40+ things to do this summer in the Capital Region

How does that saying go? The days are long—especially in the summer—but the years are short? Something like that.

Yes, we know it’s hot. But there are still loads of ways to embrace the season, celebrate our culture, and even cool off in greater Baton Rouge this time of year. In fact, the 225 team has compiled a list of dozens of them below.

From live music performances to history-focused happy hours, boozy bike rides and family-friendly outings, here’s how to make the most of summer in the Capital City. How do you plan to spend your summer days? Let us know by emailing us at [email protected].

Food and drink

The Red Stick Farmers Market downtown. File photo by Raegan Labat

Experience Red Stick Farmers Market’s tasty Fresh Fest

Everyone loves a theme! The Saturday Red Stick Farmers Market’s summer-long Fresh Fest celebrates a different produce item each week. Shop your favorite vendors while enjoying a light-hearted emphasis on the veggie du jour. Upcoming events include Melon Mania on July 6; Everything Eggplant on July 13; Positively Peppery on July 20; and Oh My Okra on July 27.

Dine outdoors, if you dare

Fans and shade structures make restaurant patio dining a viable option, even in the Louisiana summer. Spots like Barracuda Taco Stand, Mid City Beer Garden, Red Zeppelin and the new Offset Smoker BBQ promise casual al fresco fun, while Tsunami downtown offers stunning river views.

Korean bingsu from Sweet Society. File photo by Collin Richie

Cool down with a sweet treat

The antidote for Louisiana’s sweltering heat is to give up and never leave the house—or brave climbing temps for something cold and sweet. Our June cover story delivers endless options for dripping-with-goodness ice cream, snoballs, paletas and more—a survival guide of the coolest order.

Sip your way through taprooms and distilleries

Style your own brewery hop or cocktail crawl with visits to the area’s many craft taprooms and distilleries. This summer’s Ascension Parish Sweet Spot Cocktail Trail, running through July, invites visitors to stamp their passports in several different cocktail destinations for a chance at a grand prize.

Chai Thai-Lao. File photo by Collin Richie

Try a new restaurant

Summer’s slower pace, and improved local traffic, make it a great time to try to a new restaurant. Opt for stylish Mexican at Habanero’s, grab a gooey sammy at the Big Cheezy or start the day right with a biscuit sandwich at Counterspace Mid City. But don’t just stick with new spots. Explore the Red Stick’s deep bench of global eats at small, popular establishments like Birria y Barbacoa de Chivos los Compadres, Swagat Indian Cuisine and Chai Thai-Lao.

Curate a coffee shop bucket list

An iced or frozen jolt sounds refreshing right about now, so take advantage of Red Stick’s bounty of specialty coffee shops for a reprieve from that obnoxious thermometer. Create a summer bucket list to try five new spots.

Arts and entertainment

The Red Dragon Listening Room. File photo

Catch a concert

We can reliably count on live music offerings every single night of the week in the Capital Region. The proof: Red Stick Music’s calendar, updated daily with shows at venues, restaurants and bars. For a more intimate experience, sink into one of the couches or armchairs at the Red Dragon Listening Room, whose concept earned the venue a nod on Newsweek’s list of the world’s Top 10 Music Meccas back in 2019. Don’t miss its playfully named “We-Are-Broke-A-Palooza” fundraiser on July 27, an annual, all-day fest that keeps the nonprofit running. (The rest of the year, all shows directly support the artists.)

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol. Stock photo

Orchestrate a museum crawl

Browse a collection of Chase Mullen’s surreal, ecological paintings at Louisiana Art & Science Museum; ponder a celestial-themed collection of fiber art at the LSU Museum of Art; and marvel at all the bridges that tower over the Mississippi River at a new exhibit inside Louisiana’s Old State Capitol. Time your museum hop to the First Free Sunday for comped entry at select institutions.

