Georgia : Safety by City
- East Columbus
- East Point
- Johns Creek
- Peachtree City
- Peachtree Corners
- Sandy Springs
- South Fulton
- Tybee Island
- Warner Robins
A Hop on the I-75 Express Lane to McDonough, Georgia, a suburban community with some farm lifestyle near the big city of Atlanta.
This is a quaint city with a historic downtown preserved to near perfection and a few ghost stories to go along with it.
If you’ve seen the movie “A Madea Christmas” by Atlanta-local producer Tyler Perry, you’ve seen McDonough.
Smokey & the Bandit fans might recognize some of the sights too.
This is the seat of Henry County and home to just under 30,000 people and a very diverse community with 64% of the residents being African American, 12% Hispanic, and 19% Caucasian.
You’ll find hotels along the interstate, but none deep inside the city limits.
It is worth exploring the town because you might come across NBA great Shaquille O’Neill.
He has an estate here.
McDonough (pronounced “Mick-Donna”) is nearing a perfect city with enough of a mix of popular restaurants and stores and locally owned and operated options.
There’s history to cherish and the future to look forward to with festivals just about every month.
It even feels so familiar, you’ll see lions and tigers and bears, no lie!
Warnings & Dangers in McDonough
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk of visiting here, but a few crime hot spots to talk about. The benefits far outweigh the risks, as there's just so much to do here. It's no Georgia Aquarium, but for a small town, it's ripe with options.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You can take the Xpress bus to Downtown Atlanta. Taxi and rideshare options are available. If you are renting a car or driving your own, you can get toll passes to take express lanes to and from Atlanta. The lanes change the flow of traffic depending on the time of day or the need for traffic assistance in either direction. These are optional lanes. You can also just take the normal lanes on I-75 and sit in more traffic. Any option is a safe one here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were four purse snatching in McDonough in 2020. That number is higher than some of the most dangerous communities I've covered, but it's still a low risk. The average theft was just under $400, a reminder to not carry valuables in your purse and always keep them secured.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You face the risk of thunderstorms, some severe, and tornadoes in just about every part of Georgia. There's a medium risk because the storms do happen each year, it's just a matter of where they will hit next. There is the occasional winter storm here, which normally aren't severe, but Southerners don't handle winter weather well, so it's best to avoid any kind of snow or ice when visiting.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Only four robberies happened in public places in 2020, so there's a low risk.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
McDonough is almost an hour south of Atlanta, so you shouldn't have to worry about a terrorism risk. Atlanta has a higher risk because of the large population, but McDonough is a low-risk area and not a hard target itself.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
In March of 2022, two fast-food workers were busted taking credit card numbers of customers and buying things at other stores with that information. It happened over a two-day span. Other scams are mostly focused on locals, like utility and jury duty scams. You've got a low risk of getting scammed here, but I can't really give any advice on how to avoid fast-food scams unless you just pay with cash.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women face a low risk here. There are a lot of safe activities to do and most of them are in the daytime. Even being a small town with a low crime rate, it's still best not to wander around a strange town after dark.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The Henry County Water Quality Report shows no violations and all water meets or exceeds government requirements.
Safest Places to Visit in McDonough
Visiting downtown is always fun, day or night.
Most, if not all, shops and restaurants in the historic district of downtown are locally owned and operated, so you can search for unique treasures and try a new place for lunch every day.
The Geranium Festival is held here every year in May.
At night, you can go on a Haunted History Tour in the fall.
Be sure to make reservations for that, as spots fill up fast.
Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary is just 10 miles south on I-75, but worth the drive.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “We Bought a Zoo”, it is kinda like that.
250 acres hold 100 species of animals.
Admission is free but donations are welcomed as it costs $33,000 a month to feed and care for the animals.
It has all the animals you’d expect to see on a farm but also houses tigers, bears, wolves, primates, alpacas, and so much more.
Southern Belle Farm is one of the most popular places in town when it’s open seasonally.
In the spring, you can pick your own peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
There are also wildflower fields to run through that will make a great Instagram story.
In fall, pumpkins and fresh-baked goods come out for the crowds.
The Christmas season at the farm is pretty incredible too.
There is also a U-Pick-Em farm at Narrow Way Farm, but this is an organic farm without all the pomp and circumstance of Southern Belle Farm.
For rainy days, check out Dave & Busters for great food and games, or try an escape room in the middle of a camera museum.
There’s great nightlife with live music at Southern Roots Eatery & Tavern and the kids can burn off some energy at Woody’s Jump & Play.
Places to Avoid in McDonough
Most crime in the city is right along I-75, especially on the east side in the middle of the city.
That’s pretty common with just about all cities I’ve researched.
There aren’t any bad neighborhoods or dangerous parts of town to avoid, but with a lot of residential areas, it’s pretty clear where the tourists should go and where the neighborhoods are.
