Twilight on the pier in Mandeville, Louisiana.

7 Best Places to Live in Louisiana in 2024

Nicknamed The Pelican State due to the abundance of brown pelicans famously plunge-diving into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and nesting along the Mississippi River shoreline, Louisiana is the perfect state for anyone who wants to live in a smaller, affordable, and safe city in 2024. Communities like Lake Charles, Covington, Mandeville, Kenner, Baker, Slidell, and Rayne offer tranquility, community engagement, and cultural richness. As well as being some of the prettiest American places in the US, these seven cities in Louisiana provide peace of mind for residents, making them ideal places to raise families or enjoy retirement.

Lake Charles

Aerial vie of the eastern town of Lake Charles, Louisiana
Aerial vie of the eastern town of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

While less widely recognized than the cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Lake Charles offers an eclectic blend of culture, entertainment, and natural beauty. Sitting on the banks of Lake Charles and Prien Lake, it's a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The city’s Creole Nature Trail, with its 26 miles of Gulf beaches, provides spectacular views of the Gulf Coast and opportunities for birdwatching more than 400 bird species and shelling for periwinkles, whelks, and cockles. Along the way, take advantage of the numerous food trucks, seafood markets, and cajun kitchens to fuel up for the long walk.   

Residents can also explore the city’s vibrant arts scene, which includes local art galleries, live music, and festivals galore. The Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center showcases exhibitions from around the world, as well as featuring local artists. With three floors of gallery space, the venue has hosted solo exhibits by Pablo Picasso, Norman Rockwell, and Ansel Adams and housed “Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibit,” with over 100 preserved artifacts from the historic, yet doomed, ship. The ‘Louisiana Pirate Festival,” held on the Lake Charles Civic Center and Seawall grounds, takes place May 2-12, 2024, and is listed as a Top Twenty Event by the Southeast Tourism Board. 

In 2023, Lake Charles was listed as one of the ten safest cities in the state by Safewise in their 9th annual Safest Cities in Louisiana Report. Many families and young professionals live in Lake Charles, and the public schools in the city are above average. The region has a thriving job market with jobs in the petrochemical industry, healthcare, education, and tourism sectors. 


Columbia Street view in Covington.
Columbia Street view in Covington. Image credit Malachi Jacobs via Shutterstock.

With its proximity to the energetic city of New Orleans, the town of Covington (population 12,000) blends urban excitement and suburban tranquility. With a thriving arts scene and abundant outdoor activities, the city also has a cozy small-town ambiance, appealing to residents seeking a quiet lifestyle with a tight-knit community atmosphere. It's known for its quality schools, parks, and outdoor recreational opportunities, making it a popular place to live for families and retirees. Covington’s crime rate is lower than 60% of other Louisiana communities. 

Adjacent to the jazzy, raucous “Big Easy,” the town of Covington is a southern city that enjoys a slower pace, or “lagniappe,” as the Cajuns would say. Many residents of Covington commute over the iconic Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge for work in New Orleans, particularly in the healthcare and technology sectors. The bridge, at 24 miles in length, is the longest in the US, and according to the Guinness World Records, was once the longest bridge in the world over continuous water. 

The historic downtown center of Covington is a hub for gatherings and community events like the “Rockin’ the Rail” concert series or the “Three Rivers Art Festival,” which takes over five city blocks along Columbia Street from November 9-10, 2024. The free outdoor event displays paintings, photography, sculptures, and other mediums, and food trucks and craft cocktails are available on the street all weekend. Columbia Street also hosts the long-running “Columbia Street Block Party,” held the last Friday of each month from March through October, and includes a classic car show, bluegrass jam sessions, food vendors, and plenty of opportunities for fun by foot. 


Sunset over Lake Pontchartrain seen from Fontainebleau State Park.
Sunset over Lake Pontchartrain from Fontainebleau State Park. Image credit Wirestock Creators via Shutterstock.

