Louisiana : Safety by City
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Terrytown, Louisiana, is a dense residential area just across the river from downtown New Orleans.
It’s part of a region known as the Westbank.
The Westbank name can be confusing because the Mississippi River winds through this part of the state.
While it might look like this is the “Southbank,” since the river mostly flows north/south, places “east/north” of the river are the Eastbank, and places “west/south” of the river are the Westbank.
The Westbank also includes:
- Belle Chasse
- Algiers: (This is the only city on the Westbank that is part of Orleans Parish, thus an extension of New Orleans)
When you research Terrytown, you’ll get a lot of results for Gretna or Gretna/Terrytown.
Gretna is a formal city, while Terrytown is a “Census Designated Place.”
Terrytown’s law enforcement and city leadership come from Gretna and Jefferson Parish.
Even Oakwood Mall is in Terrytown but has a Gretna address.
Most of the hotels in this area will show as Westbank, Harvey, or Gretna.
There are no traditional hotels in Terrytown, but plenty are nearby.
Why is there so much confusion about this?
Terrytown is a newer city, especially by Louisiana standards.
The residential development was brought here in 1960.
Nearby Gretna was founded in 1836.
Some people just see Terrytown as an extension of Gretna, not a place all its own.
Others defend Terrytown as its own location.
Use this information for research, as a search for things to do in Terrytown will fall short.
You’re visiting the Westbank, which is how most people will refer to it anyway.
Warnings & Dangers in Terrytown
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Violent crime is increasing so much in New Orleans that it is now the "murder capital of America." In 2022, homicide rates were up 46% year-to-date. Considering Gretna and Terrytown are just across the bridge from downtown, you should treat this area as a medium risk. However, you are statistically safer in the Westbank.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Jefferson Parish Transit, known as JET, is the public transportation option here. Download the JET Bus Tracker app to get route information. You will have to switch routes if you want to get to New Orleans. Taxis and rideshares are plentiful, and you can also get a rental car, which is the best option to explore the city and nearby wilderness areas on your own timeline.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Since this isn't the main tourist area, you face a lower risk of pickpocketing and purse snatching here, but you should still use extra caution with your personal belongings and limit what you carry to the bare essentials.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
This is a medium-risk area, but it's a high risk if a hurricane approaches. Gretna made national headlines in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when people tried to evacuate from New Orleans, but Gretna police blocked off the city from refugees due to safety concerns. Severe thunderstorms, flooding, and tornadoes are also a risk year-round.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Gretna/Terrytown hasn't had more than 15 robberies in a year since 2016, but with the growing crime rates across the river, it's smart to treat this as a medium risk. Just be aware of your surroundings and stick to the main walkways and streets.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
New Orleans is one of the top potential targets for terror groups, but it also has a lot of security that you can see openly and behind the scenes. Terrytown/Gretna wouldn't be a target, but New Orleans is so close by it would be impossible not to be impacted. You can do your part by following the "See Something, Say Something" guidance and reporting any suspicious activity to Gretna police.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Be on the lookout for scammers and swindlers, but you'll face a lower risk in the Westbank than in New Orleans. The biggest scam area is the French Quarter.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women traveling here should be aware of the city's risks, which include extra caution for all activities, especially when drinking alcohol. This city is where people come to "let the good times roll," but you must stay aware of your surroundings and exercise excellent personal safety steps. Again, there's a lower risk on this side of the river, but crime can easily spill over into nearby cities.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Jefferson Parish controls the water utility here, and there has never been a serious violation in any report. The 2021 Water Quality Report supports that, with full compliance and no violations. There can be water quality concerns during and after flooding, so stay in touch with the city's social media sites.
Safest Places to Visit in Terrytown
To find official tourism information about the Westbank, you can either go to visitjeffersonparish.com or neworleans.com.
Terrytown doesn’t have a city or tourism website, but you can find additional information about Gretna at gretnala.com.
Oakwood Center is a major shopping center with popular stores and many restaurants.
There’s a Cafe du Monde here for those who want to try the world-famous beignets but don’t want to deal with downtown New Orleans.
Parking is free; you can also ask the security office to call you a cab.
Boomtown New Orleans Casino is nearby in Harvey.
There’s an attached hotel and restaurants inside, from casual to fine dining.
You can play slots, table games, or bet at the sportsbook.
The casino is closed from 5 am to 8 am daily.
One of the best views from this side of the river is along the Mississippi River Trail in Gretna.
You’ll have sweeping views of the New Orleans skyline and watch boat and barge traffic move through.
The Gretna Bike Path is open to cyclists, walkers, and runners.
Downtown Gretna is filled with small-town Cajun charm and historical buildings.
Stop by the Gretna Historical Society and Visitor’s Center to get a walking tour map of the area.
You’ll see a cemetery on that tour.
Since this region is at sea level, it’s impossible to bury the dead underground.
The above-ground tombs line places like the Hook and Ladder cemetery from 1859.
It might sound a little creepy, but it’s a slice of history you don’t want to miss.
Just be respectful while you’re on the grounds.
The German-American Cultural Center is another great location to visit to learn about the German immigrants who settled here in the mid-1800s.
An annual heritage festival is held each fall throughout 20 blocks of downtown, and a farmer’s market takes to the streets each weekend.
You can also look at the Gretna city schedule for more hyper-local events.
Terrytown and Gretna are close to one part of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park.
