Short and sweet: New Orleans is so awesome that it's worth the risks. And, let me say that I've wandered solo, dead drunk, super late, with NO problems. Yes, I got lucky. But that's important to know -- it's not like one minor transgression means your life. Simple tip: when you leave your room pack your pockets as though giving a thief what he wants is a speed contest. Take as much cash as you'd be super stoked to give away, and only take one credit card. Put your ID in a separate pocket by ITSELF ... make it EASY for them to INSTANTLY see it as valueless and want to leave it with you. Leave the sentimental stuff in the room. If you get held up, you should be "BAM, here ya go bro!" The transaction should take 3.5 seconds or less. Don't look them in the eyes either ... just make the "it's all you man" face while averting your gaze. Then, enjoy the rest of the night with the $60 you had stuffed in the sole of your shoe. Maybe hit Broadfish by the FQ courthouse -- BEST DRINKS ON EARTH -- you'll prally need it.
You don't have to guess. Look at the Crime Mapping - +800 crimes between 1/1/2013 - 1/31/2013. We lived in N'awlins for several years and learned the do's and dont's. Bars on the windows in Vieux Carre (voo caray - in case you feel tempted to use your High School French), automatic steel gates, barbed wire and broken glass on the fences in the Garden District (once you are home at night, you don't leave). If you feel tempted to walk on the levee, any street other than Bourbon, Royal, Chartres or Decatur in the French Quarter, Magazine Street, Irish Channel... you will be at serious risk. We used to carry "hold-up money" after a lady walking out of a restaurant on Carrollton was shot in the face because she had no money on her. Police woman, a student of my wife's, told her not to stop at red lights at night, but just roll through.I have dozens of articles from the The Times-Picayune describing the most atrocious of crimes or the most outrageous of circumstances. In short, if you walk around NOLA blithely and unaware of realities, you may get punished for your naivete. As opposed to other major cities in the States, there are no safe neighborhoods. All have a mix of good and bad and what looks good during the day, frequently changes character at night. At night, walk in illuminated areas, walk where there are lots of people and walk in groups. You will be OK. During the day, it's a lot safer in the VC, CBD, Garden District, Uptown/Carrolton. As a tourist I would NEVER venture into Mid-City, 9th Ward, Bywater, St. Bernard (7th Ward), Desire (9th Ward), Florida (9th Ward), Lafitte (6th Ward), Iberville (4th Ward). There is no real reason to. Enjoy NOLA for what it is: a unique city, a unique culture... best music in the World, incredible food and drinks, people who are ready to party at any time... have a muffuletta on me at Central Grocery on Decatur or a Po' Boy at Mother's on Poydras. You will be dreaming about a Ferdi Special for years.
I was reading the comments and warnings about New Orleans and I wanted to add my 2 cents. I'm from New York and I know cities. New Orleans is a city. There are good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods. I lived in New Orleans for a year between 2010 and 2011 and have visited several times since. I like this city I really like it.
New Orleans is place where you should be aware of your surroundings, be smart and you'll be fine. I worked in the public schools while I was there and I traveled all over. I spent time in the East, on the Westbank, in the lower 9th, in the Treme, and in the Bywater on a daily basis. My advice is to treat people with respect and to stick to well populated neighborhoods after dark.
I lived in Uptown and traveled by car, taxi or streetcar/bus all over MidCity, The Garden District, The Marigny and the French Quarter at all hours. Aside from the occasional person asking for money and the rather more frequent encounters with drunken white frat boys from Ohio I never felt uncomfortable in New Orleans. It's a great city and if you treat the people who live there with respect they will do the same for you.
New Orleans is a city just like many other cities. It has its share of problems. Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems is people spouting off about things they know nothing about. People talk negatively about neighborhoods they've never even visited. Cab drivers warn passengers to stay out of neighborhoods, then ask how to get there. The city works hard to convince tourists that they'll be killed if they leave the confines of the French Quarter ~ so do bars, restaurants, shops and hotels. Ever wonder why? Think maybe money has something to do with it? New Orleans is full of fascinating neighborhoods, each uniques and different. Most of our historic neighborhoods are in some sort of decay, some worse than others. New Orleans is poor (that's another reason they try to keep you in the FQ) but poor people aren't bad people. And, people who look different than you in many ways are just like you. Unfortunately, racism is alive and well, just more often spoken in code. "that neighborhood isn't safe" What do you think the translation of that really is? And, oh by the way, the only time I was held up at gunpoint was about 20 years ago at dusk in the residential part of the French Quarter... People, put your City Sense Hat on and truly experience this wonderful city. If your senses tell you it might not be safe listen. If you're a racist, homophobe or bigot, New Orleans probably isn't for you ~ keep driving, there's plenty of stuff to see in all directions.
