Sleepy oak trees, brilliant sunshine, live music, delicious cuisine, and relaxation. In Lake Charles, Louisiana, you can find your perfect style of unwinding for your summer vacation where you can enjoy amenities found in larger cities without all the pressure. Conveniently located on Interstate 10, halfway between Houston and Baton Rouge, Lake Charles is known for its colorful mixture of Cajun/Creole culture, cowboys, and the coast. And, whether you’re interested in a lazy river at a resort or a natural waterway, you’re sure to make a splash this summer in Louisiana’s Playground.

There is a luxurious side of Lake Charles that deserves to be explored. Even the locals know that the Las Vegas style gaming experience is special. Golden Nugget Lake Charles and L’Auberge Casino Resort sit side-by-side, and both sport golf courses, spa facilities, restaurants, live entertainment, and award-winning chefs. But during the summer, the pools are the real jackpot. With island-worthy cabanas and intricately designed lazy rivers, this is where you’ll want to be to beat the summer heat.

Food and drink are Louisiana’s equivalent to heart and soul. And there are tons of passionate chefs and entrepreneurs thriving in Lake Charles. Of course, there are several local staples that cannot be missed – a “Darrell’s Special” po’boy; ham, turkey, and roast beef drowned in roast beef gravy served on a crunchy yet soft French loaf, an extra-large seafood platter from Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake, and you can’t visit Southwest Louisiana without sampling boudin and cracklins’ along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail.

There are loads of new local culinary treats worthy of the trip – including the Southwest Louisiana Brews & Spirits Trail and Crying Eagle Brewing’s newly expanded Bistro menu. Crying Eagle not only has delicious beer on tap but also the best pairings of menu items alongside a cool brew – or wine and spirits.

While you’re sampling the local libations, make sure Yellowfin Vodka and Bayou Rum are on the list. Both are distilled using 100% Louisiana sugarcane and are 100% delicious. Take a tour to learn how these craft spirits are made. You’ll love the homegrown, from the ground up stories of both these businesses, not to mention the samples! If you add Acadian Coffee Roasters to your list of stops, you will effectively visit the Southwest Louisiana Brews & Spirits Trail, after all, coffee is a “brew” too!

Another form of relaxation is stepping out into nature and just being free from all the pressures of the modern life that we all feel. Natural beauty is all around any time of the year, along the Creole Nature Trail. There are wildlife refuges to explore with Pintail Wildlife Drive at Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge or the Wetland Walkway at the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge being crown jewel experiences – not to mention shelling along Gulf Beaches.

An ideal place to get acquainted with the trail is at Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point, where you can see imaginative, hands-on, colorful exhibits explaining the landscape, beaches, Cajun/Creole cultures and Cajun/Zydeco music and culinary flavors.

Check out vacation ideas at www.VisitLakeCharles.org.