Embark on a charming road trip through the small towns of Southwest Louisiana! Along the way, uncover the charm and warmth of these small towns, each offering a delightful escape and a taste of authentic Louisiana hospitality. Ready to hit the road? Let’s dive into the hidden treasures that await just beyond Lake Charles.


Start: Vinton

Start your adventure outdoors by visiting Niblett's Bluff Park. A park filled with history, Fort Niblett was set up at the park during the Civil War, and later, in the Reconstruction Era, it turned into a lumber camp with a railroad, a general store and a hotel. Remnants of those historical sites remain as preservation efforts continue.


↕ 16 min (12.4 miles/19.84 kilometers)



Make your way north to Starks for some Mayhaw jelly. Locals celebrate the harvest of the Mayhaw fruit each spring by hosting the Starks Mayhaw Festival. Vendors from all around sell locally made jelly and jam. While they can vary in taste, the flavor is usually described as a mix between fruity and tart.

Kim's Mayhaw Jelly at the Starks Mayhaw Festival
Visit vendors like Kim's Mayhaw Jelly at the annual Mayhaw Festival in Starks, LA.
↕20 Min (16.9 miles/27.04 kilometers)



Then head northeast to DeQuincy, a town rich in railroad history, that transports visitors to a bygone era. The Railroad Museum is a testament to the town’s deep connection with the railway. Housed in the 1923 Kansas City Southern Depot, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum has a large and varied collection of railroad memorabilia.


↕23 Min (18 miles/28.8 kilometers)



Once your train ride ends, jump back in your vehicle and head south to Sulphur to stop by Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point. There, you will meet guides who will give you a tour of all things Southwest Louisiana. You can learn all about crabbing, cooking gumbo, and playing Cajun music.

Take the adventure outside and journey through 180-mile trails featuring marshes, prairies, and shores teeming with wildlife and natural beauty. Make sure to stop by Hollier's Cajun Kitchen for homemade Cajun specialties such as boudin, gumbo, fried alligator, and po’boys. Ca c'est bon!

interior fowl hunting display at Creole Nature Adventure Point
Prepare to embark on the Creole Nature Trail by visiting Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point in Sulphur, LA.
↕ 13 minutes (8 miles/12.8 kilometers)


Moss Bluff

Nearby in Moss Bluff, Sam Houston Jones State Park offers hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, and camping. The state park has over 70 acres (about the area of a large shopping mall) of longleaf pines, the oldest living southern pine species. Sam Houston Jones is also a great place to bird watch, with nearly 200 species of birds that can be seen at or within 30 miles of the site. A disc golf course is also available to the public.


↕ 19 minutes (17 miles/27.2 kilometers)



Stop by for a treat at Rabideaux’s Sausage Kitchen in Iowa. There you can find freshly fried cracklins, corn, and boudin balls as well as locally sourced meats including deer sausage.


Each of these gems offers a snapshot of the small-town charm that awaits in the cities and towns surrounding Lake Charles. Delight in delicious cuisine, outdoor adventure, and historic memorabilia as you visit one or all of the sites on this road trip. For more trip inspiration, dining recommendations, and things to do be sure to download or request your copy of our latest inspiration guide or tune into the Louisiana's Playground Podcast.