Kentucky : Safety by City
- Bowling Green
- Cave City
- Cumberland Falls
- Harlan Tri-Cities
- La Grange
- St. Matthews
“Ready. Aim. Fun.”
That’s the battle cry for tourists to visit Madisonville, Kentucky.
This western Kentucky town is home to 20,000 people and is about as simple as a Kentucky town can get.
You won’t find any major tourist attractions here, but you will find a community ripe with activities and neighborhood gatherings.
There are a lot of outdoor activities, from racing cars to reeling in a big catch on Lake Pee Wee.
Madisonville is the retail and commercial hub for this rural region and is surrounded by small towns and rolling hills.
The city brings in even more people for its festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
A great way to celebrate Madisonville is to visit the local farms and petting zoo, where plenty of Kentucky Proud items and treats are for sale.
This is a religious town, and you might be surprised by how many churches can fit into one city.
Nightlife is scarce, and plenty of people ask, “Is there ANYTHING to do here?”
Warnings & Dangers in Madisonville
OVERALL RISK : LOW
The town's crime and property rates are extremely low, but the drug crimes average one crime for every 61 people. While it's an overall safe town, it will not keep you very busy unless you're looking for a quiet escape.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Madisonville has a small bus transit system. You can customize the fixed route for an extra charge. Taxis and rideshares are available but are not plentiful. You should probably have your own car here to explore other nearby small towns.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There was one purse snatching reported in 2020, so there's a low risk. It's not a crowded city unless you are here for a festival, so you don't have to worry about being stuck in a crowd and having a death grip on your wallet.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Madisonville has a history of strong tornadoes and devastating ice storms. You should be prepared for anything while you're visiting here, but spring brings the strongest part of tornado season. While there isn't always snow on the ground in the winter, when a storm hits, it can be isolating and crippling.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were just three robberies in 2020, and only one of them was in a public space. There was a business robbery where the thieves got away with $16,000. While there's a low risk, that can quickly change, especially with the increase in drug use. Drug crime usually leads to more violent crime.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
You can rest easy. There's no risk of Madisonville being a hard target. It's just too small and remote of a town.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Only the common utility and IRS scams happen here. There aren't any tourist-focused fraud activities to report. That doesn't mean it can't happen, but the likelihood is low. Report any suspicious activity to the police and the FTC.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
About 60% of the crimes that happen here are against women, but 59% of those crimes happen in homes. There were three reported sexual assaults in 2020. The biggest risk for women is walking around looking for something to do, especially at night. Without a centralized nightlife, it can be hard to meet trustworthy people. You wouldn't want to go to a house party with someone you just met in a strange city.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
All's well in the water! At least, it was in 2019. The city hasn't updated the Water Quality Report since then, despite the requirement to post it yearly. The latest information we have is that there's low risk with no violations and all standards met, but that information is now three years old.
Safest Places to Visit in Madisonville
The downtown area is historic but rather basic.
It has all you need to enjoy yourself downtown with unique shops and restaurants.
There are some art museums and sculpture walks.
You can also take a guided walking tour downtown.
Tours have three parts; historical, patriotic, and artsy.
The largest Veteran’s Day Parade in Kentucky happens here each November.
Governor Ruby Laffoon’s Cabin is a mid-1800s log cabin preserved for tours with genuine artifacts from the era.
Governor Laffoon is famously the one who made Harland Sanders the “Colonel Sanders” who created Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The Historical Society Museum of Hopkins County is in Madisonville and has art, artifacts, and amenities from the early days of the town.
You can even see a 1910 Buick Buggybout.
This is a vehicle(?) so rare there are only three left in the world, and even Google couldn’t give me a direct answer about what it is!
If you know, please comment below!
Lake Pee Wee is 360 acres of lakefront Kentucky fun.
While no gasoline-powered vehicles are allowed on the water, you can canoe or kayak to your heart’s content.
There are specific areas for fishing.
Grapevine Lake is another option south of town and comes with eight miles of trails for hiking or mountain biking.
Mahr Park Arboretum blends water, nature, and wildlife activities into one serene 265-acre park.
There’s even a boardwalk trail to take in the fresh air without worrying about muddy shoes.
The Western Kentucky Speedway heats up throughout the year.
You can find the latest events on the Facebook page @westernkentuckyspeedway.
Brumfield Farm Market is one of several options in the county for tasting fresh farm food.
You can sample everything from homemade fudge to fresh bacon.
Places to Avoid in Madisonville
You really don’t have to worry about a bad part of town here.
It’s a safe community that isn’t very large.
Even within the city limits, a lot of the area is empty land.
If you are visiting around a holiday, please book your hotel early.
The city can fill up quickly, and you might have to stay out of town if you don’t reserve a room in enough time.
