Kentucky : Safety by City
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“I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.”
Those famed words of President Abraham Lincoln, used more dramatically in the 1960s, have become more of a proud moment for Kentuckians.
Especially those in Hodgenville, where the leader was born.
One of the main reasons people visit Hodgenville is because of the many attractions focused on the 16th President’s life before he became the President who freed the slaves.
We’ll make sure to go through each one because the Lincoln-related attractions aren’t all in the same place and are quite scattered throughout the city and county.
One of them was famously quoted by Lincoln as being the place of his ” earliest recollection.”
Another great reason to visit is all the nearby lakes and forests to explore that get you in touch with nature.
Mammoth Cave is less than an hour away and is known as the world’s longest cave.
Unless you are traveling in an RV or camping, you aren’t going to find any hotels in Hodgenville, but the much larger Elizabethtown is just 20 minutes away with plenty of options.
Hodgenville might be a city with less than 3,300 people, but Kentucky Living readers voted the city as having some of the best eats and treats in the state, including:
- Second best golf course in the state: Larue County Golf Course
- Best “Made in Kentucky” product & Best Sweet Spot: The Sweet Shoppe and Dessert Cafe
- Best Historic Site: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park
- Best Farm Tourist Attraction: Hinton’s Orchard & Farm Market
- Best Place for Live Music: Joel Ray’s Lincoln Jamboree
- Best Museum: Lincoln Museum
- Best Event or Festival: Lincoln Days Celebration (in early October)
- Best BBQ: Arrowhead BBQ
- Best Hamburger: Laha’s Red Castle
- Second Best Down-home Restaurant: Kayla’s Fill-Up Station
Researching these articles always makes me so hungry.
Let us know in the comments below if you visited any of these places and give us your thoughts.
Warnings & Dangers in Hodgenville
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's low overall risk with very low crime rates and a community that has helped reinvigorate downtown. It's a shame there aren't more hotels here because I'd stay here in a heartbeat (and that's saying a lot because I'm a "city girl.")
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You'll need a car because there isn't a bus system and taxis/rideshares will be hard to come by. With all the exploring you'll want to do outside of the city, a car is just a necessity.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The theft rate is half the national average, and no pickpockets were reported in 2020. In fact, there was just one report of shoplifting and two reports of car burglaries. That's almost as low-risk as you can get.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
This is one area where we must give it a medium risk. Because of year-round weather threats, you must always stay weather aware here. The biggest risks are tornadoes and flooding, with crippling snow or ice storms being the big winter risk.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk in this crime category as well. The city has had just five robberies since 2010.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's no real concern about a terror attack here or in the county. The biggest hard target would be Fort Knox, which is about a half-hour north.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Chances are if someone scammed you here, everyone in town would be talking about it. It's just that "everyone knows everyone" kind of town. The same phone call and email scams happen to residents that happen everywhere, but there are no tourist scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women can visit this area at low risk. The city hasn't had more than six violent crimes in a year going back to 2010. Women make up the majority of crime victims, but just one of those crimes in 2020 was against a stranger.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The LaRue County Water District reports no violations, and all standards were met or exceeded according to the 2020 Water Quality Report.
Safest Places to Visit in Hodgenville
Let’s start with all the Lincoln locations.
In Hodgenville, there’s a giant statue of the president in the center of town.
It’s near the Lincoln Museum.
Inside the museum, you’ll get to walk through the life of Abraham as a boy, through his election, and his final moments in Ford’s Theatre.
Wax figures lead the way through mementos and artifacts.
The Lincoln Jamboree ranks as Kentucky’s top country music show.
There’s a restaurant and gift shop, but the real appeal is the musical jamboree that dates back to 1954.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, and you can purchase homemade Kentucky treats as well.
Check the jamboree’s Facebook page for upcoming artists and ticket information.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park is split into two sections about 10 miles apart.
The main park is south of Hodgenville, where you’ll find the first Lincoln Memorial built, and inside there’s a cabin that may or may not be the actual cabin where Lincoln was born.
It’s called a “symbolic” cabin either way.
There are also hiking trails and picnic spots here.
A short drive to Knob Creek showcases Lincoln’s Boyhood Home, even though the cabin has been restored and updated for safety and historical preservation.
What looks like a flat field on one side is actually part of the 30-acre farm the Lincolns once tended to during their five years living here.
You can also see the Lincoln Tavern, which was once a bustling restaurant and music hall.
Let’s take a look at some other outdoor adventures nearby.
Mammoth Cave is certainly worth the 47-mile drive to see one of the longest and most elaborate cave dwellings on earth.
You can reserve tickets to the cave in advance and review the park’s website because there are more than a dozen tours to choose from seasonally.
Above ground, you can camp, canoe, fish, bike, and hike to your heart’s content.
There’s also the Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo nearby, and it’s open throughout the year.
McDougal Lake and Salem Lake are two lakes focused on fishing and related activities.
Look up the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries to learn about boat requirements, fishing limits, and information on how to get a fishing license from Kentucky.
You can’t fish without one, and your home license won’t suffice.
Hinton’s Orchard Farm & Market is open from spring through fall with various activities, from hayrides to apple/pumpkin picking to a grain bin turned into a playground.
There’s also a market where you can buy freshly harvested goods.
