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Nearest city: Baton Rouge, La.
Median family income: $47,755
Runners-up: Metairie, Alexandria
Lake Charles, which sits on a lake with a white sand beach, has been rebuilding since getting hit by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike last year. The economy has been bolstered by its strong petrochemical industry and building projects, including a new nuclear power fabrication facility now under construction. Lake Charles is known for casinos and multiple music, culture, and food festivals. The city is home to McNeese State University and SOWELA Technical Community College.