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How Safe is New Orleans for Visitors?

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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.

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, violent crime is an issue. However, the majority of this crime in New Orleans occurs in neighborhoods that visitors never go to. 

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 its criminal activity 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 a purse, it could make you a target for petty theft. Try to blend in as a local.

6 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 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. 

Taxi at night in New Orleans.

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.

Free Tours New Orleans

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 backpack or bag around the city, and it’s located somewhere on your body that you can’t see easily, it could be easy for pickpockets to steal your property.

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.

Which Areas of New Orleans 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 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.
  • Armstrong Park
    • Safe during the day, there are many tours in the park. Be aware at dusk, the park is closed at night. 
  • Treme
    • Also safe during the day, but might be more dangerous at night.

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
    • 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 tourists 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 in 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.

New Orleans Travel Tips and Hacks

About The Author


Sarah first moved to New Orleans in 2001 to work for the American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana. While working in the communities of New Orleans she fell in love with the unique culture of the Big Easy; it's food, music, architecture, wildlife, and most of all history. Sarah began her career with FTBF, first as a guide, then as an owner/operator. She believes every day is a good day if she gets to impart her love of her beloved New Orleans with Free Tours By Foot guests. She especially likes to convert new Who Dat Saints Fans!
Updated: September 22nd, 2022
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