Arkansas : Safety by City
- Eureka Springs
- Fort Smith
- Hot Springs
- Little Rock
- Mountain Home
- North Little Rock
- West Memphis
Welcome to Conway, Arkansas 101.
This is an introductory course to the City of Colleges just northwest of Little Rock.
Conway has a lot of neighborhoods and three colleges in a town of just more than 64,000 people.
That is almost double the size it was just two decades ago.
This means in summer the congestion slims down when school is out and things pick back up in the fall through spring.
The city is right along the busy Interstate 40, making it a great place to stop for a night or a central location to visit many amenities in Arkansas.
You’re not going to find a lot of tourist attractions in Conway, but you won’t be missing anything you need as big box stores and shopping are available.
The downtown area keeps the historic aura of this city founded in 1872.
It’s lined with brick buildings holding coffee shops, boutiques, and antiques.
There are two lakes near Conway, where you can fish for days or swim like a fish all day.
It’s a great place to take a boat as well.
The three colleges in Conway are:
- University of Central Arkansas
- Central Baptist College
- Hendrix College
This is a young city with an average age of 27 and nearly 1/2 have a college education.
Many students who come to college here fall in love and make a life in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Very few people in Conway commute to other cities for work.
If you aren’t intrigued yet, just wait until we talk about Toad Suck Daze.
*For international readers of those who speak English as a second language, this state is pronounced: “Are-kan-saul.”
Why is it spelled that way but doesn’t sound like the state of Kansas “Can-zhus”?
It’s all how the founders interpreted the languages that defined the names of the separate states.
On behalf of the English language, we apologize for it being so confusing.
Warnings & Dangers in Conway
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a low risk overall, but there are some parts that really bring the meter closer to the medium-risk mark and we're going to talk through those.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
One downside of this community is there is no public transportation system. As of early 2022, the city was once again discussing a plan to add a bus system, but no set launch date has been made. You can still get taxis and rideshares. There's a low risk but also not a lot of options.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were no pickpockets or purse snatching reported in Conway in 2020, so that's a low risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The biggest threat here is going to be severe weather from thunderstorms and tornadoes. In the winter there's a little bit of snow and the occasional ice storm. There's a medium risk because tornadoes here can be deadly and the city averages three tornadoes and one death each year. Study up on tornado safety before you go. There are 12 community shelters and safe rooms in Conway and you can see the full list on the Faulkner County, Arkansas website.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
In general, there's a low risk, and I'm sure you're all good law-abiding citizens, but if you go looking for trouble you're going to find it here. Many of the crimes listed are tied to drug-related activity. Arkansas is one of many states dealing with a drug problem and people who are addicted can make dangerous decisions. Just stay away from any drug activity and you shouldn't face many risks.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here as no hard targets are in Conway. The city and county are prepared for foreign or domestic terrorism, but you should worry much more about those tornadoes.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
The city police department reported nearly 1,200 reports of fraud. One scam that made the local news was a so-called "shoulder surfer." This is when someone watches over your shoulder while you enter your PIN and then steals your card. I bet you're asking "Wait? Isn't that a pickpocket? You said there were NONE of those!" The ways crimes are reported don't always fall perfectly in line. This type of theft is a fraud, not a pickpocket. It centers around the intent of the crime as to how it's classified. In this scam, it's intended to defraud you, making it a fraud crime. Anyway, it's a medium risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The sexual assault percentage here is twice the national average, which is concerning. The amount of drugs available in the community is a concern as well. There is a lot of safety and stability within the city, so if you stay away from drinking too much or taking any medicine that wasn't prescribed by a doctor (no borrowing medication, ever), then you'll have a low risk. You just really need to be aware of your surroundings, stay sober enough to make good decisions, and call for help as the first sign of trouble.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
I reviewed the 2020 Annual Water Quality Report for the City of Conway, and there were no violations making the water safe to use and a low risk to travelers.
Safest Places to Visit in Conway
I’ve made you wait long enough to hear about Toad Suck Daze.
This event is held every year during the first weekend of May and it brings in 100,000 people.
It’s a spring tradition for frog rages, carnival games, and fun.
The name comes from the nearby town of Toad Suck, which got its name from the steamboat workers who used to drink at the taverns there.
They drank so much they would “swell up like a toad,” as the story goes.
If you’re missing an angler during your visit, it’s probably because they are at Conway Lake.
This is a lake just for fishing and is stocked with catfish, bream, and bass. Beaverfork Lake is another option with more amenities for non-anglers.
You can get in water recreation of any kind here, from swimming to kayaking or just sunning on the shores (but there’s still plenty of fish.)
The Faulkner County Museum is the place for historians.
You get to walk through the old jail to get there!
Those with local ties can look up their family lineage during the visit.
You could spend a couple of hours walking around downtown and seeing the history seep through the bricks and enjoy a gelato or buy a new dress at a unique boutique.
I thought it was pretty cool that my first look downtown showed Jennifer’s Antiques, and my name is Jennifer.
You’ll notice this list is pretty short.
When I opened the map to get a look at the area, the biggest icon was at the Department of Sanitation.
