Louisiana : Safety by City
- Baton Rouge
- Bossier City
- Lake Charles
- New Iberia
- New Orleans
Because it hosts more than a hundred festivals and carnivals each year, Lake Charles, Louisiana, is known as “The Festival Capital of Louisiana.”
Situated along the Calcasieu River banks, Lake Charles is also recognized for its gambling, culinary, and rhythm and blues music scene, making it an excellent destination choice for gamblers and art and culture lovers alike.
History buffs can visit the Charpentier Historic District in Downtown Lake Charles.
There, they can check out the 30-block collection of unique Victorian-style homes.
Whether you’re a culinary aficionado, gambler, historian, or rhythm, and blues music enthusiast, you’ll find something that suits your fancy in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Read our guide about this historically and culturally rich city before making your visit so you can make the most of your trip to Lake Charles.
Warnings & Dangers in Lake Charles
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
Once lauded for being an extremely safe city, Lake Charles recently experienced a massive uptick in violent crimes, with a 44% increase from 2019 to 2021. Violent crimes tend to occur in places where economic opportunity is limited. With 20.4% of Lake Charles’ population living below the poverty line and 8.9% identifying as unemployed, it’s easy to see the correlation between the crime and poverty rates. With this information, we conclude that Lake Charles has a medium-to-high overall risk for visitors.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Visitors can take advantage of the city’s various bus and trolley routes to get around. Unfortunately, there’s no information online that specifically talks about safety when using these modes of transport. The largest taxi companies in Lake Charles are $10 Taxi Cab of Lake Charles, Fast Taxi, and People’s Taxi. All three of these companies have 4 or more stars, and there are no visible complaints about safety. We can, therefore, conclude that Lake Charles has a low transport and taxis risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
According to Neighborhood Scout, Lake Charles has a theft rate of 16.98 per 1,000 people. This rate comes from a reported total of 1,441 thefts out of a population of 84,872 people. Because Lake Charles’ rate is slightly higher than the national theft rate of 13.90 per 1,000 people, we can say that Lake Charles has a medium-to-high pickpockets risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: HIGH
Located in the state of Louisiana near the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Charles is quite prone to natural disasters. Residents regularly encounter tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and even winter storms on occasion. Hurricane Katrina, which gained international attention in 2005 for its ravaging effects on New Orleans and its surrounding communities, also badly affected Lake Charles. Thus, it appears that Lake Charles has a high natural disasters risk.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
A report by Neighborhood Scout shows that Lake Charles’ robbery rate is 0.58 per 1,000 people. When you consider the fact that Lake Charles’ theft rate is higher than the national rate, it may be surprising for you to learn that the city’s robbery rate is lower than the national rate, which is 0.73 per 1,000 people. Our finding indicates that Lake Charles has a low-to-medium mugging risk.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Lake Charles hasn’t seen any terrorist attacks. However, there have been terrorist threats and hoaxes over the years. In 2014, Monte Henry Hurley pleaded guilty to a charge of terrorism hoax, and, in 2020, Donald Derouen was arrested for threatening to commit arson. But because no actual terrorist attacks have been carried out, we can conclude that Lake Charles has a low terrorism risk.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There are no exact statistics on scam crimes in Lake Charles, but authorities have issued warnings to residents about certain types of scams. These scams include phishing scams, phone scams, and contractor fraud. Since these warnings were addressed to residents specifically, it appears that visitors haven’t been a primary target. So it looks like Lake Charles has a low scams risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
No data about women traveler safety in Lake Charles can be found on the internet, but, according to women bloggers and forum users who have visited the city, Lake Charles, with its “small-town charm,” is safe for women. Therefore, Lake Charles appears to pose very little risk for women travelers.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Because Lake Charles doesn’t have any active health-based violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), its tap water is safe to drink. Our conclusion, therefore, is that Lake Charles has a low tap water risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Lake Charles
There’s a huge selection of interesting, safe places to visit in Lake Charles.
You can go on a wildlife-watching excursion along the Creole Nature Trail or take in views of the Cypress Swamp right along the Calcasieu River.
History buffs can walk along with the historic neighborhoods in Lake Charles to take in the stately Victorian-style homes, while foodies can enjoy some authentic top Cajun and creole fare at one of the small local eateries.
Mardi Gras fans can check out the Mardi Gras Museum, where they can get close-ups of elaborate floats and costumes and explore the rich history of southwestern Louisiana.
Places to Avoid in Lake Charles
The east neighborhoods of Lake Charles see more crime than other parts of the city.
In the east part, one’s chances of becoming a crime victim is as high as 1 in 12.
Compare that to 1 in 37 in the southwest part of Lake Charles.
