After 18 months of recovery from back-to-back hurricanes, Lake Charles, Louisiana is ready to welcome back visitors and show them what they’ve been missing. Known for its juxtaposition of luxury and the great outdoors, Lake Charles has a blend of cultures, music, cuisine and traditions that make this southwest corner of the state a must-visit when traveling along Interstate 10 between Houston and New Orleans.
The area boasts two side-by-side gaming resorts—L’Auberge Casino Resort and Golden Nugget—each with a wide array of dining selections, entertainment options, lazy rivers with swim-up bars, golf and spa facilities. Along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, you’ll find alligators, nature’s bounty and gorgeous Gulf beaches.
“If you’re looking for the ultimate Louisiana experience, then do not sleep on Lake Charles. You can start your day spotting the wildlife down in Cameron and then come downtown for amazing food—I highly recommend the boudin quesadillas at Tia Juanitas—and end your night with some music, cocktails and a great sunset view at the casinos,” says Nava. “At some point you might want to consider getting a daiquiri to-go, just to complete the experience.”
The arts community is strong, too, thanks to all the Cajun and Creole influences and cuisine here is an attraction in and of itself, from the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail to the Crying Eagle Brewing Company (complete with a beer garden and an outdoor stage) to jazz brunches with over-the-top Bloody Marys. “The best part about living downtown is being able to walk to all the festivals we have. One day it’s all the free gumbo your stomach can handle and then the next weekend it’s live music at our open-air theater,” says Nava. “It never stops.”