Night Safety., New Orleans
My husband and I were born and raised in NOLA but moved (due to vocation) to Pensacola, FL in 1987. Since our kids are adults, we go back to NOLA at least 10 times a year (and stay downtown even though we still have family in the NO area).....One main rule (and we've reiterated this to our kids) "Nothing Good Ever Happens After Midnight"........If you are planning to party on Bourbon...start early (there are plenty of 3 for ones on Bourbon up until 7 PM)....and go back to your hotel before midnight......Here are some other rules to follow:
1) STAY IN GROUPS........the group should have a pre-designated place of business (bar or restaurant) ON Bourbon that everyone knows where the location so if you become separated from your group, they know where to find you. It's almost impossible to call anyone on Bourbon due to noise level. Text a couple of members in your group and proceed to the designated location. Stay on the beaten path (if you were separated in a 'non-beaten path' find a business and call a cab to bring you to your location. DO NOT EVER WALK ALONE
2) Females........WATCH YOUR DRINKS....do not EVER leave your drink unattended (this should be a rule whether you are in New Orleans or not)
3) As stated before ......STAY ON THE BEATEN PATH where there is plenty of other people....never adventure on dark side streets (or go above Canal Street past Bourbon.....going away from the River)...WHEN IN DOUBT, TAKE A CAB!
4) Stay away from Rampart St area (Louis Armstrong Park) especially at night.....
5) If you are residing on Esplanade area (or the Marigny area)....you are safe (in a small group) to walk to and from the FQ IN THE DAYLIGHT......take cabs when the sun goes down.
6) WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK A POLICE OFFICER. Back in 1980, my husband and I (we weren't married yet), went to a concert at the Mahailia Jackson Theater of Performing Arts. After the concert, the masses walked to the French Quarter. When it was time to go back to our car later that night, we stopped and asked a police officer if it was ok to walk back to that area. He immediately told us to get into his cruiser and drove us to our vehicle. I'll never forget that (and thank God it was the only time I've ever had to ride in a police car).
New Orleans is like any other major city.......and you just need to heed to common sense. There is so much beauty and history to enjoy (not just partying on Bourbon). Hope this has been helpful :-)
That "RV park" mentioned in a previous comment section is a few blocks from the Iberville Housing Project, and Armstrong Park. This is the area where a local TV station, located near there, tries to warn tourists. (The station employees will stop their cars and tell tourists to turn back.) This is near the area where the thugs were "hunting" tourists in St. Louis Cemetary No. 1. This is the same area where a TV personality/reporter made the mistake of walking and he was "stalked" and almost robbed and shot. I love the apologists who demean those with legit. safety concerns. Their favorite lines are: "I walked around that area at 2am and nothing happened." or "Every city is problematic." or even better "The crime problem in N.O. is not that bad." Let me assure you as a local, it is that bad. The conventional wisdom of night being more dangerous than day no longer applies. Anything can happen, at any time, to anyone. Thugs just shot up a school bus in broad daylight, and had a shoot out in traffic on Carrollton Ave. (12 noon). If you don't use your common sense, and pay attention to what is going on in this town, then you may unfortunately suffer the consequences.
The people that write these tips for safety are paranoid or must be little old ladies that never venture out at night!. We stayed at the RV park just 2 blocks out of the French Quarter and had no problems with safety. Last night we were in Bourbon Street and the place was packed with everyone having a good time (Saturday night). I reckon the biggest danger (if anything) would be getting bashed by one of the young drunken rednecks as they encourage people to get drunk by selling ultra cheap drinks. Police are everywhere so that is not a problem. We had to walk 2-3 blocks form Bourbon Street to our RV park up some streets in the French quarter which were off the main drag, we didnt see any potential muggers loitering around in these back streets. No one hassled us for money either. Dont deter from visiting New Orleans, it is nowhere as bad as what all these people say, we almost took a detour to avoid New Orleans after reading all of this paranoia, I am so glad we didnt, it is a fantastic place to visit and has real atmosphere. We visited Memphis before going to New Orleans, Beale Street has nothing on Bourbon Street, in fact if Elvis didnt live in Memphis it wouldnt be worth going to.
