New Orleans is one of the major cities in the United States that pulls in large numbers of tourists annually, thanks to its reputation.
Regardless of whether you’re planning on a short trip or an extended stay, there’s never a shortage of things to do in the city, and if you are a fan of learning about the past, there are historical sites all over.
When traveling to any city that you are unfamiliar with, there is always the issue of safety to consider.
As far as cities go, New Orleans is relatively alright, but you have to know what areas are more dangerous than others, as there are certain areas that you will want to avoid both during the day and night.
This is especially important in a city like New Orleans, which tends to have a higher crime rate than most other cities in the United States.
You’ll have to be cautious and use common sense regardless of where you go in the city. Yet, there are areas where this is even more paramount. We’ll cover some of those areas in this guide and other generally helpful information.
Is New Orleans Safe to Visit in 2022?
Yes, New Orleans is safe to visit as long as you know what areas to avoid during your trip. The biggest safety concern you should always keep in mind is being alone.
Regardless of your age or sex, being alone in the city can prove very dangerous, even if you are in a part of the city that is not particularly dangerous. The reason for this involves the various forms of crime that frequently take place.
If you are alone, you’re more vulnerable to pickpocketing and theft because potential criminals will naturally prioritize targeting individuals over groups or even pairs of people.
Violent crimes like sexual assault and murder also occur at a relatively high rate in New Orleans, which further highlights the importance of avoiding certain areas and traveling with friends if possible.
However, you may not always have the option of traveling with other people, so the following sections will cover the best ways to maximize your safety during your visit.
Crime in New Orleans
Theft is one of the most common crimes in New Orleans. It occurs every day more than any other crime, and it doesn’t tend to have a specific area where it’s substantially more likely to occur.
Motor vehicle theft and aggravated assault are also two very common crimes, but they are easier to avoid than theft if you know what areas to stay away from.
You also won’t necessarily have a vehicle with you if you are visiting New Orleans, as getting around the city on foot and via public transportation is relatively safe. You may feel safer if you travel by car, but you certainly do not need one by any means.
You can save a fair bit of money by not having to pay for parking and gas, so not using a car is something to consider. Another form of crime to be aware of is robbery.
Now, if you don’t know the difference between robbery and theft, theft is when someone steals property without the direct use of force, whereas robbery involves stealing with the use of force.
Something like pickpocketing is theft, whereas someone using a weapon to force you to give them your belongings is robbery. While less common, robbery is more dangerous than theft because it involves an actual confrontation between you and the criminal.
When this happens, you should always cooperate with the criminal if they tell you to hand over your wallet, keys, phone, or any other material possessions, as you can always get those back or get replacements.
Don’t go with the criminal if they try to lead you away from a populated area. You want to stay as close to other people as possible, that way, a bystander can potentially witness the crime and contact the authorities.
Despite theft not being more avoidable in populated areas, robbery is a form of crime you can better avoid by staying in populated areas. It’s more difficult to rob someone with a weapon than to pick their pockets when many people are present.
So consider this another reason to remain in well-lit and populated areas. However, staying in these areas is admittedly easier said than done, especially if you’re new to the city.
This is why it’s essential to do your due diligence in researching the city ahead of time.
Use Tripadvisor, Reddit, and other forums to find reliable traveling information, as people have been developing all kinds of great methods for staying safe in New Orleans that can help you avoid the danger lurking around some street corners.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
As with any large city, there are neighborhoods and specific areas that you should avoid to remain as safe as possible. So, we’ll cover some specific neighborhoods and then discuss how to avoid these places.
South Seventh Ward is one neighborhood in New Orleans where you do not want to be. It has gotten better over the years, but it’s still not a safe area due to the car break-ins and shootings.
Your biggest concern here is armed robbery, especially if you’re a tourist. Criminal activity often targets tourists over locals, so the more you look like a tourist, the greater the chance of trouble finding you.
Central City is one of the more prominent neighborhoods that’s easy to stumble into due to its size. It sits between Freret, the Garden District, and Central Business District, and the crime rate here is concerningly high.
Specifically, the Central District is home to some of the highest rates of gun violence in New Orleans, so we strongly advise avoiding this area entirely.
There are some pockets of Central City that have been improving gradually in terms of safety. However, it’s still far from a desirable area for tourists to spend their time.
Saint Roch is an area in New Orleans that had one of the highest rates of major violent crime at one point during 2021, and it has not improved significantly since then.
Many people frequently stay in Airbnbs in the area and report having excellent experiences for however long they stay, but this doesn’t mean you will experience the same.
