Alabama : Safety by City
- Gulf Shores
- Muscle Shoals
- Phenix City
If you’re ever in Auburn, Alabama, and find yourself at a loss for words, just yell out “WAR EAGLE!” and dozens of people will say the same thing in return and cheer you.
That’s because this historic city is the home of Auburn University, one of the “Top 50 Public Schools” (#43), according to U.S. News & World Report.
Auburn is home to more than 27,000 students and the city population is 76,000 on top of that.
Auburn and Opelika (“ohh-puh-LIKE-uh”) are right next to each other and are considered part of the same metro area.
If you’re coming here to visit Auburn University or do a campus tour, you’ve got a lot of places to see and things to do.
Non-university visitors might be craving a little more than a college town, to be honest.
There is a historic downtown, but it’s not that big or boisterous.
There’s basic shopping, but no big malls.
There are great Southern (fried) foods, but Vegans are going to have trouble finding a meal here.
Everyone enjoys the great outdoors here when the weather allows.
There are also plenty of bigger cities within easy driving distance, like Atlanta or Montgomery.
Golf is very popular in the south and if you can get a tee time at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course in Opelika, take it!
It’s one of the standards of excellence brands in Alabama.
Warnings & Dangers in Auburn
OVERALL RISK : LOW
The overall risk is low. Crime rates are low and people are friendly. That Southern charm you've heard about is dominant here. The tea is sweet and the people are sweeter.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's not a traditional bus system here in the city, but the university does have Tiger Transit. You can get taxis and rideshares too. While it's best to have a car to get around, you won't have anything but a low risk of using the other options.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There was just one pickpocket reported valued at $250 in 2020. That's a low risk, but if you're here on game day you should be extra secure with your belongings. I tried to find the pickpocket numbers from Auburn University's annual crime report, but they listed every OTHER crime except larceny/theft.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You have to be educated about tornadoes if you're going to visit Auburn, especially if you're there spring through fall. For example, in 2019, a powerful EF-4 tornado moved through Lee County (where Auburn is located) and killed 23 people. Many were pulled right from their homes by the tornado. You need to know when the weather is risky, what to do when a storm gets severe, and where to go in a tornado long before the sirens go off. There's a medium risk this could happen any time of year.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of mugging. Of the 59 robberies that happened, 51 of them were inside a residence, not in public or at a business.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Auburn isn't safe from the Crimson Tide of Alabama, but it sure is safe against terrorism. There are no hard targets in this area and the closest risk would be Fort Benning, more than an hour east in Georgia.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are some campus scams to worry about focusing on housing. There are resident scams about fake past due bills demanding payment. As a tourist, you have a low risk here.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This is the South and women are treated like royalty here. While you should watch how much you drink and resist the urge to meet someone from the internet at a private place, if you're practicing good safety manners, you'll be safe here.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Auburn's water is safe to use and passes all state and federal requirements, according to the 2020 Water Quality Report.
Safest Places to Visit in Auburn
Downtown Auburn is like stepping back into the 1960s with the facades and signs reminders of an era gone by.
The downtown area includes 17 retail shops, 16 restaurants, and 5 nightclubs or bars.
This is a great town for foodies as long as you don’t have too many dietary restrictions and it’s not filled with the familiar restaurants you’re used to back home.
Auburn University is a regal-looking institution and definitely worth meandering through the campus.
You’ll find a modern art museum and arboretum on campus.
Be sure to get an Instagram photo at Toomer’s Corner at College Street and Magnolia Avenue.
This is an Auburn icon.
In North Auburn, there is Kreher Preserve & Nature Center with seven natural habitats to explore.
You can see wildflowers, butterflies, and a waterfall, just to name a few.
The most popular outdoor space is in south Auburn.
Chewacla State Park has fishing, kayak launches, boating options, and even a beach.
You might even see some deer running through the woods.
Geocaching is popular here as well.
Places to Avoid in Auburn
Crime maps show that northeast and southwest Auburn have the highest crime rates, but that’s also in a city that has a violent crime rate half the national average and nearly 30% lower than the state average.
You should avoid saying “ROLL TIDE” too loudly here.
Just kidding, the Alabama/Auburn rivalry is a friendly one, but if you don’t have a dog in the fight, just keep saying “WAR EAGLE!”
People in Auburn speak with a thick Southern accent.
If you don’t, you might be called a Yankee, but don’t get offended.
I’ve lived in Tennessee and Alabama and I’ve been called “Yankee” dozens of times even though I’m from Missouri.
Avoid any argument about the Civil War.
I have an ex who was Southern and every time the topic came up, his argument of how the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, it was about states’ rights came up and went on all night.
Avoid trying to eat healthily here all the time, as it’s going to be hard to do.
Splurge a little if your doctor is okay with it. You’ll get some of the best fried chicken you can imagine and modern takes on Southern dining.
Also, if you’re drinking tea, avoid asking for tea without sugar unless you want some very odd looks.
It will guarantee a “Where are you from?” if you do.
Sweet tea here is more like drinking sugar with a little bit of tea.
Learn some of the Southern lingoes.
