TMS 2014 Lake Charles, LA
August 5-8, 2014
January 4, 2016
Is it Cajun or Zydeco? That's the most common question folks ask when they hear Louisiana music. Well, Cajun music is the "folk music" of the Arcadian people exiled from Canada who settled mostly in southern Louisiana. It will usually have fiddles along with an accordion, and guitars. Modern Cajun music has borrowed some from County and Western.
November 3, 2015
New Orleans is one of those cities that comes alive during the holidays. Though always a place to laissez les bons temps rouler, the air simply vibrates with celebration at Christmas time. My past Christmas visit was solo, courtesy of the New Orleans CVB, but reliving my trip through the photos I took really makes me want to plan a visit à deux - an adults only getaway in a grand hotel, dining on sumptuous food, and slowly window shopping along Royal Street.
August 17, 2015
Located in the heart of Illinois - just a couple hours from Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis - Champaign County is a perfect family getaway for a long weekend or a mid-week break. The central cities of Champaign-Urbana, or Chambana, as the locals call it, are a funky mix of Midwestern values and hip urban life. Filled with cultural and educational opportunities, wonderful parklands, and fresh, delicious food, you'll be planning your return visit before you leave!
June 4, 2015
I used to love watching America's Castles on A&E. The grandeur, the extravagance, the undisguised abundance of wealth that the late 19th and early 20th century 'robber barons' had to work with was simply unimaginable. One of these 'robber barons' in Chicago, a man by the name of Samuel Allerton, made his money by purchasing pork cheaply in the Midwest and selling it for a profit to the Union Army. While growing his agricultural and land holdings, Samuel Allerton became involved in finance, becoming a founder of the First National Bank of Chicago.
May 26, 2015
When you think of visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans, camping is probably the last activity to cross your mind. But if you have an RV (sorry, no tents allowed), you can comfortably glamp within blocks of Bourbon Street and laissez les bons temps rouler - let the good times roll.
May 14, 2015
There's a real buzz in Lake Charles, La., these days. Two energy-related companies-Cheniere Energy and Sasol-are moving in and spending billions in infrastructure and hiring thousands of workers. Last December, the Golden Nugget Lake Charles opened, the newest addition to the city's gaming industry. The culinary scene has expanded with the city's growth, now offering a diverse selection of dining options, in addition to a distillery cooking up Louisiana rum products.
March 15, 2015
The Outback: any remote or sparsely populated region (not just in Australia). Most people think Australia when they hear the word... but you don't have to travel that far to see spectacular scenery, unusual creatures or expansive marshland. Tucked away in Southwest Louisiana, the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road offers 180 miles of quiet, natural beauty sure to capture the imagination of visitors young and old. You might not see kangaroos, wallabies and koalas here, but we think you'll love it just the same.
March 12, 2015
While Las Vegas is famous for one of the nations top gambling and party scenes, you don't have to travel to Sin City to see some of the world's best casinos. Scroll through our gallery to find the 10 best casinos located anywhere but Vegas that are also travel destinations in and of themselves.
February 23, 2015
What's your first thought when you hear the words Mardi Gras? Do you think Bourbon Street? While that craziness might be what makes the national headlines each year, thatís not the whole story. I just got home from celebrating Mardi Gras in Louisiana, and the experience shattered my stereotypes! In fact, I think if we all adopted a little Mardi Gras culture, the world would be a far friendlier place! In no particular order, here are five lessons we all can learn from Mardi Gras.
February 15, 2015
My first zipline experience was a single line over Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas. Strapped into harnesses and topped with red helmets, we were taken to the rim of the canyon in an open trailer, the grand views stretched out before us. Arriving at the zipline, we were hooked to guide wires before stepping on to a wooden walkway that bounced with each step and wavered a bit in the wind. As each step took us higher above the rim of the canyon, my heart began to beat harder and faster - my fear of heights nearly causing me to turn back.
February 14, 2015
This is a tale of two Tahoes - one outdoorsy, filled with exquisite natural beauty, and the other glam and glitz, with 24/7 casinos and fine dining. Take your pick. Tahoe has many facets and multiple personalities, offering a great range of activities for all. Whether you're a hiker, skier, nature lover or history buff, you'll find it all in South Lake Tahoe.
January 2, 2015
When most people visit Louisiana, they spend time in New Orleans but never experience the rest of the state. Two of the state's largest cities - Baton Rouge (also the state capital) and Lake Charles - offer a different side of Louisiana. Explore the Cajun and Creole traditions, along with the bayous, back roads, cuisine, and celebrations that define the region.
