Is Chicago safe for new travelers?
Somewhere in history, it is noted that the U.S.A. is one of the best countries in the world (though there are those that make a great case for other countries).
Whether visiting as a tourist or living like a local in one of the popular cities such as LA or NYC which are extremely adaptable for immigrants, as they tend to cater to nationalities by way of cuisine and culture, there will be something for you.
For many, The U.S. can be considered quite similar to other English-speaking countries such as Australia in terms of culture, so visitors know what to expect.
The big question though is whether this is the same for a city like Chicago.
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Is Chicago Safe?
In this guide, we will cover travel safety in Chicago so you can ensure your trip to America’s third most populated city is a safe one and so you can avoid some of the common pitfalls that happen to the more unfortunate travelers who arrive here.
Any quick look on Google Maps will show you that the Windy City is smack bang in the mid-north of America, so the climate and culture are completely different.
Chicago also has a smart city strategy that makes it one of the top 12 smart cities in the US and it was selected as one of the leading cities in the top 100 globally.
How Safe is Chicago?
Chicago is a safe city to visit. It may have a reputation for crime – of all kinds – but Chicago is about as safe as any other megalopolis city in the Western world.
It has gentrified the main visiting areas, especially the far north side. While that may be good for some, it means maybe sketchy areas at night can mean assaults for others; it also means pickpockets and petty thieves in touristy areas.
That’s how these big cities work and there are certain things to have in mind when traveling in them. Even more so if you’re from a small town or countryside setting.
There is no doubt that Chicago has a reputation for gang violence (more than 70 gangs), but this happens in the non-touristy regions most visitors don’t get to see.
Chicago Crime Rate
Is Chicago safe For tourists?
Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States and is a popular destination for US travelers more than the international types.
It’s a cultural hub of the Midwest in America, an area largely populated by small-town families and blue collar workers.
The good news is that Chicago is pretty safe. Most people will just hang around what is known as The Loop – the area of the city that’s choc-a-bloc with public art and museums. Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes the day you’re here.
The only thing to really worry about here is pickpockets. Pickpocketing can also occur on the public transport system, and robbery has occurred in the city’s underground walkway system (the Pedway).
Even if you go exploring outside of this central part of the city, and as long as you follow some universal travel safety rules, you shouldn’t run into too much trouble.
You should, however, probably do some research into what neighborhoods are safer than others. We suggest asking locals or speaking with your hotel staff for ideas on what to expect in the immediate area where you’re staying.
Is Chicago safe at night?
Yes, Chicago is quite safe at night, but tourists are advised to be aware of their surroundings. Avoid the southern part of the city as much as possible.
This area is famous for gang activity and some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago are located here.
If you’re new to Chicago, avoid walking alone, especially late at night. Avoid dark areas and stay close to well-lit paths. There’s no reason to be concerned about your safety if you use common sense and be extra cautious at all times.
Is Chicago safe to travel alone?
Yes, Chicago is safe to explore as a solo traveler as long as you spend your time in the safest neighborhoods (some of which we will mention below).
One of the safest ways to visit the city without getting worried about being in a less safe area of the city is by joining a group tour like this Gangsters and Ghosts 2-Hour Walking Tour and learn more about Chicago’s history from a local guide.
As a general rule, avoid venturing into the southern and western areas of Chicago while alone and even more so while walking around the city after dark.
Is Chicago safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, Chicago is safe for solo female travelers. Anywhere in Chicago’s downtown is safe for solo women travelers during the day, but as always, it is important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
All female travelers are advised to not walk around the city alone after dark, and preferably do it with another person or in a group. Also, try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash, credit cards and important travel documents with you. Look into carrying a bag like this one to help conceal your valuables.
Where to Stay in Chicago, Illinois
See a couple of the most incredible places to stay in Chicago for visitors:
The Loop (Downtown Chicago)
The Loop is the top spot when it comes to tourism in the city.
All the big attractions are here or within walking distance, and the whole district is an architectural showcase.
Here you’ll find some of the earliest skyscrapers in America standing side-by-side with modern glass and steel giants such as the Willis Tower (the third-largest building in the US).
South Loop and Lake Shore East
Both the South Loop and Lake Shore East (AKA New Eastside) are popular with families for accessibility to Chicago’s best kid-friendly attractions!
Not only that, but you’ll find that in New Eastside there are some groovy hotels, and overall a much calmer vibe than the main downtown core of the Loop.
Areas to avoid in Chicago?
There are areas that are dangerous and are better avoided, especially when visiting Chicago as a solo female traveler. Below are some areas to avoid.
Here’s a list of neighborhoods in Chicago to avoid:
- West Garfield Park and East Garfield Park
- Englewood and West Englewood
- North Lawndale
- Washington Park
- Grand Crossing
- South Shore
Aside from this you should always keep an eye of which part of the city you are entering at any one time. Walking in cetrain areas could be on the edge of the risky territory. If you start to enter residential areas where you see a decrease in ‘atmosphere’ this could mean you’re on the pathway to a bad area.
Chicago: Travel Safety Tips
Here are some tips to help get through all parts of the city:
Overall, you won’t need to abide by any rules or advice for safety. Chicago has hardly any crime towards tourists, so imagine yourself at your own place of personal safety at home.
Sometimes much easier said than done, we know, but just don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home, and don’t put yourself into harm’s way.
Best Time to Visit Chicago
We decided to consult our trusted source with all things climate, Travel US News.
“The best times to visit Chicago are April through May and between September and October when the temperatures are warm, a variety of festivals take place and crowds are manageable. Summer marks Chicago’s peak tourist and festival season, with travelers from around the country hoping to take advantage of the warm weather and abundant activities.
You’ll find higher lodging rates during these seasons, but you’ll also escape Chicago’s notoriously bitter winters. Chicago experiences frigid temperatures from November to March, but if you can hack it, hotel and airfare deals are easy to find.”
Here are some key events for this time frame: