Louisiana : Safety by City
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- Bossier City
- Lake Charles
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About halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, you’ll come across LaPlace, Louisiana.
Here you’ll find outdoor adventures and some unique traditions you can’t find anywhere else in the state.
LaPlace (“Lah-PLAAS”) is a “blink and you’ll miss it” exit on I-10, but you’ll miss a lot if you don’t take some time to explore this small town of fewer than 30,000 people.
One bonus of LaPlace is that you still have great outdoor adventure options, like swamp tours, without the big crowds that might be waiting closer to New Orleans.
If you’re here during the holiday season, you’ll understand why this is called Bonfire Country.
Bonfires are set up along the levee from LaPlace to Lutcher (about 20 miles) and are said to guide “Papa Noel” through the banks of the foggy Mississippi River to the homes of good boys and girls.
Another version of the story claims the bonfires started to guide Christmas Eve churchgoers to the chapel before streetlights were invented.
LaPlace is located in St. John the Baptist Parish, and law enforcement comes from the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office.
It’s not actually a city.
It’s what’s referred to as a “Census-Designated Place.”
That means it’s governed by the country – or parish, as they are called in Louisiana – instead of having a traditional city government.
Warnings & Dangers in LaPlace
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk across this parish, which is a nice change of pace from some of the other, more dangerous, communities. Louisiana has one of the fastest-growing violent crime rates in the nation, so review our other articles on community safety if you are visiting the greater New Orleans region.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The New Orleans public transportation system doesn't come this far, so you'll need a rental car or have to rely on taxis and rideshares. Getting between the different outdoor areas and attractions isn't walkable. A rental car is by far the best option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
This is low risk, with no reports of pickpockets or purse snatching in 2021. Car burglaries make up 30% of the thefts here, so use extra caution with the items you leave behind in the car and never leave your car unlocked.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Flooding is a big risk here. Even as I did a Google Maps search of the area, the majority of side streets had minor flooding or large puddles on them. The city is surrounded by water on the north and south sides and is waterlogged in the city limits. This is a swamp, after all. Hurricanes are another risk, with the seasons starting in June and running through the end of November. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can also happen at any time of the year.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Since 2018, the robbery rate has plummeted throughout the parish, with just four robberies reported in 2021. The risk is about as low as you'll find in Louisiana.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This is a rural parish with many remote areas, so there's little concern about terror attacks in LaPlace or St. John Parish.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are reports of residential fraud in LaPlace, but nothing that should concern a tourist. If you rent a home here, just use a legitimate rental agency and avoid third-party websites like Craigslist.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women have a low risk here of being crime victims. They should also know the inherent risks of swamp wilderness and never go into nature alone. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back. Avoid the riverfront at night.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
St. John Parish's water utility provided four Water Quality Reports from 2021. Each one covers a portion of the parish, and three of them - including the one for LaPlace - had no violations and full compliance. The fourth had a copper and lead violation in August, but that's for a very remote and small portion of the parish.
Safest Places to Visit in LaPlace
There isn’t an official tourism website for LaPlace, but you can get some information on the LouisianaTravel.com website.
You can also look at the section of Louisiana’s River Parishes, including LaPlace and surrounding cities.
You can also visit lariverparishes.com to get more specific information about this region.
The 1811 Kid Ory Historic House is one of the oldest buildings in the parish and is noted for two major historical events in Louisiana.
One of them was the revolt of slaves as they marched from LaPlace toward New Orleans.
This was also the literal birthplace of jazz artist Kid Ory who set the theme for future generations of music in Louisiana.
Cajun Pride Swamp Tours offers boat rides through a private, largely untouched swamp.
Since no fishing or hunting is allowed on this land, you will likely see more animals in their natural habitat than on other tours on public lands.
The company also offers plantation tours at Oak Alley Plantation.
You can get a discount for taking both tours.
Plantation Adventure also offers similar tours with several more plantation options on the list.
Most tours will come with a Cajun lunch, and you’ll be able to explore the interior of the homes.
You can also tour the plantations along the Great River Road that spans as far as Baton Rouge to New Orleans, but there’s a section that starts just east of LaPlace in Norco that passes by the plantations and other historic sites.
To learn more, visit byways.louisiana.com.
This is where I found the best map with guided directions to each location.
Don’t ignore the gas stations along the way, as they are known to have some of the best Cajun food in the region.
Contrary to its name, ZipNOLA is actually in LaPlace.
This is a theme park of zip line courses.
You’ll zip high over swamps, seeing plenty of alligators and snakes along the way.
There are five hipline tour options ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging, and two sky bridges.
If you’re scared of heights (like me), you can still watch all the excitement for free.
Decks are located throughout the park.
A great photo op is the Bonfire Alligator in LaPlace, which is on the city’s west side at 669 Belle Terre Boulevard.
The alligator celebrates the Bonfire Country spirit.
His name is Saint.
To see the actual bonfires, you’ll need to visit on specific December days.
Look for that information on the Louisiana River Parishes website.
Places to Avoid in LaPlace
LaPlace is a pretty rural area, so don’t go into the neighborhoods unless you visit friends or family there.
Many streets are narrow and dead-end at a swamp.
Avoid this area if a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching, as it can flood easily.
The stores will sell out of supplies as early as a week before a storm, and businesses will begin boarding up.
If you’re visiting during severe weather, watch for flash flooding on the roads, and don’t try to drive across a flooded roadway even if you don’t think it’s that deep.
It just takes six inches of water to knock you down or pick up a car.
One great thing about Louisiana is the urban legends.
In this parish, there’s the legend of the Rougarou (Rew-ga-rew) werewolf that lives in the swamps.
As the story goes, if you look the Rougarou in the eyes, you will turn into the monster.
You can’t tell anyone for a year, or else you’ll be forever doomed to life as a Rougarou.
It’s just good advice, in general, to avoid looking monsters in the eye.
Safety Tips for Traveling to LaPlace
- It might make visitors nervous to find out there’s no local police force, but the St. John Sheriff’s Office is based in LaPlace. The department is also very transparent about crimes and offers an interactive crime map on its website to check crime trends closer to your visit.
- Look at the “Send a Crime Tip” section of the sheriff’s website to see how you can submit information about a crime. You can choose between general crime stipes, drug tips, and traffic tips.
- While there’s a low risk of fraud or scams here, a new scam can always pop up. Louisiana is very adamant about stopping scammers and has a hotline to call if you have information about a potential scammer. The number is 1-844-503-7283. You can also use an online form on the website of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
- The Safety Tips section of the Sheriff’s website has a long list of information about common safety concerns in LaPlace. This covers everything from traffic concerns to ATM safety. It’s an easy-to-read layout with good information for any visitor to the parish.
- Download the St. John Sheriff’s Mobile app, and you’ll have access to all the information mentioned above. You’ll also be able to contact the department while on the go or in an emergency. Check out the links to the social media sites, so you can follow along as information develops during your visit.
- You’ll need a license from the Department of Wildlife and Hatcheries if you want to fish here. Since LaPlace is south of the designated “Saltwater Line” in the state, you’ll need a combo license of saltwater and freshwater fishing so that you can fish in any spot open to anglers.
- If you’re visiting for the Festival of the Bonfires, you don’t have to worry about setting up your own. Bonfires are by permit only and built by experienced crafters. You are welcome to visit any bonfire site, but don’t try to construct your own. If you are there for Christmas Eve, arrive no later than 6 pm. Shuttles are available.
- I saw one listing for a swamp tour that claimed, “mosquitos aren’t a problem here as the dragonflies eat them.” Do not believe this. You will still need to apply bug spray often. Make sure it contains DEET. There are just too many mosquitos in this swampy region to risk it.
- The entire parish is flood-prone, so any flooding risk should be taken seriously. It’s important to know that flood watches and warnings can extend hours or days after the rain ends as the water travels from higher locations to lower elevations.
- Use 511la.org to get updated traffic information. The site covers the entire state, but you can search by metro area or highway. You’ll get construction information, traffic alerts, and live cameras along all major roadways.
So... How Safe Is LaPlace Really?
2021 crime data from St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office shows all categories are below the national average.
Just 5% of crimes happen against strangers.
You can review the latest news releases on the department’s website to better understand crimes close to your visit.
The main concern will be the weather and flood levels.
The swamp areas can be impacted by the tides, and even a traditional rainstorm can cause flooding.
You should now have all the tools to track weather and traffic information for the safest trip.
Car break-ins are a risk in every city I’ve researched, with at least 25% of all thefts being from car burglaries or stolen accessories.
Lock your car every time you park it, and roll the windows all the way up.
Keep personal belongings out of plain sight.
You can’t assume any other city you visit will have the same safety rating as LaPlace.
In fact, some parts of southern Louisiana are very dangerous.
We’ve produced various reports of nearby cities for your convenience on this website.
How Does LaPlace Compare?
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|Santiago de Chile (Chile)||71|
- Visas - The U.S. State Department issues Visas for people visiting from outside the country. Use the Visa Wizard module on the department's website to get started applying for the right Visa. There's a difference between a work, travel, or school visa. Starting planning this process at least three months out, as the process has several steps, including an in-person interview at the nearest embassy.
- Currency - You'll only be able to use the U.S. Dollar here. Exchange currency before you arrive or go into a local bank. Don't use public ATMs. Keep your receipts when using a credit card to protect against identity theft.
- Weather - Most of the year, it's hot and humid here, and the humidity is sometimes oppressive. If you're visiting in the summer, you'll want to pack extra clothing since you'll likely sweat through your outfits throughout the day. Winters can occasionally have a cold snap, so bring a jacket. You'll need closed-toed shoes as most swamp toes and the zip line park require them.
- Airports - From LaPlace, you'll be 20 minutes from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and an hour from the Baton Rouge airport.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance offers peace of mind that goes into effect as soon as you make the purchase. Since the risk of flooding is high here, ensure you have rental car flood or storm damage coverage, too.
LaPlace Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Louisiana - Safety by City