It might be a bit confusing between under the name of one park, there are nine locations to visit throughout the region.
The Westbank location is home to Barataria Preserve.
This is a vast wetland and swamp area covering 26,000 acres.
Guided tours on Wednesday through Sunday at 10:00 am offer unique insight into the wildlife of the swamp.
Be sure to leave here by 5:00 pm each day, or else your car will be locked in until the next morning.
Places to Avoid in Terrytown
Since Terrytown is highly residential, you should stay out of the neighborhoods unless you visit someone there.
While the crime rates are lower in the Westbank, you still want to stay on the main roads and highways.
The farther south you are in Terrytown, the lower the crime rates will be.
The bulk of crime here is property crimes because of the number of homes.
If a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching, you want to avoid this area.
It’s worth rescheduling a trip to avoid the chaos of an incoming storm when supplies will run out, and evacuations can lead to intense traffic.
In the aftermath of a storm, power can be out for days, and clean water can be hard to come by.
There’s also the risk of looting after a storm.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Terrytown
- Since Terrytown doesn’t have a police force, you’ll visit the Gretna Police Department website and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office website to get safety information. You can get monthly crime data from the parish sheriff’s office, but it covers the whole parish and doesn’t break down details by city.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through JP ALERT. This will deliver severe weather information, criminal activity, or civil emergency information to your mobile device or email.
- You can submit a crime tip through the Gretna Police Department website without leaving your name or contact info. Any suspicious activity should be reported to help police keep crime under control.
- Follow Gretna Police on Facebook @GretnaPD. This will get you more updated crime information than the website, as the latest news release online is from 2019.
- The streets of Gretna and the surrounding area can be confusing as some roads are two-way streets while others are one-way, and there’s not always logic as to what direction a road goes. Be sure to pay attention when you’re driving. While the roads are clearly marked, it can be easy to get turned around.
- The Mississippi River Trail is a great place for a run or bike ride, but don’t wear headphones while you’re on this trail. Some sections are more remote, while others go through industrial areas or neighborhoods. You want to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- The trail has barriers between the river in some sections, but there are also locations where you could easily touch the water. Don’t do it. The Mississippi River is dirty and carries a lot of debris in its swift current.
- Wear bug spray when you’re outside, as the humidity and heat here make a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Use a product that contains DEET and reapply as often as needed based on how much you sweat.
- Alligators are in this area, and you’ll likely see one if you go to the swamp regions. Do not bait or feed an alligator and stay as far away as possible. Don’t try to get closer for a quick picture because those creatures are much faster than they appear to be.
- Anglers will need a fishing license from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Hatcheries. Since the water in the Westbank can range from saltwater to freshwater, you should get a combo license that covers all water types. You can purchase a license online ahead of time or visit Dick’s Sporting Goods at Oakwood Center in Terrytown.
So... How Safe Is Terrytown Really?
We don’t have specific crime data for Terrytown, but we do have information from Gretna Police and Jefferson Parish, which gives a good idea of the bigger picture.
Gretna is ranked as one of the safest cities in Louisiana, coming in at number eight.
The violent crime rate in Gretna is 693 crimes per 100,000 people.
Compare that to New Orleans, where the rate is 1358 crimes per 100,000 people.
Those are according to 2021 crime statistics, but in 2022 we know that crime is surgery up to 100% in some categories in New Orleans, and crime has been spilling over into nearby communities.
Since Gretna and Terrytown are two of the closest places in the Westbank, it would make sense to use extra caution here.
At the same time, as of September 2022, crime in Jefferson Parish was up year-to-year:
- Murder: Up 20%
- Robbery: Up 37%
- Theft: Up 27%
- Auto Theft: Up 23%
That last category, auto theft, has been spiking across the country in 2022, giving more reason to use extra security precautions with your car or a rental car.
To be a safe city in Louisiana isn’t really that reassuring with the increasing crime rates, but you will be able to sleep a little better knowing you’re in a safer part of the community.
It’s also helpful to know that more than 90% of violent crimes happen between people who know each other, and strangers make up a small portion.
Use the same caution are you would in any big city with high crime rates, and take severe weather seriously here as it can get quite dangerous.
All that said, a safe trip to southern Louisiana is definitely worth all the precautions.
How Does Terrytown Compare?
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- Visas - The U.S. State Department issued visas for international travelers. The application and interview process can take several months, so plan well in advance. Once you get through Customs at the airport or port of entry, you won't need to show your visa as you visit the different communities. You will need a passport as a legal ID.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. Avoid using public ATMs and enter a bank to get cash or exchange currency. Try to use a credit card for as much as possible, as it offers better fraud protection.
- Weather - The area is usually warm or hot and humid, so bring extra shirts and undergarments because you'll sweat a lot. There could be a few winter days when you'd want a jacket but check the forecast before you go, so you don't pack things you don't need. Waterproof boots will help you enjoy the swamps without getting your feet wet, and most swamp tour guides will require closed-toed shoes.
- Airports - Terrytown is about 20 miles from the New Orleans International Airport but plan for an hour if you're driving during rush hours.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a wise investment to protect every aspect of your trip. If you purchase the insurance when you get your airfare or cruise reservation, it will go into effect immediately. This will be beneficial if a last-minute emergency impacts your ability to travel. For any insurance plan, you purchase, ask how tropical weather or hurricanes are covered under the plan.
Terrytown Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Louisiana - Safety by City