Fall in Southwest Louisiana is a festive time of year, and there is a crispness in the air that is invigorating! When fall is in full swing, everyone craves gumbo, outdoor festivals, shopping events, and spending time in the great outdoors. Check out some of the top things to do (and eat) this fall in Louisiana’s Playground. 

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

1. Order a Steaming Bowl of Gumbo 

“Gumbo Weather” is actually a phrase that you might hear in Southwest Louisiana if you are in the area on a cool day. The base of the gumbo, or the roux in Lake Charles, is a deep brown color, but a little lighter than in some areas of the state – with ingredients varying by location too. The go-to gumbo for Southwest Louisianans is chicken & sausage gumbo, but there is a variety of seafood gumbos to be found as well. Here are some hot spots for gumbo that will satisfy your soul on a chilly day: Seafood Palace, Steamboat Bill’s, Hollier’s, LeBleu’s Landing, Leonard’s Food Quarters & Southern Spice. Learn more about how to make a gumbo or check out our gumbo blog for more great tips! 

Panorama Music House

2. Attend Concerts and Live Performances

There is nothing that warms you up quite like dancing to live music. The calendar is packed with top-name entertainment at area casinos and local bands and acoustic acts at bars and restaurants. Downtown Lake Charles features Panorama Music House, complete with a rooftop bar, nightly music, food, and an eclectic store with music memorabilia and more. Luna Bar & Grill in downtown boasts live music and a jazz brunch on Sundays. Other popular places to hear live music are Crying Eagle Brewing Company, Rikenjak’s, and Paul’s Rib Shack. Check out nightlife hot spots and live music in the area during your visit! 

Downtown at Sundown Concert

3. Annual Fall Festivals

The Cal-Cam Fair in Sulphur is turning 100 years old this year! This festival celebrates the cultures of both Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes with a parade, live music, carnival rides, and livestock shows, Oct. 13-16. Chuck Fest, a newer tradition, elevates the food, art, and music culture of the area. On Oct. 22, the streets of downtown Lake Charles will be packed with local artisans and musicians from noon – 11 p.m. November 19, check out the Smoke & Barrel whiskey and barbecue event! This event supports the United Way and features barbecue from local and regional vendors as well as a live, outdoor concert. Pro Tip: This event can sell out, so be sure to secure tickets in advance. 

1911 Historic City Hall

4. Art Exhibits & Galleries 

The arts community has a variety of exhibit spaces and galleries to explore while you are in the Lake Area. Places to see local art include the Henning Cultural Center, located inside of a turn of the 20th Century home with two stories of art to see. In downtown Lake Charles, the 1911 Historic City Hall houses three stories of exhibits and galleries including the Black Heritage Gallery, Gallery by the Lake, and traveling exhibits. Also, located in downtown, is Candice Alexander’s Art Studio, within walking distance of other shops and restaurants. In addition to exhibits, check out local artists and their work as part of the virtual Heartbeat Tour in Southwest Louisiana.  

Samuel Kirby (Chris Breaux) Cemetery Tour

5. The Lost Hollows + Halloween Events 

The Lost Hollows is a popular Halloween attraction in Southwest Louisiana that features a winding walk through the Deadly Pines Trail. The trail includes full sets to explore, costumed actors along the way, and an imaginative experience through Southwest Louisiana’s natural forest. Shuttles take guests out to The Lost Hollows with nightly tours each Friday and Saturday night in October, culminating with the “Lights Out” experience on Halloween Night. Halloween weekend, check out the Downtown Block Party or Voyage at Party by the Pool at L’Auberge! Finally, not totally considered a Halloween event, but closely related is the popular Living History Cemetery Tour. Cast members talk about founders and notable people from Lake Charles’ history at their actual gravesites. This event takes place at various cemeteries in Lake Charles on Nov. 6. 

