Here Comes the Sun
30 ways to enjoy the Baton Rouge summer
By DIG MagazinePosted Jun 5, 2013
Celebrate Independence Day on the levee
Baton Rouge’s biggest July 4 event, the Star-Spangled Celebration, takes place at the USS KIDD Veterans Memorial on the Mississippi River levee. Tens of thousands turn out annually for music throughout the day followed by The Louisiana Air National Guard’s fly-by with F-15 Eagle jet aircraft and a mock attack on the USS KIDD with vintage World War II planes. The night wraps up at 9 p.m. with an always-impressive fireworks display over the river.
Tube down the Amite River
If you try a slow drift down the mighty Mississippi on an inner tube, you’ll likely find yourself having a stern discussion with the U.S. Coast Guard. But there are other, safer, options for the city’s slow-floaters a short drive to the east. Tiki Tubing can help facilitate a roughly 4-hour trek down the shallow and easy-running waterway that features a number of sandbars perfect for picnics along the way. Tubes are $19, and larger floating vehicles are available, along with ice chests, for an additional fee. The operation runs seven days a week during the summer.
Catch a Red Stick Roller Derby match
There are ample opportunities to catch Baton Rouge’s all-female, full-contact, flat-track roller derby league, Red Stick Roller Derby, in action over the summer. There are three home matches – June 22, July 21 and August 10. The June 22 match will pit the local roller girls against the Spindletop Rollergirls of Beaumont at Leo’s Rollerland off Airline Highway. Tickets are $8 general admission, $6 with valid student ID. Kids 11 years of age and under get in free with general admission ticket holder.
Take a hike and connect with nature
While it won’t ever be confused for Yosemite, Baton Rouge offers more than a dozen miles of nature trails and twice that mileage of other walking trails in parks across the parish. Topping the list for Red Stick hikes are the 5-mile trail at Hooper Road Park in the Central area and the nearby 3.3-mile route at Comite River Park. Other nature walks worth checking out are the bottomland hardwood forest trail at Highland Road Community Park (0.6 miles), Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center (three trails, 1.25 miles), the Blackwater Conservation Area (1.15 miles), and the ExxonMobil Cypress Bayou Lake Trail at Greenwood Community Park (0.7 miles). And if the summer heat is too oppressive, make your way to the indoor walking trail at North Sherwood Forest Community Park, which is air-conditioned and free.
Eat amazing meals for great prices during Restaurant Week
In January, DIG’s first-ever Restaurant Week Baton Rouge featured 31 restaurants and dozens of wide-ranging dishes from some of the tastiest and most innovative restaurants in town – all for a fraction of the regular cost. The event is back for a second run with an equally impressive lineup of restaurants set to participate. Set for July 15-20, the event features three-course meals for $15 - $35 per person, depending on the restaurant. DIG also donates $5,000 for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
Cool off with a snowball stand treat
Summer is hot. snowballs are cold and covered in sugar. This is a good thing. What else do you need to know? Baton Rouge offers plenty of stands (both mobile and fixed) for the frosty treats. Click here and here for the details.
Take the plunge at Blue Bayou
Blue Bayou Water Park has more than 20 water attractions like the High Water Slide, a triple seven-story serpentine slide. If that’s not extreme enough for you, there’s always the 90-foot drop of Lafitte’s Plunge or the Conja’, which the park says is the world’s largest inline water slide. For the less adventurous, the park features a lazy river and a number of play areas. Season passes good for both Blue Bayou and neighboring amusement park Dixie Landing are $69.99. Day passes are also available.
Catch a Movie on the Lawn at City Park
The popular Movies & Music on the Lawn series continues on the last Saturday of June and July, as well as the last Friday of August and September. Each screening begins at either 8 p.m. or sundown, whichever comes last.” Admission is $5 (free for gallery members) and comes with free bottomless popcorn. Highlights of this summer’s program include Buster Keaton’s locomotive comedy The General and F.W. Murnau’s vampire classic Nosferatu. To compliment this range of films, the series features a different band performing each score, encompassing an array of musical styles.
Experience a show at the Red Dragon Listening Room
The Red Dragon Listening Room is a not-for-profit venue on Florida Boulevard that gives all of its proceeds directly to the artists it books. The decidedly laid back venue hosts two shows per month for touring songwriters, with local artists opening each show. Bring cash for the door (they don’t accept plastic), a canned good for their ongoing drive for the local food bank, and your favorite food and drink (they don’t sell anything). Grab a seat on one of the venue’s comfy couches or chairs and take in any number of amazing musicians. Reservations are encouraged.
