If you’re looking for the best things to do in Lake Charles Louisiana, you my friend, have arrived at your destination! We have here for you a comprehensive list of the best things to see and do in this funky little town. From parks and walking tours, to boutique breweries and premier cocktail bars, with some top restaurants thrown in for good measure, we’ve got you covered!
Like many places, Lake Charles LA was smashed in Hurricane Laura in 2020 (seriously, 2020, what even were you?) and many of their best attractions were impacted to the point of being unable to operate. Many have had to close their doors and relocate, which is devastating.
So, if you’re tossing up about where to go on your vacation, and Lake Charles LA is on your short list, we encourage you to visit, support these local businesses and attractions, and we’re certain you’ll be glad you did.
For more ideas about weekend getaways in Louisiana, do be sure to check out our list of interesting weekend getaways in Louisiana!
15 Best Things To Do In Lake Charles LA You Shouldn’t Miss
Charpentier Historic District
If you’re looking for budget-friendly things to do in Lake Charles Louisiana, we recommend an afternoon strolling the Charpentier Historic District.
Proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Place, the Charpentier Historic District spans a delightful 40 blocks of significant Victorian era charm. If turn of the century buildings are your jam, you’ll love the shingling, gables, towers, leaded glass and oh, turrets! Not to mention gingerbread accents.
Did you know that Charpentier is French for carpenter? Ooh la la! The district is named for the bold carpenter architects who created this gorgeous Lake Charles style as they built to their own style.
Charpentier Historic District is truly one of the great places to visit in Lake Charles LA, whether you drive or walk. And it’s free! There’s even an app to help you get around and learn more about the rich history of this district. The Historic Tour app is available in all the app shops!
Crying Eagle Brewery
Whenever we are in Lake Charles Louisiana, a must-do is the Crying Eagle Brewery. Best known for their Louisiana Lager, Hop Blooded IPA, Ready to Mingle and Pistol Bridge, the crew at Crying Eagle Brewing are serious about craft beer, and you will be too after an afternoon sampling their finest.
The brewery covers 1500 square feet, plus a gorgeous beer garden, complete with the best of beer time activities – cornhole! There’s a bistro on site, which is open seven days a week, and serving all the best beer accompanying food – pizza, sandwiches and burgers, nachos, loaded fries, yes, yes, yes. We love their What the Fig? pizza – figs, prosciutto, goat’s cheese, mozzarella, with bacon jam and arugula. Incredible.
A visit to Crying Eagle Brewery is a must if you’re looking for the best things to do in Lake Charles LA for adults, but don’t be fooled, it’s also a proudly family friendly venue, so you can take your kids and know they’ll be warmly welcomed too.
Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
Did you know that Lake Charles Louisiana hosts the second largest Mardi Gras festival in Louisiana? It’s incredible! And the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu is an absolute must-do attraction in Lake Charles Louisiana. BUT it’s been heavily damaged by hurricanes recently, so definitely check before your visit that it’s open, to avoid being seriously disappointed by missing out!
This museum is one of the most highly recommended things to do in Lake Charles LA, and it’s easy to see why. You’ll leave knowing and understand more about Mardi Gras, with an appreciation of the spectacular costumes, including those worn by former kings and queens of Mardi Gras. The curators are extremely knowledgeable and helpful and you’ll enjoy their warmth and good humour.
The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, which you can find in the Central School Arts and Humanities building, is an absolute joy. We visit whenever we’re in town.
Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino
The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino is one of the best things to do in Lake Charles Louisiana! There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re travelling with your besties, your partner, or your family.
The hotel boasts a whopping 1100 guest rooms, with spectacular views, incredible restaurants (the ravioli alla vodka at Grotto Italian Restaurant is a must!), shopping and nightlife. Plus there’s the world class casino! How’s your p-p-poker face?! If you love a glamourous night out on the town, the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino is one of the best things to do in Lake Charles at night.
For daytime activities, check out the championship golf course, lake side beach nestled among delightfully landscaped grounds, and a private marine. Did we mention there’s also a tropical pool playground, spread over two acres, complete with water slides and a lazy river?
Like we said, something here for everyone!
Mama Reta’s Kitchen
Like so many other top destinations in Lake Charles Louisiana, Hurricane Laura put Mama Reta’s Kitchen out of business. But nearly two years later, Mama Reta’s Kitchen has reopened in Lake Charles (at Mama Reta’s childhood home no less!) and it’s definitely a bucket list destination!
If you’re wondering what to order, we highly recommend the chicken and sausage gumbo, fish po-boy and fried chicken. Oh, and they do a sweet potato pie. Get around it! They also offer a daily lunch special (including on Saturdays, but they’re closed on Sundays), which changes every day but always comes with some decadent sides… cornbread, yes please!
Mama Reta’s Kitchen markets itself as a soul food restaurant, and they are no kidding. If you love hearty southern cuisine, you’ll want to visit and support this stalwart of Lake Charles LA. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Lake Charles LA, we make a beeline for it whenever we’re in town, and we’re pretty confident you’ll understand why!
North Beach, in the heart of Lake Charles Louisiana, is the only white, sandy inland beach between Texas and Florida. No wonder people call Lake Charles the playground of Louisiana!
North Beach is super family friendly, making it one of the best things to do in Lake Charles LA with kids. The beach is open from 8 am to 10 pm every day of the year. Amenities include picnic tables and showers, with public bathrooms and parking nearby. There’s also easy access to the beach for wheelchair users.
The water is not always recommended for swimming, so be sure to check before you go! But even if you can’t swim, North Beach is a great place to hang out for a day, close to the best of restaurants and places to stay in Lake Charles LA. For free things to do in Lake Charles LA, definitely add North Beach to your bucket list! For more about the best beaches in Louisiana, check out our list of the best beaches in Louisiana!
Gallery by the Lake
If you happen to be in Lake Charles Louisiana when Gallery by the Lake is holding their quarterly exhibition, you will not want to miss it! Hands down it is one of the most fun things to do in Lake Charles LA.
Gallery by the Lake started as a group of artists meeting to paint together in each other’s homes. In 1984, a vision for a public place where artists could come together to ‘share knowledge, art, experience, camaraderie and exhibition of their art’ was realised, and Gallery by the Lake opened at the Historic Central School Arts and Humanities Centre.
In addition to the quarterly exhibitions, classes are held regularly at Gallery by the Lake, including Photography, Pointillism and Drawing. They also hold the annual Gulf Coast Bird Photography Competition and Exhibition, which attracts some of the best wildlife photography in the country.
If you’re planning to visit Lake Charles LA, we highly recommend timing it with one of the Gallery by the Lake exhibitions. You will be sure to agree it’s one of the best things to do in Lake Charles LA!
Creole Nature Trail All American Road
For a ripper road trip in Louisiana, jump on the 180 mile Creole Nature Trail All American Road for a wondrous insight into the best local scenery and wildlife this magnificent state has to offer. It is the very best of fun things to do near Lake Charles.
We recommend at least two days to truly enjoy this epic road trip, with your overnight stay at Lake Charles. Check out the best of Louisiana marshes and prairies, watch for alligators, or stop in at one of the four wildlife refuges along the way. The coastline on this road trail, which is dotted with small fishing communities, is spectacular at any time of year.
There’s also a free Creole Nature Trail app available (in multiple languages) that acts as a great tour guide, keeping you informed of everything you can see and do along the way. What are you waiting for? Grab your mates, jump in the car and hit the road. The best attractions in Lake Charles LA and around are at your fingertips here! It’s also made it onto our list of best things to do in Louisiana – the ultimate bucket list!
Sam Houston Jones State Park
After copping a bad time in Hurricane Laura, it’s taken two years for Sam Houston Jones State Park to reopen, and we are so excited for it! This State Park is without a doubt one of the most amazing things to do near Lake Charles Louisiana.
Unfortunately, up to 98 per cent of the trees in the State Park were lost in this devastation, and in the time since, volunteers have assisted in the efforts to plant an additional 20,000 trees.
Further to an epic tree planting effort, the facilities have been upgraded. Ten luxury cabins are now available, as well as more than 30 campsites. There’s a also a delightful pier to center all your water-based fun.
Located just ten miles north of Lake Charles LA, we recommend a visit to this park if you’re looking for beauty, relaxation, and the very best of things to do near Lake Charles LA.
Sweets and Treats
A visit to Lake Charles Louisiana is not complete without a visit to Sweets and Treats, one of the best little bakeries you’ll ever find and one of our favorite things to do in Lake Charles!
Among the goodies on offer are pies, cheesecakes, candy, cakes, cookies, and fudge. Locals will tell you their tea cakes are to die for, and we’re not disputing that, but we also can’t go past their Pecan Tassie cookies, Macadamia Praline candy and Red Velvet Original cupcakes.
Grab a stash and you’ll have fuel to keep your energy levels up on all your sightseeing adventures! And don’t forget to let them know we sent you!
Located in the heart of Lake Charles LA on Ryan St, Sweets and Treats is one of the best must-do Lake Charles activities! Their delicious delicacies will make your heart sing!
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Lake Charles Louisiana for adults, you’ll want to spend an evening at Blue Martini.
Blue Martini is located in the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, which we’ve written about in more detail in this list, but deserves a spot of its own. With a glorious tapas menu, award-winning martinis, plus a great range of wine and spirits, Blue Martini is amazing. They also have live entertainment, and the electric atmosphere will leave you wanting more!
Here’s our favs! We love their Jalapeno Passionfruit cocktail, Grilled Pineapple margarita, and their signature Blue Martini. If you’re peckish, definitely try their Smoked Turkey Sliders, Shrimp and Crab Dip, and Seared Ahi Tuna.
For the best activities in Lake Charles LA at night, plan a visit to Blue Martini. It’s a premier venue with a local bar approach that will mean you will feel right at home here, you’ll love it.
Children’s Museum of Southwest Louisiana
The Children’s Museum of Southwest Louisiana is one of the best things to do in Lake Charles Louisiana with kids. Unfortunately, the museum sustained terrible damage in Hurricane Laura, and the building could not continue as the museum.
Thankfully, a new location was found and the construction of a brand new Children’s Museum is underway. They’re also building a Science Centre! Amazing! The new location is beautiful, in Port Wonder right on the Lake Charles lakefront.
The Children’s Museum is committed to an interactive learning approach, covering visual and performing arts, music, storying telling, folk stories and art education. This stuff is so important in a child’s development. We urge you to check if the Children’s Museum is open when you visit Lake Charles, and if so, please support this wonderful and important place of learning.
Flea Fest (what a name!!!) is an annual event in Lake Charles Louisiana, and it’s absolutely one of the best activities in Lake Charles, so much so that we recommend planning a trip just to be there! You won’t be the only one – Flea Fest is one of the biggest flea markets to be held under one roof in Louisiana.
Held over two days on a weekend every November, Flea Fest is a market and festival offering everything you can dream of, from antiques and vintage items, to artwork, handmade artisan gifts and homewares. At the same event you’ll find the Farmers Market, brimming with local homegrown produce, plants and livestock. But if you’re appetite is more pressing, there’s also the Flea Fest Diner, where you can kick back in one of the dining booths and grab something to eat from a local vendor.
Entry is cheap and there is something here for everyone! For activities in Lake Charles LA on a budget, you truly can’t go past Flea Fest!
Prien Lake Park
If you’re looking for free things to do in Lake Charles Louisiana, you’ll be wanting to add Prien Lake Park to your list of things to do. With an abundance of picnic areas, pavilions, a playground, and walking trail, plus canoe and boat launch, there’s something at Prien Lake Park for everyone.
Kick back and relax among the flowers, trees, fountains and streams. There’s also a delightful elevated boardwalk and even a waterpark. If you’re keen to fish, you’ll find yourself reeling in black drum, flounder, croaker and redfish. Dinner, sorted!
On the eastern shore, Prien Park overlooks Indian Bay, a waterway once visited by schooner ships in the 19th century. It’s a great spot to relax and reflect, and we recommend staying for the sunset to watch the sun disappear over the water, it’s spectacular.
Set over 29 acres, Prien Lake Park is a wonderful, family-friendly place to visit in Lake Charles LA. Don’t miss it!
Driving, flying, walking to Lake Charles Louisiana, however you’re getting here, your first stop should absolutely be Buffi’s Peauxboys (besides, if you’re walking in you’ll be needing a snack, right!).
Specialising in Louisiana crawfish, Buffi’s Peauxboys is an unforgettable dining experience, serving up the very best food of the south. We love their All American peauxboy best – boiled shrimp, jalapeno mayonnaise, lettuce, and three types of cheese. Get around it! Their shrimp chowder is also next level.
And the story of Buffi’s Peauxboys is inspiring, with owner Yvette Kocik overcoming serious hardships to succeed at this wonderful business. Her hard work, passion, and the love she has for this food is evident in every bite.
Buffi’s Peauxboys is one of the best places to visit in Lake Charles LA. In fact, we recommend going early in your visit, because we guarantee you’ll be back for more. Who doesn’t love a poboy? Seriously.