Lake Charles, La.
Lake Charles, La.
Lake Charles, La., offers plenty to do in and around its eponymous lake.
Population: 72,000
% over 50: 34%
Median home price: $124,000
Top state income tax: 6%
Cost of living index: 91

Leisure time in Lake Charles largely revolves around its eponymous lake, which boasts a sandy beach and waterfront promenade. Throughout the year, the lake is the backdrop for boat parades, firework displays, and festivals celebrating everything from Cajun culture to pirate lore. (The city hosts more than 75 festivals each year.)

Lake Charles is also a regional hub for retailers, academia, medical care and the arts. McNeese State University's "leisure learning" program offers classes and lectures in everything from cooking dim sum to writing short stories. The university's new $16 million Shearman Fine Arts Building, meanwhile, is a notable addition to Lake Charles' robust performing arts community, which includes a symphony, civic ballet, and children's theater company, to name a few.

What's not to like? The city is 30 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, making it vulnerable to hurricanes and floods.

See complete 2010 data and interactive map for Lake Charles

Demographic information provided by Onboard Informatics.
Median home price: Based on 2010 data.
Cost of living index: The national average is 100; the lower a place's number, the less expensive it is. An index value of 95 means the town's cost of living is 95% of the national median.

Last updated September 16 2011: 12:56 PM ET
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