Lazy rivers, jazz brunches, alligators, Zydeco music, and free festivals – there is so much to pack into a Lake Charles vacation. Louisiana is known for having joie de vivre, and Louisiana’s Playground is the prime spot to experience joy your way. What makes Southwest Louisiana stand out is the dramatic blend of contrasting experiences, simultaneously known for its four gaming resorts with upscale amenities, award-winning golf courses, delicious restaurants, spa treatments, and world-class entertainment while also having an abundance of outdoor adventures along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Giving you the ability to pack as much joy as you can pack into your next getaway.  


There’s practically a separate language for food in Lake Charles – jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo, boudin, remoulade sauce! With all the history that simmers in pots across Southwest Louisiana, it’s no wonder that there’s a strong food culture. When you get to the city, ask any local what’s their favorite thing on the menu, and they’ll sing their praises in 5-part harmony as their eyes light up. It’s downright satisfying to order a po’boy from Buffi's Peaux Boys in the heart of downtown Lake Charles! Nothing beats the smell of well-seasoned gumbo, like the family recipe made at Seafood Palace. Joy exudes while reminiscing with family and friends over a table full of Cajun and Creole delicacies. jazz and Zydeco brunches or at one-of-a-kind annual foodie festivals like the Louisiana Food & Wine Festival and Smoke & Barrel: Bourbon, BBQ & Whiskey Festival.


There’s a rhythm in Southwest Louisiana that begs people to get onto the dance floor. Just like the unique food culture, music is a gem in Louisiana where musicians invent their own genres – Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop. Feeling the backbeat, from the sounds of the scrub board and melodic accordion tunes, with a strong bass of Zydeco music, makes everyone crave dancing. Multicolored stage lights, mirror balls, and eclectic vintage musical paraphernalia deck the stage at Panorama Music House. Year-round concert series like Crying Eagle Brewing’s Summer Concerts, casino entertainment from national acts, and Downtown Lake Charles fall favorite – Chuck Fest – offer plenty of opportunities to move to the rhythm.  


The marsh buzzes with dragonflies and gentle sounds of cattails and vegetation swaying in the wind. When the lilies and lotus flowers are in bloom, the watery paradise of the marsh is transformed into a garden that you can float through with Grosse Savanne Eco Tours. Wildlife refuges offer opportunities to light up over spotting the American Alligator and tropical birds, like the Roseate Spoonbill, in their natural habitat. Relax on a Lake Area Adventures kayak tour with the sunset reflecting shades of orange and pink and the quiet splash of the paddle dipping into the water. Further south, at Gulf beaches along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, unique shells are as abundant as confetti and brought to light by waves rushing upon the shore. Scooping blue crabs on a crabbing adventure along the shoreline is a delight for families, just as feeling that tug of a nibble at the end of your line on a fishing charter with local guides is to novice and avid fishers. Soak in the natural surroundings of Southwest Louisiana in style with the host of waterfront amenities at Sam Houston Jones State Park.


Be transported into another world through theater, visual arts, and unique artwork that cultivates dreams. The vibrant arts community in Lake Charles is welcoming and filled with the spirit of interaction. Many of the talented artists are a staple at local events like Gallery Promenade, with their wares on full display. The walls of local restaurants and businesses are strewn with custom art and murals that share our community’s stories. The variety of exhibits is like a kaleidoscope of rotating shows that can be admired at venues and exhibits, including the Black Heritage Gallery, Historic City Hall Galleries, and the Henning Cultural Center. You’re sure to create lasting memories with fellow audience-goers at shows that grace the stages, like the Rosa Hart Theatre, that highlight local performers and touring international acts during the McNeese Banners Series. 


Breathe in and out. Now, open your eyes to imagine a watery oasis – a lazy river adorned with colorful, exotic flowers and a frozen drink in your hand. Indulgence is a pathway to self-care these days, as you intentionally set time aside to completely soak in the experience. The casino resort properties in Louisiana’s Playground and nearby spa facilities at Scarborough and Alevan know how to pamper guests with various massages featuring essential oils and soothing music. You’ll feel the rush of excitement when scoring big at Blackjack, winning your team’s sports bet, or putting to victory on world-class golf greens. Those winnings come complete with bragging rights and the reason (as if you needed one!) for indulging in exquisite restaurants catering to even the most sophisticated palate!