Arkansas : Safety by City
- Eureka Springs
- Fort Smith
- Hot Springs
- Little Rock
- Mountain Home
- North Little Rock
- West Memphis
Little Rock is a big city smack dab in the middle of Arkansas.
Known as The Natural State, Arkansas is full of small towns and natural wonders, but Little Rock is a cultural hub and capital city with urban adventures too.
Southern hospitality reigns here, with “y’all” and “bless your heart” comments in just about every conversation.
The food is home-cooked and deep-fried, and the people are salt of the earth.
It’s a hard-working town with a diverse community.
Little Rock’s economy is powered by transportation and distribution hubs.
Major interstates can get you going in all directions, and the state has many unique cities to explore if you are looking for day trips during your visit.
The Arkansas River splits the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Please review our North Little Rock summary to see the attractions and safety guide for that city.
The downtown has several districts to visit, and there’s something for everyone.
Main Street brings a creative vibe to the city, while the River Market District is full of shopping and dining while enjoying stunning views of the river.
South Main (SoMa) has a special entertainment district where adults of legal drinking age (21) can carry their beverages out in the open.
For a true slice of Southern historical charm, head to the East Village.
With so many places to choose from, it would be helpful to start with a few tours to get a better lay of the land.
Tours are offered through historical areas, civil rights landmarks, art murals, and landmarks associated with President Bill Clinton, who is from Hope, Arkansas.
Warnings & Dangers in Little Rock
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
There's a high risk in Little Rock, but with a caveat. Living in Little Rock comes with certain risks, but visiting here, you'll find crime data helps and hurts a tourist, depending on how you look at it. With a one-in-50 chance of being a violent crime victim, we have to make you aware of the challenges, but please don't cancel a trip here because of that. We'll talk through the issues as we go.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Rock Region Metro is the public transportation here. The Metro Streetcar will take you to the top attractions between Little Rock and North Little Rock. Taxis and rideshares are easily accessible, and rental cars are plentiful. There's a medium risk with all options, but that highly depends on what neighborhoods you travel to and what time of day you're traveling.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Here's a big surprise - pickpocket risks are low here. For the past few years, less than 10 pickpocket or purse snatchings have been reported each year. While that's going by the raw data, you should still use extra caution when you're visiting here and carry only essentials.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The Natural State is at risk of many natural disasters. Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, snowstorms, blizzards, ice storms, and earthquakes. You should study emergency management plans for any type of weather you aren't familiar with and have a weather app on your phone with emergency notifications enabled.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery risk is two and a half times higher than the national average, and it's on pace to be higher in 2022 than in 2021. Robberies are up 25% citywide as of September 2022.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, but mostly due to the distribution disruption a physical, chemical, or cyber attack would have. While this is the largest metro region in the state, there's probably a greater chance that Memphis would be a bigger target.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The biggest scams here prey on residents. Scammers act as law enforcement and demand money or threaten arrest. While a tourist isn't likely to face that risk, with such a high crime rate, be on the lookout for anyone trying to force payment out of you for anything.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women have a slightly higher chance of being victims of a violent crime, and the sexual assault rate is more than three times the national average. Avoid walking around alone at night, and always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back. There are a lot of homeless people in this city, so be confident and inattentive to anyone begging for money.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report for Central Arkansas shows no violations and full compliance. After a severe storm or flood, you should check with the city before using drinking water. It's always smart to bring a case of water into your hotel room when traveling.
Safest Places to Visit in Little Rock
LittleRock.com is the official tourism website.
You can sign up for the Attractions Pass, which gives you different prizes depending on how many places you visit and use the check-in function.
A few attractions and tours can help you get a lay of the land.
Stop by the Governor’s mansion and state capital to get tours of the government structure here.
The Historic Arkansas Museum will give you an extensive look at the history of the state and how Little Rock was developed.
The Little Rock Civil Rights tour will help you learn about the importance of this city in fighting for the rights of African Americas and other disenfranchised communities.
You can tour the Arkansas Maritime Museum, which takes you through a World War II tugboat and submarine.
While technically in North Little Rock, this attraction is along the stretch of river where the two cities blend together.
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is a great Civil Rights location if you don’t take the tour.
This is where the “Little Rock Nine,” which was a group of black students, tried to enter an all-white school in 1957, gaining national media attention.
Riverfront Park is so much more than a traditional park.
It stretches 11 blocks along the Arkansas River with several pedestrian bridges to cross the river.
Playgrounds, a sculpture park, murals, and a tree house are also located here.
The William J. Clinton Museum and Library is just west of this park.
Outdoor adventures can head 20 miles west of Little Rock to reach Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area.
This location is filled with challenging hikes, so it’s not for people who aren’t used to scrambling over rocks or navigating precipices.
The only caution here is that rain or melting snow can close the trails to keep them from getting torn up and avoid hikers from getting stuck or slipping.
The Little Rock Zoo and Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center are right across the street from each other, making for a great day of family fun.
Places to Avoid in Little Rock
As much as you can, avoid going south of I-630/Wilbur D Mills Freeway, especially west of Pine Street.
The highest crime areas are in this region.
Robberies are up in 2022 in all the police districts, but the Southwest Police District is up a whopping 46%.
Homicides are up nearly 43% in the Northwest Police District.
Downtown does have crime too, but you’ll see a much stronger police presence there and have the safety of larger crowds in public areas.
There really isn’t a part of Little Rock or North Little Rock where you can let your guard down.
There are plenty of activities you can do on the Arkansas River near downtown, but swimming is not one of them.
Not only is it illegal, but the river also isn’t clean enough to make swimming a safe idea anyway.
You can boat, kayak or fish.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Little Rock
- Download the YourLRPD app. This gives you full access to the police department, safety tips, crime mapping, and crime statistics. You can also report non-urgent crime information through the app.
- There is a grouping of hotels at the I-630 and I-430 interchange. West of this area is a safer place to say, but east of I-630 is more dangerous. There is a Motel 6 there to avoid at all costs, as police are repeatedly called there for violent and heinous crimes. Staying downtown is safer when you look at crime data.
- I’m sure the high crime rates here have you wanting answers to specific questions. The Little Rock Police Department wants to hear from you. You can ask general questions by emailing AskLRPD@littlerock.gov or sending a message to the Chief’s office at LRPDChief@littlerock.gov.
- LGBTQIA+ tourists might have specific questions about inclusive neighborhoods or gathering places. The police department has four LGBTQIA+ liaisons. That’s the most officers dedicated to inclusivity and diversity I’ve seen nationwide. The contact information for each officer is on the department’s website under “21st Century Policing.”
- For those relying on public transportation in Little Rock, you’ll need to download three apps. METROTrack is a way to track the busses, set favorite stops, and get travel alerts. Trip Planner helps you scout out your travel path using the power of Google Maps. Token Transit allows you to pay for passes or bus tickets.
- While you’re downloading apps, get the Little Rock 311 app. You’ll avoid having to scroll through the city directory and be able to ask a pointed question and let the people running the app find the right department so you can get an answer faster. You can also report issues, like potholes and graffiti, through this app. You can also dial 311 at any time during your visit.
- If you get a parking ticket in Little Rock, and you don’t have a reason to contest it, pay the fine within 21 days. After three weeks, the fine goes up. For example, a $10 ticket goes up to $50.
- Look up the BikePed program on the city website if you plan on walking around a lot or using a bicycle to travel downtown. This program offers safety documents and videos to make your travels safer. Also, no matter how many other people are doing it, never cross a street outside of a crosswalk.
- Anglers and/or hunters need a license from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. You must get an out-of-state or non-resident license. There are options to get combo licenses, so explore all the options before you make a purchase. You might be able to save money.
- Little Rock police release daily reports on its website and social media sites. These are very detailed but not too intricate. It’s a great way to see the crime happening closer to your visit instead of relying on aged data.
So... How Safe Is Little Rock Really?
I’ve visited Little Rock many times in my life, and it pains me to see this violent crime issue ongoing.
In the fall of 2020, the city averaged 13 violent crimes per day.
For a tourist, there’s good news when you see that just 4% of violent crimes happen against strangers.
At the same time, 43% of violent crimes happen in a place where a tourist could be found, like a public street, hotel, parking lot, restaurant, or convenience store.
How dangerous it is will be largely on how dangerous it feels to you.
Those from bigger cities will be used to higher crime rates and basic personal safety steps.
For some people, getting a car broken into isn’t that big of a deal.
For others, it is a mentally disturbing incident.
Hearing gunshots might freak some people out while others hardly notice the noise.
You should stay within the public and populated areas designed for entertainment, education, or personal enjoyment.
Don’t go through neighborhoods where you don’t have any business being.
Avoid going to see what is happening if you see a bunch of police cars and crime scene tape.
The city and law enforcement have created a Crime Reduction Strategy, which is an aggressive plan not only to catch criminals but hold them accountable and implement good practices to stop crimes from happening in the first place.
You can read the full plan on the city’s website.
A large chunk of crimes involve gangs, drugs, or retaliation.
The real risk for a tourist would be getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Don’t go looking for trouble, and you might not find it.
With violent crime more than five times the national average, you need proper and vigilant safety practices to avoid it finding you.
How Does Little Rock Compare?
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- Visas - A U.S. Visa or Visa Wavier is required to get into the country through Customs. The Visa process is pretty elaborate, so start planning about four months out. Also, make sure your passport isn't within six months of expiring.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and avoid using any public ATM to get cash or exchange currency. Always go into a bank to make a transaction. It's smart if you avoid carrying cash and pay for as much as you can ahead of time from the safety of your hotel room, as long as you avoid public WiFi.
- Weather - You'll get all four seasons here, and while the winter is traditionally milder than up north, there are times the temperatures can get dangerously low. Bring warm outerwear, just in case, but hope for a mild spell. Summers are just incredibly hot and humid here. Don't pack anything that could be damaged by excessive sweating. You'll need good walking shoes and plenty of bug spray.
- Airports - The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport is on the east side of the city, about 10 minutes from downtown. The airport code is LIT.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is essential here since severe weather throughout the year can cancel or delay flights. Make sure you know what insurance is covered on your rental car too.
Little Rock Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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