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City Guide: A Half-Day in Baton Rouge, LA

Updated: Feb 10

Some of the best things to do with four hours in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Street art of black and white fleur de lis in downtown Baton Rouge
Street art leads the way in downtown Baton Rouge.

If you're driving through Baton Rouge, Louisiana, plan some extra time and leave the highway. There are more than a few things to see, and ideally, you would have more than a few hours to see them! But even as a pit stop on a road trip from Dallas to New Orleans or somewhere else, you can enjoy art, history and great food in this capital city along the mighty Mississippi.

We recently had some time to spend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and here are our favorite local finds that you won't see anywhere else.

A Half-Day Guide to Baton Rouge

A half day in Baton Rouge is just enough time to hit some of the city's high points, sampling its local history, culture and food. If you're new to Louisiana travel, Baton Rouge is an excellent place to start exploring the Pelican State. The Louisiana state capital and political center, it's home to two prominent capitol buildings; a thriving college and university system and a vibrant city center. The busy Mississippi River waterway flows past downtown, with a riverfront and levee path for optimal viewing.

Baton Rouge History: Old Capitol Building

Arts & Culture in Baton Rouge

Where to Eat in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge Travel Planner


Exploring Baton Rouge History

Baton Rouge, or "red stick" in French has been the state capital of Louisiana since 1849, with a rich history and French and Spanish influences. Baton Rouge state business is currently carried out at its modern capital or Capitole de l'État de Louisiane, which also happens to be America's tallist capitol building at 460 feet. But if you have limited time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana's Old State Capitol is truly unique.

white building with towers and trees in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Old State Capitol: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Stained glass lining a domed ceiling, Baton Rouge Louisiana
Stained glass abounds in Louisiana's Old State Capitol: Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This Gothic-style building has stood for 165 years, with a restoration project in 1990 that enables it to function as a museum and Center for Political and Governmental History. Its exterior looks like a castle, and its interior is even more beautiful, with stained glass throughout, Its focal point is a winding, center staircase below a massive kaleidescope-like dome. Depending on the time of day and position of the sun, colored light dances along the interior. It truly is beautiful, and it is also educational, with historical and political exhibits in the House and Senate Chambers and Governor's Portrait Room as well as temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Admission is free.

Arts in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge has a wide variety of museums, galleries and other art spaces, and murals and other public art throughout the city.

If you only have a few hours in Baton Rouge, the LSU Museum of Art is a convenient stop and showcases touring exhibitions and a large permanent collection of modern art and earlier works.