December 5, 2014
Surrounded by crystal and china in L'Auberge Casino Resort's Le Cafe, the succulent lobster claw sat atop crab, shrimp and avocado. This medley of seafood artfully arranged in a martini glass was bound by tomato water. Not a puree, or watered down salsa, but the simple juice from fresh tomatoes lightly seasoned with just a hint of heat to remind you that you're in Cajun country.
December 4, 2014
In the northern part of the center of the US lies a cluster of states affectionately known, to those of us who live here, as 'The Heartland.' Much of the rest of the US, however, knows us as 'Fly-Over Country,' the states one must 'fly over' to get to beaches, mountains, or famous amusement parks.
November 12, 2014
Work in the culinary arts sometimes requires extensive traveling to perfect a craft or to move up in the kitchen hierarchy. Many of Acadiana's chefs, for instance, hail from other regions of the country, sometimes other parts of the world. The following are several chefs who now call Acadiana home, bringing new culinary trends into the region, or incorporating Louisiana ingredients and culinary styles into their expertise.
November 12, 2014
Lake Arthur has been called one of Louisiana's hidden secrets, an enormous freshwater lake south of Jennings and midway between Lake Charles and Lafayette that's been attracting hunters and fishermen for years. Since the opening of the Regatta LA Seafood & Steakhouse Restaurant on the water's edge in 2011, the lake has been culling new visitors, many of them day-trippers looking for a chance to relax and watch the sun set over the lake.
November 11, 2014
"Look Mom," my youngest says as she contently stares out our window, "it's a red-breasted warbler." Is it? I have no idea. But she is likely correct. Ever since our trip last spring to the South Dakota Birding Festival, her interest in the feathered friends that surround us at home and as we travel has increased. At a glance she can name dozens of birds, while I am lucky to squeak out a handful without help of a birding book or app.
November 6, 2014
What are your 14 year olds up to? Jack Lucas was in the Marines. Yes, he'd lied about his age to join during World War II, but just three years later he won the Congressional Medal of Honor for using his own body to shield three members of his squad from two grenades during the Iwo Jima campaign, nearly getting killed when one exploded.
by Judith Fein
November 3, 2014
In the book of life, the decline and death of one's mother is a significant chapter, and when it ends, it is also the end of any hope that things will change for the better. Frankly, I had a very complicated relationship with my difficult mother and I was trying unsuccessfully to make sense of it after her recent death. I figured that traveling was as good a way to heal as any I know, so my husband Paul and I headed for southern Louisiana.
October 31, 2014
Lafayette is considered the soul of Cajun Country and as such is the perfect place to both trace the history of and experience the unique convergence of cultures and the resulting explosion of music, cuisine, art, architecture and lifestyle that set the region apart. This is a city in which it appears the "good times roll" unabated and one is never at a loss for a Cajun-style adventure.
October 25, 2014
On April 5, 1840, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of America's premier authors of the era, was visited by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Reverend Horace Conolly. During the course of the visit Conolly told a story based on a 1755 historic event that he felt would make a great novel for Hawthorne. Hawthorne declined the novel idea and five years later Longfellow began work on the epic poem "Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie."
October 21, 2014
Southwest Louisiana's Creole Nature Trail, known as "Louisiana's outback," consists of 180 miles of wetlands, beaches, and more that are ripe for boating, fishing, crabbing, hunting and wildlife and bird watching. I photographed the serene area of the Trail near Lake Charles.
by Judith Fein
October 17, 2014
Even if you are a certified foodie, you might not know about boudin, a specialty that is like manna to Cajun Louisianians. It can be described as a pork-and-rice sausage, but that's like describing pizza as flour, tomato and cheese. Boudin invites you to sit down, preferably in a local, no-nonsense joint, and bite in. And perhaps the best place to take that first bite is in the area around Lake Charles, which is rich in Cajun culture. All you need to do is loosen your belt, hop in your car and set out on the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail.
October 16, 2014
I've been all over the world, but there are few places I love as much as New Orleans - especially the French Quarter. During my most recent visit, I stayed at The New Orleans Hotel Collection's small boutique 4-star property, Hotel le Marais.
October 1, 2014
While New Orleans is Louisiana's premiere travel destination, you have to make your way southwest to get an experience of true Creole and Cajun cultures. The two traditions have blended a bit over the years, especially in terms of food and music, but I'll leave you to discover the true differences when you visit the state. Nobody can explain it better to "ya'll" than the locals. All you need to know before you go is that southern Louisiana is unique.
