Skip to main content
A gorgeous sunset in the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge

Louisiana

Lake Charles, Louisiana: Journey the Waterways

By: Christi Womack

1 of 1
  • States:
    Louisiana

As the city’s name suggests, Lake Charles is home to a beautiful lake, but it is also surrounded by several inland waterways and Gulf of Mexico beaches.

An abundance of birds and animals make their homes along the waterfront, providing a feast for the eyes. While visiting, be sure to try catching your own Louisiana blue crabs, or test your fishing skills from the shore or a boat. Those who want help catching fish will find a plethora of professional fishing guides to lead the way.

Absorb the Beauty of a Scenic Byway

Travel the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road through an area known as Louisiana’s Outback and see firsthand why it was designated one of the USA’s first Scenic Byways. At Adventure Point in Sulphur, plot your itinerary. Bring your camera and some snacks, as well as binoculars for birding; you’ll want to make the most of the four- to six-hour tour that leads south to the Gulf of Mexico and back north to Lake Charles. More than 400 bird species can be seen along the trail each year. Good places to spot birds – and alligators! – include the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge and Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge. Head to the Gulf of Mexico coastline, and try surf fishing or searching for seashells at Rutherford Beach. Have time to stay overnight? Camp at Sam Houston Jones State Park, and see deer, bobcats and nutria while hiking an old stagecoach road along tributaries that feed the Calcasieu River. Or rent a kayak to explore serene waterways, including the Intracoastal and the Calcasieu River.

Spot an alligator along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road

Spot an alligator along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road
View more

Walk Among Wildlife and Go Crabbing

There are two must-see places at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. Launch a boat at the West Cove Recreation Area and try angling for both fresh and saltwater fish in canals and bayous.  After learning about habitats in the refuge via the free Creole Nature Trail app, follow the Wetland Walkway that crosses a freshwater marsh filled with reptiles, mammals and birds. See alligators large and small and a multitude of wading and marsh birds, including purple gallinules, great blue herons and belted kingfishers. At other recreation areas in the refuge, join in the fun of catching tasty Louisiana blue crabs from May through September. The crabs are easy to catch – simply bait a thick string with turkey, chicken or fish, lower the line into the water, wait for the crab to bite, pull up your catch and toss it into a waiting pail or cooler.

Crabbing, a fun pastime in Southwest Louisiana

Crabbing, a fun pastime in Southwest Louisiana
View more

Casting a Line in Lakes and at the Beach

Fishing is fantastic year-round in southwestern Louisiana. Test your skills in Calcasieu Lake, brimming with brackish water marine life, or head to Holly Beach, a coastal community known for fishing, shelling and swimming. In Calcasieu Lake, known locally as “Big Lake,” aim to bring in big speckled trout, redfish, drum and flounder. Try your luck solo or sign up for a charter with a professional guide who can increase your chances of bringing in the day’s limit of fish. Some guides will even pick you up from the dock of one of Lake Charles' casino resorts. For a different experience, go surf fishing at Holly Beach, or cast a line at the Cameron Jetty Pier. Lucky anglers will pull in trout, Spanish mackerel, amberjack and sheepshead from the Gulf of Mexico waters.

Ladies’ fishing trip on the waters of Lake Charles

Ladies’ fishing trip on the waters of Lake Charles
View more

Getting There

Fly in to George Bush International Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas, rent a car and drive east 248 kilometers to Lake Charles or book a connecting flight to Lake Charles Regional Airport (LCH).

Explore more
Group stand up paddle boarding

Destination

Baton Rouge

A blue heron coasts over the backwaters

Destination

Houma

Revelers at the annual Festivals Acadiens et Creoles

Destination

Lafayette

Downtown Monroe, which sits on the opposite side of the Ouachita River from West Monroe

Destination

Monroe

Dusk falls over Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral

Destination

New Orleans