Lake Charles, Louisiana, is the sixth largest city in Louisiana. Close to the Texas border, you might be wondering, “What is there to do in Lake Charles?”
Lake Charles is a great place to spend a weekend or a few days and has a little something for everyone. From plenty of outdoor activities to yummy places to eat, Lake Charles is more than a place to come and gamble.
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Lake Charles is known as Louisiana’s Outback because it is prime real estate for fishing, hunting, and bird watching. From going on nature trails to find different bird species to renting a board with Lake Area Adventures, there are plenty of things to do to keep you occupied in Lake Charles.
Road Tripping to Lake Charles is the perfect way for a quick escape for nature lovers from Houston, Lafayette, or New Orleans.
Keep reading to see the best things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
What is there to do in Lake Charles besides gambling?
Lake Charles is known as Louisiana’s playground because there are so many outdoor activities for people to participate in. If gambling is not your thing, you can kayak on the Lake, ride a bike downtown, or even walk through a swamp.
Is Lake Charles La Worth visiting?
Lake Charles, Louisiana, is worth visiting because there are plenty of things to do. Friends and family traveling with you can explore a museum, walk through a nature trail, or gamble in one of the many casinos.
What is Lake Charles La known for?
Lake Charles is a major factor in Louisiana’s sportsman paradise. From fishing to boating, there is something for everyone to do outdoors. Lake Charles is also known for its glitzy casinos and beautiful golf courses. Every year, thousands of birds migrate through the Lake Charles area, which is famous for birders.
Where to Stay in Lake Charles
Of course, you need a place to stay! There is no way you can do all of those things without a good night’s rest!
Staybridge Suites Lake Charles
When traveling, Staybridge suites is one of my favorite extended stay brands to stay at. My Favorite thing about Staybridge Suites is the ability to have a kitchenette, free parking, and complimentary breakfast. What more could you need from a hotel? Check out these photos of the hotel.
Holiday Inn Express Lake Charles
If you do not need a full Kitchenette for your stay, the Holiday Inn Express in Lake Charles may suit your needs. This hotel comes with Family rooms, non-smoking, and a refrigerator. Close to everything, this holiday Inn is a great location to mark off your things to do while in Lake Charles.
L’auberge Casino resort
You thought you would come to Lake Charles and not stay at one of their casinos? You thought wrong. I prefer L’auberge Casino Resort over the Golden Nugget Lake Charles because the Casino smells very mildly of smoke, and the rooms do not smell smoke.
Also, L’aburge Casino guests have free access to the pools and Lazy River (while the Golden Nugget has an upcharge). Loaded with restaurants, shops, and a golf course, you might never leave the Casino!
After you decide where you want to stay while in Lake Charles, now the fun beings, Lake Charles has a little something for everyone, so let’s dive into the Fun things to do in Lake Charles.
Fun things to do Outdoors in Louisiana’s Outback
Lake Charles, Louisiana, is not called Louisiana’s playground for anything. There are so many outdoor activities that everyone in the family will be entertained. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, or birding, this blog post will help you find the top attractions and a great spot to get your outdoor energy out!
1. Sam Houston Jones State Park
You may be wondering why a Texas Folk hero has a park in Southwest Louisiana – well, Sam Houston Jones State Park was the 46th governor of Louisiana. Jones was set on ensuring public land was available for the public to use.
This 1,087-acre park has hundreds of trees (including a few giant cypress trees) and is known to be a sizeable bird-watching area.
Five hiking trails will take you all over the park – and you may even spot an alligator or other wildlife walking amongst the lagoons.
2. Relax on the Lazy River
After a day of driving or sightseeing, the family may need to relax in a lazy river! L’auberge Casino and Golden Nugget Casino have Lazy Rivers available to guests. Grab a pool day pass at the Golden Nugget or stay at the L’auberge Casino for complimentary access.
Unlike hanging out in the Calcasieu River or Prien Lake, you do not need to worry about wildlife while on the Lazy River.
3. Creole Nature Trail All American Road
Southwest Louisiana is full of trails and scenic byways, and the Creole Nature Trail All American Road is perfect for exploring Lake Charles, La. This 180-mile trail will allow visitors to see untouched wetlands and small fishing communities.
Watch out for alligators – remember you are in their natural habitat. While driving on the Creole Nature Trail, You are more likely to spot an Alligator than in New Orleans! I’m serious!
4. Visit North Beach
White sandy beaches are not usual in Louisiana. Most locals drive to Florida to experience a white sandy beach, but North Beach is the only white-sand inland beach.
5. Grosse Savanne eco-tours
The Grosse Savanne Eco-Tours allow you to explore over 500,000 acres of a private marsh for 2, 4, or 6-8 hours – depending on which tour you pick.
