The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Baton Rouge

Looking for a place to call home in Baton Rouge? Each section of the capital city has its own, distinct feel and personality. If you’re looking to live near artistic, historic districts or just want a home away from the hustle and bustle, this southern hotspot has plenty of options, but locals love these the most.

1. Garden District

Perfect neighborhood for: Young professionals, families and empty nesters

Complete with historic properties and architecture dating back to 1910, the Garden District looks and feels like a slice of New Orleans in Baton Rouge. Surrounded by a big park, local businesses, and situated close to LSU, this is a quiet, comfortable neighborhood with friendly vibes.

The Garden District is comprised of three historic districts, including the city’s first subdivision, Roseland Terrace. Take a walk down most of the streets here, and you’ll notice beautiful houses and bungalows. For those looking to rent, the neighborhood has its share of options at around $800 per month.

The neighborhood is a few blocks away from city attractions like the developing restaurant scene on Government Street. For families, the Garden District is within walking distance of some of the top schools in the city. However, what makes residents feel at home here is annual events like the popular Wearin’ of the Green St. Patrick’s Day parade and Easter egg hunts—not to mention garage sales, crawfish boils and block parties.

Fun fact: Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh shot his first feature film, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” on location in the Garden District.

Highlights:

  • Local flavors: One of the best places to get a cup of coffee is Garden District Coffee, which roasts its beans in house and has displays of sweets and pastries that sell out quickly. Across the street is Zeeland Street Market, another local favorite for hearty breakfast plates and Creole lunch plates.
  • BREC City-Brooks Community Park: One of the biggest parks in the city, this 155-acre space includes a dog park, splash pad, golf course and a tennis center. Also in the park is Baton Rouge Gallery, a contemporary art center with new exhibits monthly and special events.
  • Perfect for a walk, run or bike ride: With a collection of Live Oak trees, azalea gardens, and bike lanes connecting the neighborhood to the nearby Louisiana State University campus, you shouldn’t be surprised to see neighbors out and about, getting some aerobic exercise in at all times of the day.

2. Spanish Town

Perfect neighborhood for: Singles, empty nesters and artists

The oldest neighborhood in the city, Spanish Town was established in 1805 as a place for Spanish citizens’ culture and language to thrive. Though the small neighborhood has changed time and time again demographically, its mission has remained the same: reflecting the colorful, changing heritage and development of Baton Rouge.

What the neighborhood lacks in size, it makes up for in personality. This is where the city’s biggest and boldest Mardi Gras party happens. Those pink flamingoes decorating lawns aren’t random either, as that is the mascot of the parade and neighborhood. If you live here, you’ll get to know seemingly everyone quickly, whether it’s by walking your dog or meeting someone at the popular corner store, Spanish Town Market. Those neighbors range from lawyers to artists to photographers to writers and maybe even a few government officials.

The size and spirit of Spanish Town makes up for a few dilapidated properties and the feeling that you’re one step away from being in someone’s else backyard. However, thanks to an active civic association that has been going strong since 1974, beautification and preservation projects are in place to preserve the neighborhood’s look and feel.

The neighborhood is blocks away from downtown, which is in the midst of a development boom. Still, downtown needs a little more time to build its housing options. Until then, Spanish Town is the perfect choice for those looking for a mix of big city feel and small town hospitality.

Fun fact: Between 1890 and 1920, the neighborhood catered to LSU students and faculty.

Highlights:

  • Spanish Town Parade: New Orleans might be known for Mardi Gras, but Baton Rougeans know which local neighborhood celebrates the Louisiana holiday best. The Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade, and its always-taboo themes, has run for nearly 40 years, beginning at Spanish Town Road and finishing in the nearby downtown area.
  • Spanish Town Market: A neighborhood store and diner that has been open since 1914, Spanish Town Market offers salads, sandwiches, po-boys and some of the best burgers in town from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
  • Near downtown: Right outside Spanish Town is a downtown full of museums, government buildings and restaurant options, all within walking distance.

3. Southdowns

Perfect neighborhood for: Families and young professionals

Southdowns stretches across some of the busiest intersections in town, making it feel like one of the more complete views of all facets of the city.

To the south, you’ll find neighborhood houses with ample backyards along Lee Drive and Stanford Avenue before approaching LSU. To the west, Southdowns grows busier with popular local restaurants and bars as you drive along Perkins Road and approach the Perkins Road Overpass Merchants’ District. The shopping and eating continues to the east on Perkins Road.

The neighborhood itself is full of subdivisions, small parks and walkable attractions. Nearby is the LSU lakes, where residents walk, jog and take bike rides at all hours of the day and night. While a few college students could survive the steeper rent costs (averaging around $1,200 a month), Southdowns is more suited to home-owners.

Southdowns is also convenient for commuters who use Interstate 10, but the intersections at Perkins Road and South Acadian Thruway as well as Perkins and College Drive easily get congested and turn into locals’ nightmare scenario.

But the pros of local business and scenery outweigh the minor headache of traffic, and the area  grows younger with the addition of gastropubs and new American restaurants, beer bars, and, much to Baton Rouge’s delight, a Trader Joe’s.

