Kentucky : Safety by City
- Bowling Green
- Cave City
- Cumberland Falls
- Harlan Tri-Cities
- La Grange
- St. Matthews
Louisville, Kentucky, is Derby City, known for its popular horserace and Louisville Slugger.
It sits on the south side of the Ohio River, with Indiana across the water to the north.
You might even hear people refer to this region as Kentuckiana.
Be sure to speak like a local and call it “Lou-uh-vul” (say it really fast) and not “Lou-wee-ville.”
Here you can dine on Bourban Balls and the Hot Brown while visiting the Kentucky Fried Chicken headquarters.
They put spaghetti in the chili and have some of the best bourbon you’ll ever sip (just ask them.)
This is also the home of the global hit song “Happy Birthday.”
Haven’t you always wondered where that came from?
The origins date back to 1912, by Louisville sisters Patty and Mildred Hall (and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong, according to anyone in Louisville).
The city made global headlines with the shooting of Breonna Taylor during a no-knock warrant search.
Louisville Police were at the wrong address, but in a confusing and controversial situation, Taylor’s friend shot at police thinking it was a break-in.
Breonna was killed in the crossfire when officers shot back.
This led to protests and the social media message of “Say Her Name” to bring awareness to systemic racism in America.
Louisville is a fun city for tourists, but it’s also complicated.
Some of the suburbs are among the safest cities in the country.
Meanwhile, Louisville made some lists of the most deadly cities.
We have thoroughly researched Louisville and the surrounding areas, one city at a time, on this website, and we encourage you to explore all of them before making travel decisions.
Warnings & Dangers in Louisville
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
This city has a medium - sometimes high - risk. It's hard to imagine the city was one of the safest in the country in 2006 and now holds one of the highest homicide rates in the nation. Looking at the list of unsolved murders from 2021, it's shocking to see the crime wave that has gripped this city.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Tarc is the public transportation system that runs inside the 265 loops and across the Ohio River into Indiana. What's interesting is that the tourism site doesn't mention this option in its "Getting Around" section. Maybe you should consider other options. You can get rideshares and taxis - with zTrip being the most popular taxi to and from the airport. Bicycles and scooters are also available for rent throughout the city. You can also get a car rental, which I think is ideal so that you can explore the horse country outside Louisville.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
44 pickpockets or purse snatchings were reported in 2020. In a city of nearly 250,000, that's not a lot. You should still use extra caution with what personal items you bring and how visible those items are to passersby. With high robbery rates and big events built around alcohol, you should always do your utmost to protect your stuff.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Louisville can get a little bit of every weather event, from ice storms to tornadoes. Since there's a threat throughout the year, treat it with medium risk and study the emergency management page so you can better prepare for the worst.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
I triple-checked this - the robbery rate here is nearly seven times the national average. This is happening while violent crime rates soar. While it's important to avoid dangerous parts of town and follow safety steps, you should also know what to do if you get confronted by a robber. Don't fight back and follow commands. Try to remember as much as you can without looking the robber right in the eye. You want to be a good witness when you report a robbery.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk during big events like Derby Week, but otherwise, there isn't much that makes Louisville a hard target. While there's a risk in any city with major attractions, there are bigger cities higher on the terror watch list.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Look at the Common Scam Myths on the police department's website to see a list of current scams and how to avoid them. While most scams here target locals, tourists must watch out for rental scams and people selling tickets on third-party websites like Craigslist. Never wire money or buy gift cards to secure a purchase or reservation.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
The sexual assault rate is two and a half times the national average. With a mix of alcohol and fun times, it can be easy to let your guard down. Avoid walking around alone at night, and never go to a private house party if you don't know the people there. While many sexual assaults are domestic in nature, it's smart to take protective steps, like walking with your keys in between your fingers to ward off an attacker. Always look under your car when it has been parked for a while.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Louisville is so proud of its tap water that it has trademarked the name "Louisville Pure Tap." The 2021 Annual Water Quality Report gets an A+ for water quality with no violations reported. The water quality of the Ohio River when it comes to recreation is a whole different story. We'll talk about that in this article too.
