DescriptionLake Charles owes its early development to a happy combination of Capt. J.B. Watkins, natural resources and a deepwater port. In 1887 Watkins moved his New York newspaper to Lake Charles and started an advertising program that, with the terminus of a railroad at New Orleans, resulted in the establishment of a 17-mill lumber industry.
An abundance of pine and cypress led to a building frenzy at the turn of the 19th century. There were not enough architects to meet construction demands, so carpenters built houses from book plans that they modified for individual homeowners. These distinct designs now define the historic Charpentier (carpenter) District.
Lake Charles' Mardi Gras Day features an impressive parade with lots of music. Contraband Days Festival , which takes place in early May, is one of Louisiana's largest festivals; it centers on the legend of the “Gentleman Pirate,” Jean Lafitte, who supposedly hid his treasures along the shores of Lake Charles. When the holiday season rolls around, so does Light up the Lake , which includes music, a lighted flotilla, a giant balloon parade, a carnival and fireworks.
The Creole Nature Trail National Scenic Byway (SRs 27 and 82), 9 miles west of Lake Charles, runs south from I-10 and passes through several refuges.
Visitor InfoLake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau 1205 N. Lakeshore Dr. LAKE CHARLES, LA 70601. Phone:(337)436-9588 or (800)456-7952
Self-guiding toursBrochures for a 180-mile driving tour of the Creole Nature Trail National Scenic Byway and a riding/walking tour of the historic district are available from the convention and visitors bureau.
ShoppingPrien Lake Mall , off I-210 Lake Street exit at 496 W. Prien Lake Rd., features Dillard's and Sears among its more than 80 stores.
Things to SeeHistoric City Hall Arts & Cultural Center
GAMBLING ESTABLISHMENTSGolden Nugget Lake Charles