer Sieur d"Iberville leading an exploration party up the Mississippi River saw a reddish cypress pole festooned with bloody animals and fish that marked the boundary between the Houma and Bayou Goula Indian tribal hunting grounds.

They called the pole and its location "le bâton rouge", or red stick.

Since European settlement, Baton Rouge has been governed by France, Britain, Spain, Louisiana, the Florida Republic, the Confederate States, and the United States.

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Growth and Expansion

In the 1950s and 60s, Baton Rouge experienced a boom in the petrochemical industry which caused the city to expand away from its original center on the Mississippi River. In recent years, government and business have begun a move back to the central district.

A building boom that began in the 1990s continues today, with multi-million dollar projects for quality of life improvements and new construction happening all over the city.

In the 2000s, Baton Rouge has proven to be one of the fastest growing cities in the South.

The City of Baton Rouge is the home to over 230,000 residents, while the the Greater Baton Rouge Metropolitan area has a population of over 800,000 people.

Baton Rouge Attractions

Baton Rouge is known far and wide for a number of things: Louisiana State University, LSU Fighting Tiger football on Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium, Governor Huey Long, and Mike Anderson"s Seafood Restaurant.

The Shaw Center for the Arts, downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana

And the skyscraper Louisiana Capitol, and the Mall of Louisiana on Bluebonnet Boulevard are always popular stops.

Besides the State Capitol, many visitors to the area enjoy the LSU Rural Life Museum, the Shaw Center for the Arts, the Old State Capitol and its Louisiana State Museum.

Other popular tourist spots in Baton Rouge include the LSU Museum of Art, the USS Kidd & Veterans Memorial on the banks of the Mississippi River downtown, the Shaw Center, and the Louisiana Arts & Science Museum.

A variety of events, concerts and circuses are held in the Baton Rouge River Center downtown at the Mississippi River.

Swamp Tours in the Atchafalaya Basin

One of the most popular things to do in Louisiana is touring the swamps! Most tours are concentrated in South Louisiana.

The area between Lafayette and Baton Rouge offers a number of swamp tours, operating from communities such as Breaux Bridge, Henderson, St. Martinvileand Plaquemine.

Learn more about Swamp Tours in the Atchafalaya Basin.

The "Old" State Capitol on North Boulevard at the Mississippi River, downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Staff Photo)

The "Old" Louisiana State Capitol

On September 21, 1847, the City of Baton Rouge donated to the state of Louisiana a $20,000 parcel of land for a state capitol building, taking the seat of the capitol away from the City of New Orleans. The land donated by the city for the new capitol stands high atop a Baton Rouge bluff facing the Mississippi River, at the foot of North Boulevard.

Construction took place between 1847 and 1852.

The building is one of the most distinguished examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the United States.

A National Historic Landmark, the building was restored in the 1990s and now houses the Museum of Political History.

The "New" Louisiana State Capitol Building

The Huey Long monument and tomb on the State Capitol grounds in Baton Rouge (photo by the Louisiana Destinations staff)

Governor and U.S. Senator Huey Pierce Long had a vision of a new, towering Louisiana State Capitol building. 

The Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad company built a rail spur to the construction site. Approximately 2,500 rail cars of materials were brought via this rail spur for use on the capitol.

On May 16, 1932, after only 14 months of construction, the new building was dedicated to the citizens of Louisiana.

Ironically, Huey P. Long was unable to attend because of pressing senatorial duties in Washington D.C.

On September 8, 1935, Long, then a U.S. Senator, was fatally wounded by an assassin in the Capitol building, where the bullet holes are still to be seen on the wall.

He died two days later as a result of his wounds and is interred in the Capitol gardens.

As the tallest state capitol in the United States, the building is 450 feet high with 34 floors. The cost to complete the building was a modest $5 million.

It is one of only four skyscraper capitols in the country and one of only nine capitol buildings that does not have a dome.

Baton Rouge Hotels, Motels, Lodging, and Restaurants


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LaFonda Restaurant vintage matchbook cover, circa 1976

Baton Rouge is known for good food, served around town from local eateries downtown, and out Government Streens , Nicholson and Highland Road.

We can"t forget the many fine meals we have enjoyed over the years in Baton Rouge ... the Italian dishes at Giamanco"s on Government Street, fried shrimp at Mike Anderson"s, and poboys at Phil"s Oyster Bar.

One favorite that is no longer around was La Fonda Restaurant and Lounge, located at 7838 Airline Highway. The food, service and atomosphere were always a treat ... and it was always crowded!

In earlier times in town during the 1970s, diners enjoyed Saturday"s in Corporate Square and Mexican cuisine at Pancho"s Mexican Buffet on Nicholson.

Today we love the beignets at Coffee Call on College Drive and other long-time establishments.

We have enjoyed over the years places like Juban"s, The Chimes, Sammy"s Grill on Highland Road, Poor Boy Lloyd"s downtown, the Superior Grill, George"s and many many others!

And then there is pizza at the Fleur de Lis, at 5655 Government Street near Cloud Drive. The rectangular pizza and cold beer have always been a treat.

Shown to the right is a vintage matchbook cover from one of our many fun dining experiences at Fleur De Lis, circa 1978. I think we wore out "Rose Colored Glasses" on the jukebox ! (Author"s Collection)

For more information and menus, visit the website of Fleur de Lis


We"ve enjoyed hundreds of hot dogs, pizzas and chopped beef poboys at the famous Pastime Lounge on South Boulevard under the I-10 bridge.

You might find anyone at the Pastime! Its history includes over 70 years of fine service to community leaders, government employees, LSU students, legislators and refinery workers.

In October of 2007, the Pastime was officially declared a Historical Landmark based upon the cultural contribution to the area.

More old photos of Baton Rouge from the 1970s

The Pastime is still located at 252 South Boulevard. Phone 225.343.5490, or visit the Pastime on the web.

And just down Nicholson towards LSU from the Pastime was Pancho"s Mexican Buffens ... all you could eat for $1.49

Mardi Gras Parades In and Near Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge Area

Baton Rouge Mardi Gras

Spanish Town Mardi Gras

Krewe of Southdowns

Krewe of Artemis

Krewe of Orion

Plaquemine Mardi Gras
Pointe Coupee Parish Mardi Gras: New Roads, Livonia, Batchelor

Baton Rouge Culinary Scene Tojob ... from Louisiana Travel

Baton Rouge Casinos

Riverboat gambling is big in Baton Rouge! The Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hotel is located close to the I-10 bridge, and the Hollywood Casino is located near the Louisiana State Capitol Building.

The L"Auberge Casino & Hotel is located south of downtown and south of LSU.

Baton Rouge Institutions of Higher Learning

Baton Rouge is the home of the main campus of Louisiana State University, located south of downtown. Southern University is located to the north, along the Mississippi River, while Baton Rouge Community College rests in mid-town, near Florida Boulevard, North Boulevard, and Government Street.

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Baton Rouge Location, Highways and Airport

Campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge is located in South Louisiana, at the intersection of I-10 and I-12. It is about 80 miles from New Orleans. US Highway 61 provides access to St. Francisville and West Feliciana Parish to the north, while US Highway 190 provides another east-west-corridor to areas of South Louisiana such as Hammond and Opelousas.

Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) provides jet service to major cities across the south and the US.