According to 92.9 The Lake, the 5 most dangerous neighborhoods are:
- City Center
- Mill St / S Shattuck St
- Mallard Junction / Hipple
- W Sallier St / Lake St
This list is based on a combination of the areas’ property and violent crimes.
While violent crimes include armed robbery, homicide, and assault, property crimes include larceny, burglary, arson, and vehicle theft.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Lake Charles
- Stay in the safer areas. The southwest part of Lake Charles is generally considered the safest area. You also can’t go wrong with the touristy areas, like Downtown Lake Charles and the areas along the Calcasieu River. But no matter where you are, you should be hypervigilant when it comes to your safety.
- Never leave your belongings unattended. This is especially important when you’re in places with relatively high pickpocketing/theft rates. It’s best to keep your belongings on your lap or between your legs when in public.
- Leave your expensive possessions behind. Rather than wear watches and jewelry in plain sight, you should keep your valuables inside your hotel room or (even better) in a hotel safe. Tourists are often seen as easy targets for robbery/theft, so do what you can to lower your chances of losing your valuables.
- Don’t go out alone at night. This is never a good idea, no matter where in the world you are. If you do have to leave your hotel after dark, do so with a friend. But an even better option would be to take an Uber or a taxi.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Try not to wear headphones while walking in public. People who seem oblivious to their surroundings make for easier targets for thieves and robbers. Walk with confidence and know what’s around you.
- Look out for local and national weather alerts. As you may well know, Lake Charles (and Louisiana as a whole) is a major hotspot for natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Even the occasional snowstorm makes its way into the area. Always be on top of the alerts and prepare accordingly.
- Walk around crowds. As “The Festival Capital of Louisiana,” Lake Charles draws people from all over the country throughout the year. Its festivals, which include the Louisiana Pirate Festival and the Gulf Coast Shrimp & Jazz Festival, bring in massive crowds, so you must learn some crowd safety tips.
- Travel in groups when checking out the swamps. Companionship not only makes your trip more fun; it also reduces risk. Your group members can help you if you happen to get caught in an unpleasant situation, e.g., you get injured.
- Keep your alcoholic beverages indoors. Unlike in New Orleans, where you’re allowed to carry open containers of alcohol in the French Quarter on public streets, openly carrying alcohol in Lake Charles can get you in big trouble. Keep your alcoholic drinks inside, whether you’re inside a bar or restaurant.
- Research about Lake Charles. Gain some in-depth knowledge about Lake Charles before making your trip. Sources you can take advantage of include traveler reviews on the internet and local people if you happen to know any.
So... How Safe Is Lake Charles Really?
If you’re aware of all the dangers and warnings and pay attention to all the safety tips above, you should expect to have a fun and safe vacation in Lake Charles.
Like any other city in the US, Lake Charles has its “good” and “bad” areas.
As long as you stick to the “good” areas, such as the downtown area, the museums, and the historic neighborhoods, you should be reasonably safe from harm.
The “bad” areas, which you should avoid as much as possible, include neighborhoods like Goosport and City Center.
Violent and property crimes run rampant in these areas, so it’s best to stick to the safer parts of the city.
You should also avoid walking alone at night whenever possible.
People, especially tourists, tend to be easier targets at night.
Therefore, a much better alternative would be to walk with someone you know or take a taxi or Uber ride.
As a city full of life, history, and culture, Lake Charles, Louisiana, is sure to charm you with everything it has to offer.
With its blend of African, European, and Native American influences, you’ll get the best of many worlds on your vacation.
How Does Lake Charles Compare?
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If you’re traveling to Louisiana from outside the US, you’ll have to present a passport when you arrive. Unless you’re a permanent resident or someone staying in the country for more than 90 days, you most likely won’t need a visa.
As the official currency of the US, the US dollar is the only accepted currency in Lake Charles and anywhere else in the country. Fortunately, there are many places throughout Lake Charles where you can exchange your currency, including ATMs and kiosks.
Summers in Lake Charles are hot and muggy, while winters are cold and wet. Make sure you dress appropriately, or else you’ll be very, very uncomfortable. Also, be on top of the weather alerts, especially during hurricane and tornado season, since Lake Charles is known for these types of natural disasters.
If you’re flying from somewhere within the US, you’ll very likely be able to fly directly into Lake Charles Regional Airport. Tourists traveling from abroad can fly into Chennault International Airport (KCWF), the closest international airport to Lake Charles.
You must never overlook the importance of travel insurance, which is designed to help you in dire travel-related situations. These situations include lost or stolen possessions, canceled flights, and medical emergencies. Unexpected situations while traveling are inevitable, so why not avail of travel insurance and have that financial backup in case something bad happens? Plus, travel insurance gives you peace of mind, allowing you to make the most of your vacation.
Lake Charles Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Louisiana - Safety by City