Thursday, March 27, 2014

A s a part of OUTSIDE magazine’s 2014 Travel Awards, Southwest Louisiana was featured today on NBC’s TODAY Show for being one of the best foodie destinations.  The TODAY Show interviewed OUTSIDE’s Executive Editor Michael Roberts as he discussed five destinations from their recent Travel Awards.

Steamboat Bill's by
“We constantly pitch story ideas to travel media and were thrilled when the Louisiana Office of Tourism informed us that OUTSIDE wanted to feature our seafood cuisine in their latest issue.  I followed up with the writer, Tim Neville, and explained that in Southwest Louisiana you can fish year round and cook your own catch at a local charter guide’s lodge or, if you prefer, you can eat fresh seafood at one of the area’s delicious restaurants,” said Megan Hartman, senior marketing manager at the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“Winning Runner-Up a Best Food Destination by OUTSIDE was exciting, but being called by the TODAY Show for footage of Big Lake Guide Service and local seafood topped it all,” explained Hartman.

“This kind of national publicity that highlights our outdoor adventures and abundant seafood in Southwest Louisiana is priceless,” said Shelley Johnson, executive director of the CVB.

The 2014 Travel Awards are in the April issue of OUTSIDE magazine and currently on their website.  For more information on the 2014 Travel Awards, please visit The Seafood Sensation Trail is highlighted here.  To see the TODAY Show segment, visit and Southwest Louisiana is featured around 2:34.

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By Kaylen Fletcher
We have food seasons and my favorite happens to be CRAWFISH SEASON!
I was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana and can honestly say my favorite time of year is between January and June. Why, you may ask? Louisianans like to joke that we don’t have weather seasons; we have food seasons and my favorite happens to be CRAWFISH SEASON!
Not only do I love the taste of boiled crawfish, but just like food is a part of the Louisiana culture, crawfish brings me back home to a long-standing family tradition.  Ever since I can remember, I've eaten crawfish with my dad and sister. Every year for Easter Sunday we’d invite the family over and have a huge crawfish boil outside and play horseshoes. By the age of 13 I learned how to peel crawfish extremely fast because I realized we had only purchased a certain amount of crawfish to share between my dad and sister.  If I didn’t peel fast, I didn’t get as much as I wanted. By high school I could eat 7 pounds of crawfish by myself in less than an hour. I know this because my dad, sister and I would have competitions on who could peel the fastest and eat the most.
As we got older, we realized it was getting expensive to just buy by the pound so we would plan ahead the beginning of every season and research which restaurants had the all-you-can-eat buffets because it was cheaper for us to eat. We would then typically rotate between the local casinos to taste-test who seasoned the best. To this day, my family and I still get together every year for Easter Sunday and have a huge crawfish boil, and my dad still calls my sister and I every other week and says it’s time for father/daughter bonding and we always know what he means.
If you’re traveling to Lake Charles, don’t miss out on the Downtown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival April 11-13 where Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake will be on site selling over 10,000 pounds of boiled crawfish.

Festival attendees enjoyed the music and food
at the Downtown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival.
Photo by
In Southwest Louisiana, you can also feast on crawfish at many of the Cajun restaurants and we even have drive thru crawfish huts where you can purchase live or boiled crawfish.
If you want to learn how to peel like a pro before you feast on some delicious boiled crawfish, check out the video tutorial below and then maybe I’ll have some competition!

Monday, March 24, 2014
*Adapted from and Mitchel Broussard

Lake Charles mixes small town charm, exciting nightlife and outdoor adventure into a combination that will have you packing before you finish reading this list.
1. This Town Doesn't Stay Down
Lake Charles has been around for centuries, but it's the town that almost wasn't after a devastating fire back in 1910. But these people are made of strong stuff. They rebuilt and bounced right back. Now the city is a booming industrial educational center.
2. Who Needs Vegas When You Have Lake Charles?
With three major casinos in the city (and a fourth opening this year), your gambling itch will be more than satisfied. And we aren't talking truck-stop penny machines.
3. Lake Charles Has ALL The Golf

Gray Plantation on Louisiana's Audubon Golf Trail
Southwest Louisiana has a total of five public courses for fulfilling all of your ESPN-fantasy needs. There are also a handful of family putt-putt courses for everyone else.

4. You Can Take A Deep Breath
Brenda LaFleur
The Creole Nature Trail, colloquially known as "Louisiana's Outback," is one of the first official scenic byways in the country. The 180-mile driving tour offers fishing, boating, bird watching, and even crabbing. Tours are open year round so the views and wildlife are constantly changing.
5. The Best Snacks You've Never Had

Jeff Benoit, B&O's Kitchen and Grocery
This may sound a little off-putting at first, but hear me out: Boudin is made of pork meat, liver, rice, onions, parsley, and seasonings like salt, peppers and garlic powder. It's delicious, and a staple in Lake Charles along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail. Soon to be one of your favorites.