Safest Places to Visit in Louisville
Gotolouisville.com is the official tourism website.
This is the best resource to use for cyber security and authenticity.
While other websites offer plenty of good information, it’s smart to stick with official sites for the best safety protection online.
You can also call (800)743-3100 to talk with a specialist about hotel and attraction packages to save you money.
Batter up to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, where you can see the history of baseball bats and modern bats being made fresh off the fiery press.
You can even get a look at the world’s tallest bat.
Step up the plate and try to hit like a big-league batter.
This is a must-see for baseball fans.
The Muhammed Ali Center celebrates the legacy of this hometown hero.
The museum has different exhibits based on Ali’s core beliefs that helped him achieve worldwide accolades.
This is one of the stops on the Civil Rights trail, which also details how Ali was influenced by racism and segregation, along with how he overcame racial obstacles.
The Roots 101 Museum is among the newest attractions in Louisville.
The architectural design will inspire, while the history of the African American culture will provide a range of emotions as it walks through the native lands of the people and how they were brought into slavery and then fought for freedom.
This is an educational and inspirational opportunity for everyone.
The Belle of Louisville isn’t a person – it’s a steamboat that makes you feel like you’re going to bump into Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer onboard.
This boat has been in action since 1914.
Cruise options come with meal options, sunset cruises, kids’ cruises, or dancing cruises with live music.
Churchill Downs is open for tours throughout the year.
The Kentucky Derby Museum can fill out quickly, so book your tickets ahead of time.
There are tiered levels of VIP access.
For example, you can book a breakfast tour during training season and watch the horses run nearby.
The backside tour takes you to the areas where the horses are stabled and get a view that isn’t possible during the Derby for the general public.
With so many bourbon bars and distilleries in the area, it’s more fun and efficient to go on a bourbon tour.
There’s also a Bourbon and Bridles tour that takes you to Churchill Downs while sampling some of the distilleries.
Ghost tours are also available throughout the year but get especially hyped during the fall.
There are even levels of ghost tours here.
One goes through the most haunted spots, and the other talks about the tragedies, sickness, and struggles the city had.
The latter is called the “Melancholy and Mourning Walking Tour.”
The Frazier History Museum has a mini-museum within a museum in “Cool Kentucky.”
This exhibit showcases the novelties, inventions, and innovations of Kentucky residents throughout the year.
Places to Avoid in Louisville
With Louisville’s intense and sudden increase in violent crime, you should treat every neighborhood as a potentially dangerous one.
This goes for places INSIDE the city limits, not necessarily the suburbs.
Don’t go off the main roads to the different tourist attractions.
Avoid walking around alone day or night, and never walk around at night.
It’s just too easy to stumble into a bad neighborhood, as one block might be safe, but five blocks in all directions could be unsafe until you get to another safe block.
I wish I could give more specific information than that, but I used the Crime Mapping tool on the police department’s website just searching for homicides and aggravated assaults.
Aside from one small area south of Broadway at 12th Street, the map is lit up with crimes.
Once you get south of the University of Louisville, the large numbers of crimes taper off.
The same goes for the east side of the city east of Cherokee Park.
Take note that crime trends can change, so use the crime mapping tool closer to your visit.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Louisville
- Using the aforementioned crime map, you can enter your hotel’s address and sign up for alerts about crimes in that area during your visit. This helps you stay on top of current criminal activity and possibly helps give police information about a crime.
- After the tragic Breonna Taylor murder, the police department and city made a commitment to transparency in diversity and race-related interactions and arrests. You can review the reports on the police department’s website as well as get the latest information on the Breonna Taylor case.
- The city has a crime tip hotline where you can submit any information about a crime, suspected drug house, prostitution, or other crime details that aren’t emergency situations. That number is 502-574-LMPD (5673). There is also a toll-free hotline of 1-866-649-4479.
- For any complaints about taxi drivers, you can report that by calling MetroCall at (502)574-5000. For any concerns about rideshares, you’ll need to reach out to the company that hosts the vehicle, like Uber or Lyft.