- “Y’all” – the group of you or “You Guys” as northerners say
- “He was as drunk as Cooter Brown” – He was VERY drunk
- “She was madder than a wet hen” – She was VERY mad, probably at Cooter Brown for getting so drunk.
- “She’s as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.” – She’s completely unaware of reality but very happy.
- “Catawampus” – To be a little off-kilter. A tornado warning might make you a little Catawampus.
- “Bless her Heart” – Nothing good follows that sentence. “Bless her heart, she married Cooter Brown.”
Safety Tips for Traveling to Auburn
- Alabama is a hunting and fishing paradise, only the deer haven’t really picked up on it. They are known to mingle on the side of or in the middle of the road. They can quickly dart out in front of a car, causing an accident. If you see a deer near the road, assume others are nearby and slow down.
- Bring bug spray. Bless their hearts, but the mosquitos here are relentless. Even homeowners have to get their lawns treated by pest control workers dressed in what looks like nuclear suits. Nothing ruins a great Southern porch evening more than a group of mosquitoes. Well, or a wayward deer.
- On April 27, 2011, Alabama was devasted by a series of tornadoes. 240 people died in the state. Don’t bring this up to anyone who’s a local, but if they start talking about it, listen with compassion. I warn you, they talk slowly in the South, so it might take a while, but the stories of survival and tenacity that day are riveting.
- You might wonder why Auburn’s mascot is a tiger, but the battle cry is “War Eagle.” I’ll tell you now so you won’t have to ask later. Legend has it, a Civil War veteran attended a game with an eagle on his shoulder. The eagle suddenly took off as Auburn’s team flew across the field, scoring a touchdown. The crowd was chanting “WAR EAGLE” as this happened. Then the sad part of the story – the eagle crashed into the ground and died. That’s the story from Auburn University’s website, and they do sometimes exaggerate stories in the South, but we’ll go with the official legend.
- Download the Lee County Emergency Management app so you can be in the loop of any developing weather. You can always find a public tornado shelter too. You should always know where your safe spot is long before those sirens go off.
- There are 78 tornado sirens throughout Lee County, but those are designed to be heard outside. It’s not guaranteed you’ll hear them inside and that’s why that weather app is so important. I’ve been through at least two dozen tornado warnings in my life, and if you haven’t, the first one will be quite scary even if a tornado doesn’t develop. The noise of the siren itself can be scary.
- In Alabama, a lot of businesses close down on Sundays or have very limited hours because everyone goes to a church that day. For planning purposes, doing outdoor activities would be best on a Sunday, and do your shopping and binge-eating on Saturday.
- Parking downtown can be hard to find on a game day or during other big events, so wear good walking shoes as you might be walking several blocks to get to your destination. In the summer, parking is much easier to come by.
- The Alabama humidity in the summer can be downright suffocating. Sweat pours down within minutes of walking outside, so don’t think you’re having a medical episode. You do need to keep a good flow of water coming in (NOT just sweet tea, ok?) to keep from actually getting sick from dehydration.
- Starting in March, spring comes to life in Auburn. It’s so beautiful, there are 14 miles of trails to see the beautiful flowers blooming. That can also bring major allergy attacks. I never had allergy issues until I moved to Alabama, so bring some Benadryl to keep from sneezing your way through the trip.
So... How Safe Is Auburn Really?
Both violent crimes and property crimes are lower here than national and state averages.
This is one of the safer cities in Alabama by all accounts.
Here’s how the risk of being a crime victim breaks down:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 656
- Robbery: 1 in 799
- Theft: 1 in 115
It’s a city of Southern charm and history.
A place where a night on the porch is as fun as a night on the town.
It’s a college town, so you might be the oldest person at any bar if you’re not in school.
I would guess there are probably some people here who sleep with doors unlocked (but don’t do that!)
How Does Auburn Compare?
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- Visas - I'm sure Alabama would love a way to keep the "Yankees" out, but legally there's no proof of Visa needed here. That gets handled at the airport or port of entry.
- Currency - You can use all the U.S. Dollars you want here, but that's the only form of payment accepted. Try to charge what you can and limit the cash you bring with you as it's just an attractive item for a criminal.
- Weather - You're going to rarely get snow here in the winter, but you'll still need a jacket or sweater for the cooler nights. Spring and fall are quite pleasant, but there's still that risk of severe weather. Summers are just humid and sweaty. Try to wear as little makeup as possible because it all just melts off anyway, and if you have long hair just wear it up in a bun (especially if you have curly hair!). Buying and wearing an Auburn shirt or hat is going to make you a lot of new friends, too.
- Airports - There is only one private airport in Auburn, but you can drive to the massive Atlanta Airport in just 90 minutes. Birmingham's Airport is two hours away. There's a smaller commercial airport in Mongomery, which is the state's capital, so at least you'll get good connecting options. That's about 90 minutes away as well. The Atlanta Airport is definitely the best option, with more direct flights nationwide.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a good idea in Auburn, as those severe storms and remnants of hurricanes can cause air delays from Atlanta through Dallas and you don't want to get stuck in that mess.
Auburn Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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