Located in southwestern Louisiana, Lake Charles is the ideal place to escape daily life during a long weekend or extended vacation. Enjoy a Lake Charles vacation rental with waterfront views as the town boasts access to Lake Charles, Prien Lake, as well as the Calcasieu River. Look forward to fishing, boating, swimming, and kayaking on any of these waters. Moreover, the town offers a Cajun and Creole flair ranging from its art galleries to local restaurants. Enjoy hiking in the local parks and reserves, or move indoors to one of the museums to learn more about the local area. While staying in town, check out the top nine kid-friendly18 things to do in Lake Charles.

1. Children’s Museum

childrens play house
Source: Flickr/danzil raines

Hop on a fishing boat or watch a train make its way around the track at the Children‘s Museum, where your kids can learn more about the area and the world while playing and using their imaginations. Covering three floors, this museum offers a variety of exhibits to captures your kids’ attention. Stand in a big mouth and help your kids brush the teeth, and take your toddlers to the Baby Bayou for age-appropriate activities. The museum holds regular workshops and presentations, so check the schedule before leaving your vacation rental.

2. USS Orleck Naval Museum

Navy ship
Source: Flickr/mashleymorgan

Explore naval history with a visit to the USS Orleck Naval Museum. Take a guided tour of the ship to learn more about what life is like aboard a ship for weeks on end and America’s role in various wars. This naval vessel served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Inside the USS Orleck is the USS Radford Museum with artifacts, memorabilia, and scale models of the ship. Check the website before visiting since the museum holds regular fundraisers, where your family can play laser tag on the ship.

3. Prien Lake Park

water park
Source: Flickr/Aaron Hawkins

A day of fresh air and outdoor activities await your family at Prien Lake Park. Winding throughout the park are trails made for an afternoon stroll with a family with kids of all ages. Choose a spot and enjoy a picnic along the lake. You can bring kayaks or a canoe to paddle around the lake. If you didn’t bring a kayak, one of the local retailers can rent you a watercraft for the afternoon. When it gets hot, check out the water park with fountains that shoot water into the air.

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4. Bord Du Lac Park

lake picnic bench
Source: Flickr/Stephane Mignon

Another day in the park for your family includes a visit to the Bord Du Lac Park or the Millennium Park. Younger kids can spend an entire afternoon playing on the playground equipment with a rubber coating for safety. Hit one of the walking paths and find a new wonder around each bend including mazes, bridges, and swing sets. Many of the paths eventually arrive at Lake Charles. Get wet or let the kids run through the fountains at the park’s water feature.

5. Sam Houston Jones State Park

path in the woods
Source: Flickr/Dana

Start your trip to the Sam Houston Jones State Park with a stop at the park’s visitor center and museum to learn more about the area’s history and fun activities the preserve offers. There are three distinct hiking trails with varying level of difficulty to handle all skill levels. Choose a trail with your kids’ ages and energy levels in mind. When you get tired, stop at the banks of one of the small lakes or ponds. At the boat launch, you can float kayaks or a canoe for some time at the water. With more than 200 bird species, this park is a great spot for bird watching.

6. Charpentier Historic District

heritage house
Source: Flickr/Sheila Scarborough

Covering more than 40 blocks, the Charpentier Historic District makes for a great place to explore your surroundings. As you wander the streets, notice the fine details as the area is considered an architectural wonder. In fact, the word “charpentier is French for “carpenter.” There’s an eclectic blend of styles from turn-of-the-century homes to mid-century modern. Some of the homes even feature towers and spires like something out of your children’s favorite fairy tale. To make the most of your exploration, download the app with maps of the area and information about the homes.

7. Imperial Calcasieu Museum

museum artifacts
Source: Flickr/Forest Runner

On a rainy afternoon, learn a little more about the history and culture of the area at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum. Take a tour with one of the knowledgeable staff members who know all the secrets about the artists. The museum offers several exhibit areas including a period area with artifacts from the past. It holds workshops and presentations for an in-depth look at a specific topic. Check the schedule and show up for one of the film nights or check out the exhibit of modern art.

8. Mardi Gras Museum

Mardi Gras costumes
Source: Flickr/Carnaval.com Studios

Although New Orleans is the hot spot for Mardi Gras, Lake Charles and the entire region celebrate this annual festival. In this museum, your family can take a self-guided tour that explains the origins and cultural significance of the Mardi Gras. Gasp in awe at the colorful costumes that line the exhibit walls, and learn more about how to make the King Cake, the one sweet treat that everyone eats during the festivities.

9. Eat Out

beignets
Source: Flickr/stu_spivack

You can’t be in the center of Cajun country and not enjoy the food. From gumbo to beignets, there are must try treats throughout the city. Hollier’s Cajun Diner offers a rotating menu of daily specials with enough heat to make you reach for your water glass but offers a kid’s menu for smaller family members. Nina P’s Cafe specializes in New Orleans po’ boy sandwiches, gumbo, and sausage. Grab some sweet beignets at Stellar Beans Coffee House Cafe that occasionally offers live music.

 
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