A lot of people worry about how safe it is to visit New Orleans, and while this is a generally valid concern, they are often a bit overblown.
This post will cover some of the most common questions visitors have when coming to New Orleans and provide 6 tips for staying safe during your visit.
We are a group of local walking tour guides and we are asked quite regularly by our guides for tips on safety in the city.
So, we decided to use our experiences and expertise and publish these tips online.
And, in the video below, Andrew and James, tour guides with us, Free Tours by Foot New Orleans, discuss these tips.
We also considered some of the tips and suggestions that members of our New Orleans Travel Tips Facebook group have shared.
- How Dangerous Is New Orleans?
- Is It Safe to Visit?
- 7 Safety Tips
- Which Areas of NOLA Are Safe?
- Tips to Avoid Tourist Traps
- Tips from Locals and Recent Visitors
How Dangerous is New Orleans for Visitors?
This is the question that visitors often neglect to ask, and it’s an important factor to consider because not all crime is inherently violent in nature.
Like most mid to large-sized American cities, crime is an issue. New Orleans ranks above the national average in most crime statistics, including violent crime rates.
However, the majority of this crime in Louisiana's biggest city occurs in neighborhoods that visitors never go to and the majority of crime in New Orleans occurs between people who know each other.
Is New Orleans Safe to Visit?
The City of New Orleans has earned a bad reputation for robbery and other criminal offenses due to a variety of factors, but the truth is that it is fairly safe for tourists and visitors.
We advise you to not openly wear valuable objects like cameras or even a popular brand of purse, it could make you a target for petty theft.
Try to blend in as a local, but also be aware that most tourist areas have a very heavy and visible police presence, helping to defer crime.
Weather is a condition that tourists may not concern themselves with when booking vacations, but in New Orleans, you must.
Proper footwear, sunscreen, and hydration are imperative to one's comfort and safety in the Summer months.
You are much more likely to be a victim of sunburn or heatstroke than one form of crime or another.
Known as America's Atlantis the city can often flood, (remember Hurricane Katrina), and have occasional tornadoes, and extreme weather.
It is best to pay attention to the forecast, and even download a radar app for when you are here.
This is especially important during hurricane season, which runs from June to November, with the peak being the month of September.
Make sure that you have National Weather apps downloaded during "The Season".
7 Safety Tips for Tourists in New Orleans
We do have a few tips to help keep you safe and avoid any problems whatsoever.
Keep these ideas in mind while wandering around the Big Easy.
1. Regulate Your Drinking
You may have come to New Orleans to forget about life’s rules for a bit. However, it is best to keep your alcohol consumption in check.
Without a doubt, overly drunk pedestrians are prime targets for pickpockets and other petty theft. Do not set yourself up to be a victim.
2. Take a Taxi, Uber, Lyft or Pedicab at Night
While it’s usually much easier to walk around locations such as the French Quarter, we recommend taking a cab or rideshare to get around the city after dark.
If you do decide to walk, do so on major thoroughfares, such as Bourbon, Royal, and Decatur Streets.
3. Look Like You Belong
When you think of New Orleans, beads are probably the main souvenirs that come to mind, even if you aren’t visiting during Mardi Gras season.
Unfortunately, visitors buying and wearing beads outside of Carnival Season is usually a sign to petty thieves that you are a tourist.
The same goes for wearing cheesy t-shirts or carrying around plastic hand grenade cups.
4. Travel in Groups
Pickpockets and other petty criminals are less likely to approach large groups of people who know each other.
If you’re alone or only traveling with one or two other people, make sure you are not the only person or group walking on the street you are on.
Or, join several of our walking tours. They are pay-what-you-wish tours and you will be joined by other travelers, including solo travelers.
5. Stay in Well-Lit Areas
This advice might seem obvious, but you’ll want to avoid any dark alleys at night when you’re visiting New Orleans.
Stay around the well-lit areas of the city if you want to stay safe.
With that said, the chances that you would run into trouble on one of these alleys in the French Quarter, for example, are almost zero but still significantly higher than the main illuminated strips.
6. Keep Luggage and Valuables Stored Away
If you’re carrying a wallet, backpack, or purse around the city, and it’s located somewhere on your body that you can’t see easily, it could be easy to pickpocket.
One way to avoid this is to keep valuables out of easily accessible areas of your bags, but another option is to use a luggage storage service.
There are storage options for as little as an hour or two.
7. Don't get Distracted by Pickpockets
The senses can be heightened when in New Orleans with so much to see, hear, smell, and taste.
For that reason, visitors can find themselves distracted, maybe enjoying some Dixieland Jazz being played on the street.
Pickpockets and thieves know this and may victimize those who are unaware.
Bars and live music areas can be prime locations for opportunists to prey upon tourists.
Stay aware while still enjoying yourselves. Smart tourists leave valuables and some identification and money in their hotel room when heading out on the town.
When out in the Quarter keep your phones and cameras secure, put them away when not using them.
It is also advised to keep your ID and Wallet in your front pocket. Women often use crossbody bags so as to not be snatched off their shoulders or from their hands.
It’s common for people to walk up to tourists and say, “I bet I can tell you where you got your shoes,” walk past them and do not engage.
It is best to not engage with scammers, people trying to sell you trinkets (hats, beads, bracelets) often have accomplices who will try to distract you for theft reasons.