Another city on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Mandeville, is known for its picturesque waterfront, top-notch schools, and family-friendly amenities. Citylife is relaxed, with easy access to both nature and urban conveniences. With a population of a little over 12,000 residents, Mandeville stands out as one of Louisiana's premier destinations for relocation. Year after year, Mandeville consistently sits among the safest cities in Louisiana, and 2024 is no different. While technically a suburb of New Orleans, reaching Mandeville from the city center is just an hour's scenic drive over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.

The historic Fontainebleau State Park is the most-visited state park in Louisiana and features a sandy beach, walking trails, and the ruins of an 1829 sugar mill. Several camping options are available in the park for visiting friends or relatives in Mandeville, including cabins, campsites, glamping sites, and a lodge. Mandeville’s lakefront offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy Lake Pontchartrain, such as boating, picnicking, fishing, or simply watching the sun go down. Take advantage of Louisiana’s ecosystem by taking a guided tour of Honey Island Swamp, where you’ll see birds, alligators, and wildlife in their natural habitat. For avid cyclists, the Tammany Trace is a 31-mile paved biking path suitable for all ages. 

The city hosts the annual “Mandeville Live! Free Friday Spring Concert Series,” a popular event with residents and visitors to the north shore at the Mandeville Trailhead Amphitheatre. From November 1-3, 2024, Mandeville’s Festival of the Lake, part of the city’s history for over 40 years, draws crowds from all over southern Louisiana for a weekend of live music, food, and drink. 


Weekly Crescent City Farmers Market is held at LaSalle's Landing
Crescent City Farmers Market, held at LaSalle's Landing. Image credit Kathleen K. Parker via Shutterstock.

Home to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and the Pontchartrain Convention and Civic Center, Kenner is a hub for travelers to the state. The historic Rivertown is a 16-block district along the Mississippi River in Kenner. This community in the heart of Jefferson Parish features museums, shops, and family-friendly restaurants. Residents and visitors can explore the Rivertown Heritage Park and Museum, which replicates the city’s history and culture with turn-of-the-century buildings like a blacksmith shop, an ice house, and a gas station circa 1930. 

The Kenner Planetarium and Space Science Complex features a NASA Space Station prototype and is home to a 50-foot domed screen. Audiences can enjoy learning about astronomy and marvel at the laser light show presentations from the comfort of stadium-style seats. In Kenner on the Lake Pontchartrain waterfront, Treasure Chest is a floating casino with over 1,000 slot machines, table games like blackjack, roulette, and Texas hold ’em, and live shows in the Caribbean Showroom. Other entertainment options in Kenner include the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts, which will present musical adaptations of Disney’s Moana, Sister Act, and Mean Girls during the 2024 season. 

Kenner is considered a safe place to live, with a lower crime rate than nearby urban areas of a similar size. With a population of over 66,000 residents, Kenner was also listed as one of the ten safest cities in the state by Safewise in their 9th annual Safest Cities in Louisiana Report in 2023. The city is proud of its selection of public and private schools, with several schools earning accolades for academic achievements. 


Heritage Museum in the city of Baker.
Heritage Museum in the city of Baker. Image credit

Just a short 10-mile drive north of Baton Rouge lies Baker, a city renowned for its abundance of outdoor activities and attractions appealing to residents and visitors alike. Recognized as Louisiana's safest city, Baker attracts families and retirees seeking the tranquility of suburban life without forgoing the amenities of urban living available in nearby Baton Rouge. 

Due to its proximity to the state capitol, many residents take advantage of the short drive from Baker to Baton Rouge and spend time at places like the renowned Louisiana Arts and Science Museum (LASM) with its interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, and art galleries. This year, from February through September 2024, the LASM celebrates the history of jazz and its potential health benefits with “Improvisation: The Art and Healing Power of Jazz.” From its permanent collection, the museum has educational galleries dedicated to ancient Egypt, the solar system, and the universe. 

