In the Capital City of Louisiana, there are many sights to see—from sky-high towers to castles to live animals. So the next time you’re in Baton Rouge, put these top 10 landmarks on your must-see list!
Built in the 1930s as Louisiana’s second capitol building, the current Louisiana State Capitol stands as the tallest capitol building in the United States. With 34 floors, the landmarks stands at a total 450 feet! As the seat of government for Louisiana, this building hosts some of the most important meetings in the state; however, it also has its share of beautiful scenery to offer. For no admission cost, you can head up to the 27th floor for the best view of the city, overlooking the gorgeous gardens and the rest of Downtown. After you take in the views, witness Louisiana government and history in action by booking a tour of the Capitol!
When Baton Rouge was named the Capital City of Louisiana in 1849, the Old State Capitol (a.k.a. the Castle on the River) was built shortly after as a Gothic piece of architecture overlooking the Mississippi River. It has withstood war, fire and many renovations since then. Nowadays, this castle serves as the Museum of Political History, telling of Louisiana’s political history and featuring an exhibit on the controversial senator and governor Huey P. Long. Mark Twain was not pleased with the construction of the castle, calling it an “architectural falsehood” for being built on such an honorable space. Contrary to what Twain had to say, the Old State Capitol is one of Baton Rouge’s most gorgeous and fascinating attractions with beautiful stained glass ceilings and windows and grand staircases throughout.
3. Tiger Stadium and Mike the Tiger
Anyone from Louisiana can tell you that Saturday nights are for football. Specifically, LSU football. And there is no better way to experience college football than in LSU’s own Tiger Stadium, more commonly known as Death Valley. Tiger Stadium is the loudest stadium in the South, with cheers so loud that it has registered as an earthquake! Visitors can schedule a tour to walk through the stadium and feel the magic of Death Valley themselves.
Near Tiger Stadium is the luxurious habitat of LSU’s beloved mascot, Mike the Tiger. Mike is the only living tiger on a college campus, and he is often seen running, playing or napping in his home. If you’re lucky, he may even pose for a photo! There is also an official LSU gift shop right next to his habitat so you can buy your own fluffy Mike the Tiger souvenir to bring home.
After touring Death Valley, you can take a stroll under stately oaks and broad magnolias on LSU’s campus. Another LSU landmark you cannot miss is the Memorial Tower. This iconic clock tower stands at 175 feet high, right in between the LSU quad and the Student Union. It was built in 1923 and dedicated in 1926 as a memorial to Louisianians who died in World War I. Every day, the tower plays the LSU fight song at noon, giving students and visitors a pinch of school spirit throughout the day.
5. USS Kidd
Named after Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr., the USS Kidd is the only ship to have been kept in its World War II configuration and one of four Fletcher-class destroyers left. As the main attraction in the Louisiana Memorial Plaza, it has been preserved for future generations as the Veterans and Memorial Museum. The ship is open to visitors so people of all ages can experience history first-hand. The ship has annual events that are open to all ages, such as the 4th of July Spectacular.
Built by Huey P. Long in 1930 and formerly called “Louisiana’s White House,” this ornate mansion housed Louisiana’s past governors. It is now a historic museum, the headquarters of the Foundation of Historical Louisiana and a popular spot for events such as weddings. With a stunning staircase and southern aesthetic, the mansion is the perfect backdrop for any special occasion. Guided tours are available Tuesday through Friday.
Cathedrals are a perfect attraction for anyone interested in history and architecture. St. Joseph’s Cathedral was built in 1853 as the designated cathedral of the diocese of Baton Rouge. This gorgeous church is described as having a Gothic feel with a modern twist. It’s beautifully bold red doors are frequently photographed by both local newly-weds and the everyday tourist. Because it is located Downtown, there are many other sights to see and places to eat after your tour of the church.
In contrast to the large Antebellum homes and museums throughout Baton Rouge, the LSU Rural Life Museum is dedicated to the preservation of 18th and 19th century rural Louisiana natives life. Founded in 1970, the museum was formed out of the original family plantation, Windrush, and is managed by the LSU Agricultural Center. You can discover how people worked, ate, cooked and lived by exploring the buildings these people used daily. Step back in time to get a glimpse of what life was like in the past and experience the authentic artifacts displayed throughout the exhibits.
Do you ever wonder how Baton Rouge got its name? Two indigenous tribes placed a red stick along the Mississippi River to divide the area into their hunting grounds, now known as Scott’s Bluff. When French explorers visited Baton Rouge, they called the area "le bâton rouge,” which translates to “the red stick” in French. The stick was then made into part of a large sculpture to commemorate how Baton Rouge got its name. You can see the statue for yourself on Southern University’s campus.
Located in Downtown Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum holds much to discover, including permanent art collections, a renowned planetarium and interactive activities. Through August, the museum is hosting a Highlights from the Hechinger Collection that features turning everyday tools into beautiful works of art to show their versatility and importance. The Louisiana Art & Science Museum is perfect for those looking to learn something new or to appreciate the beauty of our community.