Top 10 Things to Do in Lake Charles
Indoors or out, Lake Charles offers heart-pounding excitement for visitors.
In southeast Louisiana, Lake Charles is a hub for fresh seafood, nightlife and the great outdoors. From lively casinos to peaceful parks and trails - Lake Charles appeals to every interest.
Lake Charles is southwest Louisiana’s largest city, with an entire vacation’s worth of attractions, festivals, restaurants and cultural events for every traveler. It’s also home to four casinos. L’Auberge Casino Resort is a one-stop destination for travelers looking for entertainment, great meals and around-the-clock entertainment. Table games, poker tournaments and slot machines are just part of the draw here. There are also numerous restaurants ranging from creative Asian cuisine to traditional Southern favorites. Next door to L’Auberge is Golden Nugget Lake Charles, a resort featuring more than 1,600 slots and 79 table games, plus awesome dining options and a concert calendar that rivals those of much larger cities.
2. Sam Houston Jones State Park
Get outdoors and explore the cypress forests of Sam Houston Jones State Park, southwest Louisiana's only state park. Hikers and bird-watchers will discover native wildlife and flora on five trails including a historic stagecoach road. Boaters and fishermen can choose from two boat launches on park property to access the Calcasieu River. Sam Houston Jones State Park is a well-known regional destination for disc golf, hosting regional tournaments throughout the year. Spend an entire weekend communing with nature. Choose your level of luxury for overnight accommodations with options including new modern cabins and glamping sites, a deluxe lodge, RV hookups or numerous campsites with electricity and water.
3. Creole Nature Trail All-American Road
Nicknamed “Louisiana’s Outback,” the 180-mile Creole Nature Trail All-American Road is a driving trail like no other. Beginning in Lake Charles and neighboring Sulphur, drivers are taken south through the swamplands where alligators blend in seamlessly with the scenery, and wading shorebirds rest between migratory flights. The region sits at the confluence of two flyways — the routes birds take between North and South America seasonally — which means that visitors can see a phenomenal display of feathered friends along the trail. Download the Creole Nature Trail smartphone app by searching “Creole” in the App Store or on Google Play.
4. Crying Eagle Brewing Company
The craft brew craze came to Lake Charles in the mid-2010s, with the founding of Crying Eagle Brewing Company. Its expansive new taproom, phenomenal beer selection, spacious outdoor patio and laid-back, neighborhood vibe make Crying Eagle a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
5. North Beach
Louisiana’s only white-sand inland beach is located in the heart of Lake Charles. Called North Beach, it’s an awesome place to take a break from the summer heat. Let the kids cool off at the spray ground, and walk the beautiful waterfront promenade, picture-perfect for an evening stroll.
6. Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu is temporarily closed and awaiting relocation. Covering everything from the history of king cakes and parades, a large collection of costumes and more - this museum is a testament that Mardi Gras truly isn't just a New Orleans tradition. Stay tuned for new location details!
7. Swamp Tours
Get an up-close view of Alligator Mississippiensis, a critter so closely associated with Louisiana that it’s the state’s official reptile. Lake Area Adventures offers kayak and boat rentals for adventure-seeking families. They also have guided boat tours, where visitors can see Louisiana at its wildest while traveling through the quiet bayous of Lake Charles. It’s a memorable way to learn about the area’s history and ecology. Lake Area Adventures has more than aqua-adventures, too; check out their options for obstacle course racing, paintball games and a variety of outdoors-oriented special events.
8. Bayou Rum Distillery
Louisiana Spirits, makers of Bayou Rum, ranks among the top distilleries in Louisiana. Buoyed by the success of its Bayou Silver, Bayou Spiced, Bayou Select and the unique Bayou Satsuma rums (flavored with the sweet citrus fruit, nicknamed the “Mandarin orange of the South”), Bayou Rum makes spirits that represent Louisiana’s culture. Tour the distilling facility in Lacassine, just a few miles outside of Lake Charles, to learn about the rum-making process and pick up some souvenirs to take home.
9. Charpentier Historic District
Many towns have historic districts. Few have their own distinct architectural style. Such is the case in Lake Charles, where you’ll find the Charpentier Historic District. Around the turn of the century, mixed-style buildings recalling the region’s ties to the lumber industry began popping up. Carpenter architects built distinctive additions to homes that included gingerbread accents, turrets, towers and leaded glass. More than 40 blocks make up the Charpentier Historic District. Visit the Lake Charles CVB’s office, download the app or go to visitlakecharles.org for a free map of the neighborhood.
10. Lake Charles Festivals
Lake Charles calls itself the "Festival Capital of Louisiana," and for good reason: big events are held there throughout the year. More than 75 fests are on the calendar annually. Most notable among them are Mardi Gras, the Louisiana Pirate Festival, the Black Heritage Festival, the Cajun Music & Food Festival and the Louisiana Fur & Wildlife Festival (where attendees can see unique events including the trap-setting and oyster-shucking competitions).
Learn more about things to do in the area at Visit Lake Charles.