Celebrate history over happy hour

Grab your blankets, folding chairs and a cooler stocked with bevs, and head to the West Baton Rouge Museum for its Historical Happy Hour. On the third Friday of every month, the museum kicks off the weekend with a lawn party of live music and discussions about culture, arts and history. If you can’t make happy hour, try one of the museum’s other recurring events like Lunchtime Lectures or Behind the Barn Doors, a monthly demo of historic machines, techniques and artifacts like textile equipment and blacksmithing tools.

Boomerang Comedy Theater. File photo

Take the mic in a comedy show

Think you can hang with the city’s funniest? Crack a joke with The Family Dinner comedy troupe at its cabaret-style, interactive improv nights in the Hartley/Vey Theatre, or take the stage at one of the Open Mic Stand Up Comedy events at The Silly Rabbit Comedy Club. Enroll in a workshop at Boomerang Comedy Theater to brush up on your routine.

See a film

Moviegoing is just more fun at the Manship Theatre, the city’s best bet for tracking down screenings of rare indie flicks like I Used to Be Funny, decades-old cult classics like The Shining or themed festivals like the annual Baton Rouge Irish Film Festival, which returns Aug. 9-10.

Mother’s Lounge. File photo by Gabrielle Korein

Steal the show at karaoke night

Queue up that Britney playlist, and head to Mother’s Lounge on Sundays for its weekly karaoke nights. The vibe ensures performers that they “are the moment.” Built up enough confidence to compete Idol-style? Chelsea’s Live is running its Shut Up & Sing Karaoke Competition Season all summer long, with multiple qualifying rounds before the semi-finals and finals in late August.

Support local theater

Catch a July performance of Beauty and the Beast by Ascension Community Theatre; venture to Pelican to Mars for a staged reading of Real Women Have Curves by Red Magnolia Theatre Company in September; or speaketh your truth at 225 Theater Collective’s Shakespeare Monologue Contest in August. Most performing arts troupes are currently auditioning for their fall seasons, so shake off the nerves and try your shot at landing that starring role.

Shopping and style

Time Warp. File photo by Collin Richie

Get nostalgic at local vintage shops

Take the trip to yesteryear without having to leave the Capital Region by strolling through curated selections of the past at Pink Elephant Antiques, Time Warp, Circa 1857 and the Denham Springs Antique Village. Or feed your turntable with eclectic, mint vinyl from music shops like Capital City Records, Pop Shop Records and The Exchange

Make a summer reading plan

Anyone can become a bookworm during the summertime. And, the best part is that you don’t have to complete that book report afterward. Wander through winding stacks at East Baton Rouge Library locations or check out local authors and a curated selection at independent bookstores like Red Stick Reads and Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs.

Beaver’s Abundance Native Plant Nursery. File photo by Ariana Allison

Grow your garden

Find your green thumb by perusing local garden stores and nurseries. Try adding some leafy friends that are less likely to shrivel in the sun at Baton Rouge Succulent Co., or shop summer seasonals from D’s Garden Center, Louisiana Nursery, Plant Barn or the new Beaver’s Abundance Native Plant Nursery

Visit local gaming spots

Get your game on this summer at shops like The Rogue Games, Little Wars, Gamers Paradise LLC and more. Play in-store or pick up cards, dice and boards to add to your home collection. More into video games? Bars like BR.cade and Somewhere Neighborhood Bar have you covered with vintage gaming machines and modern devices like Nintendo Switches. 

Courtesy Local Pop-Up

Browse local markets 

Though most people want to avoid being outdoors as much as possible during the stifling summer days, supporting local artists and creators might be worth breaking a sweat for. Don your coolest ‘fit to shop handmade goods and locally grown items from outdoor markets like Local Pop-Up, Baton Rouge Arts Market, Red Stick Farmers Market and more. 

Go boutique hopping 

There’s nothing like a little retail therapy with the AC on blast. Pop in and out of Perkins Rowe shops, or hit up all the cutesy boutiques in the Perkins Road Overpass District or Jefferson Highway area. Most are filled with seasonal items to freshen up your summer wardrobe and ensure you are glistening in style.