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the local wildlife! Throughout the tour, participants can take photos of birds, alligators, turtles, deer, and bobcats.
On this tour, you can sail over fresh and saltwater habitats and discover several animals and plant life.
6. Check out the Gulf of Mexico at Holly Beach
Holly Beach in Cameron Parish is known as the cajun riveria down by Lake Charles, and it is a little slice of paradise where you can hang out on the Gulf. This area is not developed, and much of it was destroyed in hurricane Laura, but this undeveloped area is paradise!
Make sure to pack a picnic lunch as there are no closed restaurants in this part of town. Each May, Holly Beach has a “Go Topless Weekend on the Cajun Riviera” weekend for Jeep Lovers – but please keep your bikini tops on.
7. Take up Bird watching
If you haven’t caught on yet, wildlife is big in Lake Charles, and they are notorious for bird watching. Even though you will be able to spot many birds in Lake Charles, the best time to visit is during the spring and fall when the birds are migrating. You can see upwards of 400 species during this time.
Lake Charles Attractions for the Family
Lake Charles is the perfect destination for family-friendly travel. Whether your family has children, is multi-generational, or however it is made up, these are a few fun things for families to do while in Lake Charles.
8. Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
Even though the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu suffered substantial damage and will be closed until sometime in 2023, you must visit the Mardi Gras Museum once it opens. Lake Charles holds the second largest Mardi Gras, second to New Orleans Mardi Gras, and this museum houses many past costumes of Mardi Gras Kings and Queens.
9. Go Mural Hunting
Lake Charles has had a recent boom when it comes to Murals. Many of the downtown murals are painted by an artist named Jeremey Price. Price’s murals are revitalizing Lake Charles and brightening up the outdoor spaces.
I love these wings murals, you can find a similar one in Hattiesburg! Check out my blog post about the best murals to find in New Orleans.
10. Stroll around Historic Downtown Lake Charles
Historic Downtown Lake Charles is adorable. You can easily walk around downtown and find some of the best places to eat, take photos, and explore. One of my favorite thing about strolling around Downtown Lake Charles on the weekend is that the downtown area looks like a Hallmark film could take place.
11. Millennium Park
Located on the Lake Charles Lakefront, Millennium Park is a fun play area for children. There is a splash pad, a walking path, and more to keep the whole family entertained. Millennium Park is perfect for younger children who may need to run off some energy after lunch.
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12. Imperial Calcasieu Museum
The Imperial Calcasieu Museum is next to Sallier Oak, an oak tree over 375 years old. This is the largest museum in Lake Charles and dedicates itself to the five parishes surrounding Lake Charles: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis.
Inside the museum, guests can see historical artifacts and exhibits. The museum has a permanent collection and is open roughly 36 out of the 52 weeks a year.
13. The Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center
The Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center is the perfect stop to explore free art exhibits. You will find the Black Heritage Gallery, rotating Art exhibits, and more! At the time of this writing, the Museum had a fun Selfie Museum on the third floor!
Fun things for Adults
If you leave the kids at home, Lake Charles has plenty of fun things for adults to explore. Lake Charles can show adults how to have a great time with quite a few things to do.
14. Gamble a little at the Casinos
Of course, Lake Charles is notorious for its Casinos! If you wanted to, you could spend as much time as you want in the Casinos between gambling, eating, relaxing, and swimming! The Golden Nugget and L’abuberge are like stepping into the Vegas of the South.
Both casinos allow guests to play table games, slot machines, and areas to bet on spots.
Why not try your luck and see if Lake Charles City is where you can win an extra dollar or two?
15. Bike Riding through Downtown Lake Charles
Anyone can ride a bike in Lake Charles, but what you want to do is do a night ride with Biking Through The Lake. If you want to start your night off right, grab your favorite glowsticks and book a tour riding through the night.
16. Crying Eagle Brewing Company
Are you looking for a brewery in Lake Charles? Look no further than Crying Eagle Brewing Company! Crying Eagle brews their beer, but they also have a lot of beers from local breweries. Make sure to grab a flight to drink and a bite to eat.
17. Bayou Rum Distillery
Bayou Rum Distillery, the official rum for the Saints, offers rum tours for guests! You can take a tour and then taste all of the various rums they have available. If you find one you like, buy a bottle to take back home to remember your experience!
My favorite thing about Bayou Rum Distillery is that their sugar cane comes from a locally Louisiana-sourced farm. Their rums are distilled in copper pot stills and aged in Bourbon Casks.
I’ve been familiar with Bayou Rum distillery for a few years now, and it was one of my favorite things to do in Lake Charles!
18. Explore the Charpentier Historic District
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Charpentier Historic District is perfect to tour by car, walking tour, or on a carriage ride!
