Louisiana : Safety by City
- Baton Rouge
- Bossier City
- Lake Charles
- New Iberia
- New Orleans
You will likely not end up in Franklinton, Louisiana, unless you are looking for it.
Louisiana is shaped like a boot, and Franklinton – in Washington Parish – is known as the “Toe” of the boot.
It’s a rural wilderness wonderland at least 30 miles from a major interstate, surrounded by nature and two-lane highways as far as the eye can see.
The Free Fair, one of the largest of its kind, is held each October.
This county fair offers free admission in a family-friendly atmosphere.
It started in 1911 and just keeps getting bigger each year.
Travelers won’t find hotel rooms here or even vacation rentals.
You’ll need to go at least 30 miles to find a traditional hotel room, but you will find camping and RV spots in this region.
This wooded area is home to farms, wilderness areas, and water activities along the Bogue Chitto river.
The Mile Branch Settlement is a series of log homes that will take you back to the pioneering days.
While Franklinton feels like a whole different world than the busy New Orleans city, you’re still just 90 minutes from Bourbon Street and less than two hours to Gulf Coast beaches.
Warnings & Dangers in Franklinton
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
This is backwoods Louisiana, and that's not a vibe everyone will enjoy. On top of Louisiana's high crime rate, Washington Parish is seeing an increase in violent crime. While I'll say it's a medium risk, what I'm really saying is, "mind your own business here." This is a whole different pace and style of life than you might be used to - but that's why you're on vacation, right?
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You'll want a car rental to get around because public transportation isn't available, and taxis are hard to come by. Franklinton is a remote area, and you shouldn't rely on anyone or anything but your own navigational abilities.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here, but use a lot of caution if you are there for the Free Fair or other big events. The fair brings in people from all over the country, which could include pickpockets. Be sure you don't let the lower crime risk make you lose focus on basic security steps, like locking your car and rolling up the windows.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Washington Parish was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and usually takes the brunt of any tropical storm as soon as it moves over New Orleans. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are also possible. Flooding is also a concern. There's also the risk that when the power goes out, you're on your own in such a remote area.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
Looking back at 10 years of crime data leading up to 2019, the city didn't have more than 10 robberies in a year. When you figure out the crime per 100,000 people - the rate is anywhere from two to four times the national average. However, it's a city of just 3,700 people, so a couple of crimes one way or the other can skew numbers. Treat it with a medium risk, but know that's out of an abundance of caution.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here since it's so rural. The bigger concerns are the thieves, drug dealers, and criminals in the area that might look for a crime of opportunity.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Don't use third-party websites like Craigslist to find a place to stay. Without a lot of hotels, you might struggle to find a hotel. Call the city to see if there are rental companies available or choose to stay in a larger city.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
We don't want to stereotype at all, but if you're a woman who likes the finer things in life and isn't very outdoorsy, you'll be miserable here. This is tough countryside with a lot to explore, but you'll be "roughing it." It's not so much a risk as it is a "heads up."
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Rural Franklinton Water provides the tap water here. The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance. When you're heading into the wild, bring your own bottled water. If there's a tropical storm or flooding during your stay, don't drink the water until you can confirm the water supply hasn't been impacted. You can call (985) 839-6433 to get more information closer to your visit.
Safest Places to Visit in Franklinton
LouisianaTravel.com and townofFranklinton.com are the two websites where you can securely search for things to do here.
WashingtonParishTourism.com is another resource for finding things to do across the region.
To give you an overall glimpse into tourism in and around Franklinton, the top categories are as follows:
- Outdoor Activities
- Bouge Chitto State Park
- Flea Markets
- ATV Parks
- Free Fair
This is a heavily wooded area once home to logging companies.
The majority of things to do involve being outdoors.
One of the great parts of small towns like Franklinton includes local events.
There’s an event for every holiday and Mardi Gras, but you’ll need to check the city’s social media sites to get more information on that.
The Facebook page for Washington Parish Tourism is @washington.p.tourism.
In addition to the Free Fair in October, Franklinton is also known for its December Christmas festival, with a parade and other local activities that change each year.
The Mile Branch Settlement is a series of log cabins that bring you back to pioneer life.
This is located at the fairgrounds, but tours are available on Fridays throughout the year.
More than a dozen cabins come with their own stories and history.
The Varnado Store Museum is more than a century old and honors the tradition of the local general store.
It’s only open on weekends, and tours are self-guided.
U-Pick-Em Farms are also popular in Washington Parish.
3D Blueberries is in Franklinton.
Use the business Facebook page @3DBlueberryFarm, as I found the website has some security issues as of this publication.
Bogue Chitto State Park (pronounced “Bow-guh Chit-uh”) is one of the main draws to this region, with tubing down the river being one of the most popular activities.
One of the treasures in this park is Fricke’s Cave (which isn’t a cave), offering a safe boardwalk to explore the unique geological features.
The park offers cabins, campsites, “glamping,” tubing, fishing, hiking, mountain bike trails, swimming, disc golf – and just about anything else you can do outside.
Places to Avoid in Franklinton
The city isn’t big enough to have a good or bad part of town, but you should always stay on the main roads.
It can also help to screenshot maps on your mobile device in case of spotty mobile phone service.