September 30, 2014
There is so much to see and do in Lake Charles, LA. There is great weather, gorgeous landscapes, fantastic food, and wonderful places to stay. More importantly there is a fun cajun culture just waiting to be discovered.
September 27, 2014
Lake Charles is the gateway to Louisiana's most culturally diverse region. It is a city where every aspect of daily life is infused with and influenced by the rich multi-ethnic heritage that makes this area so vibrant and unique. Southwest Louisiana offers the best of Southern hospitality to visitors with their own special twist on dining, dancing, outdoor activities, historic sites and festivals.
September 15, 2014
Given a limited budget, an unlimited appetite and an interest in local culture, you can't go wrong with a weekend escape to Southwest Louisiana, the South's party capital. I recently spent three days in a Lake Charles casino for the annual Travel Media Showcase Ė- the best conference to learn about new destinations and what they offer travelers. Joanne Vero, TMS producer, welcomed us saying, "This is the best combination of everything Vegas offers: the food, the shows, the nightlife, with real Southern hospitality... and I love it!" While there, I met many parents and grandparents who enjoyed (or tolerated) the booze, slot machines and vocal revelers to show their kids a great time.
September 15, 2014
Swamp tours are the #1 thing to do when you visit South Louisiana! Imagine alligators lurking in the shadows, finding shade under Spanish moss covered cypress trees on the shore. Your covered pontoon tour boat glides by as one of these "live fossils" from the Age of Reptiles, some 200 million years ago, slides into the swamp.
September 12, 2014
Lake Charles, Louisiana - I was in a penny-pinching mode after a major condo remodel this summer. So, I decided to hop a Greyhound bus to Lake Charles and leave the driving to someone else. It was a good decision - an affordable alternative to flying, relaxing and no hassle. My bus even had Wi-Fi onboard.
September 12, 2014
Many of the historic homes were built by slaves and are National Historic Landmarks, available for tours in New Orleans Plantation Country. - NEW ORLEANS - About a dozen grand Southern mansions remain intact in New Orleans Plantation Country, within an hour's drive from the French Quarter. Many are National Historic Landmarks and available for tours that reveal the lifestyle, customs and even the decadence of the Old South.
September 12, 2014
If you take the time to walk or even drive down the streets of Lake Charles, the history is plain to see on the storefronts of shops in the downtown square, the towering clock tower of the City Hall building, and the fine wood worked details of the homes in the Charpentier District. With roots dating back to the 1760's when the French first came to settle here, it wasn't until the 1800's that Lake Charles truly started to boom with the rise of the lumber industry, and come into its own as the fine cultural and dining center it is today.
September 11, 2014
It's still early as we board the small boat that will take us out into the marshes. As we move away from the dock we are surrounded by the peacefulness of nature. Before long we start spotting a variety of birds and the shutter noise of cameras breaks the quiet calm. I'm surprised at the number and variety of birds we spot and realize that this is birding in Southwest Louisiana at it's finest.
September 9, 2014
When most people travel to Louisiana it usually goes something like this: 1. head straight to New Orleans; 2. eat (at overpriced, touristy spots) and drink (way too many watered-down Hurricane cocktails) alongside swarms of other tourists on Bourbon Street; 3. stay wherever you can get reservations in the French Quarter and never leave the area.
September 9, 2014
Along the coast of southwest Louisiana lie 180 miles of wild nature that are perfect for birding, fishing, beach combing and wildlife spotting. Pack your binoculars, camera, sunscreen, and fishing gear because the Creole Nature Trail is waiting to show you the best nature crawl in the state.
September 8, 2014
Garden walks often showcase carefully manicured beds of flowers, pruned shrubs, and spaced and manicured trees. New Iberia's Rip Van Winkle Gardens provided an experience of a different sort.
September 4, 2014
I'm sure youíve heard the phrase, "southern hospitality" before, it's a romanticized notion personified in movies and television shows, where chivalry flourishes and visitors are made to feel welcome. While on a recent trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana for a travel conference, I discovered the essence of southern hospitality is not a clichè, but the very embodiment of its residents.
September 3, 2014
Lagniappe! In Louisiana that means "something extra." The term might rightly be applied to Baton Rouge, the political heart of the Pelican State. Lagniappe is generally used in restaurants throughout Louisiana when the host sends something a little extra to the table. It could be a cake, a drink, or in some cases it's even been a whole roast chicken.