In the fall, a corn maze will keep you busy and test your wits.
Don’t forget to try those above-mentioned restaurants in Hodgenville that received “Best Of Kentucky” awards.
Watching a video of Laha’s Red Castle, I almost smelled the burgers sizzling through the screen.
Places to Avoid in Hodgenville
You don’t need to avoid any part of the city because it’s just so small.
However, the main attractions are right in the center, and there’s little reason to go beyond those boundaries unless you have loved ones living there.
Be sure your GPS is set when you are heading toward Hodgenville.
The exits are right off Lincoln Parkway, but there aren’t many signs pointing you in the right direction.
If you blink, you might miss one of the three exits that can get you to Hodgenville.
The best exit is Highway 2426, which turns into Main Street and takes you to the heart of downtown.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hodgenville
- Sign up for CodeRED alerts through the LaRue County Emergency Management website. This is a great way to get weather and emergency alerts right through your mobile device.
- Speaking of mobile devices, there are parts of LaRue County that might not get the best mobile phone service. Check with your provider’s website to review a “service area map,” and you can figure out the “dead spots” ahead of time. If you are going to be camping, purchase a weather radio with extra batteries so you can get the weather information even if you are unplugged.
- If you plan on camping at Salem or McDougal lakes, you’ll need to reserve a campsite ahead of time. There’s a form on the city’s website to do this. The campsites are free, but you are required to have a reservation.
- Bookmark the Hodgenville Alert Center website from the main city website. This is a place where you can learn things like road closures and boil water orders. In fact, as I write this, there have been several boil water orders in the past week.
- If you are involved in an accident that causes more than $500 in damage but doesn’t require a law enforcement officer to respond, you can fill out a collision report for your insurance company on the Kentucky State Police website. If an officer does respond to an accident, you don’t need this form.
- When touring Mammoth Cave, there are a lot of safety precautions you should read about ahead of time on the attraction’s website. There are far too many to go into detail about here. You should book your tour as far ahead of time as possible, as these tours sell out quickly. Be sure to grab a jacket, no matter how hot it is outside. The caves are around 55°(F) year-round.
- Once you go south of LaRue County, you’ll go from the Eastern Time Zone to the Central Time Zone. It is especially important to know if you’ve reserved time to visit places like Mammoth Cave. There aren’t always signs marking the time zone change, but your car and mobile device should catch up. Your car GPS should also send a notice that time zones are changing.
- When visiting the park areas, bring bug spray and watch out for dangerous plants like poison ivy. You should be fine if you stay on the paths and don’t touch any plants, but don’t risk it. Bring calamine lotion just in case you get the itchy, painful rash.
- There are a lot of wildflowers that grow around the Lincoln homes and monuments, but it’s illegal to pick them. Leave them alone and cherish the memory with photos. If you disturb the flowers, you’re affecting soil preservation and food for nearby animals.
- Don’t risk going outside if storms are predicted. The weather here can go from sunny and bright to dark and dangerously stormy quickly. Even the park rangers at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park warn, “Potential for sudden violent thunderstorms exists.”
So... How Safe Is Hodgenville Really?
The city is about as safe as one can get.
There were four violent crimes in 2020, and those were either aggravated assault or sexual assault.
No robberies or homicides were reported in 2020.
One of the bigger risks is something you can control – and that’s your behavior on the road.
Many of the highways in this area are two-lane roads.
Rain, snow, and ice can make the roads challenging to drive on, and potholes can easily pop up after winter.
Don’t drive if you are sleepy or have been drinking.
As for thefts, there was one report of shoplifting and one report of a car break-in, and the other 13 crimes were in a category called “Other Thefts.”
That could mean stuff taken from a yard or a campsite.
If you are camping or RVing, lock your valuables up before you go on an adventure.
Even in LaRue County, there was just one report of a car break-in and seven “Other Thefts.”
While all this safety data is helpful, it never means you can just leave a car unlocked or put the windows down while you eat or tour an attraction.
Crimes of opportunity can happen anywhere.
Especially when you are hiking, put all valuables in the trunk BEFORE YOU PARK so nobody sees you loading up purses and laptops before your hike.
Whenever possible, leave valuables at the hotel.
How Does Hodgenville Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a travel or work visa to get into the United States, and that's done through a process that takes a few months starting in your home country. You'll spend at least $160 on the visa, and you'll need to go through several steps, including an in-person interview.
- Currency - Exchange your currency for the U.S. Dollar at the airport, and don't wait until you get to Hodgenville to do it. Some of the businesses here are cash only, so take some walking-around money. Just don't carry a large wad of cash.
- Weather - You should plan for each season and its most extreme weather. In winter, that means preparing for snow and ice storms, just in case. Hopefully, you'll never need to pull the coat out of the suitcase. You'll need hiking boots that cover the ankle for support, to keep bugs away, and in case paths are slippery. Dress casually, as even the Lincoln Jamboree is a "jeans and t-shirt" kind of place.
- Airports - The Lousiville International Airport is less than an hour away, and since it's such a large airport with many direct flights, that's your best option.
- Travel Insurance - There are so many fun things to do here that come with inherent risks, so get travel insurance in case of an injury and protect your flight purchase from delays or cancellations. The weather here can quickly shut down air traffic.
Hodgenville Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Kentucky - Safety by City