If you go
Lake Charles is about a two-hour drive on Interstate 10 East from Houston.
Weekday hotel rates at Golden Nugget begin at $149; at L’Auberge at $129. There are plenty of budget and midprice hotels on West Lake Prien Road. My weekend rate at Residence Inn Lake Charles, 1591 W. Prien Lake Road, 337474-1772, was about $140 per night (significantly less than the casinos charge on weekends). My hotel also had a complimentary shuttle to and from the casinos.
Lake Charles will host Smoke & Barrel, a celebration of bourbon, whiskey and barbecue, on Nov. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. at 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center, 1001 Ryan St. General admission is free (barbecue and beverages for purchase); $75 VIP tickets include parking, beer and wine, barbecue and whiskey tastings; smokeandbarrel.org.