Gear up for an unforgettable 2024 in Louisiana's Playground! We're rolling out the red carpet for renowned entertainers like soul and R&B legend Gladys Knight, Grammy award winner Michael Bolton, rising country star Parker McCollum, and rock and roll legends Godsmack. Additionally, innovators of all ages will delight in the unveiling of Port Wonder at the Lakefront, and that's just the beginning! We've crafted 24 reasons to make Lake Charles your go-to destination in 2024. From weekend escapes to girls' getaways or a journey through our culinary delights, Southwest Louisiana is your ticket to a year of joy, laughter, and unforgettable memories!

lavish gold and purple mardi gras attire and lavish white costume

1. Celebrate Mardi Gras in Louisiana's Playground

In Louisiana’s Playground, The Mardi Gras season kicks off on Twelfth Night, where guests bid farewell to the outgoing royalty from over sixty krewes decked in extravagant costumes and accessories. The good times keep rolling with endless amounts of king cake and events planned each day leading up to Fat Tuesday. A secured perimeter along the main parade route makes each location prime with space for revelers of all ages! Make plans to attend unique spectacles like the Lighted Boat Parade where watercraft decked in green, purple, and gold, toss trinkets to spectators on the lakefront, the Krewe of Omega Parade which spans nearly sixty years and consists of various chapters of the of all-Black Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, or the Children's Day Parade and activities featuring an alcohol and tobacco-free environment! The celebrations conclude with the Mardi Gras Southwest Krewe of Krewes Parade, the culmination of carnival season in Southwest Louisiana. 

louisiana food and wine

2. Attend a Festival in Southwest Louisiana

Did you know that Southwest Louisiana is home to over 70 festivals? Annual festivals kick off with the Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival also known as the "oldest and coldest" festival in Southwest Louisiana. Indulge in endless amounts of crawfish this spring at the Crawfish Festival. When the weather heats up so does the downtown music scene with the return of the Downtown at Sundown Concert Series featuring Zydeco, Country, Rock, and Blues artists from across Louisiana. The Louisiana Food and Wine Festival returns in the fall with celebrity chef master classes and all-inclusive tasting events. 

Wetland Walkway - Creole Nature Trail

3. Become One With Nature on The Creole Nature Trail

The Creole Nature Trail is one of 37 All-American Roads and one of 184 scenic byways. Louisiana's Outback is home to over 400 migrating bird species, alligators, blue crabs, and various types of fish making it the perfect location for breathtaking nature photography, bird watching, hunting, crabbing, fishing, and more. For the inside scoop on each destination along the trail download the free Creole Nature Trail app available in several languages. If kickstarting your journey on the west leg of the trail, then plan to visit Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point, a free attraction with hands-on exhibits that prepare you for your expedition and expose you to the sounds and aromas found in Southwest Louisiana! Continuing along the west side of the trail you'll enter Wetland Walkway, a fully accessible boardwalk offering access into and over saltwater marshes. Holly Beach, known as the "end of the earth" is one of several beaches stretching 26 miles along the Gulf Coast. Peveto Woods Sanctuary is the last stop for food and rest for birds heading south over the Gulf. Return to the city or conquer the rest of the trail traveling east where you'll traverse fresh and saltwater marshes and serene cypress swamps. Pintail Wildlife Drive is perfect for those hoping to come face to face with wading birds and alligators. Make the final stop at Rutherford Beach before heading back into town.

rustic lobby of l'auberge

4. Stay and Play at Luxury Casinos

Southwest Louisiana is home to four casino resorts: L'Auberge and Golden Nugget located in Lake Charles, Horseshoe Hotel and Casino located in Westlake, and Delta Downs Racetrack, Casino, and Hotel located in Vinton. Each boasts unique luxury atmospheres offering live entertainment, casual and fine dining, and sports betting opportunities. 

interior of southlake theater performance venue

5. Immerse Yourself in Performing Arts

For a fully immersive audio and visual experience be sure to attend a production, concert, or comedy show at the state-of-the-art performance venue, Southlake Theater. Their full scene and space capabilities, full-color LED stage, and LED video wall capture all of your senses elevating guests from spectators to components of the production. For a more traditional theater experience visit the recently renovated Rosa Hart Theater located within the Lake Charles Event Center. Rosa Hart Theater offers nearly 2,000 fixed seats perfect for hosting productions from local and regional performances to national and international talents.

Calcasieu Courthouse

6. Tour A Historic Neighborhood

Southwest Louisiana boasts a rich history waiting to be explored through visiting one of our museums or historical districts. For those who enjoy haunted history, be sure to visit the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse where Toni Jo Henry became the only woman to be executed by electric chair in Louisiana. Rumor has it her ghost still roams the halls! 