Chuck Fest

6. Shopping Events 

Art lovers will be able to fully appreciate the Gallery Promenade as local businesses and galleries team up with artists and musicians for an immersive experience in the arts on Sept. 30. Another shopping event is the Sulphur Heritage Fall Market on the grounds of Heritage Square. From jewelry to art, baked goods to essential oils, it’s a perfect way to chat with local artisans on Oct. 29. Flea Fest is a bargain hunter’s dream including antiques, retro & vintage items, handcrafted items, toys, collectibles, unique clothing, artwork, comic books, furniture, gifts, unique jewelry, plants and a farmers’ market Nov. 12-13. The Holiday Art Walk kicks off the holiday shopping season on Nov. 26 with local artisans, food tucks, a kid zone and open-air market. The next weekend, Dec. 1-3, the grounds of the Henning Cultural Center will be covered with local artists, bakers, and custom-made goods at Christmas Under the Oaks! 

Sports Football Players

7. Football Season & McNeese Tailgating 

McNeese State University’s Cowboy fans gear up for football season every year with tailgating festivities. Part of the NCAA Division I Championship Division in the Southland Conference, the Cowboys have an action-packed schedule. Southwest Louisianans bleed blue and gold, so prepare your outfits accordingly!  Pre-game, everyone is tailgating with jambalaya, barbecue, gumbo, boudin, beer, or old-fashioned burgers, and you can catch a glimpse of the “Pride of McNeese” MSU Marching Band, cheerleaders, and the Cowgirl Kickers’ dance team as they parade through the tailgate area on their way to Cowboy Stadium. You can see the full schedule and mark your calendar for a few of the notable home games with Alcorn State on Sept. 17 (Coach Goff’s first home game), Texas A&M – Commerce on Oct. 15 which is a new opponent, and Lamar on Nov. 19, with the rival team reentering the Southland Conference. Homecoming is on Oct. 29 when the Cowboys take on a big rival team Southeastern. The festivities also include a parade down Ryan Street! 

Food at The Max

8. Golf & Dine in Style

Golf in Lake Charles features lush scenery and indigenous plants, making the courses picturesque backdrops for playing a round or two this fall. Mallard Golf Club is the newest addition to the area which is a Scottish links-inspired design. Contraband Bayou Golf Course at L'Auberge and the Country Club at Golden Nugget are side-by-side courses, with the Chart House restaurant and clubhouse overlooking the course at Golden Nugget. The Chart House includes a full bar, elegant seating, and firepits on the back porch with stunning sunset views. The Max at The National Golf Club of Louisiana has scrumptious Louisiana cuisine with a new clubhouse and pro shop attached in case you need gear. Traditional Cajun/Creole cuisine is served at The Max with an outdoor, screened-in porch with seating, ideal for soaking in a birds’ eve view of the course.  

Creole Nature Trail birding

9. Birding in Southwest Louisiana 

During the fall, the birding population along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road soars as hundreds of migrating birds make their annual migration and create a convergence of the Central and Mississippi Flyways. Southwest Louisiana is home to more than 400 bird species, making it one of the Top 10 Birding/Birdwatch Destinations in the country. Year-round you will be treated to a seemingly endless array of raptors, waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds residing in this rich environment. Pintail Wildlife Drive is one of the best places to see waterfowl in the area from your car, while Grosse Savanne Ecotours can offer a more immersive experience on the water. Another hot spot by the Gulf of Mexico is Peveto Woods Bird & Butterfly Sanctuary. If you plan on coming other times of the year, spring and winter migrations offer chances to see migratory birds in addition to the fall season.  

Orange Trail Sign at Sam Houston Jones State Park

10. Parks with Hiking Trails to Explore 

Sam Houston Jones State Park has over 1,000 acres of lakes, trees, and rivers. Recently, the park underwent a series of renovations and now features a brand new 500 foot boardwalk along the river, 10 cabins, 10 glamping tents by Tentrr, and two boat launches. Three hiking trails are available with “old stagecoach road” being of particular interest where hikers may travel to explore the park and the banks of the various tributaries to the Calcasieu River. Prien Lake Park in Lake Charles is a 29-acre park that also includes walking trails as well as a kids’ playground and canoe and boat launches. In Sulphur, there’s an intricate, paved walking path at The Grove complete with landscaping, water features, and a mini free library. Walkers can also enjoy a paved walking trail at Maplewood Commons or McMurry Park

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