Kentucky : Safety by City
- Bowling Green
- Cave City
- Cumberland Falls
- Harlan Tri-Cities
- La Grange
- St. Matthews
I could either talk you into or out of visiting Somerset, Kentucky.
Between urban legends, a NASA-documented “anomaly,” reports of aliens running amok, and an alleged cult bowing down to a Green Man, it’s unclear if those are a reason to visit or stay away!
That’s in addition to sightings and series of people who just vanished, never to be heard from again.
The city sits along the 37th Parallel, which is reportedly known for UFO activity throughout its path across the globe.
The one thing that is true in all of the tales is that NASA calls this region the “Kentucky Anomaly,” based on a large magnetic field underneath the caverns of this region.
Somerset is dead center in the “Anomaly.”
If you’ve heard of the streaming television show “Hellier,” you might want to watch it before visiting here.
It takes a deep dive into the paranormal and mysterious history of this region.
This area is also home to the International Paranormal Museum and Research Center.
However, there are so many other reasons for spending time in Somerset.
One of those is the proximity to Daniel Boone National Forest, a 708,000-acre national treasure.
While the park is divided into four districts, the closest to Somerset is Stearns District.
From Somerset, you are just 30 minutes from the incredible natural arches that span the region.
There are plenty of waterfalls and the Cumberland River for some water excursions.
Somerset is also a hot spot for hot rods.
The Somernites Cruise Classic Car Show is the biggest of its kind in Kentucky and has made headlines on several popular racing networks.
Warnings & Dangers in Somerset
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Somerset has a low risk according to 2020 crime data. Violent and property crimes are all below the state and national averages. On top of that, there is a lot to do in this region that makes it safe and exciting.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You'll want to have a car here. There isn't a public bus system, and using a taxi or rideshare to get around Daniel Boone National Forest will cost a lot. A rental car will be much cheaper. You can find some taxis or rideshares to get around town if you choose, especially if you're drinking alcohol.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
The theft rate here is lower than the national average, but not by much. Pickpocketing isn't very common. Shoplifting is one of the top theft categories, in addition to a category called "Other," which means stealing items from places like yards or campsites.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is the one to worry about the most. There's a medium risk around Kentucky, and Somerset is no exception. You can get tornadoes and extensive flooding. Those are the biggest risks, but thunderstorms during warm months and winter storms are quite common.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Robbery rates have been cut by two-thirds since 2018. There were four reported in 2020. Normally, I'd write that plunge off as a pandemic-induced drop, but 2019 was also much lower than 2018. Just one of the four robberies was in a public place. The rest were in homes. There's a low risk it will happen to you.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in Somerset and the surrounding area. It's a rural area made up of wilderness activities. The Blue Grass Army Depot would be the only potential hard target, and that's an hour northeast of Somerset.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Several phone scams are making their way through Somerset, mainly scammers pretending to be high-ranking officials. This is something that would only impact locals, and tourists shouldn't have to worry about being scammed.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
63% of the violent crimes happen against women in Somerset, according to 2020 data. However, 58% of those crimes happened in homes. There's a low risk, but not low enough that you should ever let your guard down. Here you have to be skilled at outdoor survival and be okay with creepy talk of the supernatural.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report from Somerset Utilities shows low risk, with all categories meeting or exceeding standards and no violations reported. You can use the tap water at low risk, but be sure to sign up for emergency alerts or check the city's social media pages in case of boil orders due to pipe flushing or flooding.
Safest Places to Visit in Somerset
The International Paranormal Museum and Research Center is a great place to start seeing the history and stories of the land.
It’s hard to tell what is satire and what’s real when you look at the social media pages for the museum, so enjoy the confusing and creative stories.
There are parts of the museum that might be a little creepy for kids, but there are other areas where it’s family-friendly.
For example, you can decide if it’s worth the kids seeing a bell that was “purposely haunted by a psychic spirit.”
The newest attraction is just behind the museum and is called Ghost Night Spookshow Monster Gallery.
Downtown Somerset is a mix of history and charm, with restaurants ranging from ice cream shops to classic American food to local breweries.
You can check out some of the theater performances downtown or wander through the Carnegie Community Arts Center.
Either Cumberland Lake or River is directly west and south of Somerset, with the river entering Daniel Boone National Forest southeast of the city.
To the west is Lake Cumberland with Pulaski County Park on the western shore.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fishing Creek Recreation Area is on the eastern banks.
Just west of that lake, Mill Springs is home to a Civil War Battlefield that marked the first critical victory for the Union soldiers.
You can see artifacts of the battle at the Visitor Center and Museum.
While you’re there, grab a map of the driving tour around the battlefield.
You can see a historic mill and home on your adventures, and be sure to pay tribute to fallen soldiers at the cemetery.
South of Somerset, go out to General Burnside Island State Park.
In addition to river adventures, like boating and fishing, golfers will love a chance to play the course here, which has been rated as the best public course in the state.
You can also camp on this island.
If there’s one “must-see” part of Daniel Boone National Park in this area, it’s the Natural Arch Scenic Area (not to be confused with Arches National Park on the other side of the country.)