Outdoors and family

Courtesy BREC

Meet live animals

Check out the Baton Rouge Zoo’s new look and upgrades, complete with a new giraffe feeding area and hippo exhibit, as soon as this month. If a full-on safari isn’t your speed, stop over for a quick visit with Baton Rouge’s favorite bengal at Mike the Tiger’s Habitat—score bonus points if you catch him cooling off in his own private pool. For an indoor outing, the Blue Zoo Baton Rouge offers hands-on stingray encounters and reptile shows. BREC’s Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center and the Burden Museum and Gardens are also great places to catch native species in their natural habitats.   

Swing and sip at local driving ranges

Smash some balls without hitting the links at tech-based driving ranges like GolfSuites and TopGolf. Grab a group or the whole family for a golf-based game between rounds of food and drinks, or head out solo to work on your swing. 

Knock Knock Children’s Museum. File photo

Learn and play at Knock Knock

Nothing screams family fun like vibrant learning zones, kid-proofed play areas, a book-based climbing tower and loads of air conditioning. At Knock Knock Children’s Museum, little ones can engage in learning-based fun, plus special programming centered around STEM, arts, animals and more. The museum is also offering a new Summer Membership through Aug. 31. 

Make a splash at local parks

Pack the towels and head to one of BREC’s six free splash pads this summer. They’re a great way for novices and non-swimmers to cool off. The Main Library at Goodwood and The Shaw Center for the Arts are also home to splash-able waterworks outside. BREC’s Liberty Lagoon offers pools and water slides with a lifeguard on duty, as does the Parks and Recreation of Denham Springs’ Aqua PARDS with entry ranging from $6 to $10.  

Irene W. Pennington Planetarium. File photo

See the stars 

School may be out for summer, but who says the learning has to stop? Enroll your young ones in a Saturday-morning Science Academy at Highland Road Park Observatory, or visit for special evening viewings, like The Edge of Night event this Friday, July 5. For a virtual approach, the Louisiana Art and Science Museum’s Irene W. Pennington Planetarium screens spaced-focused films in its 60-foot domed theater most days. 

Go for a bike ride

Baton Rouge is more bikeable than ever, thanks to the recent 1.75-mile addition to the Downtown Greenway Louisiana Connector. Grab a bite at one of Mid City’s buzzed-about restaurants before taking the trail downtown to catch the sunset on the Mississippi Riverfront—it’s one of the perks of longer summer days. Or, for a social or boozier experience, try a Pedal Pub or Geaux Ride tour with your crew.

More, more, more

Here are a few other events, trips, tasks and more our staff has on their to-do list this summer.

•Catch the Fireworks on the Mississippi for the Fourth of July

•Hop on the pickleball bandwagon and learn to play

•Cheer for Team USA and other LSU athletes during the Paris 2024 Olympics, starting July 26

•Check out the first-ever (Neighbor)Hood Fest on July 27 

•Take a family day trip to New Orleans to visit the Cool Zoo and Audobon Aquarium

•So much programming at EBRPL, from regular storytimes for kiddos to the Cat Cafe on Aug. 3

•Make quick pickles with fresh cucumbers, okra and other summer produce

•Place an order at one of the many new micro-bakeries in greater Baton Rouge

•Buy milkweed from a local nursery to attract monarch butterflies

•Try local ice cream flavors then attempt to remake them at home with a Ninja Creami 

•Host barbecues with goodies from Iverstine Butcher

•Get some steps in at the Mall of Louisiana while soaking in the AC

Conduct a casino crawl, sampling all the culinary offerings at the upgraded The Queen Baton Rouge or the newer additions at L’Auberge Casino Hotel like Edge and The Sportsbook

See a sky full of balloons at the second-ever Zachary Really Hot Air Balloon Festival on Aug. 10

Try around 200 wines and bites from dozens of local restaurants at Fête Rouge on Aug. 23