September 1, 2014
Say "Louisiana" and New Orleans immediately comes to mind; The Big Easy, the French Quarter, Hurricane Katrina and the obnoxious Mayor Ray Negin. Louisiana has always had a reputation for somewhat shady politics from the abovementioned Mayor Negin to the historically infamous governor and senator Huey Long. But how these politicians managed to get approval for a state carved out in the shape of its own initial is a mystery.
August 22, 2014
Want a marshmallow? The 6-foot-long alligator, dubbed Otis by the locals, who's minus one foot and swimming alongside our boat certainly does. We're in the Honey Island Swamp in Slidell, Louisiana, on Louisiana's Northshore on the Pearl River Swamp Eco Tour. It's another world from New Orleans, though we are just 40 minutes from downtown, across Lake Pontchartrain.
by Jodi Grundig
August 21, 2014
As someone who very frequently books hotel stays, I know that prices can fluctuate and vary. There are so many different hotel booking sites that claim to get the best rates, but it can be difficult to know which one is really the best for preferred hotels and dates. At Travel Media Showcase a few weeks ago, I learned about a hotel price comparison website that compares data from 205+ websites to show you where you can get the best deal.
August 21, 2014
Want a marshmallow? The 6-foot-long alligator, dubbed Otis by the locals, who's minus one foot and swimming alongside our boat certainly does. We're in the Honey Island Swamp in Slidell, Louisiana, on Louisianaís Northshore on the Pearl River Swamp Eco Tour. It's another world from New Orleans, though we are just 40 minutes from downtown, across Lake Pontchartrain.
August 20, 2014
I'm not proud to admit the following, but I have found myself being a bit judgmental of late. Don't misunderstand; I don't apologize for this in the least, as I believe that some prejudices are innate human survival characteristics. However, what I've been discovering is that my preconceived notions, while often correct, are not always as they appear-it is in those infrequent moments that I find regret. In other words, I have shied away from potentially cherished moments in life due to my misguided impressions of people or places.
August 19, 2014
While dining at the classic and historic Galatoire's restaurant in New Orleans, I had an opportunity to try and witness their Cafè Brûlot being prepared table-side. If youíre looking for a dramatic conclusion to your fine dining experience, you have to order the Cafè Brûlot.
August 18, 2014
Prime rib anyone? It's on the menu for Brunch, Lunch and dinner at the Rib Room at the Omni Royal Orleans in the heart of the French Quarter that incidentally has a terrific rooftop salt water pool - ideal after a day sightseeing. The Rib Room is famous for the giant rotisserie and prime rib and for their Sunday Jazz Brunch, when we're treated to the music of Sugar Bear & the Jazz Cats while we feast on shrimp creole over cream cheese grits, Freshly baked biscuits, an omelet with Prime Rib Debris and Eggs Sardou with Creamed Spinach, Artichoke hearts and blue crab. Yum!
August 18, 2014
There is something almost magical about Louisiana food. It's such a combination of flavors resulting from the blending of several distinct cultures. Of course, the big debate in Louisiana is "Cajun or Creole"? Just what is the difference? Asking that of a Louisiana native can be the start of a lengthy conversation but, according to Jay Ducote of BiteandBooze.com, the simplest way to determine the difference is that Creole cuisine uses tomatoes while proper Cajun food does not. In fact, Creole food is usually called "city food" while Cajun cuisine is known as "country food."
August 17, 2014
The alligator certainly is. We're on a Pearl River Swamp Eco Tour in the Honey Island Swamp in Slidell on Louisiana's Northshore in St. Tammany Parish, about 40 minutes across Lake Pontchartrain from downtown New Orleans. Our guide, John Royen, who plays jazz piano on Bourbon Street at night, tells us the gators think the marshmallows are turtle eggs. We're relieved to hear they actually are good for their digestion. "I play with the alligators during the day and the lounge lizards at night," he jokes.
August 15, 2014
So what's the mystery? We're in the so-called Mystery Dining Room at Antoine's in New Orleans, the famous restaurant that has been operated continuously by the same family since 1840, our first stop on a wonderful New Orleans Culinary History Tour through the French Quarter led by former history teacher Naif Shahady.
