Arkansas : Safety by City
- Eureka Springs
- Fort Smith
- Hot Springs
- Little Rock
- Mountain Home
- North Little Rock
- West Memphis
North Little Rock, Arkansas, is almost a tale of two cities.
There’s one that’s bursting with entertainment, art, and modern amenities while still capturing the essence of the city’s history.
The other one is crime-ridden and dangerous.
Yet somehow these two places exist in the same space.
The city sits on the Arkansas River, with Little Rock on the other side of the Big Dam Bridge (actual name).
It’s home to nearly 65,000 people.
This is a diverse town with equal numbers of African Americans and Caucasians, with 6% Latino/Hispanic and another 5% being mixed race.
This diversity brings so much energy to the food scene in North Little Rock.
On the flip side, 22% of the people live in poverty here.
There’s history on land, underwater, and on rivers here and they’re all open for viewing.
There’s a place here where Gone with the Wind fans will recognize immediately.
There’s an actual gravestone for the nickname of the downtown area city leaders didn’t like, but is now making a resurgence.
Dogtown was literally laid to rest, and nobody can say for sure how the downtown neighborhood got that name.
However, you can now buy swag with “Dogtown Life” on it.
You can even take a picture next to a fantastic Dogtown mural.
The downtown area is now called Argenta, a word that means silver.
It got its name from the silver mines that were harvested north of the area.
It was once the name for the whole city of North Little Rock (NLR).
Through some creative legislation, North Little Rock got its name and Argenta was preserved for the downtown area.
There’s a resurgence of activity happening here, even though it has crime rates to match a much bigger city.
Warnings & Dangers in North Little Rock
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk here. It's a balance of there is so much to do vs. there is so much crime. Some locals say it's not that big of a deal, others will tell you about the three times their car was broken into and the one time they got mugged in broad daylight without batting an eyelash (and they still live there).
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Rock Region Metro is the public transportation for the whole area. You can download the app and learn more about the routes and prices. Taxis and rideshares are available, and they all come with low risk. Just be careful at bus stops, especially after dark.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There were nine pickpockets and purse snatchings in 2020. That's a low number, but it's still a medium risk when compared to the crime rates surrounding it. Only bring what is absolutely necessary in your purse and leave all valuables behind.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk of disasters all year round with a high risk in the spring during the tornado season. Little Rock is #5 on the list for the most damaging tornados and NLR is just across the river. Winter can bring snow storms mixed with ice or just ice storms. Ice storms are especially dangerous because not only is travel limited, but the weight of the ice on branches causes them to break and land on power lines, leaving people in the dark and cold.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is twice the national average and over the Arkansas average as well. 31 of the 110 crimes were muggings in public places. That's a medium risk and you have to watch your back in this city because it's easy to get distracted by all the fun things.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk. It is a larger population center, but there's no real hard target here.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Nearly 300 fraud arrests were made in 2020, and the bulk of them were either under false pretenses or at the ATM. There's a medium risk and you need to protect your PIN when making purchases. Go inside a bank to withdraw cash or use the ATM.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women should use extra caution here and there's medium risk. On the positive side, the sexual assault rate is under the national average. Be very aware of how much you've had to drink and never try to walk around after dark alone and don't walk home or back to the hotel when you've been drinking.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water is safe to drink and there's a low risk. The water utility has no violations and meets or exceeds all standards.
Safest Places to Visit in North Little Rock
There is a surprising number of unique things to do in North Little Rock.
The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is in NLR.
There are 16 museum rooms to explore from many eras of the Clinton presidency.
There is also the Presidential Limo on display.
Hanging out in Downtown Argenta gives you that standard small southern town feels with sophistication and rejuvenation.
Eat and shop your way through the streets.
Visit the North Little Rock Heritage Museum while you’re there and hear the story of Dogtown.
Outdoorsy people have two choices from downtown.
Either hop on the Arkansas River Trail or head to the Rockwater Marina for some fun on the Arkansas River.
Speaking of the river, you shouldn’t miss the incredible Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.
Here the USS Razorback stands in all its glory.
The Old Mill located in T.R. Pugh Memorial Park is the very same mill from the opening scene of Gone with the Wind and it’s restored to all its glory now for the perfect picturesque photo op.
If you have a large group of 10 or more, you can schedule a guided tour of the area.
The sub was put into action in 1944 and served in World War II, through the Cold War, and into Vietnam.
Now she rests in North Little Rock.
You can even have a submarine sleepover if you’d like.
Places to Avoid in North Little Rock
The south side of town has the bulk of the crime and the lowest crime areas are north of I-40.
Avoid the area east of I-30 if you can and south of I-40 if you can.
There aren’t any tourist attractions in that area anyway.
As with any downtown area, the crime there is higher than in some other parts because of the congestion of people.
While this is Arkansas, it’s still a major metropolitan area with its fair share of crime.
Avoid walking around alone at night, especially if you’ve been drinking.
I’m a big “gut instinct” person and I know not everyone has as strong of a gut instinct as I do.
Wherever your gut instinct falls on the spectrum, use it here.
I read one review of a man who felt a car at a stoplight ahead of him was a bit off.
Then a man jumped out of the car and ran toward the reviewer.
The would-be victim drove off.
Turns out the people in the other car were connected to a brutal beating earlier in the day.
Follow your gut.
Stick to main roads.
Don’t go off the beaten path.
The farther north you are, the less crime you’ll see.
Safety Tips for Traveling to North Little Rock
- See something in the sky? It might be one of the unmanned police drones. They flew 93 times in 2020, helping with everything from missing persons to standoffs.