Just after Katrina, many businesses in the French Quarter without adequate doors and locks got looted. Many of these businesses were small shops that having lost their uninsured inventory had to close for good. Meanwhile, on the street, the worse threats by back alley thugs were washed away according to locals living there. What remains are young pot smoking panhandlers, mostly restricted to the Marigny district, but these jobless wanderers aren't generally dangerous unless overly drunk. It's a good idea to wear casual clothes and avoid wearing jewelry in this part of town at least at night. Otherwise the French Quarter, Garden District, and Aububon Park districts appear to be quite safe anytime of the day or night. The only other danger would be the piles of garbage and uneven pavement of the French Quarter; however, the decadent nature of the French Quarter is one reason this is the Big Easy. UPDATE: In the past year since our visit, New Orleans has undergone a disturbing increase in violent crime, but most of this appears to be in the neighborhoods, not the touristed French Quarter. Murders of long standing residents by drive-by assailants is particularly disturbing and resulted in an large multi-racial parade of protest by residents demanding gangsters to reign themselves in as well as better police protection. This sort of crime problem and method of protest is a historic feature of New Orleans politics.
Just be very careful in New Orleans at night time...... Its a great fun city at night but it is imperative that you keep along the populated areas and stick to what seems to be the "safe streets".
When moving between Canal street in the city or the riverwalk/aquarium to the french quarter/bourbon street be careful to take the streets that are most populated, getting off the beaten path in New Orleans at night can be risky and not very nice.
But overall just common sense really, nothing major to stress about.
Beware walking around by yourself at night. Most crimes occur very late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Be aware of the areas not to go into unless you are with a crowd. If driving, park your car in a well lit area.
New Orleans has a very high level of crime. It is safe to walk around the French Quarter daytime and nightime, as well as in other touristy areas of the city such as the Garden District during the day. However, don't walk at night outside the French Quarter.
Everyone knows that NO can be a rough place. Use your common sense, stick to well-lighted, well-populated areas. At night I recommend taking taxis, there are a lot of small dark alleys between the bright streets.
New Orleans is a very dangerous city and one's safety shouldn't be taken lightly. Insofar as the French Quarter is concerned, during the day it's pretty safe to wander anywhere you like. If something starts looking shady or you don't see the droves of people anymore, turn back. At night, it is particularly dangerous. Don't wander off of Bourbon Street. You'll notice, anyway, the lack of lights once you get to a certain point. There have been muggings, murders, everything around here, so be careful. Also, theft... watch out for your wallet or purse.
One thing you may want to watch out for is attempting to get to Jackson Square at night. You have to go through a few dark corners. This also applies if you want to get to Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. (A popular bar and the beginning of many ghost/vampire tours.)
During my first trip, the French Quarter experienced a black out on one nite--we were told to go back to our hotels and everything shut down. It was a little freaky, and apparently that is when the 'bad element' comes out. I perfer to say...'THE FREAKS COME OUT AT NITE...THE FREAKS COME OUT AT NITE...' (for those familiar with the song)
You'll hear it alot - don't wander around the French Quarter after dark alone, and try not to wander too far past Bourbon street as it gets rather seedy. Other than that, New Orleans is just like any other city - some places are perfectly safe, some arent'. Just use your head!
Mardi Gras isn't the safest place either. Try to stay on the main strips where there is a lot of people. There seems to be some shady characters waiting for the drunks right off the main strip. Also, there is a predominantly gay section of the party, so if that's not your thing, just turn around, you've gone too far down Bourbon St.
Do not venture far from the crowds off Bourbon St. at night. Be aware of your surroundings. Do not fall for the dancing and 'posing' street people who want donations. When you pull your money out, they make a grab for it.
Nawlins is safe around the very busy area, Bourbon street, St-James, the riverside, at descent hours.
But off hours, even just past midnight, as soon as you leave the frequented area, can be pretty risky. I am thinking of an area away from the riverside, passed Bourbon street up to the outside wall delimiting the French Quarter that is unsafe most of the day.