The average home here is worth less than $200,000, so you won’t be able to drive around looking at regal historic homes like you can, for example, in the Historic Brookhaven area of Atlanta.
However, Shaq’s house is on a public street and doesn’t have a gate, though you can’t see much of it from the road.
Safety Tips for Traveling to McDonough
- The city boundaries sort of hopscotch all over the place at the edge, where part of it is in the city and the other part is unincorporated Henry County. You can still get the same help if you dial 911.
- Legend has it that at DuLac’s Bow Tie Chef Cafe there are more than just the workers keeping tabs on the place. In 1900, a horrible train wreck happened just outside McDonough, and the bodies of the victims were placed around the downtown area while families worked on identifying their loved ones. Since then, there have been ongoing reports of supernatural forces and ghostly apparitions seems at the cafe and a couple of other business offices. The stories are so intense even Ghost Hunters shot an episode there.
- You can buy an Express Lane pass for I-75 ahead of time or you can pay at the toll booth when traveling. It’s really a personal choice if you want to use it or not, but every person I’ve talked with about McDonough insists that Express Lane Pass is worth the mileage charge for the time it saves.
- There is a way to avoid I-75 altogether if you have Highway 23 to Highway 148 where it eventually connects with I-675 to get into Atlanta.
- If you go visit Noah’s Ark, follow the rules as they have a no-tolerance policy. This includes trying to feed the animals, climb over enclosures, or even swearing loudly where others can hear you. While you’re there, please tell every bear I said hello. Thank you.
- Call before you visit either one of the farms. Sometimes in the summer, the temperatures are too hot to open the farms. Inclement weather might also impact the opening days and times.
- There are a lot of areas to go fishing in and around Henry County, but don’t forget to purchase a fishing license before you do. It’s required in the state of Georgia. Your home license won’t do.
- Bring bug sprays, especially if visiting between spring and fall. It’s very humid here which is perfect breeding conditions for those annoying mosquitos. They have also been known to carry West Nile Virus, and we’ve had enough of virus talks to last a lifetime – amiright??
- Another critter that can be found in this area? Coyotes. There are several areas in the outskirts of the Atlanta area reporting sightings of these scary animals. If you aren’t traveling with a small pet that roams freely, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I’ve lived in many coyote areas and even when I see them they are gone before I can even open the camera on my phone to snap a pic. You might hear them howling at night and that’s just how they talk to each other. They want nothing to do with you, but they will snatch an unattended small pet for dinner.
- Henry County is one of many local governments that offer CodeRED emergency notifications. You should definitely sign up because this will alert you to severe approaching weather, major road closures, or any kind of civil/criminal emergency.
So... How Safe Is McDonough Really?
This quaint and charming city has a little bit of grit to it.
A very little bit.
The biggest concerning number I saw was a theft rate that averages a one in 53 chance of being a victim.
I dug into that number a little bit more for you to get a better understanding of what is being stolen.
- 33% of the thefts were car break-ins
- 17% were shoplifting
- 48% were “other”. I hate that “other” category because it could be SO many different things. It could mean someone stole your lawn chair from the park or someone took a John Deere from the farm.
There were 88 violent crimes and half of those happened in a private home, leaving your risk of being the victim of violent crime at one in 675.
19 of the violent crimes did happen against strangers, so it’s not unheard of to have a tourist be a victim.
The city recently launch a camera program, where businesses and homeowners are asked if they want to register their security cameras with the city.
That way if a crime happens near the camera, it can be used as evidence and help track down the suspect.
This is really a rather safe, diverse, unique city to visit.
Aside from being forced to stay in hotels only located along the interstate, it’s really a great place to spend a few days and if you get bored, Atlanta is just 30 minutes away.
How Does McDonough Compare?
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- Visas - You only need a Visa to get access to the United States and Border Patrol along with Homeland Security offers that approval. After that, your passport will be used for identification as needed.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. You might want to have some spare change or dollars available to pay at the toll booth if you choose to use the toll lanes. I once got caught at a toll booth with no money, the booth didn't take credit cards and I was frozen with anxiety. Thank goodness the guy let me through, but this is why it's smart to buy a pass ahead of time.
- Weather - There's a lot to do outside here, so bring sunscreen year-round. You'll want lightweight, loose-fitting clothing for the humid summer months. Just know you'll sweat a lot and so will the guy next to you. There's no avoiding sweat in a Georgia summer. Winters can be a roller coaster of temperatures so pack in layers with t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, long-sleeve t-shirts, etc. If you forget something, there is plenty of shopping in McDonough.
- Airports - Hartsfield Jackson International Airport is the biggest and best around and it's just 24 miles from McDonough.
- Travel Insurance - It's a good idea to have travel insurance for a trip to Georgia with all the traffic and severe weather risks. Make sure that policy includes coyote attacks. JUST KIDDING!
McDonough Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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