Look up “Madisonville Ice Storm 2009” on YouTube, and you’ll see exactly why you should avoid this area in an ice storm.
Even if you can get there, you might end up without power or water and trees blocking the streets.
While this storm was exceptionally dangerous, it’s not uncommon to have ice storms in this region.
Since it’s rural, you’ll have a hard time driving on the roads no matter how “good” of a driver you are.
You can also search for “Madisonville Tornado” and see how devastating the storms have been over the past 25 years.
One of them even blew a train clear off the tracks.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Madisonville
- Hopkins County Alert is the name of the emergency notification system. This will send any emergency, like severe weather, to your mobile device. The system geographically targets calls, so you won’t get messages from an area you aren’t in.
- Madisonville Police Department has an interactive crime map that is updated daily on its website. You can search for types of crime in certain areas or by certain date ranges. This will help you see crime trends closer to your visit.
- Hopkins County teams up with the Madisonville Police Department to offer anonymous crime reporting through CrimeStoppers. You can submit the tip online or call (270)825-1111. You could get up to a $1000 reward for the information you provide.
- Download the Go Madisonville app to get a direct line of communication with the city. You can ask questions or report problems, like potholes, through your mobile device. Every city department is easy to contact through this app. You can also track your questions as they are handled.
- The list of emergency storm shelters in Madisonville and Hopkins County is always growing. You can research this on the county’s website. Tornado shelters are essential in this region, and they double down as warming shelters if winter weather knocks out power. The shelters will also have mobile phone charging stations if your battery dies.
- We talked about the drug problem in Madisonville. It’s really a nationwide problem, but some cities get hit harder than others. The recent trends are drugs that look like legitimate prescription drugs but are laced with deadly Fentanyl. Never take medication from a friend or family member, and always get your prescriptions filled at a licensed pharmacy.
- Madisonville Police recently implemented the “Text to 911” service. If you are ever in a situation where you can’t call, you can text your emergency information to 911. There’s a “How To” video on the police department’s website. You should only use this service if you can’t speak, like in an active shooter or domestic situation. Be sure to use as much description as possible, especially about your location. You won’t be able to send images or videos, so your words are critical.
- The streets of Madisonville and most of this region have big solid white lines at intersections. Yes, this is where you are supposed to stop, BUT stopping on or before the white lines means you’ll trigger the “vehicle loop detectors” to know you are there and change the light in your favor faster. As one resident told me, “It will save you at least five minutes during your commute.”
- Check the city’s Facebook page, @cityofmadisonvilleky, for events happening during your visit. This is the best way to find safe, family-friendly events happening close to your visit. Some of the tourism or third-party sites might not have as up-to-date information as the city does.
- You’ll need a fishing license from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife if you want to use any of the fishing lakes while you’re here. Some communities can also require a fishing license, so check that when you research your fishing needs during your trip.
So... How Safe Is Madisonville Really?
Madisonville is a city with crime rates so low I had to double-check them.
Then I saw the high drug crime rates, and I had to double-check those.
The violent and property crime rates are at least 30% lower than the state and national averages.
59% of the violent crimes happened in homes, making it even safer in public for a tourist.
The theft rates are two and a half times lower than the national average, and that’s even with 31% of the thefts being shoplifting.
Even car break-ins are just 9% of the thefts.
While that’s a low number, you should still lock your car and roll up the windows when you park, especially if you have a nicer vehicle with you.
Madisonville could have much higher crime rates.
With increasing drug crimes and a poverty rate looming near 25%, that’s usually a catalyst for more crime.
Somehow, the city has bucked that trend, and it will take people continuing to report suspicious activity to keep it that way.
How Does Madisonville Compare?
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- Visas - A U.S. Travel or Work Visa is required to get into the United States, but you don't need your visa as you travel between states or cities. Put it somewhere safe until your return flight home. Be sure you start the visa process several months ahead of time.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar throughout Kentucky. You might want some cash with you since some businesses don't take credit cards. Be sure to exchange currency in a larger city or at the airport.
- Weather - The weather can be variable here, with warm days followed by freezing nights, especially in late fall through early spring. Summers will be hot and humid but can range from excessive heat warnings to unseasonably low temperatures. Packing various sleeve lengths of shirts and some jeans mixed in with shorts will be ideal from late spring through early fall. Be sure to bring a coat in the winter, but there's always a chance you don't need it.
- Airports - Nashville's airport is two hours south. You can get to Evansville, Indiana's Regional Airport in one hour. The airport near Paducah is about 90 minutes away.
- Travel Insurance - You should strongly consider travel insurance for the flight and the rental car if you're getting one. The weather here can cause delays and ripple effects of delays and cancellations at other airports.
Madisonville Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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