- During the weekdays and Saturdays, you’ll pay for parking on the street using a meter. If you find a broken meter, call (502)574-3817. If you arrive after 6:00 pm on Monday through Saturday, or all day Sunday, parking is free.
- The tourism website has a great breakdown of the different neighborhoods in Louisville. Keep in mind the tourism website isn’t going to mention anything about crime and safety. If you want to know more about the safety of a neighborhood that interests you, look at the Patrol Divisions of the Louisville Police Department website to find the right contact for that area.
- Don’t swim in the Ohio River. It has a swift current that can carry debris. Bacteria and algae blooms are also big concerns. You can read the risks on the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission.
- Download the Louisville Metro 311 app to get a direct line of contact with the city. Here you can search for city services and ask questions, report issues like potholes, or search for local parks. You can also dial 311 on your hotel phone or mobile device to get in touch with the city that way.
- Text “LENSAlert” to 67283 to start receiving emergency notifications on your mobile device. This will cover critical weather information and other safety issues that happen during your visit.
- LouVelo is the official bike-sharing program of Louisville, with 39 stations in Louisville. Here you can rent bicycles to get from one location to another and then dock the bike at your destination for the next person. If you want to get around by bicycle all day, use a bike rental service instead of bike-sharing. When you share a bike, it’s just for getting to another location fast, not for a day of touring. Bike sharing costs $5 per 30 minutes, and you can buy a monthly pass for $25, which gives you unlimited 60-minute rides.
So... How Safe Is Louisville Really?
At one time, it was unthinkable for Louisville to have homicides in the triple digits.
Now, the city saw a record 188 in 2021 and is on pace to break that record in 2022.
“Unfortunately, it’s a record-setting situation in the sense we’ve never in Louisville’s history have gone three straight years into triple-digit homicides,” said activist Christopher 2X to local station WLKY.
Another resident told the TV station, “We have to stop shooting each other.
It’s getting ridiculous every time somebody’s getting killed, and now it’s in my neighborhood and on my street.”
Louisville Police released a statement in regard to the crime rates, saying, “Like many major cities, Louisville has experienced an unacceptable rise in gun violence and homicides over the past few years.
LMPD is committed to utilizing a wide range of crime mitigation strategies to reduce violence, including seizing guns from individuals who cannot legally own them and focusing on known violent offenders.
Additionally, LMPD’s Homicide Unit is working diligently to clear cases with arrest to help bring families closure.”
You can exponentially lower your risk here by following this basic guidance:
- Stay in tourist-focused areas or entertainment districts.
- Don’t engage in activities like drug use, prostitution interaction, or gangs.
- Avoid walking around at night. Only walk around during the day with another person or a group.
- Lock your car and roll up the windows when parking. Take all personal belongings, including rental car paperwork, inside with you.
- If you are unsure about the safety of a neighborhood you are about to enter, assume it’s dangerous until you know otherwise.
To get a dose of reality, look at the list of unsolved homicides from previous years on the police department’s website.
It’s jarring to see the young and older faces, read their stories, and know that justice is long overdue.
It’s safer and smarter to stay in one of the safer suburban areas and visit downtown for the main attractions and nothing else.
How Does Louisville Compare?
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The U.S. State Department details the many steps it takes to get a U.S. Travel or Work Visa. Start by checking if your country is in a location that qualified for the Visa Waiver Program. Don't delay. Getting a Visa can take several months.
If you need to exchange currency, do so inside a bank. Don't use public ATMs. You can only pay for things with U.S. Dollar (USD) currency.
Dress for all four seasons here, with winter coats and gloves, but it doesn't get as bitterly cold as states farther north.
Louisville Muhammed Ali International Airport is about 15 minutes from downtown. It's a large airport with plenty of connecting and direct flights to major cities. Despite its name, the airport doesn't offer direct international flights.
You'll need travel insurance to protect your flight investment and baggage. Consider extra car rental insurance to cover accidents or flat tires. If your home health insurance plan isn't covered in this region, supplemental health insurance will prevent high out-of-pocket costs.
Louisville Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kentucky - Safety by City