Illinois : