Georgia : Safety by City
- East Columbus
- East Point
- Johns Creek
- Peachtree City
- Peachtree Corners
- Sandy Springs
- South Fulton
- Tybee Island
- Warner Robins
Flowers and football pretty much sum up Valdosta, Georgia.
It’s nicknamed “The Azalea City” for the number of flowers that bloom each spring.
You’ll smell them before you see them.
The Valdosta High School football team is one of the winningest teams in America.
It would be easy to treat Valdosta as a pit stop on the way to or from Florida.
It doesn’t have one or two big things that make it special for tourists.
It has a bunch of little things that make it a safe and fun place to visit.
This was once the richest city in America, having kept out of the Civil War, and people fleeing from war-torn areas set up shop in this south Georgia city.
The city made history in 1902 when a circus elephant rampaged through the town for two hours, killing its trainer in the process.
A few years later, Valdosta once again made headlines with lynch mobs killing 13 African Americans in stories so grotesque I won’t even describe them.
As quaint and quiet as the city is now, it’s unfathomable to think of what happened here just about 100 years ago.
This is also the home to Valdosta State University, giving the city of 55,000 people a college-town vibe and more nightlife than you’d expect in a city located pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
There’s an amusement park called Wild Adventures just 10 minutes south of Valdosta, and it’s exactly what you think an amusement park in South Georgia would be.
We’ll dive more into that a little later.
Warnings & Dangers in Valdosta
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk here. The crime rates are low and it's a town filled with Southern hospitality. Most of the hotels are going to be located along I-75 with few, if any, further in the city which lies east of the interstate.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
There isn't traditional public transportation here. There's Valdosta On Demand, which is somewhat of a mix between a rideshare and commuting with others to certain locations. There are 10 stops to choose from on your timeline, but you'll be riding with other people going to the same area as you. Downtown the app to learn more about how it works. You can get taxis and rideshares sparingly. All options have a low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There were no pickpockets and two purse snatchings in 2020, which gives this city a low risk. You should still practice personal safety measures as if you were in the middle of Atlanta just to be safe.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
I was driving from Florida to Macon once, and as I approached Valdosta a storm was so intense I couldn't even see the road in front of me without going 10 miles an hour (on the interstate). I decided to pull over in Valdosta, except I missed the Valdosta exit because I couldn't see it. You're going to get severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in this part of Georgia. Don't think you're free from tropical weather here either. In 2018, Hurricane Michael was still a strong tropical storm when it hit south Georgia, leaving downed trees, power outages, and street lights ripped down in its wake. There's a medium risk and keep a good weather app handy.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There's a low risk, but it's good to know that 10 of the 43 robberies that happened in 2020 were in public places. The robbery rate is at the national average, so it's not better or worse than the average American community.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Moody Air Force Base is about 30 minutes northeast of Valdosta, and we have to assume any military base would be a potential target. However, there isn't much other damage for terrorists to do, so it wouldn't be at the top of the hard target list. I think you can be confident there's a low risk and extra Homeland Security focus is on Moody AFB as well.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scammers might be persistent, but they aren't all that creative in Valdosta. There are the typical scams against residents, but nothing focused on tourists. There's a low risk. One word of caution - this is a popular pit stop for drives on road trips, so always check the gas pump for skimming devices and report anything suspicious on the pump. You can also pay inside the gas station for extra security.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women shouldn't be worried more than anyone else in Valdosta. There's a low risk, but that doesn't mean no risk. It's a college town and college bars can be havens for drugs put in drinks unknowingly. Pace yourself when drinking and never go home with a stranger. 13 rapes were reported in 2020, but that's 13 too many.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2020 Annual Water Quality Report for Valdosta shows no violations and all water sampled meets or exceeds standards.
Safest Places to Visit in Valdosta
The Lowndes County Historical Society Museum is a great place to start to get a feel for the history – good and bad – in this area.
You’ll find artifacts and art depicting the creation and development of this city.
The Crescent is another great historical stop in town, with the namesake home looking a lot like the White House if it was crescent-shaped.
Built-in 1898, the interior is restored to its turn-of-the-century sophistication.
There’s an amazing garden on this property that’s worth taking a stroll through, especially when the azaleas bloom in the spring.
Each May the Azalea Festival is held in Valdosta and if you can time your trip here to this, you won’t be disappointed.
Don’t think it’s just about flowers – there’s a Lumberjack show and a K9 Frisbee competition.
Half a dozen stages of entertainers keep the crowds entertained.
Wild Adventures Theme Park is like the county fair, the zoo, a nightclub, and a waterpark all wrapped up together.
You can get up close and personal with an alligator, feed a giraffe, ride one of many rollercoasters, cool off at Splash Island, attend a concert at the amphitheater, enjoy a beer, and Bavarian pretzel, and so much more.
Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area is just outside Valdosta.
There are more than 8400 acres to explore, some pine forest and some wetlands, with hiking trails, fishing spots, hunting regions, and canoe/kayak access points.
Places to Avoid in Valdosta
Crime maps show the area between Baytree Road and Hill Avenue has the highest crime rates.
North of Baytree Road is the lowest crime area in the city.
You don’t really have a lot of choices for hotels here, as many are gathered in the area of I-75 and St. Augustine Road.
That is in the higher crime area, but it’s also near the mall and has a bunch of dining and big-box shopping options.
There’s just going to be more crime where there are more people, so you shouldn’t be worried about staying here.
I would advise avoiding a hotel that is right on the interstate and there are a few, but there’s also a Courtyard by Marriott tucked away behind the mall, limiting freeway noise and possibly less crowded with people or truckers just looking to get a few hours of sleep before heading out in the morning.
The hotel groups near I-75 and Hill Avenue are in a slightly lower crime rate area.
Valdosta is just 17 miles from Florida, so you still need to avoid swimming in freshwater ponds due to the risk of an alligator living in that water.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Valdosta
- Valdosta has a Crime Tip Line to be used after a crime or in non-emergency situations. That number is (229)293-3091.
- On the surface, Valdosta seems like a sweet Southern city. You might be surprised to learn that a dozen gangs are operating here. It’s not a city that is overwhelmed with gangs, but there is that seedy underbelly like most communities have. A good chunk of crime rates are attributed to this.
- 17 people were arrested in Lowndes County in 2021 in connection with human trafficking and drug sales. Being on the popular I-75 route is good for business, but bad for criminal activity. A sure sign of human trafficking is a young woman dressed improperly for the weather and being led around by several men. The women won’t ask for help as they’ve most likely been beaten into submission, but if you notice anything suspicious, call the police. It’s better to be safe than sorry when combating sex and human trafficking that is plaguing America’s interstates.
- You need a good weather app here. Storms can kick up suddenly and drop heavy rain, intense lightning, and strong winds. Plan your day around the weather activities so you’re never caught outside in a storm.
- There is plenty of hunting and fishing to do in the area surrounding Valdosta, but you need a license for both. You can get it through the Georgia Department of Wildlife website.
- Geocaching is banned in the Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area during the hunting season for obvious reasons. You don’t want a hunter to mistake you for a deer.
- Alligators are common here, but if you see one in a public area, call the police. They’ll make sure the appropriate wildlife management agency comes to move the gator to a safer place.
- Valdosta is going through a renaissance of sorts, trying to improve the downtown district. There might be a lot of construction while you visit. Be sure to drive the speed limit and always be on the lookout for construction workers.
- Georgia isn’t the most bicycle-friendly state, at least, not yet. It’s working on plans. It’s important to know that it’s illegal for anyone under 12 years old to ride a bike on the sidewalk. If there isn’t a bike lane, you can ride on the street with the expectation of obeying all traffic signals as if you were a vehicle. Stay to the right and when driving, give cyclists 3 feet of space when passing.
- This is the deep south, so most people will speak with an accent. If you order iced tea, it’s going to come with a lot of sugar in it because Sweet Tea is the norm around here. People will call you “darlin'” and open the door for you while expecting a hearty “thank you.” When in the South, offer the same Southern hospitality as you get.
So... How Safe Is Valdosta Really?
Valdosta is an average town as far as crime is concerned.
Some websites claim it’s “one of the most dangerous in Georgia,” but as I look at the crime statistics of late, I don’t see that.
The violent crime rate is 397 per 100,000.
The national rate is 399 per 100,000.
The theft rate is much higher than the national average of 1398 per 100,000, coming in at 2792 per 100,000.
Nearly 25% of that is car thefts, which makes sense when you’ve got a lot of people staying over for the night and leaving belongings in cars or leaving cars unlocked or with windows rolled down.
21% of the theft rates are shoplifting.
Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan told ValdsotaToday.com in 2020, “We are consistently clearing cases way above the national average.
Valdosta is a great place to live and work.
Crime does not take the spotlight here.
Valdosta continues year after year to be a safe community.”
How Does Valdosta Compare?
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The Visa gets processed when you arrive in the United States. You won't need additional processing as you travel through Georgia or arrive in Valdosta.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. You'll want to exchange any currency in a city larger than Valdosta, as there aren't many options.
You'll need t-shirts and shorts most of the year, but a jacket and jeans will be needed in the winter. Bring a rain jacket just in case, especially during the hurricane season from June through November when storms can move inland and dump a lot of rain.
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport offers a handful of Delta flights to and from Atlanta daily. The larger Jacksonville International Airport is two hours east. The Atlanta airport is more than a four-hour drive.
You'll want travel insurance to Valdosta, especially if you're using the local airport, which can be prone to cancelations and delays in inclement weather.
Valdosta Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Georgia - Safety by City