Any advice that there isn't much to see outside the french quarter and Audubon/Carrollton is ridiculous. Literally every corner of this city has unique, culturally and historically intriguing characteristics that should not be missed out on due to racist misconceptions that falsely associate a diverse racial demographic with danger.
So I have lived in New Orleans for about a year now after being completely terrified of even crossing the causeway. Its not as bad as people make it out to be. If you are a tourist then just stay in the French Quarter or the Audubon/Carrolton area, you should be completely safe here during the day and there isn't much to see anywhere else. I don't go out at night unless I have to and neither should you. If you are here to party, just stay in the FQ where there are a lot of people. Most of the shootings here are drug related and specific people are targeted. People who are getting robbed, stabbed ect....are people who have decided to wander around in parts they shouldn't.
Uptown, Garden District and the FQ including the Warehouse District are the nicest parts of town. Marigny and Bywater are OK but a little weird. Mid City, Central City, Ninth Ward, NO east....your better to just stay away, especially the last two. Don't go north of Rampart St in the FQ...East of Louisiana Ave and North of St. Charles is shady until you get to the FQ....And I don't go north of I-10...I've heard its bad but can't report for myself...same with the Westbank (everything on the otherside of the ms river). Most of Metairie is fine but it not really a tourist destination...unless you want to go shopping at the lakeside mall.
Me, my wife, and 3 daughters are driving thru New Orleans next week on our way to Houston to visit family. I would LOVE to spend the afternoon in New Orleans exploring the french quarter, and seeing other famous sights, but I'm worried.... I've tried doing research from multiple sources, but I don't know who to believe. Where can I get the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth concerning crime, and staying away from it on our visit... I'm tempted to just keep driving thru and not stop.
This town is very old and has been through a ton, i have been here one night and i can already tell, its just like any great city. Awesome bars, amazing food and activities, the girl that posted before me is right, i research alot about where i go before i travel and i am aware of bad areas, most are off tourist routes. You will always see that sketchy guy, or homeless man, but you will find that in any city. New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Im from a suburb of Los Angeles about 25 miles from downtown, but i love traveling and culture, dont live afraid of the world. just be smart.
Whilst it rankles to see my neighborhood described as 'hell on earth', i don't deny there can be problems, however it is unrecognizable to me as described by your contributors. Mid City is a fairly mixed neighborhood with some great bars & restaurants (Pal's & Parkway Bakery for starters). Park your car nearby or call a cab. Don't go wandering around after dark. Hell, i also live in rough East London too & i don't walk the streets after dark - common sense people! The Treme has become more of a visitors destination since the (great) show of the same name. Daytime wander around old Treme (south of the I-10) at will with your Canons, everybody else seems to. But actually why go north of the I-10 if you don't have to? Late night groups of nervous cyclists are becoming more common, and on my block they are treated with a healthy dose of cynicism & laughter. If you should be unlucky enough to find yourself looking down the barrel of a gun just give them what they want and you will in all likelihood be left alone.
While travelers should be careful to avoid bad neighborhoods (they are pretty easy to spot- blight everywhere) these are not really on the tourist trail. Tourists should be careful to avoid walking alone at night, walking alone at night while texting on an iPhone4, walking alone at night while drunk and texting on an iPhone4.
Most of the muggings of tourists involve iPhones these days. True story. Don't be dumb. Don't wave your cool stuff around. Be aware of your surroundings.
Nightman_Cometh is a little offensive, doesn't understand this city at all, is probably from the suburbs, and I can't help but think he might have overreacted to some poor homeless dude bugging him for money. He probably can't parallel park, either.
That's the city, and I have been bugged and annoyed by plenty of homeless guys, but never threatened. Ever. I would only pepper spray someone if they touched me.
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