Sam Houston Jones State Park (Photo 2)

7. Go Fishing, Hiking, and Glamping at Sam Houston Jones State Park

What better way to experience the abundance of birds, alligators, and other wildlife found in Southwest Louisiana than by spending the day birding, fishing, kayaking, and exploring over 1,000 acres of land in its natural state found within Sam Houston Jones State Park? The sole national park in Southwest Louisiana is home to over 70 acres of longleaf pines, numerous waterways, and three hiking trails as well as eight free all-terrain track wheelchairs specially designed for navigating trails and areas within the park not suitable for conventional wheelchairs. Wind down in style and observe the breathtaking orange and pink hues of the sun setting over your glamping tent sites or from the front porch of a deluxe cabin.

Gumbeaux Gators Press conference

8. Cheer on the Gumbeaux Gators at a Home Game

The Gumbeaux Gators are the newest addition to the Texas Collegiate League. The Gumbeaux Gators will have a 48-game season throughout June and July, with 24 of these taking place at their home field, Joe Miller Park at McNeese and A.M. Barbe Baseball field. They are also committed to bringing talent home to the Chuck with players from ULL, LSUE, Nichols, McNeese, and additional colleges throughout the south. The schedule of games and swag can be found here

rendering of port wonder on the lakefront

9. Explore Port Wonder

Port Wonder will officially open this summer! It will be the new home of the Southwest Louisiana Children's Museum and Wildlife and Fisheries Nature Center, where kids of all ages can learn more about our environment and explore interactive exhibits featuring various occupations and promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.


10. Eat to Your Heart's Content in Crawfish

Crawfish can be found as early as December, but for better-sized mudbugs that are easier to peel, you'll want to wait until the spring. These delicacies can be paired with boiled shrimp, corn, sausage, and potatoes at restaurants and drive-thrus like Steamboat Bills on the Lake and Pinchers Crawfish and Daiquiris. In Southwest Louisiana, they're known to be incorporated in practically any recipe from pizza to pasta and popular Creole dishes like crawfish étoufee. For an in-depth lesson on our favorite crustaceans take a look at our crawfish guide

 Alevan Salon Spa Sancturay

11. Make Time for Self Care at a Spa

After you've explored the Creole Nature Trail, indulged in crawfish, and two-stepped at a festival, schedule a day of relaxation at one of our luxury spas. Unique wellness retreats like Alevan Salon Spa Sanctuary, one of the first multicultural salons in Lake Charles, and Edgemont Healing Center home to yoga, tai chi, art therapy, and more practitioners of healing arts, specialize in wellness, self-care, and rejuvenation. 


12. Tee Off on One of Our Golf Courses

Golf newbies and pros, don’t miss the chance to tee off on our lush, award-winning greens year-round. Southwest Louisiana's remarkable courses spotlight breathtaking views perfect for all skill levels. The National Golf Club of Westlake stands as Louisiana's most affordable premier golf course. Grab all of your gear from their pro shop, and for a mouthwatering treat, swing by The Max. Test your skill on the Scottish links-inspired Mallard Golf Club featured on the Louisiana Audubon Golf Trail. The fast firm fairways promise an unparalleled golfing experience! Contraband Bayou Golf Course designed by world-renowned golf architect Tom Fazio, offers challenging courses with water features and stunning greenery, plus a convenient beverage cart service and clubhouse. Country Club at Golden Nugget designed by Todd Eckenrode-Origins Golf Design is a getaway featuring 7,000 yards of natural beauty. Unwind on the patio with a drink and premium cigar while gazing at one of the most mesmerizing sunsets in the South.

Insane Sausages - Envie Eats - Louisiana's Playground

13. Explore the Boudin Trail

Boudin, also known as Southwest Louisiana's favorite finger food, can be feasted on for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late-night snack! Smoked, fried, mild, spicy- the variations are endless. Boudin, like crawfish, can be purchased by the pound at restaurants and grocery stores like Leonard's Food Quarters, In-Laws Cajun SpecialtiesInsane Sausages, and Market Basket. Stop by our visitor's center or download our digital brochure and embark on your delicious journey to each stop on the Boudin Trail.

fish caught midair on fishing charter with grosse savanne

14. Catch the Big One On a Guided Fishing Trip

Southwest Louisiana is home to superior freshwater, brackish, or saltwater fishing. Seasoned veterans and adventurous amateurs have access to dozens of boat launches in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes. No boat? No problem! Let the experts take you on a guided expedition through the marshes, in the Gulf, or along the Creole Nature Trail, guaranteed to put you right on the fish! For a deluxe experience book an overnight stay with a local fishing charter and lodge such as Grosse Savanne, Hackberry Rod and Gun Club, or Backwater Charters where you'll rest in luxurious accommodations and be treated to a succulent meal of your catching! 