If a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching New Orleans, you want to avoid this area.
Even though it’s somewhat inland, you can still deal with hurricane-force storms, spawning tornadoes, and heavy rain bands.
You don’t want to get stuck in the wild during severe weather.
Research the emergency management plan on the Washington Parish website.
Always have a battery-powered weather radio with you, and seek shelter if you hear thunder.
Save this number in your contact list so you can contact park officials at any time to ask about weather risks – (888)677-7312.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Franklinton
- Follow the Franklinton Police Department on Facebook @FranklintonPolice. You can get updates on crimes or local safety updates during your stay.
- Report anything suspicious you see here to the local police. Don’t try to interfere in a crime or a disturbance. Police will even go as far as to post photos of “creepy people,” like a man who approached a woman and her child, asking if he could go home with her and making vulgar comments. The phone number for the police department is (985) 839-2977.
- You might want to bring an internet hotspot with you to get reliable service during your visit. Outages here can take a while to fix. You can also check your mobile provider’s website to see where coverage exists throughout Washington Parish.
- The weather information here comes from the New Orleans/Baton Rouge National Weather Center office. You should bookmark that website so you can review the forecast each day. The television stations in each of those cities also offer apps with weather notifications.
- You’ll need a license for hunting and fishing in Louisiana. The Department of Wildlife and Hatcheries controls the licenses and has a lot of great details on its website about rules and regulations. Don’t fish or hunt without a license because poaching is taken very seriously in Louisiana.
- If you go tubing on the river, you’ll pay the same whether you rent a tube or bring your own. If you are worried about snakes and alligators, you can get a tube with a solid bottom. The bigger concerns about the water would be the debris and tree limbs under the surface. It’s a muddy river, so you won’t see the obstacles underneath.
- Even though the river is slow moving, you want to wear a life jacket. Those trees can cause people to become tangled. Avoid drinking too much alcohol if you are going to be floating throughout the day. Also, glass and Styrofoam are not allowed. There are lockers for your car keys to avoid losing them in the river.
- During big events, like the Free Fair and Christmas Parade, there will be a lot of road closures and detours in the city. The police department will post the closures and detours on social media. Don’t try to drive around barriers, as that can get you arrested and your car impounded.
- I can’t stress enough how muggy it is here. With humidity comes mosquitos. You should dress for mosquito activity, including socks that cover your ankles, closed-toed shoes, and regular application of bug spray. A citrus-based cologne or perfume is another great way to keep bugs away. Stop by a pharmacy and get some bug bite lotion before you go into the woods.
- I thought this warning from the Franklinton Police Department was worth sharing verbatim. This is a message for anyone who is attending the Free Fair. “Hear me and hear me well. We have a ZERO TOLERANCE policy on stupidity. This week is exhausting enough without people fighting or causing a disturbance. In the event someone feels absolutely compelled to get stuck on stupid, I will make you a personal promise; you will spend the entirety of the fair in jail. Additionally, you will be banned from attending future fairs, and I will freely share your mugshot describing your transgressions. If we can help you in any way, just let us know. If you have too much to drink, lay down somewhere.”
So... How Safe Is Franklinton Really?
Washington Parish is dealing with an influx of violent crime like every other region in America.
Franklinton visitors should know the “bad reputation” of the parish comes mostly from the increased crime rates in Bogalusa.
You can read the story we published about that city to learn more about the latest crime numbers.
Franklinton is just a very rural area, and that’s not easy to stomach for some people.
You’re in the woods with basic amenities and not much more.
If you want a more robust community, you should look for some of the suburbs of New Orleans.
The risks here are mostly going to be due to the weather.
Flash flooding and water quality concerns can be dangerous, and those not used to severe thunderstorms or tornadoes should study the basics of severe weather safety.
You’ll also see a lot of critters here, so if you get spooked by bugs, spiders, or snakes, just brace yourself.
You can review the types of bugs and plants that are poisonous on the Department of Wildlife and Hatcheries website.
Standard safety precautions go a long way here, like locking your car door and keeping personal items out of sight.
Don’t leave valuable camping supplies out of campsites if you’re away from your home base.
How Does Franklinton Compare?
|New York City
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
You'll need a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver from the U.S. State Department to get through Customs at the airport. A valid passport will be required as well. The visa process can take several months, so start planning early.
You should exchange currency at the airport or in a bigger city. For the fair, you'll need cash, but don't carry it all in one place. Don't use public ATMs for safety and to avoid hefty fees.
You'll need comfortable, sweat-absorbing clothing here, and bring some extra pairs of socks for the swamps and marshes. A hat will help keep the sweat out of your eyes, but a good face wash will help keep pores from getting clogged due to excessive sweating. It will help in the woods to have bright orange clothing so hunters can see you from a distance.
You can get to the commercial airports in Baton Rouge or New Orleans in 90 minutes, which are the closest and best options.
Please get travel insurance when visiting a remote place. Even accidents in the woods can be costly if you don't have supplemental health insurance. Serious injuries could require helicopter trips to New Orleans. You'll want rental car coverage, too, that protects you from a storm, flooding, or hail damage.
Franklinton Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Louisiana - Safety by City