Dining out in Baton Rouge offers a variety of authentic Cajun and Creole flavors in fantastic barbecue joints, brewpubs, and gastropubs, where diners can enjoy craft beers and pub food at the Tin Roof Brewing Company or The Bulldog. Local culinary favorites include jambalaya, gumbo, and po’boys. 

Another family favorite destination in Baton Rouge is the Baton Rouge Zoo, which welcomes over 200,000 guests annually. The Zoo actively participates in 30 international conservation programs and has successfully reintroduced several critically endangered species into the wild. 


Aerial view of from Rat's Nest Road, Slidell, Louisiana
Aerial view from Rat's Nest Road, Slidell, Louisiana.

With a population of 28,000 residents, Slidell is on the northeastern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, a short drive from New Orleans. The city is surrounded by beautiful waterways, including Lake Ponchartrain and the Pearl River, one of the longest rivers in the state. Whether you prefer kayaking, canoeing, or motor boating, the Pearl River is a popular boating destination for residents and visitors. Booking a guided eco-tour of the Pearl River provides an opportunity to learn more about the area’s diverse ecology and wildlife. Bring binoculars and be prepared to spot alligators, turtles, birds, and otters. 

Slidell is a close-knit community with top-rated schools, safe neighborhoods, and residents who take pride in their city and actively participate in local events and initiatives like the annual Slidell Heritage Festival,  a fundraising event that has raised over one million dollars. On June 29, 2024, the festival returns to Heritage Park with music, food, arts and crafts, a children’s area with water slides, and evening fireworks. The city's parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities offer plenty of options for outdoor fun for families. 

Slidell is also home to a thriving arts community, with numerous theatres, art galleries, and venues showcasing live music and art throughout the year, and the nearby “New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival” is not to be missed. The famous festival attracting over 500,000 music lovers yearly has expanded to eight days over two four-day weekends in 20024: April 25-April 28, and May 2-May 5. This year’s line-up includes the Rolling Stones, the Foo Fighters, Heart, and a tribute to the late Jimmy Buffett. 


Rayne, Louisiana at sunset.
Rayne, Louisiana at sunset.

Rayne, known as the Frog Capital of the World, showcases its unique charm with over 35 whimsical concrete frog sculptures scattered throughout the city. Many of these sculptures reflect the character of local businesses, and make it a fun destination for visitors. Rayne also earns the nickname "Louisiana's City of Murals" thanks to its collection of more than 30 vibrant murals that pay tribute to the history, culture, and community pride adorning its streets. In the 1990s, the local government commissioned renowned artist Robert Dafford to create the murals, adding to Rayne's cultural allure. 

With its low crime rate, Rayne prioritizes safety and is rated one of Louisiana’s safest cities, providing peace of mind for this close-knit community. Housing costs in Rayne are 60% less expensive than the US national average and 28% less than other homes in the state. The city prides itself on its quality of education, and local students benefit from various extracurricular activities like team sports, academic clubs, and music programs. 

Rayne's location in the heart of Acadiana makes it a good base for exploring other nearby areas, including Lafayette, the Atchafalaya Bay, and the Creole Nature Trail. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing in the surrounding natural areas.

In 2024, these seven cities stand out as Louisiana's best places to live, each offering a unique blend of culture, safety, and community. Lake Charles charms with its outdoor paradise and vibrant arts scene, while Covington's mix of urban excitement and suburban tranquility appeals to families and retirees. Mandeville, nestled along Lake Pontchartrain, offers picturesque waterfront living and top-notch schools. With its rich history and entertainment options, Kenner provides a safe environment and diverse educational opportunities. Baker’s and Slidell's close-knit communities, top-rated schools, and thriving arts scenes make both towns a desirable destination. Rayne, celebrated for its whimsical charm and low cost of living, prioritizes safety and education, making it an ideal choice for families.

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