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Unusual Museums and Historic Sites

Your Lake Charles history lesson begins at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum where Charles Sallier, one of the first settlers, built his winter home. A sprawling 375-year-old live oak tree stands at the old home site, and exhibits inside the museum display historical artifacts. Step back in time at the DeQuincy Railroad Museum, housed in a 1900s railroad depot, then learn about the region’s sulfur mining at the Brimstone Museum. During the 19th century, there were many new settlers but no architects or engineers, so industrious carpenters made up the style and plans as they built homes with products from the local sawmills. See this uniquely Lake Charles architecture in the Historic Charpentier District. The beautifully maintained houses make for great photos. Lake Charles loves Mardi Gras; in fact, it’s home to the second-largest celebration in Louisiana. Year-round, visit the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, home to the largest collection of krewe costumes in the world.

 

Local Food and Fun

The food here is consistently delicious. Boudin – a pork sausage filled with rice, liver, onion and spices – is a regional specialty. Lake Charles is home to the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail, which highlights mom-and-pop restaurants, butchers and grocers that serve this popular snack. Other signature dishes to try: po’ boy sandwiches at Darrell’s, authentic Southern food at Mama Reta’s Kitchen and boiled crawfish at Seafood Palace or Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake. Wash it down with a cold craft beer from Crying Eagle Brewing or a belly-warming shot of Bayou Rum, made in Southwest Louisiana with all natural, unrefined Louisiana sugarcane and molasses. Lake Charles and the surrounding area is also home to four casinos, two of which are resorts: Golden Nugget Lake Charles and L’Auberge Casino Resort. Stay up late to enjoy Las Vegas-style entertainment and live music, then relax the next day with a spa treatment or some quality time by the pool or on the golf greens.

 

Wild and Wonderful Nature

Along an easy-to-follow, 290-kilometer network of back roads, the Creole Nature Trail is an adventure into Louisiana's Outback. This untamed natural landscape holds creatures great and small (more than 400 species of birds, thousands of alligators, marsh mammals, fish and migrating butterflies), includes four pristine nature preserves and is on two major aviary flyways. Start by exploring the educational exhibits at Adventure Point, then follow the trail to seek out fishing, shelling, crabbing and wildlife watching, or book a kayak or airboat tour. Walk the Lake Charles promenade or rent a bike and explore the art galleries and boutique shops downtown. Just 30 minutes east of Lake Charles, take your picture with a baby alligator at Gator Chateau, an alligator rescue organization.

Fun Fact

Pirates celebrating on a float at the Louisiana Pirate Festival
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Every year, more than 200,000 people attend the Louisiana Pirate Festival, a celebration of Lake Charles’ pirate past.

The Sallier Oak at The Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles, Louisiana
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The Imperial Calcasieu Museum is home to a 375-year-old oak tree known as the Sallier Oak.

A Goldband Records headshot of a young Dolly Parton
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Legendary country singer Dolly Parton recorded her first single at the age of 13 at Goldband Records studio in Lake Charles.

Aerial view of the lakefront
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Nearby Experiences
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Official Lake Charles Travel Sites

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Group stand up paddle boarding

Destination

Baton Rouge

A blue heron coasts over the backwaters

Destination

Houma

Revelers at the annual Festivals Acadiens et Creoles

Destination

Lafayette

Downtown Monroe, which sits on the opposite side of the Ouachita River from West Monroe

Destination

Monroe

Enjoying the day on Cane River

Destination

Natchitoches

Dusk falls over Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral

Destination

New Orleans