Katrina alerted the world to the danger of hurricanes in this part of the world. However if one visits a place vulnerable to natural disaster, at least hurricanes give warning. During the height of the hurricane season, from July through October, be sure to check with the weather service before going to New Orleans, and if a large storm is threatening the Gulf Coast, consider a change of plans. If one threatens the city while you're there, play it safe and leave early; don't wait for an evacuation order to head away from the coast. If you cannot get out of the area you should at least be sure to get to a hotel located on high ground (as a rule in New Orleans, the older the neighborhood, the higher the ground).
Worries about health risks in New Orleans remaining after the post-Katrina cleanup were fortunately unfounded. The main health concerns are the same for the rest of the U.S. South: If you're not accustomed to the sub-tropical heat, drink plenty of liquids and pace yourself in the sunshine.
The majority of the city's notorious crime problem is manifested away from the parts of town of interest to most visitors, but always be aware of your surroundings. The Central City neighborhood is having the worst problem, and at present should be avoided by casual visitors. The "Back of town" sections of the 7th 8th and 9th Wards have also been having serious problems. Visitors are advised to check on current local conditions before visiting these neighborhoods and take extra care if they go.
Stay out of St. Louis cemetery unless you are with a tour group. Ditto Armstrong Park, unless you're there for an event like Jazz in the Park. Avoid the Iberville project on the other side of N Rampart St, west of Armstrong Park.
While the French Quarter and attractions most visited by tourists are some of the safest areas for violent crimes, beware opportunistic thieves looking for a chance to snatch something from visitors who are not keeping an eye on their valuables. A famous 19th century sign from the Quarter reads: "Beware Pickpockets and Loose Women." Not much has changed. Tourists can be so drunk and distracted that they are separated from their common sense and, all too often, other things. Keep things in your front pockets, and be careful with your digital on Bourbon. Locals have an expression, "Nothing good happens in the Quarter after midnight". Bar bouncers are allowed to kill and injure people with impunity, so don't tangle with them.
Around parts of the French Quarter and nearby areas with many tourists, visitors can encounter hustlers who will try to get a few dollars from tourists offering anything from a flower to a hat, a foot massage, or even to clean your shoes. Another popular tourist scam is to bet a tourist $20 that the scammer knows where the tourist got their shoes. If the tourist takes the bet, the scammer responds, "You got them on your feet" and demands the $20. Remember that you are under no obligation to talk to people and it's just best to ignore them. This is especially true of the hordes of gutter punks in the lower Quarter, near the old U.S. Mint and where Frenchman intersects with Esplanade, near the fire station.
All in all, though, the government and police are aware of the problem and are there to help you, but you can help them (and yourself) also by using one simple rule: use your common sense (as one would do in any other sizeable city). Being alone and utterly drunk is not the best state to be in when walking through a deserted alley in downtown New Orleans on a regular busy Saturday night, and during massive crowd-drawers like Mardi Gras or Southern Decadence, one should be more careful than on an average Wednesday afternoon.
Last but not least: looking for drugs or illegal activities will not only expose you to danger; if someone you just met is trying to lure you into a strange part of town for something decadent, assume you're probably being set up for a robbery or worse. Also be advised that Louisiana has the harshest sentencing laws in the country as most felonies carry a mandatory prison sentence, so conduct yourself accordingly.
941 Bourbon St
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is a site in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.
617-621 Chartres Street
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