West Lafayette and Lafayette sit on opposite sides of the Wabash River. Although it is only home to around 30,000 people, they are crammed into a very small area. It is actually the densest city in the entire state. Less than a two-hour drive from both Chicago and Indianapolis, West Lafayette allows people to live in a quieter city while providing easy access to bigger centers. West Lafayette is also a college town, as it is the home of Purdue University. Purdue is a very large school, with a student enrolment that surpasses the entire population of Lafayette. In 2013, the school had over 38,000 students enrolled. The school is an academic and athletic powerhouse, with more than 200 undergraduate majors and 18 sports teams under its roof.
When to Search
West Lafayette's largest contingent of apartment renters is certainly the students of Purdue University. As a result, you have to take Purdue's school year into consideration when planning on finding an apartment. The new graduates start giving notice and moving out in May typically, with more leaving in June.
Life in West Lafayette
Public transportation in the area is geared towards the University crowd. There is a free trolley that takes students from downtown Lafayette over to West Lafayette and Purdue University. There are other, affordable bus routes throughout the city. However, if you're travelling anywhere other than that main route to the university, you should probably try to have a car in West Lafayette.
Where to play
Purdue Athletics are loved by the locals. Take in a Boilermakers football game to see some of the best college football in the country. Several nearby golf courses are world-class, including Coyote Crossing. Most of the bars in West Lafayette cater to the college crowd, with the Neon Cactus and the Boiler Market being especially popular.
Purdue University is certainly the main reason that people come to West Lafayette, and as a result is also one of it's main attractions. The historic buildings, museums, and performing arts venues on the campus are all noteworthy. Many of the attractions are also on the other side of the city, simply known as Lafayette, including the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette. Fort Ouiatenon is a great historical point of local interest in West Lafayette. Originally, it was a fur-trading outpost for the French, and a replica of the outpost now sits on the spot where the original is thought to have existed.
West Lafayette is certainly home to a lot of great local food, but you can also find restaurants that take inspiration from almost anywhere in the world. Sushi fans flock to Maru Sushi on a nightly basis. Triple XXX Family Restaurant makes almost everyone’s list of the best restaurants in the city, thanks to it's traditional and tasty American fare. Pizza is popular in West Lafayette and Lafayette, and there are a number of independent shops to supplement the chain stores. Arni’s, Magnifico’s, Monical’s Nico’s Spicy Pickle, Hot Box Pizz and Puccini’s Restaurant are just a few of the options.
Scotty’s Brewhouse has great food and ample beer selection. The location is close enough to the University campus that there are always a number of students in the bar, but far enough away that it doesn't turn into a frat house. Nick’s Nightclub features a DJ Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and the dance floor is one of the most popular places in the city to be during those nights. Sgt. Preston’s of the North is a great place to go if you want to watch the game, as there are numerous big screens. This bar also features the largest outdoor patio in the state. O’Bryan’s Nine Irish Brothers offers everything that you would hope for in a traditional Irish pub, including an extensive selection of Irish whiskeys.
If you want to take in some of the wonderful local music scene, you could visit The Black Sparrow, Scotty’s Brewhouse, Hunter’s Pub Down Under, and several other great clubs spread throughout West Lafayette and Lafayette proper. The Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette produces plays and musicals throughout the season, while offering classes in theatre to local youth. The Art Museum of Great Lafayette is of course one of the largest fine-arts institutions in the area. The Artists’ Own gallery is also a great place to visit, as it is a gallery space owned by an artists cooperative, who all assist in running and operating the venue, as well as producing the art that is displayed there.
Art on the Wabash is an annual event in September that features a juried presentation of artwork by local craftsmen and artists. Many of the local events also are either hosted or co-presented with Purdue University, including the Purdue Spring Fest. This event is a chance to offer hands-on learning in a fun environment, with animal, science, and art demonstrations in an interactive environment. Traditional music is celebrated during the Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering held in July. The Uptown Jazz & Blues Festival each August has three stages that bring the best in jazz and blues to the Greater Lafayette area.
Three different farmers markets throughout the city ensure that you can get fresh food wherever you are. In the immediate West Lafayette area, the closest option is the West Lafayette Farmers Market on Salisbury Street, which is open Wednesday late afternoons and evenings. The largest shopping mall in the area is the Tippecanoe, with more than 110 stores inside. The downtown core offers a vibrant atmosphere for shopping, with art galleries and restaurants mixed in with boutiques and shops. The most spectacular architecture in the city is also found in the downtown core, making this a shopping district with some real character.
With no major league sports team in the immediate area, this part of Indiana is an ardent follower of NCAA sports. In West Lafayette, that means being a fan of the Purdue Boilermakers. The Football team stretches back to the 1890s, and has produced a long line of quarterbacks who have had success in professional football. The most successful if these is Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints. The basketball program has been dominant, and no other school has won the Big Ten title as often. Purdue is also known for the strength of it's wrestling program, as it has consistently placed highly in the NCAA wrestling tournament.
The newest State Park in the State is Prophetstown, and it is located very near to West Lafayette. Instead of being planted with trees and made more ‘scenic’, the park is preserved in a form very near to what it would have been like when the Native American’s were still the only people living on the land. Happy Hollow Park is one of the larger parks in the city itself. it's 81 acres include open play areas and a softball field, and there are grilling areas and picnic tables for those who want to enjoy a meal outdoors. The Birck Boilermaker Golf Course is operated by the University, but there are also several other golf courses in the area, including Coyote Crossing.