Fun fact: The area is home to the Acadian-Perkins Plaza, Acadian Village, and Southdowns shopping centers.

Highlights:

  • Good eats: The most popular restaurants in town are here. Near the edge of Southdowns, you can eat at restaurants like Kalurah Street Grill, DiGuilio Brothers and The Overpass Merchant near the Perkins Road Overpass. The neighborhood also includes favorites like Red Zeppelin Pizza, Phil’s Oyster Bar, Fresh Junkie and Southfin Southern Poke. For a beer and a few late night bites, visit The Bulldog or Zippy’s Burritos, Tacos & More.
  •  LSU Lakes: Southdowns is close to one of the busiest walking, jogging and biking attractions in town, a stretch of road along the LSU Lakes. The path runs from Stanford Avenue into the LSU Campus and the Garden District. Along the way, you’ll see beautiful houses, people fishing and even a few brave kayakers or paddle boarders.
  • Krewe of Southdowns Mardi Gras parade: Established in 1988, this family-friendly Mardi Gras parade rolls in the evening time with floats, torch-bearers and dazzling dancing troupes.

4. Old Goodwood

Perfect neighborhood for: Families and young professionals

Located between busy thoroughfares Jefferson Highway and Airline Highway, Old Goodwood is Baton Rouge neighborhood that is perfect for families.

The edges of the neighborhood include the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library and the upcoming City Farm business park development. Just outside Old Goodwood, you’ll find ample shopping at Towne Center at Cedar Lodge as well as along Corporate Boulevard and in the Bocage Shopping Center.

Within the neighborhood are lush green spaces, houses with bigger backyards and subdivisions that ready to be built. Among those developments is the upcoming Adelia at Old Goodwood luxury residential area built on 17-acres of the famed Goodwood Plantation site, which dates back to the early 1930s.

The median age of the neighborhood is upper 40s, but with new buildings and businesses popping up, young professionals and families are starting to make their claim to the area. That mixture of old and young can be seen across the neighborhood in the longtime favorite Gambino’s Bakery as well as the newer Velvet Cactus, a Mexican restaurant that became a New Orleans staple before opening in Baton Rouge.

Fun fact: Developed in 1932 on parts of a 2,000-acre tract of land that comprised the Goodwood Plantation, which was built in 1852 and said to be the first house in Baton Rouge to have running water.

Highlights:

  • Main Library: A newly redesigned library with three floors and 129,000 square feet to its name, the main library is a jewel of design and resources in the city. Not only is it the perfect place to pick up a new book, the space has also been utilized for photo shoots and wedding receptions.
  • BREC’s Independence Park Theatre and Cultural Center: Right next to the main library, BREC’s Independence Park Theatre hosts free family-friendly movie screenings, concerts, plays and lectures in its 780-seat venue.
  • Gambino’s Bakery: When Mardi Gras season rolls around, you’ll see the Gambino’s name everywhere on this bakery’s specialty King Cakes. The shop also hand makes rich, six-layer doberge cakes that’ll have your teeth tingling.

5. Mid City

Perfect neighborhood for: Artists, singles, families and young professionals

Right now, the hottest spot in Baton Rouge is the Mid City area. Anchored by Government Street and located in between downtown and Jefferson Highway, this stretch of land is where the creatives live and breathe.

While Government Street is populated with local businesses and restaurants, the neighborhood features smaller areas full of artistic vibes and laid-back attitude. There’s the Ogden Park neighborhood, which features eight blocks within Mid City. There’s also the Capital Heights neighborhood, which has a quieter vibe, but still brims with welcoming atmosphere. And they all congeal into a bigger section of the city that is full of events, festivals and, more recently, its own Mardi Gras parade.

Artists, singles and young professionals dominate the area. However more couples and small families have started to move into Mid City, thanks to its overwhelming amount of attractions. The rent is cheaper, too. Other neighborhoods average anywhere from $800-$1,200, but in Mid City, you could have a place for around $700 a month.

Add in a few schools nearby, a food hall, a record shop, and a grocery that’s been an institution for decades, and you’ve got a healthy, bustling neighborhood that feels like no other part of Baton Rouge.

Fun fact: In the past year, the arts scene in Mid City has continued to expand with the birth of new events such as the monthly Mid City Rising as well as the Mid City Makers Market.

Highlights:

  • Art hops: The neighborhood’s Mid City Merchants associates hosts seasonal art hops such as White Light Night in the winter and Hot Art Cool Nights at the top of summer. At each event, locals peruse artists’ latest works at nearby businesses and galleries.
  • Hear some good music: There’s the iconic blues bar Phil Brady’s, with its weekly Thursday night blues jams. Mid City Ballroom recently opened, offering local showcases of bands in all different genres. For a more laid-back affair, don’t miss the Bee Nice concert series, which features family-friendly vibes in an eclectic backyard setting.
  • The go-to area for foodies: The main drag in the neighborhood is packed with hotspots for food-lovers, including Curbside Burgers, French Truck Coffee, Simple Joe Cafe, Rocca Pizzeria, Tiger Deaux-nuts and Elsie’s Plate & Pie. That’s not to mention the opening of the city’s first food hall, White Star Market, and one of the most popular local bars, The Radio Bar.


Matthew Sigur