What better day than to look forward to next weekend than Monday, your mind isn't at work anyway just your body. And like many, you may even feel a twinge of guilt because you didn't 'do enough' of anything this past weekend to make you feel like your weekend life is worthwhile.

There are three alleys you can go down for a weekend adventure in the bayou state; luxurious pleasure and good food, dangerous adventure in the throes of nature or even the paranormal if you want to try to catch a ghost looking at you and making the hair on your neck stand up. Not every great vacation requires a plane ticket, there is so much to see and do here close to home.

All of these discoveries are easily within just a few hours ride or less from Lake Charles and all have the potential to make your Monday morning a joyous experience with a heart full of happy weekend memories of these out of the way places.

Getty - Jochen Sand

In no particular order or ranking, because to make this list they are all awesome, here are five quick weekend getaways for your consideration.

Breaux Bridge

This place isn't just fun for the annual crawfish festival last weekend (the first weekend in May, you missed it) it's fun all year round. Who doesn't like to eat and BB features a swell line up of gourmet Cajun restaurants. Periodically throughout the year, there are folk art shows and just about every Friday and Saturday night various venues present Zydeco and Cajun bands for the two-step aficionados in attendance. Vist the city's website and learn just how much fun Breaux Bridge can be.

Toledo Bend State Park

Get out into the woods for a quiet weekend at this man-made reservoir on the Texas and Louisana border. Boaters will find ample launch sites for a day of water skiing or fishing. The park is surrounded by woods with marked trails and hiking for beginners and the serious woodsman. Load up the family's bicycles and try the bike trails too in the heart of nature a short and scenic three hours from Lake Charles. The lake straddles the state border and here's the Louisiana park website. You don't necessarily have to be a camper to enjoy this outing, there are cabins and hotels in the area for tenderfoots that love nature.

Avery Island/Jungle Gardens

You've seen the bottles on every restaurant table in the south you've ever been into, and there's a bottle or two in your house. Go see where the worlds most famous hot sauce is made at Avery Island. In addition to taking the family on a tour of the Tabasco factory, there are 170 acres to roam filled with thousands of birds and a variety of plant life. You'll get a chance to see deer, raccoons maybe a black bear and of course, alligators close up. There are bed and breakfast type accommodations and you'll forget about Lake Charles traffic before you know it. Here's more information.


OK, when you decide you really want to get out into the swamps the dart can only land on Slidell on your Louisiana map. Back in my oil spill marketing days, I had a chance to get intimate with Slidell and really, there's nothing as invigorating as watching the steam rise off the swampy waters on a cool morning around sunrise. The trees are alive with birds chattering and here and there splashes 'plook' as a big fish or alligator flops their tails to dive back down into the dark murk. How many poems and songs about bayou life have been written, visit Honey Island and see in person one of the least tampered with and untamed swamps left in America and see if you don't feel a pinch of poetic inspiration.


Want to walk the streets where some of the film Steel Magnolias was filmed? This city was often at a crossroads in the 18th and 19th centuries as America, Louisiana and Texas were growing and so you'll get a rich well-textured mixture of architectural styles from modern, to art deco, federal, Spanish revival, French Creole and Queen Anne separated by cobblestone streets. And there are plantations too for you ghost hunters, many of the grounds also include the original slave quarters and other outbuildings. Here's the Natchitoches website, the first thing you have to do is teach the younger kids how to pronounce the town's name correctly.

Yes, I left out Baton Rouge with the historic state capitols old and new, my own youngsters found it fascinating the capital building still showed the bullet holes in the granite walls from the Huey Long shooting. And I left out New Orleans and its rich history, food, never-ending parties, historic graveyards and parks and the wonderful World War II museum, but you probably know what all can be seen in those places.

Go someplace you've never been, see things you've never seen, slow down and enjoy yourself.

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