Sip a cocktail on the L’Auberge Rooftop Pool
For most of the year, you have to be a hotel guest or a high roller to access the plush pool area high atop the 12-story casino hotel. But the River Road casino opens its high-altitude pool to the general public for Sunset Society, which runs every Thursday from 6-9 p.m. through July 4. The event features drink specials, music, and oh yeah, a gorgeous pool with an amazing view of a largely undeveloped bend of the Mississippi. The cover is $10 and private cabanas available for rent during Sunset Society.
Space out at the LASM Planetarium
The Irene W. Pennington Planetarium is a 60-foot domed theater that is one of the most sophisticated multimedia presentation venues in the country. The theater presents digital movies, sky shows, and visual music shows using its fulldome digital video projection system and a 15,000-watt digital surround sound system. Shows range from educational features on astronomy to musical laser shows, including “Rock the Dome,” an alternative-rock visual show and a similar production to Pink Floyd’s classic album, Dark Side of the Moon.
Celebrate diversity at Pride Fest
Help celebrate Baton Rouge’s diversity on Saturday, June 15 by attending the seventh annual Pride Fest at the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium. The event features activities for people of all ages, including a kid’s area, games and door prizes. There will also be musical acts and a “blessing of relationships.” Among the performers scheduled to attend are the Krewe of Divas, New Orleans Gay Men’s Chorus, Pocket Aces, Josh Duffy and Sigma Phi Kappa Fraternity. The event runs noon to 6 p.m.
Shop local art at the downtown Baton Rouge Arts Market
The Baton Rouge Arts Market takes place the first Saturday each month from 8 a.m. to noon at 5th and Main Streets downtown. Shop over 80 artists from Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Florida who present original works of art in a variety of mediums including, pottery, jewelry, woodwork, textiles, photographs, glass, paintings, sculpture, hand-made soaps and so much more.
Go for a Twilight Tour of the Baton Rouge Zoo
Twilight Tours, a summer tradition at BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo, kicked off June 4. Held every Tuesday and Thursday evening in June and July, the tours allow guests to see the Zoo as the sun sets and after the gates have closed to the public. The guided tour includes a tram ride throughout the Zoo, as well as a private Wildlife Safari Amphitheatre show and evening snack. The cost is $16 for adults and teens, $13 for children 2-12. Space is limited, so pre-registration is required.
View a meteor shower at Highland Observatory
The Perseids are one of the major meteor showers of the year, caused by debris left from the passings of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although telescopes aren’t needed for the Perseids, the Highland Road Park Observatory will have a telescope available until midnight on August 11 for leisurely gazing at other celestial objects. The observatory will open from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. that night to help astronomy enthusiasts get a glimpse of the “earthgrazers.” The event is free and for all ages.
See renowned singer/songwriter Josh Ritter at the Manship
Josh Ritter, named one of the “100 Greatest Living Songwriters” by Paste Magazine, will play the Manship Theatre on June 20 with special guest The Milk Carton Kids. Ritter’s new album, The Beast in its Tracks, his sixth, was released in March. Tickets are $30. For a complete list of summer concerts, click here.
Take a spin on a paddleboat in City Park Lake
Ocean Water Beach Rentals at City Park Lake offers a wide range of water vehicles, including pedal boats and kayaks, to The boats are available for rental from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Fridays and noon to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. A ride costs $10 per half hour for each boat. Renters must be 18 years old or older, but a parent can rent a boat for a child 12 years old or older.
Learn something new in a leisure class at LSU
When Abraham Lincoln said “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday,” he was talking to you. If you don’t want to let Honest Abe down, even during the summer months, LSU’s leisure classes can help. New classes include Abstract Natural Forms, Almond Milk & Green Smoothies, Boating: Emergencies on Board, Casino Craps & Blackjack, Feng Shui for Love, Healthy Desserts, Leather Crafting: Lacing and Braiding, Scotch Tasting, Stroller Fitness, Spanish: Kids Only and The Backyard Birder.
Relive recess on an adult kickball team
Founded in 2005, Red Stick Area Kickball has been helping local grownups relive their elementary school pasts ever since. The Fall 2013 Kickball Season actually kicks off in the heat of the summer on August 12. There are multiple league options for the adult kickballer, ranging from cutthroat wannabe professionals to drinkers who play kickball on the side.
Run and paddle your way through an adventure race
Have 5K runs become a little too routine? Then give the Baton Rouge Urban Adventure Race a whirl. The 8th annual event takes adventurous athletes through a course that includes paddling the LSU lakes in a canoe, plus four miles of running and 10 miles of biking. There are series of “mystery challenges” along the way. Cost is $70 per person plus $5.50 for a one-day license, which includes a team canoe, paddles, life jackets, maps, t-shirts and a post-race party with food, drink and music.
