Is Chicago Safe? How to Stay Safe While Traveling?

When it comes to deciding whether or not to visit a city, safety is often the number one concern. Chicago, with its reputation as an urban center and its expansive cityscape, can be a daunting place for tourists to consider visiting. But is it really unsafe?

The truth of the matter is that while there’s some crime in Chicago, most neighborhoods are safe and welcoming.

In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at the safety issues surrounding Chicago and provide practical advice so that you can make an informed decision before you plan your trip.

What are the dangers in Chicago?

Chicago is a beautiful city with a lot to offer, but it also has its fair share of dangers. Here are some of the dangers you might encounter while visiting Chicago.

  1. Crime: Chicago has a high crime rate, and visitors can be easy targets for criminals. Be sure to keep your belongings close to you and stay in well-lit areas at night.
  2. Gang violence: Gang violence is a serious problem in Chicago, and tourists can easily get caught in the crossfire. Avoid areas known for gang activity and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  3. Natural disasters: Chicago is located in an area prone to severe weather, including tornadoes and winter storms. Be sure to check the forecast before traveling and be prepared for any emergency situation.
  4. Health risks: There are several health risks to consider when visiting Chicago, including West Nile virus and food-borne illnesses. Be sure to take precautions against these risks and consult with your doctor before travel if you have any concerns.

In this article, we will talk more about crime safety and ways to prevent it.

Chicago City Center
Austin Neill / Unsplash

Dangerous neighborhoods to avoid in Chicago

There are a few areas of Chicago that are best avoided, especially at night. These include:

  • The South Side: particularly the Englewood and Garfield Park neighborhoods. These areas have high crime rates and are best avoided after dark.
  • The West Side: specifically the Austin neighborhood. This area has been plagued by gang violence in recent years and is best avoided altogether.
  • Downtown: while it is generally safe during the day, downtown can be quite dangerous at night. Be sure to stay in well-lit, busy areas if you find yourself downtown after dark.
Chicago Travel Alone
Alex Szymanek / Flickr

Safe neighborhoods to stay in Chicago

Chicago is generally a safe place to visit, but there are some areas that are safer than others.

If you’re looking for a safe neighborhood to stay in, the best bet is to choose an area that’s well-lit and has plenty of foot traffic.

One of the safest areas in Chicago is the Loop. This is the city’s central business district, and it’s full of high-rise office buildings, shops, and restaurants. There’s also a heavy police presence in the Loop, so you can feel safe walking around during the day or night.

Another safe area in Chicago is Lincoln Park. This huge park stretches along Lake Michigan, and it’s a great place to go for a walk, bike ride, or picnic. There’s also a zoo and several museums in Lincoln Park, so it’s perfect for a family outing.

Chicago City Center Crowd
Branko Borojevic / Flickr

If you’re looking for safe places to eat and shop, check out Wicker Park and Bucktown. These two neighborhoods are known for their trendy bars, restaurants, and boutiques. And like the Loop, they’re also patrolled by police officers on foot and on bikes.

When it comes to getting around the city, taking public transportation is generally safe.

However, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take extra care when riding at night or in unfamiliar areas. If you’re renting a car, be sure to park in a well-lit and secure garage or lot.

A few common scams in Chicago

There are a few common scams that occur in Chicago. One is the “I’m with the city” or “I’m with the CTA” scam, in which someone will approach you and say they work for the city or public transportation system and need to inspect your bag or person. They may even offer to help you with something, like carrying your bags. Once they have access to your belongings, they will take what they want and leave you stranded.

Another common scam is the “freebie” scam, in which someone will approach you and offer you a free ticket or sample of something. Once you accept, they will ask for your credit card information or try to sell you something else. Be wary of anyone who approaches you offering something for free, as it is likely a scam.

Things to know about safety in Chicago

The best way to stay safe in Chicago is to be aware of your surroundings and to use common sense.

