Deep in the heart of Louisiana, Lake Charles boasts food, music, and culture like no other. Taste crawfish fresh from the briny water of the Mississippi, listen to the hum of jazz while sitting by the lake, or enjoy the ever-pleasant weather of the South.
Read on to find out the top 10 things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana that’ll have you see what Cajun country is all about.
1. A family oasis in Millennium Park
Grab your kids, a picnic basket or a good book, and settle for the afternoon in this quaint riverside park. With an intimate view of the water and adjoining bridge, you can relax and enjoy the fresh breeze. Meanwhile, your kids can amble around the Shiver-Me-Timbers portion of the park, which has a whole set of pirate-themed play materials!
Address: 900 Lakeshore Dr, Lake Charles, LA 70601
Website: Millennium Park
2. Enjoy the festival mischief at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
If you’re ready to “laissez les bons temps rouler” but are a little late for the event itself, the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu comes pretty close. Tour the intricate costumes, learn the history of king cakes, and even climb aboard floats and feel like real Mardi Gras royalty. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 1 pm to 5 pm and is 5 USD for adults and 3 USD for kids and senior citizens.
Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
Address: 809 Kirby St # 229, Lake Charles, LA 70601
3. Go back in time in the Charpentier Historic District
This 40-block district hosts homes and buildings reminiscent of the turn of the century. From turrets to gingerbread trims, the architecture speaks to the carpenters (charpentiers) who once inhabited Lake Charles. Enjoy a walking tour and discover the Southern charm Louisiana is famous for.
Charpentier Historic District
Website: Charpentier Historic District
4. Taste Cajun culture in the 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center
This locally-run gallery hosts art and cultural exhibits of ever-changing topics, from asian kites to literary icons. With three free exhibits in a beautiful space, this afternoon treat will surely please anyone. Pro Tip: the collection even includes etchings by Rembrandt.
1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Culture Center
Address: 1001 Ryan St, Lake Charles, LA 70601
5. Soak up the sun in Prien Lake Park
For the outdoorsy visitor, Prien Lake Park provides the perfect outlet. Locals and visitors alike love paddleboarding and canoeing along the lake while enjoying the almost perennial temperate weather of the South. Not in the mood to get a little wet? The park is lined by a boardwalk perfect for an afternoon stroll.
Prien Lake Park
Address: 3100-4150 W Prien Lake Rd, Lake Charles, LA 70605
Website: Prien Lake Park
6. Climb aboard the USS Orleck
A popular museum in Lake Charles, the USS Orleck is a retired naval boat from World War II. Get on deck to peruse important historical details like the background on those who fought in the war and even scale replicas. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 3 pm, and Saturday until 4 pm. Join any of the daily tours to get the most out of your visit!
Address: 604 N Enterprise Blvd, Lake Charles, LA 70601
Website: USS Orleck
7. Get ritzy at L'Auberge du Lac Casino
With a spa, casino, fine-dining and constant entertainment, l'Auberge du Lac Casino is a fun-for-all location. Fan-favorites include the Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill, as well as the all-you-can-eat buffet. Go play some slots, hang poolside, or simply show up for a fantastic meal and relax.
L'Auberge du Lac Casino
Address: 777 Ave L'Auberge, Lake Charles, LA 70601
Website: L'Auberge du Lac Casino
8. Cajun country in Sam Houston Jones State Park
Go down by the bayou at this historic gem, where individuals can rent cabins or merely sit by the water and have a picnic celebration. For a 3 USD entrance fee, you can settle underneath a ceiling of Spanish moss with family and friends and inhabit the swamplands like a true Cajun. Keep your ears peeled for the slow hum of cicadas or the slap of a gator tail in the water.
Sam Houston Jones State Park
Address: 107 Sutherland Road Lake Charles, LA 70611
Website: Sam Houston Jones State Park
9. Go back to your youth at the Children's Museum
For an afternoon of family activities, stop by the Children’s Museum where kids rule. In Downtown Lake Charles, you’ll find this finely curated spot to teach your kids about life while having fun. Exhibits include the Kid’s Bank, Baby Bayou, Construction Zone, Louisiana Wetlands, and Horizontal Walk Climbing, to name a few. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm with ticket sales closing at 4:30 pm.
Address: 327 Broad Street Lake Charles, Louisiana
Website: Children’s Museum
10. Find even more Louisiana flavor on the Creole Nature Trail
Curious about the natural landscape of Louisiana? Enjoy this 180-mile (289.6 km) trail stretching across 26 miles (41.8 km) of Gulf of Mexico beaches. With alligators, 400 bird species, marshlands, fishing, and crabbing, you can experience all the water has to offer. The region includes boat tours and beaches for visitors to engage with the area. Photographers, bird lovers, families, and wanderers can all come down the trail and find what they’re looking for–even if it’s just a lazy day outside!
Creole Nature Trail
Address: 1205 N Lakeshore Dr, Lake Charles, LA 70601
Website: Creole Nature Trail
Once you go South, it's hard to go back
When it comes to the heart of Cajun culture, Lake Charles is an ideal place to explore. Think of spending a whole afternoon roaming the trails of the bayou, visiting cultural sites, and eating all the Cajun food your heart desires. Enjoy your time by the water and give yourself a chance to relax!
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