Take a day trip
Baton Rouge has plenty to do, but, no, despite what the tourism bureau might have you believe, it doesn’t have it all. Take waterfalls, for example. Red Stick has precisely zero of those beauties. The Tunica Hills area, however, has plenty a short car ride from the city. We tell you how to get there (and several other lovely day trips) in style here.
Watch celebrities play softball for a good cause
Sportscaster Jacques Doucet has grown his charity softball game and concert into a major summer phenomenon in Baton Rouge. The fifth annual event kicks off June 28 with the Celebrity/Sorta Celebrity softball game that features a number of current and former professional athletes at the Cypress Mounds Complex. That is followed by the Red, Rock & Blue Charity Concert at the The Varsity Theatre on June 29 featuring featuring Gin Blossoms & Winbourne. All proceeds from the event go to Support Our War Heroes and Blue Star Mothers.
View antique cars downtown participating in a transcontinental race
Baton Rouge will host an overnight stop on the 2013 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty Friday, June 28, race promoters have announced. The Great Race, the world’s premiere old car rally, is expected to bring up to 100 antique automobiles downtown to St. Phillip Street adjacent to the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium for the $150,000 event. The race will start June 22 in St. Paul, Minn., at the State Fairgrounds as part of the “Back to the 50s” car show and weave its way down the Mississippi River toward the Gulf of Mexico through 10 states and crossing the river a dozen times before the finish in Mobile, Ala., on June 30.
Get swampy in Gonzales
“Swamp Pop” is its own unique genre of Louisiana music alongside Cajun, zydeco, and blues; imagine Cajun music with a rock-and-roll flair. The Louisiana-bred music will be on display July 19-20 at the fully air-conditioned Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Admission is $10 on Friday and $15 on Saturday. All proceeds from the Swamp Pop Music Festival benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
See a Mongolian strongman at the circus
If you’re a little down after the Louisiana Legislature closes shop this month, cheer up: Another circus is rolling into town in June. The River Center will host the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show “Fully Charged” from June 20-23. In addition to a full roster of animals, the show features knife throwing, high-wire stunts, Mongolian strongman Mr. Power, the award-winning aerial gymnast Sergey Novikov of the Ukraine and the Vavilov Troupe, a six-man acrobatic troupe from Russia. Tickets are on sale now starting at $15 and are available at the Baton Rouge River Center Box Office.
Slide and splash at Liberty Lagoon
BREC’s popular water park is open seven days a week through August 4 and weekends from August 10 through Sept. 2. The park features water slides, a lazy river, a swimming pool, beach volleyball and party rentals. The park is located on Lobdell Ave. in Baton Rouge next to the Independence Park softball fields between Independence Boulevard and Florida Boulevard. Ages 2 and younger get in free, kids under 48 inches tall pay $8 and those over 48 inches pay $10. Season passes are available for $50.
Peruse the best local artists have to offer at Art Melt
Forum 35’s Art Melt is the largest multi-media, juried art exhibit in the state of Louisiana. Now in its 10th year, Art Melt strives to promote professional artists throughout the state of Louisiana while providing an opportunity for the public to experience the best of local fine art, music, and performing arts. The exhibit will open July 20, 2013 at the Louisiana State Museum in downtown Baton Rouge from 5-10 p.m. All artwork accepted to the competition will hang in the museum gallery and remain on display to the public for six weeks following the event. The Art Melt Marketplace will be placed outside the show gallery during the event. Art Melt is free and open to the public.
Celebrate local food, drink and music at Garden Fest
The second annual Garden Fest at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens will take place June 15 – not officially summer, but close enough. Visitors can take a hayride to the site’s Botanic Gardens research area to taste tomatoes, watermelons, peppers and fruit crops and learn about the latest research conducted by the AgCenter. Food companies in the AgCenter Food Incubator also will offer samples of their new foods and beverages. Baton Rouge Music Studios and Visit Baton Rouge will present the Red Stick Idol contest and live music from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sample creative culinary creations at Food and Fête Rouge
Billed as Baton Rouge’s premier wine and food festival, Fête Rouge offers a taste of more than 200 wines from around the globe as well as a wide range of delicacies prepared by local chefs competing for medal. The event, which will take place August 23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, also includes musical entertainment, a silent auction and a raffle. Tickets are $50 in advance and $65 at the door.
Watch a patriotic parade in Kenilworth
The Kenilworth neighborhood’s 41st Annual Independence Parade rolls at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 3. The parade features a mix of local civic groups, military and veterans organizations, bands and government officials. The procession begins and ends at Kenilworth Science & Technology School on Boone Drive east of Kenilworth Parkway. This year’s Grand Marshall is Collis Temple Jr., the former LSU basketball star and community leader.