New Orleans is a popular city found on many people’s travel lists for its unique Creole cuisine, 18th-century architecture, thriving jazz clubs, and much more. The French Quarter, more specifically, Bourbon Street is famous for its vibrant nightlife, but despite this reputation, many people wonder how safe it really is to walk around New Orleans at night.
Unfortunately, New Orleans isn’t the safest city to explore at night. It is frequently listed as one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, with above-average statistics for robberies and violent crime. Murder rates alone increased by 83% from 119 in 2019 to 2018 in 2021.
In this article, we will provide advice on how to travel around New Orleans safely, both during the daytime as well as at night. As you read, you’ll learn what parts of the city are safest to walk around at night, which to avoid, and other relevant safety tips.
What Are the Safest Locations in New Orleans?
While we understand how unnerving it can be to read that a city you want to visit has comparatively high crime rates, we don’t want this to outright discourage you from visiting New Orleans altogether. It can be safe to travel this city by foot, even at night, as long as you are educated on the area and safety measures.
The first step is knowing which parts of New Orleans are safest at any given time of day. These neighborhoods include:
- The Garden District (mainly above Magazine Street and away from the river)
- The French Quarter (mainly from Bourbon Street to Decatur Street and from Canal Street to Ann Street)
- Lakeshore-Lake Vista
- West End
- Old Aurora
These regions have significantly lower crime rates than the rest of the city and are largely occupied by families, students, and individuals who earn incomes that render them upper-middle class to upper class.
If you’re a tourist visiting New Orleans, you’ll quickly find that a significant number of these regions aren’t particularly close to hotspot tourist attractions, which is why we’ve included the specific sections of the French Quarter that most tourists tend to travel.
As result, these are high-traffic streets filled with witnesses, including numerous police officers on patrol, so it’s unlikely you’ll experience any significant issues here apart from a skilled pickpocket. That makes them a little safer to walk around at night.
What Are the Most Dangerous Locations in New Orleans?
Knowing the safest parts of New Orleans is crucial, but when you’re wandering around a new city, it is equally as important to know which locations are best to avoid. This way, when you’re planning a travel route, you’ll know the most efficient way to get from point A to point B without potentially putting yourself in jeopardy.
The most dangerous locations in New Orleans, according to reported crime rates, include:
- Central City
- Saint Roch
- Seventh Ward
- Saint Claude
- Pines Village
Although there are numerous cultural and historic elements of each of these neighborhoods that are worth admiring, their astonishing crime rates make it unwise for people to visit, particularly at night.
In addition to these neighborhoods, it is best to avoid traveling down alleyways or unlit streets in New Orleans at night, as they are the perfect locations for crimes to be committed unseen.
Tourists should also consider carrying protective gear like pepper spray and leaving valuables in a hotel room safe.
Tourists also want to be wary of exploring any of New Orleans’s signature cemeteries at night unless it’s for a specific event, like a guided late-night tour. Otherwise, unsavory characters like to hide behind the oven crypts and mausoleums, waiting to rob and assault innocent passersby.
Tips for Traveling Safely in New Orleans at Night
A great deal of travel safety comes down to simple things, like knowing the city’s safest and most dangerous neighborhoods, staying alert, and monitoring your surroundings. These are skills and preparations you should have everywhere, not just in New Orleans.
Still, we do have a few tips that are a bit more specific to this city and others with similar issues.
The best travel tip we can provide for staying safe while walking in New Orleans at night is to try to surround yourself with as many people as possible. Stick to streets, bars, and sources of transportation that are busy.
It is highly unlikely that an egregious crime is going to be committed in a crowd. The worst of your concerns here will be that a few tourists are a bit too drunk and causing a scene or that a sneaky pickpocket is lurking around. These are much easier to avoid and safeguard against than going head-to-head with someone attempting to rob you in a back alley.
If you notice the crowds are starting to thin out, it might be time to head to wherever you’re staying, even if you’re not quite ready yet. This brings us to our next point.
We’re all for getting in those extra steps of exercise and saving money by walking, but when the sun goes down in New Orleans, your safest option will be to call a cab/private driving service (ex., Uber). The city’s public transportation is an option as long as you see a fair number of people using it as well, but otherwise, unless you are traveling with an exceptionally large group, it’s best to stay off the streets as much as possible.
In terms of safety, New Orleans might not have the best reputation, but we can’t stress enough that it’s still worth visiting. A lot of avoiding any dangerous encounters here comes down to knowing where to go, where to avoid at night, and having some common sense. If a particular person or street feels off, don’t test your luck. Duck into an open bar, find a group to travel with or call for transportation.
As long as you’ve done a little research and safety preparation, you should be able to enjoy New Orleans to the fullest all day and night.