Check out seven fun things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Sure, the city has amazing food, but that’s just part of the Lake Charles story.
Anybody who knows me well knows that I adore Cajun food. I’ve been known to keep Tabasco bottles in my drawers at work and kept a selection of various hot sauces in my pantry at home. Spicy food makes me happy. I just love that tingle on my lips and the burn in my throat.
Besides the food, I didn’t know too much about Lake Charles LA before my trip and wondered how it would be different from New Orleans food. Daryl, the musician in my life, quickly pointed out that The Band famously sang about Lake Charles in the song Up on Cripple Creek.
But beyond the food and the song, what makes this city in Southwest Louisiana special? That’s what I wanted to find out. I quickly learned that there are lots of fun things to do in Lake Charles LA.
7 Fun Things To Do in Lake Charles Louisiana
If you’re also wondering what to do in Lake Charles LA, here are seven great suggestions to get you started.
1. Eat Your Way along the Boudin Trail
The Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail is a unique thing to do in Lake Charles and the surrounding area, especially if you love Cajun food and want to eat some of the best food in Lake Charles. The trail spans many miles as it twists its way through Lake Charles and the surrounding towns.
The 27 stops on the Boudin Trail are far from tourist spots. Instead, they are local Lake Charles restaurants, butchers and even truck stops, each stop serving its unique take on boudin. If you’re wondering how to eat boudin, this is the place to learn all about the Louisiana food favorite.
A Louisiana delicacy, boudin’s history goes back to the days when local Cajun families would cook using every morsel of the pig in a true farm to table situation. Whether you’re new to boudin or already a connoisseur, the Boudin Trail is the best place to explore this porky treat in all of its various shapes and forms.
Although boudin is typically made with pork, rice, green peppers and seasonings, every spot on the Boudin Trail makes boudin differently. Some add liver. Some stuff the casings with other proteins like alligator and shrimp. Some smoke the boudin, while others fry the boudin into crispy fried balls.
In an ideal world, there would be time to hit all 27 stops to sample every type of boudin. On this trip, though, I only had time for two stops.
My first stop was at the Sausage Link, a local eatery helmed by boudin master Matthew Fruge. Right behind the glass windows in the shop, Fruge butchers the meat and makes his boudin with pork, rice, natural hog casings, fresh vegetables and other local ingredients. Hot cracklins are for sale by the cash register, providing an added treat to enjoy on the ride to the next stop.
My second stop was at Rabideaux’s Sausage Kitchen in Iowa (the city, not the state), about 24 miles from the Sausage Link along the Boudin Trail. Originally a smokehouse when it opened nearly a century ago, Rabideaux’s second owner, Glenn Daigle, has continued the tradition of smoking boudin with oak wood. Under Daigle, making the boudin is a 24-hour process. In addition to boudin, Rabideaux’s serves a full array of specialty meats and sides, not to mention cracklins.
2. Visit a Rum Distillery
Rum is a staple of the region, which is no surprise considering the proximity to sugar cane. Louisiana Spirits Distillery is distilling their relatively new Bayou Rum in a state-of-the-art facility. Even better, the craft distillery offers free tours every day (except Sunday) from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
During my tour, I viewed the distillery’s proprietary method while I learned about the master blender from Cuba, the synthetic corks, the locally sourced ingredients, the bottles made in Mexico and the oak barrels sourced from Kentucky.
The tasting at the end of the tour is a great opportunity to experience Bayou Rum first hand. During the tasting, you can compare and contrast the Silver rum from the barrel-aged Select rum. You can also sip the flavorful Spiced rum and the fragrantly orange Satsuma rum.
Or better yet, you can taste a Bayou Bullfrog cocktail made with Silver rum and lemonade. Without a doubt, if you love rum, then Bayou Rum is one of the best places to go in Lake Charles.
People under 21 years of age can attend the tour; however, they cannot participate in the rum tasting. Due to the age restriction, this rum tasting is one of the most fun things to do in Lake Charles for adults.
Louisiana Spirits Distillery is located at 20909 Frontage Road, Lacassine, LA 70650, United States.
3. Attend a Festival
Seventy-five festivals take place in Lake Charles each year, earning the nickname of Festival Capital of Louisiana for the city. Of course, I had to attend one when I was in town. With so many Lake Charles events happening each year, it was not hard to find one that tickled my fancy.
The Marshland Festival celebrates the marshes along the Creole Nature Trail. Filled with mostly locals and a few tourists, this festival has it all from daiquiris to Cajun food to local art vendors. However, the main attraction is the zydeco music.
