Kentucky : Safety by City
- Bowling Green
- Cave City
- Cumberland Falls
- Harlan Tri-Cities
- La Grange
- St. Matthews
Hold your horses! It’s time to explore the American Saddlebred Horse Capital of the World in Shelbyville, Kentucky.
This small town in a wide-open county is home to nearly 100 saddlebred horse farms.
It feels so remote you’d be surprised to learn that Louisville is just 40 minutes west.
Shelbyville was also the final home of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and there’s a restaurant here that the Colonel created just for his wife, Claudia.
Even a devastating fire in 1999 couldn’t stop this community from rebuilding this local treasure.
The downtown area has that quaint Southern charm to it with unique restaurants and shops.
For more of a shopping adventure, there’s a large outlet mall on the way to Louisville.
You can also explore the state’s largest lavender farm for the best-scented tour available.
They didn’t forget to put some Kentucky bourbon here either.
Several distilleries are in Shelbyville and surrounding Shelby County.
A few wineries are there too.
For those itching to get outdoors and away from the farms, Guist Creek is a great place for water activities galore.
You can camp out there and catch some great bass.
When researching Shelbyville, make sure it’s in Kentucky.
There are cities with the same name in Indiana and Tennessee.
It’s easy to get them confused.
I mean, I was told that.
It didn’t happen to me several times.
No way! 🙂
Warnings & Dangers in Shelbyville
OVERALL RISK: LOW
The risk is low in Shelbyville. With so many things to do and low crime rates, you will surely enjoy the visit and have memories for years to come.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
There isn't a public bus system here, and taxis or rideshares might be hard to come by. Having a car is really the only way to explore all Shelby County has to offer.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's low risk with no pickpockets or purse snatchings reported in the past several years. You should watch out for what you leave in the car, as 32% of all thefts are from car break-ins.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
A medium-risk exists all year long in Shelbyville (and all of Kentucky). Severe storms can do a lot of damage on their own, but add in the tornado potential, and it can be quite scary here if you aren't prepared. Winter can bring winter storms with a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
With just three robberies in 2020 and no more than 11 robberies a year since 2018, there's a low risk of a tourist getting mugged here.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low risk that Shelbyville would be a target, but nearby Louisville would be one of the top targets in the state. However, a lot of Homeland Security protection is offered in bigger cities, so that shouldn't worry you.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Shelbyville has the typical phone and email scams, but none that target tourists. You can feel safe that there's a low risk here, but if you happen to be approached by a scammer, report it to the Kentucky Attorney General's Office. There's a form online that just takes a few minutes to complete.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women, especially those who love horses, will have a fun and safe time here with low risk. There's so much to do in both the city and rural areas, plus low crime rates. However, use your standard safety practices if you're going to be enjoying the nightlife of the bars and distilleries. Avoid going to a private place with someone you just met. Up until 2019, the city averaged about six sexual assaults a year.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows everything is safe and low-risk in the water supply. If there was any kind of water issue, the city and county would report it on social media pages.
Safest Places to Visit in Shelbyville
If you’re coming from Louisville, start at the Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass on your way to Shelbyville.
Some of the top national brands have deep discounts here.
I absolutely love outlet malls, especially when buying off-season clothing.
I’ve found rock bottom deals on winter coats from brands like Eddie Bauer and The North Face in the middle of July for a decade now.
Once you’re in town, stop by downtown to get a look at the unique stores and restaurants serving a variety of cuisine types.
The Bell House Restaurant is built into a historic home and is open for all three meals.
This is one of the nicer restaurants in town.
I highly recommend having at least one meal at Claudia Sander Dinner House on the west side of town, where there’s a LOT of chicken on the menu but plenty of other options as well.
It’s finger-licking good just like, well, the other Sanders restaurant, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
While there are just too many saddlebred horse farms to list here, you can visit Red Fern Riding Center at Shelby Trails Park to book a horse ride of your own.
Horses will be matched with people based on experience.
Well, the human’s experience.
Even beginners are welcome to take a ride.
The trails come at various difficulty levels as well.
Expect a ride to cost about $60 per person.
To get a gift for the horse lover in your life, stop by An Equestrian’s Touch to get grab-and-go gifts or special order a custom name creation.
Check the schedule of events at visitshelbyky.com because this is horse show heaven.
While the thoroughbreds of the derby get much of the attention in the state, the saddlebreds put on quite a show in Shelby County.
You can’t tell the difference between a thoroughbred and a saddlebred by looking at them.
Once they start moving, you figure it out.
A thoroughbred is super fast and strong.
A saddlebred likes to put on a show and do more tricks and jumps.
Guist Creek Lake Marina and Campground span more than 300 acres.
This is a great fishing lake, but water skiing is allowed in a designated section.
You can rent a boat, kayak, or canoe here.
Take special note to visit here in the fall if you can, because the leaves changing colors and the reflection in the water is just stunning.
Tim McClure Botanical Gardens is a free attraction alive with flowers, plants, and trees, plus it leads to the larger Clear Creek Park.
On the north side of the park is Lake Shelby, where you can rent watercraft or hike the trails.
