Shelley Johnson, executive director
Megan Hartman, senior marketing manager
Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau
337-436-9588 or 800-456-SWLA

Lake Charles Welcomes the Savvy African American Traveler

If a soulful, undeniably Southwest Louisiana travel experience is on your "bucket list," Lake Charles has more than a little something for you!

The history of Louisiana's black culture is very rich and colorful, and African Americans have played an integral role in the development of the cultural landscape here.

Today, many descendants of the original families remain and scores of others have moved here over the years. The reasons they stay are numerous: Great Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music; its thriving performance arts venues; exciting museums and gallery spaces; outstanding gastronomic adventures; fantastic entertainment 365 days a year; and a warm Southern ambiance where everyone is welcome.

A soulful Lake Charles itinerary should include:

The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu. Situated inside of the Central School Arts & Humanities Center, the museum is a fabulous collection of everything Mardi Gras. Each of the six exhibit rooms possesses a different theme, together encompassing a wide variety of costumes, banners, awards, headdresses, photographs, animated mannequins and more, including the history and significance of several African American krewes, including the Krewe de Classique and Krewe de Extraordinaire.

The Black Heritage Gallery. A year-round showcase of African American artistic talent as well as community-oriented educational activities representing the contributions of African Americans to Southwest Louisiana, the gallery features everything from expressive sculptures to colorful paintings, photography and other media.

The Black Heritage Festival. Held in March, the festival features lively musical performances, delicious culinary creations, youth and family fun areas, educational workshops and seminars, and arts and craft booths. The latter includes a wide array of African artifacts, art, clothing, Greek paraphernalia, books, jewelry, and a great deal more. Traditional African-American foods and Louisiana Creole cuisine are served at numerous food booths, and musical talent ranges from Zydeco to Gospel, Spoken Word, Blues and other genres.

The Kitchen Restaurant. Enjoy great home-cooked soul food try at this local black-owned restaurant where everyone is treated like family. Diners here enjoy sumptuous portions of crawfish etoufeé, meatloaf, fried or smothered pork chops, okra-chicken sausage, shrimp Creole, liver and onions, baked turkey wings or legs and bbq (ribs, chicken, pork steaks and brisket), just to name a few. The bevy of sides encompass rice and gravy, rice dressing, yams, mac ‘n cheese, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, smothered cabbage, mustard greens, baked beans and a great deal more.

Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail. Often regarded as "Southwest Louisiana's favorite finger food," Boudin is as an essential part of the culinary landscape here as water is to the human body! Boudin recipes vary but the basics encompass some form of ground meat (pork, beef, liver, and so on), rice and spices stuffed in a hog casing and cooked. The trail leads you to over two dozen of some of the best boudin spots in the region, each one guaranteed to temp your taste buds with their own unique flavor and flair.

B&O's Kitchen & Grocery. Located in Mossville, the first African American settlement in the area, B&O's has been a true area favorite for almost 30 years. You will find every southwestern Louisiana delicacy and more here including some of the region's best boudin, pistolettes, fresh crackling, hog head cheese, beef jerky, Cajun egg rolls stuffed with boudin, stuffed chicken, brisket, pork chops and turkey with a variety of stuffings, fried turkeys and Turducklins (a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken, with stuffing in between each bird). Everything is made from scratch, including the hog lard, casings and spice mixes, and it shows in the flavor. B&O's is not black owned, but is a must for a soulful taste of Southwest Louisiana, and located along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail.

All of this is just a taste of what Lake Charles offers the savvy African American traveler.

Resource List
B&O's Kitchen & Grocery

Black Heritage Gallery and Black Heritage Festival
Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu

Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail

The Kitchen Restaurant