It’s exciting to experience zydeco music in the region where the French Creoles created the genre. Needless to say, nobody can stay seated while this foot-stomping music is performed. Experiencing live zydeco music is one of the best things to do in Southwest Louisiana, not just Lake Charles.
4. Lounge at the Beach
It’s no surprise that the Lake Charles weather can be hot and humid. Luckily, the Creole Nature Trail features twenty-six miles of sandy beaches, making the area perfect for all kinds of aquatic activities in Lake Charles from swimming to fishing and more.
Holly Beach, a well-known beach on this trail, was once dubbed the Cajun Riviera. However, the beach is now more rustic due to damage caused by Hurricanes Audrey and Rita, making it a tranquil spot perfect for lounging, taking long walks and collecting seashells.
5. Take a Walk on the Sabine Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway
One spot on the Creole Nature Trail that is well worth a stop is the Wetland Walkway at the Sabine National Refuge. Although the walkway is just a mile and a half loop, there is much to see during a walk over the freshwater marshes.
Nature abounds from a wide variety of birds to alligators. The plant life is particularly interesting, especially the cattails which look exactly like corn dogs. In many ways, the walkway is a perfect microcosm of the region’s terrain. Educational and fun, this is one of the best things to do with kids in Lake Charles.
Although the chances of being bitten by an alligator are slim if you follow the safety rules, that is not the case with the aggressive bugs. Be sure to bring bug repellant and apply it liberally.
6. Visit the Lake Charles Casinos
Lake Charles is a gambling mecca with four high-end casinos among the most popular Lake Charles attractions. During my visit, I stayed at the L’Auberge Casino Resort, a full-service casino owned by Pinnacle Entertainment.
If you want to check out the Lake Charles casinos, then this is one not to miss. With all of the fun stuff to do in Lake Charles, hanging out at this swanky hotel ranks as one of the best options. Beyond gambling in Lake Charles, it’s easy to love staying at the L’Auberge Lake Charles since the staff is fully focused on creating a luxurious experience. The rooms are super comfortable, and there are several excellent restaurants and shops at all price points.
Beyond being a casino with 24-hour gambling, the property is one of the best Lake Charles hotels and is convenient to many attractions in Lake Charles. For me, as a non-gambler, the highlights at L’Auberge Casino Resort were the pool and the spa. The pool is quite massive and has a lazy river with a swim-up bar. Near the pool area, the spa is a relaxing indoor oasis. I felt completely rejuvenated after enjoying a Swedish massage and a dip in the hot tub.
L’Auberge Casino Resort is located at 777 Avenue L’Auberge, Lake Charles, LA 70601, United States.
7. Drink Cocktails and Coffee
Drinks are more of a right than a luxury in Lake Charles, where it’s easy to chill with crafted cocktails or with fresh, organic coffee roasted by female-owned Acadian Coffee Roasters. The Acadian coffee flavors are extensive, with the most popular being chocolate pecan pie. If you’re lucky, the Nancy’s will make a batch of their espresso gelato, the most intensely flavored coffee ice cream that I’ve ever eaten.
As for cocktails, Restaurant Calla is serving up creative concoctions like Jason Labove’s flavorful Gin & Tonic made with Ransom Gin, Ransom Dry Vermouth, house-made rosemary thyme tonic and juniper simple syrup. Another liquid winner is the French 75 cocktail topped with St. Germain foam at tony La Truffe Sauvage. And then there’s milk punch.
Follow our Bourbon Milk Punch recipe and craft the creamy dreamy drink at home.
Milk punch is the best thing to drink in Lake Charles. I’ve previously enjoyed milk punch in New Orleans, but I absolutely fell in love with the Lake Charles version. Sweet and creamy, this milk punch is the perfect drink to go with a carefree Sunday brunch.
Then again, it would also go well with breakfast or dinner depending on your mood. My favorite milk punch was at Jack Daniel’s Bar Grill. When you visit Lake Charles, drinking milk punch is an absolute must.
Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill is located at 777 Ave L’Auberge, Lake Charles, LA 70601, USA.
La Truffe Sauvage is located at 815 W Bayou Pines Drive, Lake Charles, LA 70601, United States.
Restaurant Calla is located at 1400 Market Street, Lake Charles LA 70601, United States.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
I thank Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau for sponsoring my visit to facilitate this article.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.
Original Publication Date: October 16, 2015