There's a lot to love about Lake Charles that I didn't even know about until I moved here, and I'm still learning new things about the city. Granted, there are a few things I wish I knew before I moved here, but all things considered, Lake Charles is a great place to live and raise a family.

The only problem is that most people not from Lake Charles have no idea just how great Lake Charles is. With that in mind, here are five quick things everyone from Lake Charles needs to explain to people not from Lake Charles. We're a unique town, and it's important to get the facts right.

  • 5

    Make sure they visit during a festival

    This is probably the easiest thing to help your out of town friends with, since there’s bound to be some kind of festival or concert or event going on every single day of the year. In fact, any time three or more people gather together in this city, a new festival is likely to be born.

    “Hey, good to see ya. How’s your Mama and them?”

    “Not bad, thanks for asking. Hey, have you seen Mike?”

    “Yeah, he’s fixing to be here. Whatcha want with him?”

    “I dunno. Wanna all hang out here and drink some beers?”

    “Sounds good to me.”

    ***FIVE HOURS LATER***

    “Man,” *burp* “we should do dis again sometime.”

    *hiccup* “Yeah, let’s do dat. How ‘bout next year?”

    And that’s how Lundi Gras was born. True story.

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  • 4

    Drive over the I-10 bridge, just to say you did it

    And then don’t ever do it again.

    The bridge is a menace that will probably never be fixed. It has a sufficiency rating of 6.6% and should be avoided at all costs. Unless, of course, your friend has never driven over the bridge before, because it’s kind of a rite of passage around here.

    Ideally, they’d get stuck in traffic at the top of the nightmare, so they’d have plenty of time to consider the own mortality and contemplate man’s inhumanity to man, but just driving over it is probably enough. Also, since traffic backs up on the bridge roughly every all the minutes of all the hours of all the days, chances are they’ll get the full experience whenever they try it. So there’s that.

    Alan Dickerson
  • 3

    Turn off your GPS and phone a friend

    The modern convenience of GPS navigation is great, but it doesn’t really matter how sophisticated the algorithms get. No computer or sentient artificial intelligence robot will ever be able to fully understand our nonsensical roads. And they’ll always try to route visitors down Ryan and Lake, for some reason.

    It’s worth explaining to out of towners that these are lunatic roads best avoided by sane people who don’t enjoy getting stuck in traffic for half an hour while somebody tries to turn left at an intersection without a turn lane or protected signal. Besides, most of the great character of our city is found along the side streets and in little neighborhood shops that their GPS would never take them past, so it’s worth telling them to turn off their map app and give you a call.

    You’ll be a better navigator than Siri any day.

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  • 2

    You can get fat and die happy here

    There’s really no better compliment to give a city than explaining to out of towners how much better our food is here than any food they can get anywhere else. We have some of the best restaurants in the state, and all of them are locally-owned.

    Who hasn’t told a visitor they need to go grab a po-boy at Darrell’s, or a plate lunch at The Kitchen? Everyone knows Steamboat Bill’s because it’s the only restaurant worth visiting along I-10 - and it’s totally worth visiting - but there are so many more great places to eat deeper into the city, and it’s worth explaining that to people who have never heard of Cotten’s or Southern Spice or Tia Juanita's.

    Which brings me to my next point…

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  • 1

    There’s more to Lake Charles than I-10

    People not from Lake Charles tend to pass through Lake Charles without stopping in Lake Charles, because all people driving down I-10 see of Lake Charles is that there isn’t much to see in Lake Charles. And, unless you count the city’s lowest-rated motel and one as our main attractions, you really can’t blame them.

    If you can just convince them to get off the interstate for five minutes, they could check out our great downtown area or maybe some of our terrific parks. They could grab a bite to eat at one of our delicious restaurants, or stop by whichever festival is going on that day. If they have kids, there's the Children's Museum. If they don't have kids, there are bars and places to party every few feet. There's something for everyone here, and it's a shame that most people not from here don't know that.

    There is virtually nothing off of I-10 to attract people to our city, which makes explaining to visitors that there’s more to Lake Charles than a Waffle House and a busted up old parking garage the most important thing we can do for them.

    It's a public service, really.

    Scott Lewis