Kentucky : Safety by City
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- La Grange
- St. Matthews
Nicholasville, Kentucky, is a dance, and we’ll learn as we go.
That phrase comes partially from hometown artist John Michael Montgomery’s hit song “Life’s a Dance.”
The sits on the far southwest outskirts of Lexington, Kentucky, and is a great stopping point on the way to or from Danville.
Nestled in the bluegrass hills of the state, it is near one of the tallest railroad trestles in the world.
Surrounding Jessamine County has some of the best agrotourism sites in the state, from wineries to distilleries to horse farms.
Everything that defines Kentucky can be found within a short drive around Nicholasville.
Nearby Camp Nelson National Monument is a diverse educational experience telling the story of African Americans training for war in the Civil War and also served as a place of escape for slaves seeking freedom.
Within 20 minutes, you can also visit one of the best open secrets of Kentucky tourism at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
The Shakers were a religious group noted for their elaborate services and high-energy gatherings.
They are similar to the Amish and Mennonites in that they live in rural areas and abide by their own set of rules.
Warnings & Dangers in Nicholasville
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Nicholasville is a small and relatively safe town. There's low risk with lower than average violent crimes, but some areas of property crime we need to discuss as we go.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
NichTrain is the public bus system that runs six days a week, with no service on Sundays. Taxis and rideshares are available. Having a rental car will allow you more options for exploring Jessamine County. There's a low risk no matter how you choose to get around.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
The theft rates are fueled by property thefts and shoplifting, but there's a low risk of being pickpocketed. In fact, only one pickpocket has been reported since 2017.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Kentucky gets a wide range of weather and there's always a medium risk because of the potential. The biggest risks are tornadoes and severe flooding, which can happen anytime of the year, but spring is the most likely.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The robbery rate is 40% lower than the national average. The risk for a tourist drops lower with just 20% of violent crimes happening against strangers. There were 16 robberies in 2020. That number has been on a steady decline since 2017.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here with a small city and a lot of rural areas around. While there are a lot of great spaces to explore, there's nothing that would make a terrorist interested in this region. If you happen to see anything suspicious, Kentucky has a Homeland Security hotline at 1-866-EYE-ON-KY (1-866-393-6659).
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Nicholasville Police report the basic scams involving utilities or people impersonating officers. There isn't anything that should overly concern a tourist, but always keep your guard up for deals that involve purchasing gift cards or wiring money.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women can visit here with low risk, but still, need basic safety standards. While it's a city on the safer side, there is still a fair amount of crime here. The sexual assault rate is lower than the national average. Always use extra caution if you're enjoying a winery, bar, or distillery. Drinking alcohol can easily impair judgment. Let a friend know where you're going and set up a code word if you get into an uncomfortable situation.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
American Water provides the water supply here and is one of the most respected companies in the country. The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and all testing met or exceeded standards.
Safest Places to Visit in Nicholasville
Nicholasville has a charming downtown area, but it’s not that large.
There’s a performance park in the center of it, and some antique shops and diners.
The city also has several parks with walking or hiking paths, and Lake Mingo at Corman Park has a fishing lake for anglers who don’t want to drive outside of the city.
Suffice it to say, that’s about the excitement of Nicholasville.
The bonus of being there is the surrounding options are very close in Jessamine County in all four directions.
Head south to get to Camp Nelson, where you should start at the visitor’s center to get a map and ask all the questions you’d like.
There is a short movie showing the history of the site.
The former captain’s quarters home still stands and you have five miles of trails to explore.
Along the hike, you’ll see mounds and canals created by freed slaves of the past.
These features are actually barriers known as Earthworks.
Check the website for Camp Nelson to see the schedule of programs that include ghost stories of the cemetery, history lessons from the camp, and a variety of other related topics.
Nearby Jim Bean Nature Preserve is really more of a massive wooded area with very little, if any, amenities.
This is a great place to avoid the crowds, but you’re also going to be at the center of nature with wildlife and bugs for companionship.
If you like to rough it, this preserve is for you.
High Bridge, Kentucky, is about 20 minutes southwest of Nicholasville and definitely lives up to its name.
Just before you cross over the river, look for a tunnel on the driver’s side of the car.
That’s where the old highway was until the bridge that connected it collapsed.
It’s called Boone’s Tunnel.
Once you’re in High Bridge, look for the railroad trestle.
It’s hard to miss.
At the time it was built, it was the tallest in the world.
Trains still cross this engineering marvel and there are sweeping views of the river from several vantage points.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, or Shakertown as it’s locally known, is a wonderful place to visit that takes you back to another era.
Shaker Village covers 3,000 acres of land where a religious group known as the Shakers once thrived.
Stay overnight at the inn or one of the 13 homes and buildings on the land.
The Shakers believed men and women were equal and all community property was shared by every member.
The Shakers believers are few and far between today.
I guess that’s what happens when part of your religious beliefs include banning sex, marriage, and children.
Shakertown has several amenities including:
- Shops with Shaker-inspired products
- A working farm
- A nature preserve
- River adventures including canoe and kayak trips
- River walks with sights of gorges and elaborate natural rock displays
- Horseback riding tours starting at the stables
- Horse-drawn wagon rides
- Farm-to-table restaurant
- Nearly 20 daily tours, including a chicken parade
The Primate Rescue Center is open to members only, but memberships start as low as $35.
