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New Orleans skyline at dusk
Kevin Ruck | Adobe Stock

Is New Orleans Safe? Neighborhoods to Avoid and Other Warnings 

New Orleans is a city in permanent vacation mode, where dancing, live music, indulgent restaurants, and parties can always be found. Nicknamed “The Big Easy” for the laissez-faire lifestyle, New Orleans is where visitors come “let the good times roll”.

Part of the city’s famously-laid back, partying reputation can be attributed to the fact that it’s one of the few destinations in America where you can legally drink on the street, which can contribute to a raucous atmospher that leaves some visitors to wonder, is New Orleans safe? 

According to a study conducted by finance site Money Geek, which analyzed the most recent crime statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New Orleans ranks as the seventh most dangerous city in the country.

Don’t let this deter you from visiting New Orleans—the majority of crime that occurs in the city does not involve tourists. The main crimes tourists need to worry about are petty crimes, such as scams or pickpocketing.

Tips for Staying Safe in New Orleans

Streetcars in New Orleans, Louisianna
SeanPavonePhoto | Adobe Stock

The New Orleans tourism board has issued a visitor safety guide, which recommends travelers  “use the same personal safety precautions and to stay vigilant as they would at home or in any metropolitan destination. This means following common sense safety tips, including:

  • Traveling in groups and avoiding walking alone on unlit streets at night
  • Paying attention to your surroundings
  • Not flashing valuables or cash
  • Never leaving your drink unattended 
  • Not leaving personal belongings unattended

Whether you’re in a packed bar, watching an impromptu street performance, or participating in a festival, you’ll likely find yourself in a large crowd at some point during your New Orleans trip. Make sure to practice anti-pickpocket techniques in these situations, such as keeping your wallet in your front pocket, wearing a cross-body purse, and monitoring your bag. 

Common New Orleans Scams

There are a few (relatively harmless) notorious scams that you may encounter on a visit to New Orleans.

One popular one is a stranger stopping to tell you that they bet they can “guess where you got your shoes.” If you agree, they’ll answer “on your feet” and try to get you to give them money to settle the wager. The best response to this scam, and most others in the city, is to just ignore people who shout random things at you—avoid eye contact and keep walking, or offer a polite “no thank you.”

Another frequent scam that you may see, especially in tourist areas, are aggressive shoe shiners, who may try to shine your shoes (without your permission) and then harass you for money. Again, just say “no thank you” politely, and keep walking. 

Places to Avoid in New Orleans

New Orleans is an eclectic mix of neighborhoods. The most popular ones for tourists to visit are the French Quarter, Uptown (The Garden District), Treme, and the Arts/Warehouse District. All of these neighborhoods are very safe as long as you’re following the same common sense safety tips you’d practice in other cities. 

Central City and Hollygrove are the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates, according to GIS Geography, and so tourists may wish to avoid those areas or exercise extra caution when visiting.  

New Orleans Nightlife Safety Tips

Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana at night
f11photo | Adobe Stock

New Orleans’ nightlife is famously raucous. Follow the same safety tips here that you would on a night out at home, including:

  • Remaining aware of your surroundings
  • Watching your drink at all times/not accepting drinks from strangers
  • Taking a taxi or rideshare in lieu of walking in unfamiliar areas after dark
  • Confirming the license plate and driver photo when being picked up by a rideshare
  • Not drinking and driving
  • Staying with your group

New Orleans Weather Risks

New Orleans is one of the rainiest cities in the country, experiencing an average of 62 inches per rain each year. The low-lying city has a tendency to flood, and it’s also vulnerable to hurricanes. 

Before traveling to New Orleans, sign up for NOLA Ready emergency alerts from the city. You can choose to be notified for emergency alerts (including severe weather or an active shooter) or seasonal info (with tips on how to prepare for hurricane season). Emergency alertss will be sent via text, email, phone call, or app. 

If you do find yourself in the city during an emergency weather situation, follow instructions from local officials and be prepared to evacuate if needed. 

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