August 14, 2014
Ready to get your hands dirty? Then you are in for a treat. "The sweetest most succulent shell fish that you have ever eatenómore tender than lobster," promises longtime Lake Charles, LA caterer Marilyn Dawdy as she teaches me how to dig into a crab that's been cooked in a traditional Louisiana Fish Boil with shrimp, potatoes and corn. I'm at a Fais-Do-Do, A Cajun Dance party, at Travel Media Showcase and Dawdy, I learn, mid-lesson, is catering the big event for the conference in the Lake Charles Civic Center overlooking Lake Charles.
August 14, 2014
First, my deepest apologies to the State of Louisiana! I confess I never visited before, because... well, I stereotyped! I took New Orleans, with the French Quarter and bawdy Mardi Gras celebrations, and kind of (well, totally) ascribed it to the whole state. I realize now that I was wrong. And I've been missing out for years!
August 14, 2014
The Grevemberg House in Franklin, Louisiana, was built in 1851 by town lawyer Henry Wilson. He later sold the home to Mrs. Frances Wyckoff Grevemberg, who had lost her husband, Gabriel Grevemberg, in the 1856 hurricane that devastated Last Island or Isle Derniere off the coast of Louisiana. Mrs. Grevemberg and her children lived in the house for many years, then different owners purchased the home until the City of Franklin took over the property in 1948.
by Jodi Grundig
August 12, 2014
Despite my frequent travel, I've never been to Las Vegas and have never stayed in a casino hotel. Last week, I attended Travel Media Showcase in Lake Charles, Louisiana and stayed at the L'Auberge Casino Resort. Although they do have a fabulous casino, there's also so much for families to do.
August 11, 2014
Last week I was one of 64 exhibitors attending Travel Media Showcase in Lake Charles, LA. Travel Media Showcase is a tradeshow that allows destinations to connect with journalists interested in writing about their cities. My booth partner Darragh (from the Port Arthur CVB), and I spoke with over 30 travel writers about what's new, the food scene, outdoor adventures, trails and the overall story of our region. These writers hailed from all parts of the US and travel the world for a living. It's a privilege to represent Beaumont and to be able to tell our story. It makes me proud when journalists are equally excited to hear all the tales Southeast Texas has to offer. One of my favorite things about these types of tradeshows is discovering what interests others about our area.
August 11, 2014
Ever hear of the fire of 1910 that destroyed much of downtown Lake Charles, La.? Ever heard an animatronic baby tell you what it's like to live in a king cake? Shared your bucket list on a city wall? Those are some of my highlights of time in Lake Charles this summer. Once you go over the bridge featuring crossed dueling pistols, you can get into bunches of fun that doesn't even involve slot machines.
August 7, 2014
The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) held a fais do-do at the Lake Charles Civic Center this past weekend, as part of the ongoing Travel Media Showcase (TMS). The TMS, which lasts through Friday, is a national conference of professional travel writers. The CVB was on hand to help conference attendees immerse themselves in Cajun culture, from food to music, dancing and more.
August 6, 2014
The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau hosted the 15th annual Travel Media Showcase Wednesday at the L'Auberge Casino Resort. "There's definitely a lot more, you know, to explore than I was ever aware," said Marc D'Entremont with Examiner.com and Luxe Beat Magazine. "It's my livelihood to be aware of these things!" Nearly 175 travel journalists and industry professionals attended the national event. The conference consisted of one-on-one preset appointments, local and regional press tours and networking opportunities.
August 6, 2014
Every time I tell people that Louisiana is one of only four states Iíve not yet visited, they always say... "you've not been to New Orleans!?" To be honest, my Mardi Gras impression of New Orleans never put the illustrious city on my radar. Over the past few years of telling folks of my lack luster interest in New Orleans, and having them reply with a series of compelling reasons to change my mind, I'm finally getting an opportunity to see the world famous city for myself.
August 5, 2014
I'm spending the week in Lake Charles, Louisiana for Travel Media Showcase where I will be sharing exciting news out of Experience Kissimmee.
July 30, 2014
I have visited 46 US states... and when I say, "visited," I donít mean just flying into the airport or even driving through. I am very excited that I will be knocking another state off the list... Louisiana, number #47, next week. My first stop will be Lake Charles, which is located in the southwestern part of the state. From everything I've read and heard, Louisiana is a pretty unique place and I canít wait to get my Cajun on in this diverse part of the country.
June 26, 2014
There are few things cuter than baby egrets, their feathers sticking up like a spiky halo around their heads. And few things are less likely to engender warm and fuzzies than a cold silent alligator. And yet, they are both part of the same eco-system. Both apparently important in some way, although frankly, I might give kudos to a alligator for survival, I rarely wish them well. Especially not when they stalk baby egrets.
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