More than 40 chimpanzees and monkeys live here.
You can also bring some toys and treats for the primates.
A full list of needs is on the rescue center’s website.
All of this is in addition to plenty of golf courses, wineries, and horse farms.
There are a lot of things to see in Jessamine County that you’d miss if you just focused on Lexington.
Places to Avoid in Nicholasville
The west side of the city has the highest crime rates when you look at the crime distribution maps.
Nicholasville is highly residential and only has a handful of nationally branded hotels.
With so much to see in Jessamine County, the driver of the trip needs to be someone who can stay focused on the roads.
There are some narrow streets in many of the above attractions along with hairpin turns and deep ravines on certain sides of the road.
Avoid visiting anything outside of the city if there is snow mixed with sleet or freezing rain, as the roads will be incredibly dangerous to drive.
For example, entering High Bridge Park involves taking a hairpin turn with nothing but a knee-high wall at the edge of a gorge.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Nicholasville
- Follow Nicholasville Police Department on Facebook (@NicholasvillePD) because it’s much more updated with new information than the website. To contact the police department’s main line, you can call (859) 885-9467 or email email@example.com.
- Nicholasville is fighting a drug battle as America struggles with the opioid epidemic. If you have any non-urgent information or suspicions about drug crimes, call (859)881-5082 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking at that aforementioned Facebook page, you’ll see many drug busts in the city and county.
- Sign up for CodeRED notifications through the Jessamine County website. You can opt in to get alerts about crime, road closures, community emergencies, and weather updates from the National Weather Service. You just have to stay on top of the weather here in case severe storms develop.
- When you visit High Bridge, you won’t be able to go to the top of the actual bridge. You’ll see graffiti throughout the iron legs of the structure, but don’t try to climb the bridge. Not only is it illegal, it’s incredibly dangerous.
- Bring bug spray and keep it with you. Then buy a backup bottle of bug spray. There is so much wilderness here and the bugs will eat you alive if you don’t take preventative measures. Wearing a citrus cologne of perfume will help deter them as well. Do a full body scan to look for ticks embedded in your skin after every trip into nature.
- There are very few places to cross the Kentucky River by car. For example, Shakertown and High Bridge are only a mile apart, but you have to drive 14 miles to get between the two because the river is in the way. Keep this in mind when plotting your path for the day.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the Kentycky Department of Fish & Wildlife. You can purchase it online and be sure to print the image of your license as it’s the only proof you’ll have. You cannot use a license from your home state or city. You can also put a gift certificate for Kentucky Fish & Wildlife on your birthday list, as those are available for purchase online as well.
- Aside from Shakertown, many of the outdoor areas aren’t going to have snack bars or amenities. Bring enough water with you for the hike and the trip home. Summers can be hot, and a sweat rag would be very helpful. Make sure you get waterproof sunscreen for your adventures.
- Bring hiking boots, especially if you want to visit places like Jim Bean Trail. This is a rugged area with dirt trails and any amount of rain is going to make a muddy mess. Having boots that cover your ankles will help keep bugs away too.
- Anytime you visit a park with “national” in the name, like Camp Nelson National Monument, you cannot take anything from the ground, from artifacts to rocks. Metal detectors are also not allowed. You can get kicked out of the park if you try.
So... How Safe Is Nicholasville Really?
Nicholasville is slightly below average with many of its crime rates, aside from theft.
Drugs are a problem too, with nearly 11 drug crime arrests per week.
Searching through the last six months on the Facebook page of the police department, the top incidents are:
- Drug crime busts (definitely the highest number of posts)
- Accidents blocking roadways
- Surveillance images of suspects on the run
- Missing kids
16% of thefts were related to car burglaries or break-ins, so don’t ever leave a car unlocked or with the windows rolled down.
Weather is a big safety concern here when the skies darken.
Tornadoes are possible and sometimes develop with just seconds to spare before hitting a city.
If you aren’t used to tornadoes, do some research so you know what to do.
Avoid outdoor activities if storms are in the forecast.
How Does Nicholasville Compare?
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For those coming from outside the U.S., you'll need a travel or work visa. The approval process can take up to a few months, so plan early. You'll need to complete a bunch of paperwork and do an in-person interview. Your social media sites from the past five years will also be reviewed.
The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only currency accepted here. You should plan to carry as little cash as needed and pay for the bulk of items with credit cards. The card just offers more fraud protection.
Since Nicholasville can get a little bit of every kind of weather, you should pack accordingly. Bring a mix of t-shirts and sweatshirts, with some shorts and jeans for spring through fall. Winter weather can fluctuate, but there's a good chance you'll need a winter coat. With so many places to explore, bring several pairs of broken-in walking shoes.
You'll be less than 30 minutes from Lexington's Blue Grass Airport. That is the closest and largest option in this region.
The Kentucky floods of 2022 show just how bad the weather can get here, so travel insurance is a great supplemental item for a trip here.
Nicholasville Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kentucky - Safety by City