3 Ways to See Lake Charles Like a Local
Being a Lake Charles native, I love to share some of what makes Southwest Louisiana magical. It’s just the right amount of culture, hospitality, history, glamor and nature. It’s unlike anywhere else! Lake Charles is a unique area conveniently located on Interstate 10, halfway between Houston and Baton Rouge, known for its colorful mixture of Cajuns, cowboys, and the coast. But, what really makes the region special is no matter if you’re coming for a week vacation, or a long weekend getaway, it’s how easy it is to settle into the area and enjoy what’s around you, like the people who live here.
1. Food Finds: As Local as It Gets
Food and drink are Louisiana’s equivalent to heart and soul. And there are tons of passionate chefs and entrepreneurs thriving in Lake Charles. Of course, there a several local staples that cannot be missed – a “Darrell’s Special” po’boy; ham, turkey, and roast beef drowned in roast beef gravy served on a crunchy yet soft French loaf, an extra-large seafood platter from Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake, and you can’t visit Southwest Louisiana without sampling boudin and cracklins’ along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail.
But, there are loads of new local culinary treats worthy of the trip. Crying Eagle Brewing Co. is one of the newest additions to the Louisiana Brewery Trail, and their beers are GREAT! A local favorite is the crisp, rice lager “Louisiana Lager.” It pairs perfectly with Cajun seasonings like cayenne, fresh herbs, and The Trinity. Take a tour or just enjoy a few brews. You could easily spend an afternoon here. While you’re sampling the local libations, make sure Yellowfin Vodka and Bayou Rum are on the list. Both are distilled using 100% Louisiana sugarcane and are 100% delicious. Take a tour to learn how these craft spirits are made. You’ll love the homegrown, from the ground up stories of both these businesses, not to mention the samples! If you add Acadian Coffee Roasters to your list of stops, you will effectively visit the Southwest Louisiana Brews & Spirits Trail, after all, coffee is a “brew” too!
In addition to these local products, there are several farmers’ markets with a proud community of local producers of fruits and vegetables, meats, honey, jams, and spices. Foodie craftsmen like Pops and Rockets with gourmet popsicles, organic juicers Pure Press Juicery, and Garden Path Groceries, market vendor turned pop up restaurant, have taken their farmer’s markets popularity and grown into full culinary experiences to enjoy outside of market days. Pops & Rockets and Pure Press Juicery have storefronts as well.
2. Nature One-on-One
Natural beauty is all around any time of the year, along the Creole Nature Trail, there are wildlife refuges including the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge - the perfect place to spot an alligator, or you can take a driving tour on Pintail Drive or walk on the boardwalk. The Sabine National Wildlife Refuge boasts the Wetland Walkway where you can literally walk through the marsh on an elevated trail. There are also abundant opportunities for surf fishing, shelling and sunning at more than 19 miles of natural Gulf beaches.
The perfect place to get acquainted with the trail is at Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point, where you can see imaginative, hands-on, colorful exhibits explaining the landscape, beaches, Cajun/Creole cultures and Cajun/Zydeco music and culinary flavors.
3. Vegas on the Marsh? Louisiana’s Premier Gaming Resort Destination!
There is a luxurious side of Lake Charles that deserves to be explored. Even the locals know that the Las Vegas style gaming experience is special. Golden Nugget Lake Charles and L’Auberge Casino Resort sit side by side both sporting golf courses, spa facilities, restaurants, live entertainment, and award-winning chefs. But during the summer, the pools are the real jackpot. With island-worthy cabanas and intricately designed lazy rivers, this is where you’ll want to be to beat the summer temperatures. The swim-up bars don’t hurt either.
The Isle of Capri Casino & Hotel, has games of chance, restaurants, retail outlets, and one of the best dance floors with live entertainment, great for anyone wanting to boot scoot or do the Cajun two-step, and in Vinton, close to the Texas border, patrons can experience the heart-pounding thoroughbred racing action at Delta Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel.
Still wondering about what’s happening in Lake Charles? Once you arrive, don’t hesitate to ask a local. One of the benefits of Cajun Country are the people who live here – they are full of Southern hospitality and are always willing to give a helping hand or to just sit for a spell.