There are many rock arch displays here with hiking paths that go across the tops.
This rocky region makes for incredible waterfalls too, and you have several choices, including Yahoo Falls and Princess Falls.
You can also cross Freedom Church Swinging Bridge for a unique hiking adventure.
Places to Avoid in Somerset
The higher crime rates are located in the center of town, but that’s normal because it’s where most people and businesses are located.
There isn’t a bad part of town to avoid or a dangerous neighborhood.
One of the rumors in Somerset is that some of the “tall tales” of monsters and cults are specifically made up to keep strangers away.
The South is known for being friendly, but there will be some people who are leery of strangers.
There is absolutely no reason to think any of the oddities here mean visitors aren’t welcome.
The only thing you are expected to do is respect the Kentucky culture and do your best to keep up with the accent and unique sayings, you reckon?
On the section of Lake Cumberland south of town, there is a tunnel that you can only see from the river when the water level is low.
This is an old section of highway that is no longer in use (obviously).
While it’s intriguing to see, don’t go in there.
It’s not a tourist attraction, and there are a lot of potential dangers there.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Somerset
- Download the CodeRED app or sign up on the website to get emergency alerts. This will cover everything from severe weather to boil orders to road closures.
- To participate in water activities, you must monitor the Lake Cumberland water levels. The water level impacts everything from how fast a whitewater current is going to where to find the best fish. You can also get email alerts daily about the water levels.
- You can report any crime information to Somerset Police Department by calling (606)678-5178 or texting SOMERSETPD to 274-637. There is also a form you can fill out on the department’s website.
- If you want to learn more about the paranormal activity in this area, there’s an eight-part podcast called “Penny Royal” that goes deep into the oddities of Pulaski County. This could be a great way to pass time during your flight.
- If you are visiting during the Somernites Car Cruise, be sure to book hotels well ahead of time. Somerset is a small town of fewer than 12,000 people, so places to stay will go quickly, and you can likely expect all the rentals nearby to increase in price during this popular event.
- Under the “Streets” section of the city’s website, there’s a place to report any street issues. Potholes are probably the biggest complaints here, but if there’s a tree down or a street light outage, you can also report that.
- When you visit any of the arches in Daniel Boone National Forest, you should know there are no guardrails or fences to stop a fall. Stick to the center of the rock and hold hands with any child with you. There have been too many people who have fallen off the edge. It’s in a remote region, and if you survive the fall, it will be a while before rescue crews can get to you.
- The same caution goes for the waterfalls. While many choose to view the wonders from below, some people choose to hike above the waterfalls. The rocks there aren’t just wet; they are very slippery. The rocks are also loose sometimes, so don’t get close to the edge.
- When snow falls in Somerset, the public roads are cleared in order of priority (size & traffic flow). If you are at a hotel or rental home, the city won’t clear those areas. The property owner is liable in that instance. If there is a state of emergency issued during a winter storm, you cannot drive on the roads.
- Daniel Boone National Forest has very hit-or-miss mobile coverage. Your best bet is to go as high as possible to get a signal. You can check with your mobile provider for coverage areas. You should not rely on your mobile device as a map or compass. Bring a paper map and an actual compass with you.
So... How Safe Is Somerset Really?
Somerset has relatively low crime rates and a wonderful world of things to explore.
Of the 21 violent crimes in 2020, 25% of those happened against strangers.
The majority of crimes, 57%, happened in homes.
The city averages just one homicide a year, and that’s if there is any homicide reported in that year.
2020 had no homicides.
Regarding theft, 10% of those reported were car break-ins.
You should always lock your car and roll the windows up when you park, especially in wilderness areas.
A thief will know that you’ll be away for quite a while.
28% of thefts were shoplifting, which doesn’t have a direct impact on a tourist.
However, if a shoplifting situation gets violent, you don’t want to be caught in the middle.
Just leave the location and report any information you have to the police.
When you’re enjoying the outdoors, research the basics like if you need a life jacket on the water (you do), if you can swim in a certain area (there are limits in parts of the river because of swift currents), and what license you should get to be allowed to go fishing.
How Does Somerset Compare?
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You'll need a U.S. Travel or Work Visa to enter the country. You'll need your Visa at Customs, but not after that until you return home. Store it in a safe place. Be sure to start this process early because it can take several months to get the visa issued.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and it's smart to have some spending cash in case you find a store or restaurant that doesn't take credit cards. You should never carry all your cash in one place.
The weather is all over the place in Kentucky, with the temperature changing by the day, sometimes dramatically. Most people here will be wearing some version of camouflage, so that tells you it's a very casual region. Bring sturdy hiking boots and bug spray. You should also bring an outer layer that is waterproof. In the winter, you might need a coat, but there are mild spells where it won't be needed. Check the forest before your trip to help decide what to pack.
Lexington's Blue Grass Airport is 90 minutes north, and Knoxville's airport is about two and a half hours south.
You should definitely get travel insurance that includes any outdoor accidents or injuries. If you are bringing expensive hunting or fishing gear, make sure you know what value you can get back if the airline loses those items.
Somerset Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kentucky - Safety by City