Out of the Bubble
So often it’s only the obvious that comes to mind when we think of destination events and in the case of Mardi Gras, it’s New Orleans. New Orleans is a fantastically wild and fun place any time of the year, but not the type of Mardi Gras destination most people would consider a great low-key stay or a family oriented vacation. Head out of the bubble and book a trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana for Mardi Gras instead. It’s less congested, family friendly and piece of Americana that shouldn’t be missed. The area is known for Cowboy Cajun, but no matter what the label, the overriding fact is – it is Louisiana southern to the core, which means great hospitality, friendly people, amazing food with abundant history.
Easy Flight from Los Angeles
I flew in from Los Angeles on United and the flight was surprisingly short and easy. Three hours to Houston and on a prop plane for under an hour to Lake Charles airport (which, by the way, looks just like a southern plantation).
Where to Stay – L’Auberge Casino & Hotel
The L’Auberge Casino & Hotel is a clean, comfortable all -amenities type of accommodation that is family friendly and has a great staff ready to be of service. The casino itself doesn’t allow children (not even the Las Vegas style walk-through), but there’s an elaborate pool, arcade and lots of places to get goodies for kid
s and plenty of fun to do outside of the resort. Though, don’t be fooled by the cozy atmosphere, there are high-end food choices, there’s a spa and gym for pampering, a golf course, and along with a pool with water slides and bridges, there’s an adults-only pool with lots of privacy. The casino includes a small, but interesting bar that seems to be endlessly full of a great mix of people from all over the U.S. Explore the hotel, there are surprises throughout – from wine tastings in Embers, an elegant bar with a leather-clad piano, to the elaborate Mardi Gras costume displays in the foyer. Deluxe king and queen rooms start at $159.00 L’Auberge Casino & Hotel, (337) 395-7777, 777 Avenue L’Auberge, Lake Charles, LA 70601
In consideration of the fact Mardi Gras does usually include alcoholic beverages, I would suggest on cabbing it if you’re traveling in a small group or on your own, which can be arranged through the hotel. If you don’t partake in alcohol – you may want to look into the many car rental options at the Lake Charles airport. If you have a group or wouldn’t mind joining a group, I would say my favorite way to get around is with Bon Temps Express run and owned by Ralph and Joy Huval. Not only do you get a fully loaded party on wheels, but you have two helpful and fun locals taking you where you need to go: Bon Temps Express (337)526-8080
Out of the Ordinary
I’ve traveled to many different countries and loved every minute of going abroad – Lake Charles, Louisiana reminded me of the cultural discovery a traveler can have packing up and crossing into other borders, but its right here in the U.S. It is in many ways just as fascinating fun and eye-opening as a foreign destination. And, let’s face it, for those of us from a cosmopolitan center in the U.S. – there are many tucked away parts of our country that are foreign and waiting to be discovered and explored. Above all the warmth emanating from every person I met in this part of my country gave me a great familial feeling that will stay with me for a very long time. So, Laissez les bon temps rouler, ya’ll!
About the Author
Cynthia Cunniff’s writing background spans marketing, PR, magazine editorial and travel blogging. She’s a graduate of the creative writing program at CSU Long Beach and went on to UCLA to further her writing skills. Growing up as a military dependent, she lived in several foreign countries and several parts of the US. Post college she returned to international living and resided in London for close to a decade, where she took advantage of proximity to the rest of Europe and traveled extensively. She currently lives in the beautiful South Bay of Los Angeles, and Tweets about traveling in the U.S. and throughout the world @localpathworld.