We have a wide selection of itineraries to entice a variety of visitors who are interested in group travel. See below for suggestions, or for more á la carte style, see our itinerary ideas for a themed vacation getaway.
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"Something for Everyone" - Southwest Louisiana's One Day Tour
(self guided or a step-on tour guide can be arranged)
It's gaming and the great outdoors, culinary delights and rhythm and blues. It's good company and quiet reflections, historical sites and luxurious accommodations. It's a tropical climate and Southern hospitality all right here in Southwest Louisiana.
(Breakfast): Historic District
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel or at one of our many restaurants that features the essence of southern Louisiana. Start the day by touring the Historic Charpentier District, and see such sites as Old Central School built in 1912 or the intricate Immaculate Conception Cathedral, both created by noted New Orleans architects Favrot and Livaudais. Central School is now a cornerstone in the Historic District, housing the Mardi Gras Museum, a six room museum that boasts the largest Mardi Gras costume display in the world. Enjoy a visit at the 1911 City Hall & Cultural Center that features rotating visuals arts and culture exhibits, presentations and festivals. You can also explore one of more than 100 cemeteries throughout Southwest Louisiana including the Bilbo Cemetery in downtown Lake Charles that has been maintained for over 200 years.
(Lunch): Creole Nature Trail All-American Road
Lunch can be an easy decision in Lake Charles, whether you're in the mood for seafood, pasta or just some good soul food. Your day will continue west to the Sulphur area where you will not want to miss the Brimstone Historical Society Museum in the old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, with the Henning Cultural Center next door, with historical and cultural exhibits. Continue your tour with Louisiana's Outback, the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Along this distinctive natural corridor, you will have the opportunity to experience world-famous wildlife habitats and estuaries.
(Dinner): Casino Gaming
Now that you have had a full day of touring, let your group sample some of Louisiana's best cuisine at one of our many fine dining restaurants. You may choose a restaurant with more of a local flavor, or simply dine at one of the casino complexes. Each casino is home to a multitude of optional restaurants - sure to fit your budget and your group's appetite. After enjoying a great meal, let the nightlife begin at enjoy one of our Las Vegas style casino complexes. Southwest Louisiana is home to three casinos: L'Auberge du Lac Casino Resort, the Isle of Capri Casino & Hotel, Delta Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel, and coming in 2009, Sugarcane Bay Resort, a 350 million dollar project, which is a sister casino property to L'Auberge.
Promenade through History in the "Charpentier Historic District"
(one day tour - self guided or a step-on tour guide can be arranged)
The romantic history of Lake Charles, involving tales of pirates and buried treasure, begins with the arrival of the first French settlers in 1760s. The lumber boom, fueled by vast woodlands in the area, was responsible for the rapid growth of the city in the early years, and also for the extensive use of the solid pine and cypress in the construction of the homes in historic downtown Lake Charles.
(Breakfast): Shell Beach Drive Mansions / Imperial Calcasieu Museum
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel or at one of our restaurants, then get ready to stroll down history lane as we take you back to what is known as historic Lake Charles. You can begin with a scenic tour that includes picturesque mansions along Shell Beach drive, Margaret Place and the newly revitalized downtown. Enjoy an extensive historical collection and fine art gallery at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum. Shading the site is the magnificent 300-year old Sallier Oak.
1911 Historic City Hall / Historic Cemeteries
Throughout the tour, you will see such sites as 1911 Historic City Hall. This center features rotating visual arts and cultural exhibits, presentations and festivals. Explore one of the more than 100 cemeteries throughout Southwest Louisiana and learn about the area's rich and diverse history. From rural graveyards in prairies and forest to urban cemeteries, these burial grounds are as unique as the rest of the region. Several sites, such as Bilbo cemetery in Lake Charles, have been maintained for more than 200 years.
(Lunch): Central School Arts & Humanities Center / Mardi Gras Museum
Take a break and enjoy lunch in a quaint café, rich with culture and personality the Historic Charpentier District demands (Charpentier - is French for carpenter). This is a perfect time for the tour guide to give the group an overview or what the historic area has to offer. Enjoy the afternoon touring old Central School. Restored as an Arts and Humanities Center, the former schoolhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the many tenants includes the Mardi Gras Museum, which stages the largest display of Mardi Gras costumes in the world. At the Mardi Gras Museum, the bureau can arrange a welcome by the Mardi Gras Revelers, a Mardi Gras costume demonstration, and have a tasting King Cakes and a demonstration as to how the sweet cakes are made.
(Dinner): Topping off the Night with World-famous Cuisine
Finish the evening with a dinner at one of our one of our elegant restaurants highlighting the unique cuisine here in Southwest Louisiana with a welcome by the local chef to give the group that personal touch.
The bureau can also arrange tours in four of the historical churches in downtown Lake Charles to include, Temple Sinai, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, and Church of the Good Shepherd and First United Methodist Church.
DeQuincy Railroad Museum
DeQuincy has a colorful history as a railroad town. The DeQuincy Railroad Museum is located the original townsite in 1895 at the intersection of two major railroads. A 1913 steam locomotive, passenger car, a caboose and other railroad artifacts are on display
Mardi Gras in the "Festival Capital of Louisiana"
(three or four day options - personal tour guide can be arranged for this tour)
Southwest Louisiana is world famous for its love of life and ability to throw a great party...and one of those parties is Mardi Gras, 2nd only to New Orleans! Mardi Gras in SWLA has a colorful history dating back to 1882 when Momus, King of Mardi Gras, landed his royal yacht at the foot of Pujo Street in Lake Charles.