Which New Orleans Neighborhoods Are Safe for Tourists?
Most of the time, tourists and visitors to New Orleans won’t experience any crime no matter where they go in this city.
Even so, some areas are going to be safer than others, and we recommend staying in these neighborhoods, mostly along the Mississippi River, if you have any concerns.
- The French Quarter
- This neighborhood is almost always safe during the day.
- Popular streets are safe at night. Walk in groups.
- The Garden District
- Don’t pass Magazine Street towards the river. The Irish Channel is not a tourist neighborhood and you will stick out as not being a resident. Uptown and Lakeview are also good choices.
- Armstrong Park
- Safe during the day, there are many tours in the park. Be aware at dusk, the park is closed at night.
- Also safe during the day, but might be more dangerous at night.
- City Park
- Safe during the day and typically safe at night near Cafe Du Monde
- Oak Street
- A great local area with restaurants and bars that is safe during the day and typically at night.
- St. Claude (Entertainment District)
- This entertainment area is safe as long as you stay on St. Claude Ave and stay on blocks with multiple businesses on them.
- The Warehouse District (except for late nights)
Be Careful in These Areas
- Bourbon Street
- Avoid drinking too much, and keep all of our tips in mind while in this area.
- The Garden District/Irish Channel
- The closer you get to the water in this part of the city, the more you want to avoid it at night.
- Central City
- This is a local neighborhood that does have a high crime rate. There are no tourist attractions in this area. There are some hostels in this neighborhood. If you stay at one, do not walk back at night, take a ride share to the front door.
- Frenchmen Street, and the Marigny
- This area has a lot of nightlife and live music. It is a triangular neighborhood and it is easy to get lost, especially when imbibing alcohol.
- During the day be aware and know where you are headed.
- At night stay on Frenchmen St., It begins on Esplanade and Decatur Street and ends at “The John” at the corner of Burgundy and Frenchmen. Do not go further.
Special Tip: While the Audubon Zoo is a popular attraction on the southwest end of New Orleans, we advise only visiting during the day, as the city’s parks close at dusk.
Use a cab/bus/car to get back to the French Quarter afterward. You can take the #11 Bus, or the Saint Charles Streetcar back to Canal Street.
We advise a similar strategy for anyone visiting City Park to the north. You can take the “Museums” streetcar back to the French Quarter.
Is Public Transport in New Orleans Safe?
Yes, it is very safe, whether taking a bus or a streetcar.
Of course, the same advice above about avoiding certain areas at night applies,
Is The French Quarter Safe at Night?
Stay in bright areas and streets with high traffic like Decatur, Royal, Bourbon, Esplanade, and Canal St.
Is It Safe To Walk at Night In New Orleans?
Well-lit streets with people walking on them are safe, but for your safest bet taxis and rideshares are best when traveling distances.
Is Bourbon Street Safe At Night?
It is mostly safe. Keep an eye on your belongings and stay in bars, as to stay away from the riff-raff.
It is best to follow your instincts and not get too inebriated to stay aware.
Where Not To Stay In New Orleans?
You may be tempted to stay in an Airbnb or a hotel in an unrecognizable neighborhood.
We suggest against staying in short-term rentals or in hotels in neighborhoods outside of the tourist center, for safety reasons.
Stay safe by staying in the French Quarter, CBD, Garden District, or Metairie.
Tips from the Tourists
Unmissable NOLA Highlights
Visitors often recommend exploring the cultural treasures of New Orleans beyond the usual spots. A tip from our Facebook Community highlights two not-to-be-missed locations: The Historic New Orleans Collection in the French Quarter and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park. These places are praised as remarkable and essential NOLA treasures, adding to the rich tapestry of experiences the city offers.
Navigating NOLA's Charm
Travelling around New Orleans doesn't require a car, according to shared experiences from our Facebook Group members. Many suggest that streetcars and walking provide a charming and efficient way to see the city, with ride-sharing as a convenient fallback. Another visitor adds that they've never needed a car on their trips to NOLA, walking extensively and using streetcars to navigate. They also mention enjoying the city's parks by using e-bikes and regular pedal bikes, making for a fun and accessible experience.
Historical Exploration with Kids
Our Facebook Group members often share that for families with children, the amusement rides in City Park next to Storyland come highly praised. This delightful choice caters to younger tourists, providing a blend of education and entertainment.
Timeshare Stay Benefits
Accommodation choices can greatly enhance your stay in New Orleans. A tip from our Facebook Community underscores the convenience of staying at a timeshare property like the Wyndham Avenue Plaza on St. Charles. It's family-friendly with kitchenettes for those with children and is centrally located with the St. Charles streetcar right outside, offering easy access to dining and essential stores. Such recommendations from those who have experienced the city firsthand can be invaluable for planning your visit.
Smart Stay Selection
When choosing your accommodation in New Orleans, some seasoned visitors strongly suggest opting for a hotel or boutique hotel over Airbnb. Feedback from our Facebook Community cautions against potential hidden fees and strict no-refund policies that can sometimes accompany rental properties. This advice is invaluable for those seeking a hassle-free lodging experience in the city.
Safety Tips from Locals and Recent Visitors
We aren't just local New Orleans tour guides.
We also run the very popular New Orleans Travel Tips Facebook group, with roughly 40k members.
The group consists of locals, like our tour guides, regular visitors, and newbies to New Orleans.