You certainly can stay in Saint Roch and have a good experience if you’re careful. However, there are many other neighborhoods to stay in that are much nicer in just about every way.
Other areas that you should make it a point to avoid are:
- Lower 9th Ward
- West Lake Forest
- Pines Village
All of these have various forms of crime that are more and less common than others, and some are not insanely dangerous, but generally speaking, the risk involved in going to any of these places is not worth it, especially if you visit them at night.
Avoiding and Navigating Bad Neighborhoods
Now that you know which places in New Orleans are among the most dangerous in terms of a crime occurring, let’s go over the best ways to avoid these locations.
Suppose you have to go to one of these neighborhoods. In that case, we’ll also go over the safest ways to navigate them, so you minimize the chances of danger arising.
You’re always at your most vulnerable to crime when walking. So, minimizing the amount of time you spend walking is one of the best ways to increase your chances of avoiding crime.
Assuming you are traveling without a car, you’re going to want to use Ubers and other forms of public transportation to get around the city safely. This will cost you a fair amount of money if you are doing a lot of sightseeing, so trying to use public transportation constantly is not that advisable.
You can settle for only using it when you need to get through or around a bad area, but the rest of the time, you can walk without being at significant risk. However, avoid walking at night even if you aren’t in an unsafe area.
Travel in Groups
If you have the luxury of traveling with a group of people, ensure you’re together as much as possible. Having numbers is one of the greatest forms of protection because it can prevent lone criminals from taking action against you and lone criminals are the most common.
And since you’ll constantly have people around you, it’ll make you less likely to get pickpocketed. New Orleans is home to its fair share of gang violence, so you’ll still have to avoid areas where gangs operate, even if you travel in a group.
That aside, you can avoid the vast majority of crime by simply traveling with other people, but if you are traveling alone, you’ll only be able to rely on other forms of safety that are still very effective in different ways.
Research the Areas
It would help if you always research the area you’re planning on staying in and inform yourself with knowledge about the surrounding areas that are dangerous.
The easiest way to do this is by consulting online forums, as questions about the safety of specific locations in New Orleans go back decades, and people often reiterate the questions.
While you’ll get the most out of reading information about the city that is recent, data from two or three years ago is still somewhat valuable for general application.
If you research an area that people reported being bad back in 2018 and can’t find out if it’s now safe, then assume the information from 2018 is still mostly accurate.
Stay Vigilante From Block to Block
Finally, staying vigilant from block to block is a practice you should do whenever you visit an unfamiliar city. Many areas in New Orleans undergo sharp changes in a single block.
So, while one moment you might find yourself in what seems like a mostly safe area, you can abruptly find yourself in a dangerous one in a few steps.
The best way to avoid stumbling upon a bad area is by mapping out a travel route ahead of time. That way, you can know exactly where you are going and not worry about getting lost in places where you should not be.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some questions you may still have regarding safety in New Orleans:
Is New Orleans safe at night?
New Orleans is safe at night, depending on where you are. If you are in the bad neighborhoods and areas that we went over in the above sections, then no, it is by no means safe. However, the areas around major tourist attractions like the National WWII Museum, the French Quarter, St. Louis Cathedral, and other similar locations are very safe.
Is New Orleans family-friendly?
Yes, there are many attractions in New Orleans that are family-friendly. The Audubon Zoo, Audubon Park, and Garden District are some of the most popular locations to check out. They are especially great if you are coming to visit with kids.
What is the safest area to stay in New Orleans?
Uptown and the Garden District are two of the safest areas you can stay in during your visit to New Orleans. The crime rates in these areas are drastically lower than in any other region of the city, so you can enjoy your stay without worrying about potential crime.
Will I get mugged in New Orleans?
You may get mugged in New Orleans, but if you are competent at applying the tips in this guide, you can make the chances of that happening very low. Despite the higher crime rates, the city is still one of the most popular for tourists to visit, and you need only adhere to a few safety tips to have a mugging-free experience.
Can you walk everywhere in New Orleans?
Yes, you can walk everywhere in New Orleans. The city is home to a well-functioning public transportation system, but you certainly do not need to utilize it to get around. If you decide to walk everywhere during your visit, ensure you take the time to research the safest routes to get you to your destinations.
So, Is New Orleans Safe?
Any city can only be as safe as the people living in it, so you’ll never know exactly how safe or unsafe a city truly is.
Some cities are undeniably safer than others, and New Orleans is nowhere close to being among the safest. Still, it’s a beautiful city worth paying a visit at least once to see all the marvels it has to offer.