RV sites and campsites are available as well.
Places to Avoid in Shelbyville
Shelbyville has such low crime rates there isn’t a bad part of the city.
You can travel through the city without worrying about ending up in a dangerous part of town.
You can distinguish old neighborhoods from newer ones because older subdivisions don’t have sidewalks.
Well, that and the houses are newer, but you get what I’m saying.
Avoid going for a morning or evening run in a neighborhood without a sidewalk, just to be safe.
A lot of the enjoyment in Shelbyville requires nice weather.
Spring brings more severe thunderstorms and tornado potential, summer is incredibly hot and humid, but fall is generally downright gorgeous.
You should also check the weather in the morning to see what the storm potential is for the day.
While Kentucky isn’t a state with the harshest winters, when the storms do hit, it can be crippling with ice and sleet mixed in with snow.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Shelbyville
- You can schedule a tour of the new police facility in Shelbyville, and that’s a great time to ask all the safety questions you’d like. Call (502)633-2326 to book your tour. Heck, if you want to, you can even schedule a ride-along with a police officer. Travel Tip: There have been documented reports of the Police Station being haunted to the point that the Chief called in real-life Ghostbusters in 2003.
- Shelbyville Police have a Crime Stoppers program where you can submit a crime tip and be eligible for a reward. Email any information you have to email@example.com. You can also call (502)633-4500. You should still call 911 if there is an emergency or crime happening in front of you.
- You cannot swim in Shelby Lake or Guist Creek Lake. I’m not quite sure how you can water ski without doing a certain degree of swimming, but I’m just repeating the rules.
- The Guist Creek Marina Campground’s Facebook page has updated fish and lake level information. You can see what fish are biting and how clear the water is, plus learn about any fishing derby coming up.
- You will need a license to fish in Kentucky. You can purchase it online ahead of time through the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife or at the lakes.
- More than one-third of all thefts in Shelbyville are from car burglaries. Don’t let the sense of safety in this small town make you lose your safety manners. Always lock the car, even when just running inside a store quickly. Never leave the windows rolled down and leave no personal belongings in the vehicle.
- Since there’s not a lot of crime here, police have more time to run patrols for speeders, people not wearing seatbelts, drunk driving, and distracted driving. Be sure to follow the laws and if you have too much to drink at one of the distilleries or wineries, call for a ride.
- When riding one of the trail horses, you can’t weigh more than 20% more than the horse. If you weigh more than 250 pounds, call ahead to ask if there is a horse that can accommodate you. When you ride, you must wear long pants and closed-toed shoes with boots preferable. Sandals and shorts will prevent you from taking your scheduled ride. Yes, I know it’s likely going to be hot. I once rode a horse on the beach in Cabo wearing full-length jeans that were stuck to my skin so much I needed my friend to help me peel them off afterward. Thank goodness for best friends!
- Horse farm tours and horseback riding are offered in the winter. If you plan to take part in either of these activities, bring some extra winter clothes. You’ll be outside for an extended period of time and don’t want the cold to ruin this unique experience.
- Black Orchard Haunted House is open during the weekends in September and October. This is a very gruesome haunted house, so it’s probably not going to be good for all family members. For those who like to be terrified, there’s a Blackout night where you tour the house with nothing but a single flashlight. Everything else is pitch black! (Check the batteries ahead of time!)
So... How Safe Is Shelbyville Really?
Shelbyville had 16 violent crimes in 2020, and 25% of those were against strangers.
One of those was a highway robbery to the tune of $3000.
While the chances of being a violent crime victim are low, you still should not carry around high-value items or a lot of cash.
Keep them in your hotel room, locked in a safe.
There’s still just a one in 1,080 chance of being a victim of a violent crime.
Theft rates were slightly above the national average, driven by those high car burglary numbers and another 20% of thefts related to shoplifting.
If you are here to go camping or have an RV, don’t leave your personal items outside when you’re not at your site.
It’s important to note that Shelbyville is very safe, but you can’t assume other cities nearby will be as well.
Louisville has high crime rates, and you should review our article on that city to learn more about how to stay safe there.
How Does Shelbyville Compare?
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You'll need a U.S. travel or work visa if you're visiting from outside the country. That's going to cost a minimum of $160. You will need your visa at the airport but can travel freely throughout Kentucky without needing it. Put it in a safe place until your return flight home.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here and throughout the country. Book any attractions that you can online to avoid pulling your wallet out as much.
Kentucky can get some bitterly cold winter weather, but you'll still enjoy the weather in the 40's on average during the day. Since there's a lot to do outdoors, you'll want to layer up, but make those layers easy to peel off if you get warm. Spring and fall can have fluctuating temperatures, so bring a hoodie or jacket with you. Don't forget closed-toe, rugged shoes for those trails and horseback rides. In summer, bring bug spray and sunscreen too.
Louisville International Airport is just 40-minute drive west. That is the closest and largest airport nearby.
Travel insurance will give you an even better sense of safety, knowing that any unpredictable event will be covered.
Shelbyville Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kentucky - Safety by City