3 Best Neighborhoods in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, the state capital of Louisiana, began life in 1719 when the French needed a military post.

“Baton Rouge” in French translates literally to “red stick” in English. Historians argue it either referred to a demarcation line between the hunting grounds of two tribes, a stick used for drying fish and game that had been stained red with blood, the red cypresses that line the bayous or the name the Native Americans referred to the land by, “Istrouma,” which translated roughly to “red stick”. Whatever the origin, Baton Rouge has made its mark

Fun fact: When France controlled both Louisiana and parts of New France (present-day Québec and parts of the Atlantic provinces), they wanted to differentiate between French-speaking people in the different parts of the territory.

“Gens du pays” (country-folk) from New France were called Canadians, or if they came from what is modern-day Nova Scotia, Acadian. French-speaking citizens from the Lower Mississippi were known as Creole. Many Acadians made their way to Louisiana between 1755-1763 when Britain ran them out of Nova Scotia. Acadians became “Cadiens,” which eventually was shortened to “Cajun.”

 In 1812 Louisiana became a state, and Baton Rouge was incorporated as a city in 1817.Baton Rouge was the site of the first anti-segregation bus boycott in 1953, which was used as a model for the Montgomery boycott in 1955.

The city has produced more than its share of athletes, including Shaquille O'Neal, Odell Beckham Jr, Willie Davenport, Darryl Hamilton, Lolo Jones and Bob Pettit. Celebrities such as Howard Carter (the archaeologist who found King Tutankhamun’s tomb), Don Lemon, Randy Jackson, Stormy Daniels, Bill Conti and Steven Soderbergh have called Baton Rouge home.

We took a look at some of Baton Rouge’s best neighborhoods, considering demographics, education, and economic factors. Here are some of the best, in alphabetical order.

1. Baker/Zachary

After a population boom caused by New Orleans residents moving away post-hurricane Katrina, Baker and Zachary are now considered suburbs of Baton Rouge, although both are separate cities. Baker is nine miles north of Baton Rouge, and Zachary is 16 miles north.

Baker is home to the Baton Rouge Zoo, featuring 125 acres of slithering, roaring, hopping, swimming and climbing animals. The zoo partners with other zoos around the globe in international Species Survival Plans (SSP) for critically endangered species.

Most of Zachary was once farmland owned by Darryl Zachary, who was smart enough to see an opportunity and sold the land to the Illinois State Railway. The town grew up around the railway station, named in honor of the former owner. 

There are eight buildings in downtown Zachary listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, offering a glimpse into life at the end of the 19th century.

Niche lists Baker/Zachary as the No. 1 place to buy a house and No. 1 to raise a family in the Baton Rouge area, giving the area an overall A- grade. It earns an A for public schools and diversity, an A- for housing and good for families.

It’s considered a sparse urban area, and 74% own their homes. The median house value is $188,978. The median household income is $67,492, and 30% of residents have kids.

2. Highlands/Perkins

Highlands/Perkins is located 10 minutes from the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and is in East Baton Rouge Parish, bounded by I-10 on the north, and the Mississippi River on the west and south. It’s one of the larger neighborhoods in Baton Rouge. The campus of Louisiana State University (LSU) is located in the neighborhood.

LSU has a live tiger as a mascot. Since 1934, Mike the Tiger has reigned over all the sports programs. There have been seven Mikes so far, and since 1958 each successor has been donated from rescue facilities.

The habitat and program are licensed and closely monitored by the USDA and open to the public. There is a live tiger cam you can access, and on game days, Mike is moved to a holding area near the visiting team’s dressing room to intimidate. Legend has it the LSU Tigers team will score every time Mike roars.

Niche ranks Highland/Perkins as No. 1 out of 11 neighborhoods in Baton Rouge for young professionals and No. 4 out of 11 to raise a family.

It’s almost an even split between owning and renting, with 45% owning and 55% renting. The median rent is $1,059, just under the national average of $1,062, and is typical of a university neighborhood. The median house value is $258,670.

The median household income is $59,836, and 17% of residents have children. Education levels are good, with 75% of residents having at least some college or university, up to and including a master’s degree or better.

3. South Baton Rouge

South Baton Rouge has Louisiana State University on the south, the Mississippi River on the west and I-10 as it veers along the east and north boundaries.

Niche considers it the best neighborhood to live in Baton Rouge, ranking it No. 1 out of 11, No. 2 out of 11 for the best place to raise a family and for the most diverse. 

The Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is located in South Baton Rouge, a 103-acre facility, including boardwalks, trails, habitats and live animals.

Niche gives South Baton Rouge an overall A- rating, with top marks for diversity, health and fitness and nightlife. The median house value is $299,422, just above the national average of $217,500. Most residents own their homes, and only 33% rent.

The median household income is $89,135, and 27% of residents have children. Given its proximity to the university, it’s not surprising that residents are well-educated, with 25% having some college or university and a full 52% having a bachelor’s degree, masters’ degree or higher.

If you enjoy outdoor activities (and there’s plenty of them here in Baton Rouge), you know boats, swamp buggies, fishing equipment and trailers can take lots of space in your garage. Or, if you’re just getting here, you might need a little extra space while you adjust to the unique storage issues in Louisiana.

Storage Post has an easy solution right in the heart of Baton Rouge with large self-storage units that provide drive-up units with high ceilings and climate-controlled options.