Well now that we’ve shown you the two fake gators, we’ve finally got to the real ones!! Just a little walk from the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau is a fenced pond with at least four adult gators along with turtles and other natural wildlife.
The area makes it super easy to see everything in the enclosure while still keeping a safe distance. We really enjoyed watching the gators sun without worrying about disturbing them.
This is a great little adventure for those of you who’ve never seen a gator in real life as well as the seasoned gator hunters out there.
Well we had an absolute blast at the SWLA CVB! Not only did we learn a lot about SWLA but we found so many places to visit and tell y’all about. Please take a day or afternoon to stop by and check it out for yourself so you can plan your own Cajun adventure!!
Just next to the large Louisiana state cutout is a familiar sight if you’ve been following our blog or have done any traveling around the backroads of Southwest Louisiana: a Creole Nature Trail marker!
The Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau is the perfect place to start a trip down the Creole Nature Trail with a virtual tour! They have handheld devices you can rent that will give you an audio tour of the trail. By using GPS, the devices know where you are and guide you along the trail. There is also a free phone app to download which works in the same way! The devices can be found inside the SWLA CVB, and they have a drop-off box outside for when you’re done.
The SWLA CVB is such a great jumping off point because it can lead you in so many fun directions!
Be ready for our 6th and final stop at SWLA CVB coming up next. Also, keep a lookout for more about the Creole Nature Trail as we explore it!
Just past Gumbeaux Gator stands this large cutout of Louisiana that we, of course, had to take pictures in front of! We were just planning on including them in the post about the SWLA Convention & Visitors Bureau until I stumbled upon this picture of my mom while looking through a box of old photographs, and I couldn’t believe it looked like the same statue!
Before her freshman year of high school, my mom took a road trip to Colorado, and they took a picture at each state welcome sign. The 1980 picture was taken on the side of road entering Louisiana, but mom is unsure of the exact location.
Does anyone know if this is the original and/or if these were spread across the state at various state lines?
Also, do any of y’all have a picture posing with Louisiana, past or present? We’d love to see them!
Keep a lookout for Stop #5 at the SWLA Convention & Visitors Bureau: the Creole Nature Trail Virtual Tour!
Does he still exist? Just outside of the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau is a beautiful topiary of the legendary Gumbeaux Gator. Lexi had never even heard of him, so we saw the topiary as a flashback to my childhood. Then lo and behold Lexi goes to the ReALLIEty Challenge, and they annouce that Gumbeaux Gator is in the house. I don’t know about you, but I remember him in the 80’s from his appearances at Contraband Days, festivals, and on billboards and signs all over Lake Charles. He is a true Southwest Louisiana icon, and it’s so great to know he’s still around!
Starting out as Hal the Alligator, he has been around as a mascot and good will ambassador since 1978. His name was later changed to Gumbeaux Gator to reference all the spicy and delicious gumbos our area is famous for. For 20 years Tony Perot was the man in the gator suit, but we are not sure who sports it these days. Any information on the subject would be greatly appreciated!
Also if you have any photos with Gumbeaux Gator, whether it be the topiary one or the real one, please send them to us. We would love to post them on our blog!
So keep your eyes peeled for the much-loved Gumbeaux Gator on your adventures around Southwest Louisiana!
We were super excited to find the beautiful Clotile inside the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau! As our fourth Gator on the Geaux to feature, Clotile is definitely a Lake Charles treasure. The people of SWLA even had a hand in naming her, and I love that they chose a Cajun name!
We were also lucky enough to have the always helpful Ms. Lynn Bass to take our pictures with Clotile. Be sure to ask for her when you go!
Stop #3 will be coming soon, and I have a feeling there are more gators hiding out around the SWLA CVB!
P.S. Know of any Gators on the Geaux we have yet to feature? Let us know with an e-mail or comment below so we can hunt them down!
When driving East down Interstate 10, just after getting off the Calcasieu River Bridge, it’s almost impossible to miss the large, lit-up sign and marquee for the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. But have you ever actually stopped to see what all the fuss is about?! We have to admit, we hadn’t either. However, now that we have we are so excited to let y’all in on one of the best kept secrets in Lake Charles!
This place is the starting line. It’s the beginning of the beginning for any kind of Louisiana traveler, tourists and locals alike! The massive amount of travel information about Calcasieu Parish is phenomenal. Just look at the wall of pamphlets!! It’s broken down by cities, and includes brochures on everything from lodging and accommodations to off-the-beaten-path adventures and sights.
We were lucky enough to have the very hospitable Lynn Bass to guide us around, and she shared some great inside knowledge about the best places to see. She would LOVE to help you find your next roadtrip stops!
The Bureau also has a gift shop where they sell Louisiana t-shirts and souvenirs. There are clean restrooms and many photo ops inside and out (look for our next posts to see the outdoor ones!).
Just out the backdoor is a beautiful view of the lake with a free binocular viewer that lets you zoom in on the Civic Center and lakefront.
We found so many ideas for future blog endeavors, and even more that we just have to see! So, with two arms full of informational books and pamphlets we left very satisfied and excited to see what our next Louisiana adventure will be!
We loved the Bureau so much, we couldn’t possibly include all the stops on the property in one post, so keep following for stops two through six coming in the next two weeks!
For more information about the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, visit their website: www.visitlakecharles.org, like them on Facebook, or just go for a visit! Their address is 1205 N. Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles, LA 70601, and they are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m and Saturday & Sunday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.