- There were more than 1200 drug arrests in NLR in 2020. Drug crime went up across the state by 55% that year. The new trend is selling counterfeit prescription drugs. So, if someone approaches you and asks if you want some Xanax, just say no. These drugs are normally loaded with Fentanyl, which is a powerful painkiller but much cheaper for drug dealers, and just two milligrams of Fentanyl can kill you. There’s no way to know if Fentanyl is in a drug without a chemical test.
- If you have any information on a crime that happened in NLR, you can fill out a form on the police department’s website. A detective will then contact you to get more information.
- Most modern mobile devices are WEA (Weather Emergency Alerts) activated, meaning if a severe storm warning comes out during your stay, you’ll get notified. It’s also helpful to download a local television station weather app so you’ll get custom alerts and videos of storm development.
- If you are driving and there’s a bicyclist on the road, it’s the law to give them three feet of space from your car. Be aware of bicyclists and abide by the law. This is a very bike-friendly community.
- There are a lot of restricted parking districts throughout NLR. There are maps of the many areas where visitors cannot park on the city’s website. Look for “Restricted Parking District” signs and don’t park in that neighborhood. Parking garages are available downtown. The rate is $2 an hour.
- If you want to fish in the Arkansas River, you’ll need a fishing license from the Arkansas Department of Fish & Game. It’s really easy to get online and then just carry the registration on your mobile device or print out the license and carry it with you. The Rockwater Marina has all the supplies you need.
- If you are confronted by a thief, don’t fight back. It’s not worth risking your life for your purse or wallet. When I’m in cities with high crime rates, I like to find hidden jacket pockets or jeans with a button where I can put my ID and credit card, just in case the purse gets stolen.
- The city says there are no licensed peddlers approved in the city to go door to door, so if someone approaches you it might be a scam. Don’t fall for it. Just say “No thank you” firmly and move on.
- If you are walking or riding on the Arkansas River Trail, don’t put earbuds in both ears and disconnect. There are homeless camps along part of this trail and you always need to be aware of your surroundings. Keep one ear open for potential danger.
So... How Safe Is North Little Rock Really?
North Little Rock is much like its southern neighbor of Little Rock.
They both have a high crime rate.
People visiting from places like St. Louis or Southern California might not think it’s so bad.
Someone coming from a small town might be overwhelmed.
Here’s the thing.
A lot of the danger is where you go and what you do.
If you’re in town, looking to party, maybe trying to get some weed, you will more likely run into danger.
If you are day drinking and not paying attention while going from bar to bar, you might be an easy target.
If you’re just seeing the tourist sites, staying on main roads, and being aware of your surroundings, you’ll have less of a risk.
Here’s how crime breaks down by the risk and number:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 97 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 587 risk
- Theft: 1 in 36 risk
- Drug Crimes: 1 in 51 people charged with a drug crime in 2020
This is a city where you must lock your car and leave nothing inside.
Even a GPS holder could suggest there’s a GPS inside.
One woman on Reddit commented that her registration papers were taken from her car.
Try to park in a place where you can see a security camera.
Avoid walking around late at night.
If you are a victim of a crime, let the police know right away and be a good witness.
Try to focus on the height, weight, and distinguishing characteristics of the criminal.
If you’re looking for a safer city to visit in Arkansas, check out our Bentonville article.
You might be pleasantly surprised.
How Does North Little Rock Compare?
|North Little Rock||59|
|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
|Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)||43|
- Visas - You can keep your Visa in your pocket because once you've gotten through customs, you don't need to do anything else to be in North Little Rock.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. Due to the high crime rates, don't carry around a large amount of cash. Only take one credit when you are out and leave the others at home.
- Weather - The weather is mild in the winter but it will still get to freezing at night. There can be snow and ice storms that really shut down the region, so don't come if an ice storm is on the way. You could be stuck in a hotel room without power. Spring brings tornado season, so you'll need a good weather app to keep you alert. Summers bring more thunderstorms with possible tornadoes, and the humidity soars. You're going to sweat a lot, so bring water.
- Airports - The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport is just eight miles away from North Little Rock. It's really the only airport that makes sense to use without having a long drive ahead of you.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a must in a place where the weather can be so bipolar.
North Little Rock Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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1 Review on North Little Rock
Use your big city wits
Unfortunately North Little Rock seems to be going through a rough patch, crime rates are worse and worse but from the looks of it, almost all of the reported crime is unrelated to tourists. With a big bulk of crimes being property related: car theft, residential theft or robbery. Now, if you travel by car, I would 100% rec to keep all valuables out of sight – including your wallet if you tend to leave it in the car – or to keep everything in your hotel room.
I‘ve found the whole downtown area, the pedestrian bridges and the dam bridge to be pretty safe. I was there with my boyfriend but there were a lot of families with small kids so I’m guessing this could be a good spot for family trips as well.
Went there twice, stayed at the Marriott and the Capital Hotel, impressed with both, they’re on the same street and the whole area is very tourist-friendly.
Use good judgment and avoid shady spots. This means being aware if gangs tend to hang out, if buildings/houses are boarded up, if even locals tend to avoid certain areas. Keeping an eye on what’s around you without being overly suspicious or without expecting to be robbed any minute is a skill we all need to work on.
When I’m in a new city I don’t feel the urge to explore every nook and cranny just for the sake of it. I just follow the same itineraries as everybody else while making sure to check the hidden gems I’ve found on various forums. That’s it.
The article itself sums this up just like I would: ‘People visiting from places like St. Louis or Southern California might not think it’s so bad. Someone coming from a small town might be overwhelmed. If you’re coming from NYC chances are you won’t find this city that dangerous but if you’re all about that quiet, suburban life, you might not like it.