SPAR Waterpark

15. Spend the Day floating the Lazy River

After you've spent the day on the water catching that trophy fish, spend the day in the water floating around the lazy rivers at Sulphur Parks and Recreation Water ParkH20 Pool+Bar at Golden Nugget, and L'Auberge. Golden Nugget and L'Auberge offer deluxe hot tubs, fire pits, luxury private cabanas, and swim-up bars for the 21+ crowd.  SPAR offers a variety of aquatic entertainment catering to various thrill levels and a mini park for the younger travelers in your group.

Cash & Carry Farmer's Market

16. Shop at a Farmer's Market

In Southwest Louisiana, you’ll find numerous farmers markets showcasing locally grown produce, handcrafted goods, and unique artistic works all week long. Discover a tapestry of stories, indulge in diverse flavors, and uncover homemade treasures to capture unforgettable memories of your trip. 

inflatable courses at lake area adventures

17. Fly High at Lake Area Adventures

Defy gravity by flying high on trampolines, inflatable courts, and obstacle courses at Lake Area Adventures. This entertainment venue doubles as a gamer's dream with everything from vintage arcade games to the fully immersive Omni arena virtual reality experience. Test your strength and balance on the ropes course or by ascending the rock climbing wall. Don’t miss your chance to sample the award-winning cuisine of the 2022 Seafood Queen and head chef, Amanda Cusey, at The Terrace

interior of Pronia's Deli and Bakery

18. Treat Your Sweet Tooth at an Award Winning Bakery

Discover award-winning bakeries like The Bekery, spotlighted in Southern Living magazine for its French-inspired pastries, fresh salads, and rich gourmet beverages. Newly renovated Pronia’s Deli and Bakery remains rooted in Italian tradition with familiar savory muffulettas on freshly baked bread and decadent cupcakes, cookies, and cannolis! Explore new favorites like Twanie’s Terrific Treats known for colossal chocolate chip cookies and rotating dessert creations and Helen St. Bakehouse, offering butter croissants and satisfying cinnamon rolls drizzled with a homemade glaze, both nestled near downtown Lake Charles.  

comedian jacob guidry

19. Attend a Comedy Show

The Lake Charles comedy scene is growing rapidly with live entertainment nearly every night at local bars like Library Riot and OB’s Bar and Grill! You’re sure to leave with aching sides from the non-stop laughs whether attending a comedy show featuring nationally touring comedians or an open mic night with regional talents. Comedian Jeff Foxworth will ring in the new year this January at L'Auberge and comedian and actor Kevin James will bring the laughs to the Golden Nugget stage in the spring. 

crying eagle brewery tour

20. Tour a Brewery or Distillery

Ever pondered the process behind creating unique craft beers or delicious rum? Book your individual or group tour at Crying Eagle Brewing to explore the 4,000-square-foot taproom where you'll explore the facility, learn the process, and sample the flavors. Try the delicious bites in the bistro and bring the party outside for washers in the beer garden or weekly live entertainment! Heading east on interstate-10 is the Bayou Rum Distillery, home to the official rum of the New Orleans Saints, which offers daily tours of the distillery process complete with samples of top flavors!  

lamb chop, fries, potatoes, and more at gordon ramsay steak

21. Date Night at an Upscale Dining Location

Southwest Louisiana is home to uniquely intimate dining choices like La Truffe Sauvage and Mazen's. Established fine dining venues like Ember, Vic & Anthony's, and Rosewater Grill and Tavern can be found in each of our casino resorts. Savor celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's acclaimed beef Wellington and toffee pudding by securing a reservation at the new Gordon Ramsay Steak, located in the Horseshoe Hotel & Casino

Luna Brunch

22. Attend a Weekend Brunch

No girls' trip is truly complete without indulging in brunch and bottomless mimosas. Discover several of our favorite restaurants like The Max, Biscuits n Jamz, and Luna Bar and Grill which host weekly brunches featuring live entertainment and delicious dishes. 

Twisted Daiquiris

23. Savor the Convenience of Drive-Thru Staples

Experience joy on the go! For the 21 and over crowd, stop by The Frosty Factory, Paradise Daiquiri, or the Daiquiri Shack for a delicious adult beverage, and if you're up for it, stay for a round of karaoke. Indulge in larger-than-life concoctions from snocone shops like Lulu’s Speciality Snocones and More, or PT's Snoballs Coffee and Ice Cream – it's an opportunity not to be missed! 

Mama Reta's Gumbo with Chicken Leg

24. Experience Gumbo Weather

Frigid conditions are short-lived in Southwest Louisiana, but thankfully a small drop in temperature or cool breeze is all we need to usher in "gumbo weather"! The savory dish made of various ingredients from chicken and sausage to shrimp and crabs is served over rice with a side of potato salad. The creole staple is sure to warm your soul on a chilly day but thankfully is served year-round at restaurants like Mama Reta's, Hollier's, and Seafood Palace. Try them all and choose your favorite, or channel your inner chef and make your own with a homemade roux. Whatever you do don't change up the recipe too much and don't trust any versions with tomatoes or corn!