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Riveting Ways to Experience Baton Rouge

With over 300 years of culture on display, Baton Rouge is a history lover's paradise. The Louisiana state capitol, also known as the “Red Stick,” offers something for everyone to enjoy, from centuries-old architecture to treasure-filled museums and scrumptious cuisine from around the world. Whatever you’re looking for, get ready to check a few boxes off your bucket list.

Add to all that the lovely, warm temperatures year-round, and this historic city makes for an excellent adventure any time of the year.

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01Old Louisiana State Capitol

Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana BERKO85 / Getty Images

Experience centuries of history at the Old Louisiana State Capitol, which plays a pivotal role as the former statehouse. Up until the mid-19th century, this castle-like landmark was home to the Louisiana State Legislature, but now it's a must-see museum on the list of national historic landmarks.

Inside, discover Louisiana's rich history, view incredible art and architecture, and learn more about the democratic process through exhibits, immersive theatrical presentations ... a full schedule of engaging events. The museum gift shop features one-of-a-kind treasures from local artists and vendors, so you can bring a taste of the city home.

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02Old governor's mansion

Famous architect Huey P. Long constructed this stylish mansion, known as "Louisiana's White House," in 1930, and it was used as the state's official governor's residence until 1963. Housing nine governors in its time, the house is now a museum and the headquarters for Preserve Louisiana. Take a tour and discover unique features at every corner, from the marble staircase to the grand ballroom.

Along the way, you'll hear riveting tales about the personalities who called the place home. The mansion also hosts a wide range of engaging exhibitions and events, including a spooky lecture about Louisiana's hauntings and historic burial rituals, the Cajun Night Before Christmas celebration, and displays exploring the lives and accomplishments of former first ladies who resided within.

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03Magnolia Mound Plantation

This 18th-century plantation house was once the base of a 900-acre operation. It honors the architecture of Louisiana's earliest settlers from France and the West Indies. Inside, view one of the most impressive collections of decorative arts and furnishings in the U.S., including many local and Louisiana-made objects. Every setting is carefully restored to its original form, giving you a close-up glimpse into plantation life of the past.

Discover rare French pieces that honor the founding family's heritage, along with textiles, ceramics, and crystal. More than just a tour, however, the museum hosts workshops, festivals, and special events that celebrate French Creole culture and its robust influence on Louisiana life.

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04Spanish Town Historic District

Mardi Gras parade Jupiterimages / Getty Images

Renowned for the biggest Mardi Gras parade in Baton Rouge, the charming Spanish Town Historic District is the city's oldest neighborhood, dating back to 1805. Stroll through downtown and view properties built as far back as the 1820s, including the Pino House, Potts House, and Stewart-Dougherty House — some of the best-preserved homes in the state. Marvel at the architecture on intimate, narrow streets, from upscale Greek Revival to elegant Queen Anne.

This charming neighborhood also features a bevy of must-see shopping and dining destinations, including the Spanish Town Market, Cecilia Creole Bistro, and Cou'yon's Cajun Bar-B-Q.

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05Louisiana State University Rural Life Museum

Immerse yourself in the past with this one-of-a-kind museum, which houses the state's most extensive collection of cultural artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Explore what life was like in the good old days through a self-guided tour; the museum features 32 historic buildings spread over 25 acres.

Journey through four distinct sections that illustrate Louisiana life through the ages, including the Working Plantation, the Upland South Region, the Gulf Coast Region, and the Exhibit Barn, along with the verdant Windrush Gardens. You'll explore everything from the overseer's house to the blacksmith shop, sick house, and slave cabins, learning little-known details every step of the way. Add to the experience with one of the cultural events or living history demonstrations held throughout the year.

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06BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo

Meet over 800 animals from across the globe at this family-friendly hotspot. From tigers to monkeys to birds of prey, there's an attraction for everyone here. The KidsZoo and Safari Playground offers a more immersive experience for little ones, while the L'Aquarium de Louisiane gives you an up-close peek at native critters, including reptiles, fish, and amphibians.

A gift shop and two cafes can also be found on-site, and the zoo features exciting events throughout the day. Hang with giraffes, feed pelicans, catch a show at the Wildlife Safari Theater, or watch the "Running of the Ducks" just before closing time.

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07Blue Bayou Water Park & Dixie Landin'

Kick-start your adrenaline at these side-by-side water and amusement parks. With 15+ rides at Blue Bayou Water Park and 26 at Dixie Landin', you can easily spend a full day at either (or both!). Grab your sunscreen and pass the hours floating around Hurricane Bay, or take on an epic adventure on the Racer or Lafitte's Plunge.

At Dixie Landin', you'll find a wide range of riveting thrill rides, from the traditional Tilt-a-Whirl to the sky-high Ragin Cajun or Gilbeau's Galaxy. Both parks feature an extensive assortment of flavorful food too, from tacos and nachos at the Ice House Cantina to mouthwatering pies at T-Joe's Family Style Pizza.

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08LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Immerse yourself in Louisiana's natural beauty at this 440-acre expanse filled with specialty gardens, woodlands, wetlands, and research facilities. You can discover a romantic rose garden, traverse three miles of walking paths through the Burden Woods, or give the little ones an educational experience in the Children's Garden. Even the pickiest nature lovers will find an area that catches their interest, whether that's an herb garden, oak grove, camellia collection, or tropical plants.

Your visit contributes to a good cause; this botanical garden is working to restore Louisiana’s wetlands and other natural landscapes, as well as the farming and forestry industries.

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09Louisiana Art & Science Museum

Designed to inspire and entertain, this renowned museum is housed in a historic train station, so you'll spot Classical Revival-style architecture. Inside, engaging exhibitions feature works from the world's premier artists, along with hands-on art and science galleries so you can explore as you learn.

The Planetarium hosts an impressive selection of shows, from sunset meditations to musicals, 3-D films, and of course, space-themed programming. In the Ancient Egypt Gallery, you’ll view a 2,300-year-old mummy, while other permanent exhibits highlight the planets, the solar system, and the universe. An ever-changing mix of revolving features showcase miniatures, eclectic art, photographs, and Louisiana's ancient artifacts, to name just a few.

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10USS Kidd Veterans Museum

Step aboard the "Pirate of the Pacific" and experience maritime history like never before. Both a ship and an immersive museum, this Fletcher-class destroyer was named after Medal of Honor recipient Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died during the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.

One of the most authentically restored vessels on earth, you'll discover what a WWII destroyer is like up close. In the Veterans Museum, you'll find artifacts and displays honoring the history of the navy and celebrating American veterans, with displays showcasing diverse topics and time periods.

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