Arrive and sample our atmosphere as we celebrate in the spirit of the muses of Justice, Power, and Faith - purple, gold and green. Thousands attend the local Mardi Gras each year for family fun. Enjoy the Krewe of Omega Parade, Cajun Extravaganza, Krewe of Barkus Parade, Cajun dancing and more. Finish the evening at one of our many Cajun/seafood restaurants or try your luck at one of our Las Vegas style casinos.
Children's Day, complete with carnival rides and a parade. In the evening, the seawall shines with a lighted boat parade. Enjoy a sunset cruise on Lake Charles while enjoying the sounds of Cajun and Zydeco music in the atmosphere. A reception, complete with Mardi Gras Revelers, can be arranged at the Mardi Gras museum, a six-room museum set up as a tribute, with the largest display of Mardi Gras costumes in the world. The rooms display the history of the festival, the Captain's Den, costume design, the history of King Cakes and the marvel of 12th night, January 6, each year. The museum is located in the historic Central School Arts & Humanities Center.
Lundi Gras is celebrated on Monday with the Royal Gala. The gala is a unique opportunity no other area of the state offers. Kings and Queens and Royal Courts of past year promenade in regal attire. A private section can be arranged on the main level to ensure your group has a bird's eye view of each royal costume. Also on Monday, a personal demonstration on how the costumes are constructed along with a question and answer session with one of our own Mardi Gras kings can be arranged.
Day Four - Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras Day:
Fat Tuesday peaks with the happy, glittering Krewe of Krewes Parade that winds for four miles through Lake Charles - krewe floats, costumes, beads and excitement for your entire group. The newly formed Red Hat Society Parade kicks off the day. Your group can enjoy the Mardi Gras festivities with their own parade block party arranged by the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. The block party includes a private roped off area with grand stands for parade viewing, a personal visit from Gumbeaux Gator, our good will ambassador, a Cajun style buffet, beverages and a toe tapping Cajun/Zydeco band allowing your group to dance the night away.
"Louisiana Outback" (One or Two Day Options)
The Creole Nature Trail, including more than 180-miles of nature's best, is one of the first National Scenic Byways designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in the Gulf South, and that designation was upgraded in 2002 to the highest category, an All-American Road. Along this distinctive natural corridor through Louisiana's Outback - one of America's "Last Great Wildernesses" - you have the opportunity to experience world famous wildlife habitats and estuaries. The Creole Nature Trial is a journey through a wild and rugged terrain unique to Louisiana, America and the world. http://www.creolenaturetrail.org/
Suggested one or two day itineraries:
(Tours can be on your own or a step-on guide can be arranged)
Brimstone Museum / Henning Cultural Center
Start your day with a southern style breakfast at one of our many restaurants in Southwest Louisiana. Begin the tour in the city of Sulphur, named for the mineral mined here many years ago. Here you can visit the Brimstone Historical Society Museum in the old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot and the Henning Cultural Center next door, featuring historical and cultural exhibits.
Hackberry / Sabine National Wildlife Refuge
Continue traveling to Hackberry, a center for commercial crabbing, fishing and shrimping. The town of Hackberry is home to some of the first oil wells drilled in Louisiana. The first national wildlife refuge that you reach is Sabine where the Wetland Walkway, a winding trail through the marsh awaits. Once you have passed through the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge area, you can begin enjoying the beautiful 26 miles of Gulf Coast beaches which offer a variety of activities. These activities include, shelling, swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, tubing, jet skiing, surf fishing, and of course, birding. Enjoy the bountiful and scenic outdoors with a box lunch on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico or a picnic style - checkered table cloth seafood boil which could be arranged by the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau to give your group the total outback experience.
Louisiana's Outback is home to the American alligator, a wild reptile who likes to glide up and down bayous and lakes or sun on the banks. During the tour you will see Acadian-style architecture, which features hipped roofs, primarily using cypress, which was abundant and did not rot in the warm, moist climate. Acadian-style architecture is still very much evident along the trail today. Roofs extend over wide porches, to provide shade and cooling breeze under raised homes.
Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge
Now you are in Cameron Parish, where the primary industry is fishing for oysters, shrimp, crabs, finfish, and most importantly, menhaden or pogey fish. This small sardine-shaped fish is incredibly valued for its oil, which is used in the creation of such things as perfumes, cosmetics, medicines and paints. While in Cameron Parish, you would not want to miss a visit to the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge where you can view ducks, geese, white-tail deer, many species of migratory birds (seasonal), nutria and alligators up-close. The refuge's visitors' center is newly renovated with animated characters telling colorful stories as well as interactive learning displays.
Other Points of Interest
Other sites not to be missed along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road are Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, a scientific site with a serious commitment to the study of indigenous wildlife and fauna. On the Western Spur, Peveto Woods bird and Butterfly Sanctuary, near Johnson Bayou. Enjoy the wildlife drive at Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge. The 35,000-acre refuge is exclusively a freshwater march dominated by the Lacassine Impoundment. Known locally as "the pool" the impoundment was created enclosing a 16,000-acre marsh with a low levee.