6. Two Words: Mardi Gras
You've heard about the crazy capers, the drunken insanity, the three days off from school and work. That's right, it's Mardi Gras! Lake Charles isn't left out of the fun (although it's a family-friendly festival), and the celebration usually draws in crowds of about 150,000 people. That's nearly double the population of the city itself, man.
7. But Don't Worry, Lake Charles Still Has Class...

Spring Art Walk
The galleries in Lake Charles are constantly shifting around their art to make sure you're never bored. The Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center showcases exhibits from around the world, and of course local artists' work too.

8. Learn About History
DeQuincy Railroad Museum
Between the ever-popular local Children's Museum, the vibrant exhibits of the Mardi Gras Museum, the wonderfully nostalgic DeQuincy Railroad Museum or the area’s history at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum or Brimstone Museum, you've got your history lessons covered. But no lectures, notes, or finals required. Which is the best part, really.
9. A Pirate's Life For Lake Charles
During the first two weeks of May, 200,000 people attend Lake Charles' Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival, clamoring for delicious food, fun music, and awesome live entertainment. In an ode to the piracy legend of the city, the festivities begin when the pirate crew of Jean Lafitte capture the city and force the mayor to walk the plank.
10. You Can Still See Men In Tights Here

Cameron Durham
The Lake Charles Civic Ballet is just what the doctor ordered for those looking for a night of high culture in southern Louisiana: The classical music (by the Lake Charles Symphony), the ridiculous costumes-they even put on a ballet version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" last December.
11. You'll See A Larger-Than-Life Relic Of US History

The USS Orleck had her glory days back in the 1800s and served in Vietnam and Korea, but nowadays she's a constant reminder in the Calcasieu River of the dedication of the armed forces. The ship also turns into a haunted ghost ship every Halloween, which is pretty much about as terrifying as it sounds.
12. This City Will Have You Dancing All Night
Like any good Louisiana town, Lake Charles doesn't skimp on music. Restaurants and bars playing Cajun, Zydeco, rock, indie, folk and every other type of music you can think of can be found just about everywhere. Trust me, they have your nightlife covered.
13. It's Even Produced A Few Famous Musicians
Joshua Ledet at the Burton Complex
All the music in this town has to rub off on some people. Surrounding towns like Westlake have been put on the map for producing talented artists (Joshua Ledet from American Idol in 2012), but Lake Charles has made its mark too. Opera singer Paul Groves was born and raised here, and the legendary Dolly Parton recorded her first single at Goldband Studios.
14. The Grocery Stores Aren't Like Yours
Sausage Link
See a wide range of Louisiana-grown rice available to the public, an assortment of hot sauces, the roux section, and a variety of different meat and seafood sold.  Local grocers stuff chicken and pork chops with boudin, sausage and other tasty delicacies.
Lake Charles also has a glowing admiration for farmers and all of the fruit, veggies, jams, spices, soaps, and other goodies they make. The city hosts two farmers markets that run weekly for most of the year, where you can find what you need and discover stuff you didn't even know you wanted.
15. Lake Charles Throws The Rule Book Out The Window
Back in the city's early days, there were no actual architects who had studied and practiced the vocation at all to build houses. So the good folk of Lake Charles got their plans from pattern books, and went about building in their own styles. The result was a district of remarkably unique houses on every street. This older Historic District of the city is now called the Charpentier (French for 'Carpenter') District.
Thursday, March 13, 2014

I f you're a local, more than likely you appreciate Seafood Palace. If you're not from Southwest Louisiana, the outside might not look like much, but we all know it's what's on the inside that counts.

What will you find on the inside?
Good people, sizable portions and, of course, great food!

If you're looking for some great Cajun cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere, look no further! If you're craving seafood but can't make it to the restaurant, try out their Cream of Crab Soup Recipe!
(Click Card to Enlarge)

Monday, March 10, 2014
By Braylin Jenkins (a.k.a.- BrayJ),, #heybrayj

T he excitement and fun of a community gathering, great sounds, artists and a variety of cuisine will culminate at the Arcade Amphitheater for an event like no other in the region. Live music in Southwest Louisiana is not uncommon, however a series of live musical performances that occur three Fridays in a row at the Arcade Amphitheater  with a beautifully picturesque lakefront view in the background is unique. Thanks to the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA, the City of Lake Charles, Deep South Productions and other businesses/organizations throughout the region, Friday March 14 will mark the third year since the series first began, serving as the kick-off and start of the 2014 Live @ the Lakefront season.

On March 14, gracing the stage to kick-off the series, local jam rock band Fresh Nectar will amp up the crowd . Topping off the night is Lafayette based, four time Grammy nominated Cajun band, Pine Leaf Boys. On March 21, rockabilly and country take the stage with The Loaded 44rz, opening the second Friday. Highly sought after party rock band Flamethrowers will wrap up the night. On March 28, The Onlies come to town, opening the final night of the 2014 season with their Acadian Folk/Indie Folk sound. The grand finale of the night brings Ashes of Babylon who originated in Lake Charles, back home from Austin, Texas with their famed Roots/Reggae sound and vibe marking their second performance at Live @ the Lakefront. You have to be there!

Use #RockTheLake to share your good times at the event!

To learn more about Live @ the Lakefront, click here.