The homes in this area date from 1880 to 1939 and are a collection of Victorian architecture similar to those in other parts of Louisiana. Did you know that Charpentier is the french word for Carpenter? The French language is high in all of Louisiana.
After touring the district, drive up and down Shell beach to see stunning mansions on the lakefront property. They are especially a great treat to enjoy during the Halloween season.
19. Guided Kayak Tour from Lake Area Adventures
Taking a guided Kayak Tour on Prien Lake was one of my favorite things while I was in Lake Charles, La. Not only is kayaking challenging, but it is the best way to watch a sunset!
We met Sarge from Lake Area Adventures in Prien Lake Park with our Kayak, and he gave us a guided tour of the Lake and brought us to a deserted Island before we watched the sunset over the factories.
Just make sure a flying fish doesn’t jump into your Kayak while enjoying the scenery of Prien Lake Park!
20. Eat along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail
Does Lake Charles pride itself on its Boudin Trail, and what better way to try new and different foods than going on a trail tasting all the different types of boudin? Many locals have their favorite boudin, so taking the trail is a great way to discover which variety you enjoy.
21. Drink Craft Coffee
You won’t get too far without your morning cup of coffee if you are anything like me. Stop by Stellar Coffee for a delicious cup of coffee (maybe even some beignets). The coffees here are delicious, and the vibe is particularly stellar.
22. Go Golfing at the contraband bayou golf club.
Golfing is one of those sports that I haven’t gotten into, but Lake Charles has a beautiful golf course designed by none other than om Fazio. This course is Fazio’s only work of art in Louisiana and is a popular par-71 Championship golf course. If your can’t golf at Contraband, there are four other golf courses in the area!
23. Of course, you need to eat at local restaurants
One of my favorite things to do in Lake Charles was eating food. Eating is a must in Lake Charles (and, of course, the south). If you are looking for unique dining experiences, make sure you stop by Bodega Wine Dive for a delicious meal and wine tasting or Luna Bar & Grill for a fun jazz brunch – with live music!
Need other ideas on where to eat while in Lake Charles? Check out my entire blog post on the best places to eat.
Special events and Festivals
Louisiana knows how to throw a festival, and Lake Charles isn’t any different. If you are looking for a fun and exciting festival to attend, plan your vacation around these great events.
24. Mardi Gras
February or March
Mardi Gras, or Carnival, is celebrated worldwide, but Lake Charles hosts the second-largest mardi gras in Louisiana. Celebrations start with Twelfth Nigh beginning January 6 and end on Fat Tuesday – Lake Charles knows how to party.
Lake Charles Mardi Gras has parades, gumbo cookoffs, and King Cake. They have over 60 krewes that participate in the Krew of Krewe parade on Fat Tuesday.
25. Louisiana Pirate Festival
End of April – May
The Louisiana Pirate Festival happens every spring in Lake Charles and is a blast to attend. If you are into music, Carnival Rides, Food, and Pirates, this is the place for you!
Three centuries ago, the pirate Jean Lafitte decided to hide in the waters of Lake Charles. He buried his gold and silver in his favorite hideaway – Contraband Bayou and the rest was history.
In 1957 the Chamber of Commerce formed a Lake Charles Contraband Day to attract tourists with boat parades, water ski shows, and boat races. A few years later, Contraband Days became what we know as the Pirate Festival. Over 200,000 people descend on Lake Charles for Pirate Days.
26. Flea Fest
If you are into antiques, retro and vintage items, furniture, and farmers markets – Flea Fest might be the place for you! Over 300 vendors and 15,000 shoppers each fall come to the Burton Complex Event Barn to Discover what goodies they want to bring back home.
After shopping through all of the vintage items, you can grab some yummy goodies to bring home from the farmers market!
Road trip from New Orleans
Lake Charles is about a 3-hour road trip from New Orleans. Lake Charles is the perfect place for a weekend getaway without being too far from home. New Orleanians will enjoy eating familiar foods while discovering tasty dishes with different twists.
Many New Orleans tourists come here for a plethora of outdoor activities. Other Large Cities residents will pass en route to Lake Charles are Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
Road trip from Houston
Lake Charles is about a 2-3 hour road trip from Houston, Texas. Lake Charles is the largest Louisiana City near Houston, and the casinos make it a large tourist destination for folks from Texas.
Texas tourists also enjoy outdoor activities and food. If a family was going on a road trip from Houston to New Orleans, this would be a good stop for lunch or an overnight stay.
Things to do in Lake Charles
I had a wonderful time working with Visit Lake Charles and exploring all of the fun things to do in Lake Charles! A long weekend is the perfect time to explore the best things and attractions around Lake Charles.
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