Just remember, this is a livable town with suburban amenities, but not much else.
For malls, the zoo, and other tourist attractions, Little Rock is just 30 minutes southeast.
In a little more than an hour, you can be settled into the hot springs.
Places to Avoid in Conway
Crime maps show you’ll want to avoid the area between Donaghey Ave and I-40.
That’s where the highest number of crimes are.
The farther east and west you go, the lower the crime rates get.
If you are going to be in that area, try to visit during the daytime.
This is a city without much nightlife, so avoid wandering around looking for something to do.
The drug crime numbers show there’s a 1 in 52 chance of getting arrested for a drug crime.
Now, that’s not reality, since a lot of people don’t touch drugs, but if you had to go just by the numbers, that’s the percentage you’d get.
From 2019 through 2020, the number of drug overdose deaths went up 55% due to Fentanyl being added to street drugs.
You won’t even know it’s there.
This can also impact people who think they’re just using a friend’s prescription drug.
It’s important, as the Opioid epidemic sweeps across America, to never take a pill that isn’t prescribed to you by a licensed doctor and pharmacy.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Conway
- Conway has a lot of roundabouts to move traffic along instead of stoplights. If you haven’t driven a roundabout before, just research before you go. It’s a circular pattern of weaving in and out of intersections.
- The Conway Police Department offers a community crime map with updated numbers on its website. Check the area where you’ll be staying a few days before you arrive to see what recent crime trends are happening.
- Sign up for CODERED Warning systems. You’ll get updated weather information and crime activity. This also includes any water quality issues or evacuation notices.
- Central Arkansas has a “Crime Stoppers” program where people can submit crime tips anonymously and be eligible for a reward. That number is (501)340-TIPS(8477). If you see a crime that is a non-emergency happening or hear about one afterward, call that number.
- If you’re there for a party, be sure to follow the noise ordinance. I’m looking at the most recent calls for service from the police department and in seven days there were 23 calls for noise ordinance violations. Looks like the police don’t overlook that, even in a college town.
- When you check into your hotel or rental home, ask where the safe room or tornado space is. You need to know where to go in case of an emergency. There’s a list of community safe places on the Faulkner County website, and for the locations that are in schools, they say they accept people until the gymnasium is full. There’s always a safe place to go if you’re prepared.
- You’ll need a fishing license in Arkansas if you’re going to fish or take frogs from the water. You can get this online ahead of time and print your license out or just keep a record on your mobile device. The only place you don’t need one is at one of the pay lakes called “Put-and-take” lakes.
- Bring or buy spray while you’re here. This is a humid area much of the year and the mosquitos can be quite annoying. You don’t want to spend a vacation covered in calamine lotion when a little bug spray will fend them off.
- Before going to any of the lakes for fishing, boating, or swimming, check the water quality ahead of time. Bacteria and algae blooms can make the water dangerous or off limits and you should check before you’re unloading the boat at the dock.
- This is a very politically conservative area, despite being the home state of Democratic President Bill Clinton. This is also a very vocal state, so if you start a political fight it could escalate. Just keep politics and religion off the discussion table.
So... How Safe Is Conway Really?
Conway is going to be as safe as you make it, for the most part.
Reviews range from “it’s a boring bedroom community” to “I’d never live anywhere else” to “it’s just too dangerous and too many people are moving here.”
The main purpose of Conway is to provide higher education to tens of thousands of college students and provide a dense bedroom community that’s still growing because of the low cost of living here.
There aren’t nightclubs and evening hot spots to go to in Conway, and many people choose to go to Little Rock to find that excitement.
“But it’s a college town, right?”, you ask?
Yes, it is, and two of those colleges are religious schools.
One of those two is Baptist.
There’s not as much demand for a social scene.
As for the crime numbers, here are the chances of being a victim of a crime in Conway:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 178
- Robbery: 1 in 403
- Theft: 1 in 39
- Drugs: 1 in 52
There were also 680 “Intimidation” arrests in 2020, which struck me as rather high.
I wouldn’t recommend driving around the streets of Conway to fill the time in the evening or walking around downtown after dark alone, but overall, it’s a city where the good people roll up the carpets after the sun goes down for an early morning of fishing or hunting.
How Does Conway Compare?
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- Visas - You can take care of all the Visa requirements at the airport and don't have another processing place in Conway. You will need an ID to drink alcohol or get that fishing license if you choose to do that in person.
- Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar here. Try to buy what you can in advance and always make sure nobody can see your PIN when using it for credit card or debit card purchases.
- Weather - Winters are pretty mild, into the 50s during the day and 30s at night. Spring is when the humidity starts and runs through the fall cool down in November. Summers are going to be sweaty, so bring loose, light-colored clothing. Don't forget that bug spray. Summer highs will hit the 90s and the summer evenings are pleasant in the 60s or 70s.
- Airports - You can choose Little Rock's airport, about 30 minutes away. There's also the option to drive to Memphis, but that's going to be nearly three hours.
- Travel Insurance - You should get travel insurance as tornados and severe weather can stop air transportation or leave a ripple effect of delays across the country.
Conway Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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