If you are visiting from out of town, it is also a good idea to research the areas you will be visiting ahead of time so that you can be prepared. Here are a few tips to stay safe.

Don’t fight back

When it comes to crime, the best thing you can do is not fight back. This will only increase the chances that you’ll be hurt or killed. If someone tries to rob you, give them what they want and don’t try to resist. It’s not worth your life.

Be wary of street sellers

When visiting Chicago, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and who you are talking to. There are many street sellers throughout the city that will try to take advantage of tourists.

It is important to be wary of these individuals and not purchase anything from them. If you are interested in buying something from a street vendor, it is best to find a reputable one that has been recommended by someone you trust.

Beware of pickpocketing on public transportation

Pickpocketing is a major problem on public transportation, especially in crowded cities. Pickpockets take advantage of busy and distracted passengers to steal wallets, phones, jewelry and other items.

It’s important for travelers to be aware of their surroundings when riding public transportation and to keep their belongings safe by keeping them close at all times. Be sure to always keep your wallet in an inside pocket and never leave any valuables unattended or exposed.

Additionally, it might be beneficial to travel with a group if possible as pickpockets are less likely to target larger groups than individuals.

Chicago City Transit Authority Transportation
Howard Pulling / Flickr

Avoid buses at night

The best way to avoid buses at night is to take an Uber. If you must take the bus, make sure to sit in the front near the driver and stay awake.

Use Uber or Lyft

If you’re planning to visit Chicago, you may be wondering if it’s safe to take Uber or Lyft. The short answer is yes, both Uber and Lyft are safe to use in Chicago. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using either service.

  • Always make sure you double-check the vehicle and driver before getting in. Make sure the car matches the description and license plate number that was provided by the app, and that the driver looks like their photo. If anything seems off, don’t get in the car.
  • Try to avoid hailing an Uber or Lyft late at night. While there’s nothing inherently unsafe about using either service at night, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If you do need to take an Uber or Lyft late at night, make sure you let a friend or family member know your expected route and arrival time.
  • Remember that Chicago is a big city with a lot of people. That means there will always be some risk when taking public transportation or hailing a ride from a stranger. But as long as you use common sense and follow the safety tips above, you should have no problems enjoying your time in Chicago.

Avoid carrying cash and valuables

One of the most important things to remember is to avoid carrying cash and valuables with you.

If you must carry cash, keep it in a secure place like a money belt or hidden pocket. And don’t flash your valuables around – keep them out of sight as much as possible.

Don’t look like a tourist

If you don’t want to look like a tourist in Chicago, there are a few things you can do.

  • Avoid wearing anything that would identify you as a tourist. This includes items like cameras, maps, and guidebooks.
  • Try to blend in with the locals by dressing like they do and speaking like they do.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and know where you are going. fourth, be polite and respectful to the locals. fifth, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Share your location with someone you trust

One of the best ways to stay safe in any unfamiliar city is to share your location with someone you trust. That way, if anything happens, they’ll know where to find you.

If you’re using public transportation, it can be helpful to download a GPS tracking app so your loved ones can see exactly where you are at all times or you can use WhatsApp’s instant tracking feature to share your location instantly.

FAQs

Is Chicago safe to visit?

There are certain areas of Chicago that are more dangerous than others. The most dangerous areas are typically on the south and west sides of the city. If you are visiting Chicago, it is important to be aware of these areas and to avoid them if possible.

How dangerous is Chicago?

The murder rate in Chicago is one of the highest in the country, and tourists are often the targets of crime. However, the chances of being a victim of crime in Chicago are still relatively low.

There are steps you can take to reduce your risk, such as avoiding areas known for violence and staying in well-lit, busy areas.

Conclusion

Chicago is a city filled with culture and excitement, but safety should always come first. Though Chicago has its fair share of crime, visitors can still enjoy the city without feeling unsafe by taking extra precautions.

By doing your research beforehand and being mindful of your surroundings while you explore, you’ll be able to have a safe and enjoyable visit to Chicago.