Spanning 22 parishes and over 14,000 square miles, Acadiana boasts a diverse collection of landscapes, climates and attractions. While the rich Louisiana culture ties them together, each of the region’s cities and neighborhoods offer a unique lifestyle. Whether you’re drawn to the casinos and waterfront leisure of Lake Charles, the festivals and flair of Lafayette or the wetlands and marshes found down the bayou, Acadiana truly has something for everyone.
Charpentier Historic District
For families looking to land somewhere safe, fun and with plenty of space to move around, Lake Charles’ Charpentier Historic District is an excellent option.
In the 15 years she’s lived in the neighborhood, realtor Brittany Savant has watched it blossom into a thriving community full of family-friendly activities and attractions.
Located within walking distance of downtown Lake Charles, the historic district is made up of 20 square blocks of beautiful homes, many of which date back to the late 1800s. The neighborhood has been on the National Historic Register since 1990, but it is far from stuffy, Savant said.
The live oak-lined streets and Victorian architecture create a picturesque backdrop, but Savant said the neighborhood glows with the energy of its youngest residents.
The district is walkable, she said, with minimal traffic and plenty of sidewalks. Popular activities include walking or biking out to the lakefront, which is in the midst of numerous exciting developments. Families are looking forward to the completion of the Port Wonder project, which will be home to the new Children’s Museum of Lake Charles, as well as a science and nature center run by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Both are slated to open next year.
In the meantime, Charpentier Historic District families can enjoy Millennium Park’s playground and splash park or Lake Charles’ white-sand beach — two attractions located within walking or biking distance. The lakefront development project also includes an expansion of the Crying Eagle Brewing Company, a welcome addition for parents.
Interior designer Lauren Graham has lived in the neighborhood for seven years and said she loves being close to downtown Lake Charles’ many restaurants and shops, while still feeling like a part of a tight-knit community.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Graham and Savant said the neighborhood started hosting frequent outdoor events, which they’ve been thrilled to see carry on over the years — including porch concert series and neighborhood-wide trick-or-treating. Other major draws for families are its convenient-but-safe proximity to Lake Charles’ Mardi Gras parades, and the highly-rated Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School, which is located within the district.
While Lake Charles has been hit with some devastating natural disasters over the past few years, Graham and Savant said local initiatives like the region’s 50-year resilience plan have assured them their community will continue to thrive for generations.
For families looking for something a little more affordable and further away from the hustle-and-bustle of city life, Carencro’s Magnolia Ridge is a great choice. A short drive away from Lafayette, the tree-lined neighborhood has a beautiful Library, tons of families and plenty of outdoor activities. Bonus: Magnolia Hills is Canrencro’s must-visit neighborhood for trick-or-treating.
With tons of trendy bars, restaurants and museums, live music and art events and a growing residential market, Downtown Lafayette is the hot spot for young professionals in Acadiana.
Architect Stephen Ortego founded his firm, SO Studio in 2016 after his tenure in Louisiana’s House of Representatives. In the years since, he said the neighborhood’s residential options have grown significantly without diminishing the area’s many shopping, dining and entertainment outlets.
One factor has been an increase in multi-use development projects that combine living, retail and office spaces. Ortego’s firm has worked on a number of these ventures, including Vermilion Lofts, where SO Studio is located.
Home to hundreds of businesses, the neighborhood is buzzing with activity at all hours. Ortego said it’s a great place to live for people who are prone to “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, as the “YoPros” (aka young professionals) say.
As the primary business district of the city, living in Downtown Lafayette offers plenty of opportunities to combine work and play. While working late on a recent Friday evening, Ortego and his team chose to walk a few blocks to a new natural wine bar, instead of being stuck in the office.
There are also seemingly endless new options for lunch spots or coffee shops to try, for those who choose not to imbibe, he said.
Ortego currently lives in downtown Lafayette himself, and said there’s always lots of foot traffic during the day, adding to the high-energy vibe of the neighborhood. With an ever-evolving roster of events and festivals, Ortego said it’s rare to have a night with nothing to do. The Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Lafayette Unlimited groups are very active, contributing to the area’s continued growth.
While most of the residential options located downtown are apartments or condos, that doesn’t mean they aren’t unique. For those looking to combine historic charm with modern living, the Lofts at The Municipal offer newly renovated, luxury apartments located inside a renovated courthouse, library and police station.
Overall, Ortego said Downtown Lafayette is a fantastic place to live for someone looking for an accessible and centrally located neighborhood, with lots of activities and amenities. It’s not the place to find peace and quiet or the big yard and picket fence, but with lots of bike paths and walking trails, nature is also not far out of reach.
For those who need a break from the city in their off hours, St. Landry Parish’s Sunset offers a good alternative. Roughly 20 minutes outside of Lafayette, Sunset has cute, small-town vibes with an artsy aesthetic, and a handful of funky thrift stores. With more affordable properties, buying a home in Sunset is within reach for most young professionals.
When workers broke ground in 1997, River Ranch became the first community in the Lafayette area to be built from scratch in over 100 years, according to the project’s developers. In the 25 years since, many others have followed suit, but River Ranch remains among the region’s premier planned neighborhoods.
Nestled in the heart of the city, River Ranch has become a haven for those craving convenience and community. Developers stayed true to their neighbors-first philosophy, building what they describe as “a return to the traditional concept of Main Street in America.”
With seven architecturally distinct neighborhoods that all feature wide sidewalks and narrow streets, River Ranch is intentionally walkable. Scattered throughout each district, you’ll find a variety of retail, dining and professional services. The town square is the heart of the community, serving as the center of daily life and a destination for events, performances, festivals and more.
With bike paths, hiking trails, underground walkways, and a park in each district, the neighborhood is designed to be enjoyed.
The neighborhood’s founder, Robert Daigle, has designed a dozen other planned communities in Louisiana, but chose to lay his own roots in River Ranch.
While River Ranch is appealing for people of all ages, realtor Joel Bacque said it is particularly attractive to retirees looking to downsize while remaining active and engaged in their communities. Many homes in River Ranch prioritize architectural integrity over size, which Bacque said is great for those seeking easier upkeep, without sacrificing quality.
Bacque said another big draw for older residents is River Ranch’s proximity to the new Our Lady of Lourdes hospital, which is less than 10 minutes away.
Although the neighborhood offers many upscale amenities — including a private club and an array of boutique shops — River Ranch is not a gated community. Bacque said while this might be a deterrent for some, it is also an asset for many retirement-age individuals who do not want to be closed off from the world. The neighborhood is open and friendly, he said, and encourages people to get to know one another.
River Ranch residents are handed all the ingredients needed to enjoy a vibrant social life, which Bacque said many of his retirement age clients find appealing. River Ranch is not a retirement community, he said, but it provides similar ease, comfort and support, without the limitation of age-restricted living.
The Settlement at Live Oak
Shaded by centuries-old oak trees and nestled into the banks of Bayou Lafourche, Thibodaux’s Settlement at Live Oak offers a more serene, nature-driven lifestyle, while still providing modern-day comfort and amenities. The neighborhood is walkable and lively — with plenty of dining, shopping and recreation options — while still maintaining the charm of rural, small-town Louisiana living.