I wanted a Mardi Gras I could bring my family to, so we could also celebrate and learn new traditions. Lake Charles, Louisiana made the claim that they offered a family-family Mardi Gras. And they delivered! With plenty of parades, beads, activities, Mardi Gras festivities, and delicious food, Lake Charles, LA has the family-friendly Mardi Gras you’re looking for.
Thank you, Southwest Louisiana CVB, for hosting me!
Family Friendly Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Honestly I didn’t know much about Mardi Gras before visiting Lake Charles. I had only heard of New Orleans, debauchery, beads, and boobs. And I’m sure that’s not the only things you can associate with New Orleans Mardi Gras, so my curiosity was peaked.
What I wanted was good music, fun, friendly people, dancing, parades, and excellent food. Lake Charles checked off all those requirements!
Lake Charles is in Southwest Louisiana, about 2 hours from Houston, Texas. It boasts the second largest Mardi Gras in the state, so it’s no small potatoes!
When I landed in Lake Charles Regional Airport, I was already greeted with Mardi Gras love in the form of a tree. Let the good times roll!
Where to Stay in Lake Charles, LA
Our group stayed at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles. It was a great location and had everything we needed – Vegas-style gaming, southern hospitality, 1,100 guest rooms, an 18-hole golf course, multiple Landry’s restaurants, retail shops, almost 30,000 square feet of meeting space, a marina, a private beach and more.
The rooms were a good size, and I loved the tub that was outside of the bathroom, so you could relax and watch TV. I felt like a baller.
I’m not really a gambler, so I appreciated that the casino area was large, but you don’t have to walk through it if you don’t want to. The views are lovely, and there are plenty of pools to relax and entertain young ones! My children always make a visit to the pool whenever we travel.
Mardi Gras Fun For Kids in Lake Charles
So you brought your family, now what? Try some of these Mardi Gras activities for kids!
Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
If you want to see some extraordinary and beautiful costumes and learn about the history of Mardi Gras, then take your family to the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu. It’s a small museum with about 6 rooms of beautiful costumes, the Captain’s Den, a Mardi Gras parade display, and king cakes.
You can take it at your own pace, but kids will love the bright colors and ornate costumes.
And yes, of course my Disney eye was drawn to the dress with Cinderella Castle on it. It’s exquisite!
Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point
On a budget? No problem! For free fun in Lake Charles, try Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point.
It’s great for kids and a free activity to immerse yourself in Southwest Louisiana’s culture. Interactive displays and activities are fun for the whole family. I got to “fish.” I even had a chance to “play instruments” in a zydeco band. We rocked it if I say so myself.
Mardi Gras Children’s Day Parade
I love that Lake Charles dedicates a day to the children with plenty of activities, fun, and food! The Children’s Day Parade was my absolute favorite. I know my 5 girls would love it!
As guests of the Southwest Louisiana CVB, we were able to be part of their float and throw beads. Dreams came true, people. We walked around a little bit while floats were getting ready.
The spirit of Mardi Gras was definitely there.
Louisiana is serious about their beads. We loaded up our float, too! I was very professional about my new bead-throwing job, and I could not wait to show off my skills.
The music started, and were on our way. The energy during the parade was electric, and I loved seeing all the families on the parade route. Different floats threw beads, toys, cups, frisbees, balls, etc. Just watch out, because sometimes they come at a quick speed, so you have to stay alert!
This was seriously the most fun I’ve had in a long time. There was music, laughter, and a good time all around. Throw me something, mister!
Iowa Chicken Run
Want to know what else was a hoot? The Iowa Chicken Run. Now this thing is wild. It’s Cajun Mardi Gras!
Start off in Iowa, LA, at the Knight of Columbus Hall, jump on a hayride, and chase after a chicken. Yes, you read that correctly.
You stop at participating homes where you retrieve a different ingredient to make the Gumbo, all while chasing a chicken (shhh, it’s actually a rooster) and dancing to the music. The chicken-chasing honor is reserved for the kids and the first one to catch it gets a reward. No chickens were harmed in this chicken run.
This is where you get to know the people of Louisiana. Everyone was so friendly, and I was able to chat up some locals. The kids’ faces were priceless. I’m sure mine was, too, when I first saw that rooster fly! The sense of community made me smile.
More Lake Charles Mardi Gras Events
Ha! You thought we were done. Oh no, the Mardi Gras celebrations get even more grand with the Royal Gala at the Lake Charles Civic Center. For a $7 ticket, you can witness Krewe royalty.
What is a krewe? A krewe is any group or organization of revelers to band together to host a Mardi Gras ball, ride on a Mardi Gras parade float and participate in social events throughout the year.
Kings and queens, royal dukes and duchesses, captains, courtesans, and jesters in museum-quality costumes are on full display in a parade-like manner. They walk and dance around the arena at the Civic Center, and it really is a breathtaking sight!
On Fat Tuesday, don’t miss the grand finale – the Krewe of Krewes Mardi Gras Parade! You’ll find a little more alcohol flowing during this nighttime parade, but I never saw anything questionable for families. I got to be a spectator and catch beads for myself!
It’s difficult deciding which was more fun – throwing or catching beads, but both experiences were amazing! I was dancing to the music and hanging with my friends as we all had a friendly competition to see who could get the most beads. I swear my friend cheated 😉 Do not miss this parade!
Where to Eat in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Now that you’ve had all this Mardi Gras fun, where should you eat in Lake Charles? You know I wasn’t going to leave you hungry. You’re going to need energy to keep up with Mardi Gras, after all. Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in Lake Charles, LA.
Jack Daniels Bar & Grill
I’m not a drinker, but I hear they have quite the assortment of beers. But me? I was here for the food. Lyle Broussard is the chef, and he knows creole and cajun! I tried BBQ, comfort foods, and southern specialties. Everything I tasted was delicious!
With a wide variety, plus Chef Lyle at the helm, you’ve got a winner! Located in L’auberge Casino Resort, Jack Daniels Bar & Grill is a must-try restaurant.
Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp
Here you’ll find some tasty Mexican and Cajun Fusion. Gumbo, tacos, shrimp? Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. Wood paneling gives it a fun vibe, but the food is what keeps you coming back.
Located in Beaumont, if you want an infusion of flavors, try Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp.
So you know how when you’re really hungry and you just want to wear stretchy pants and eat to your heart’s content? Welcome to the Seafood Palace. This is a down home cajun restaurant where you need a bib and where you’re bringing your whole family to chow down. I had crab legs and crawfish, and I could have hung out all day.
Wipe your hands with paper towels or lick your fingers. You decide.
You can’t celebrate Mardi Gras without King cake. You can get King Cake at several places, and you’ll find them in a variety of flavors with different fillings like fruit, cream cheese, and chocolate. We were able to decorate our own. Just check out my masterpiece.
What makes these cakes so special (it tastes more like a pastry than a cake to me), is the tiny plastic baby inside. The baby symbolizes luck to whoever finds it in their piece of cake. That person also gets to purchase next year’s cake for the Mardi Gras party. Just be careful not to swallow it.
Participating in all these traditions made me feel like part of the family. When friends saw my live stories on social media, they commented ow happy I looked. Well, I truly was. I had the time of my life, and I could be who I am.
Lake Charles is a special place. You’ll feel right at home, so bring your favorite people to the best family friendly Mardi Gras around!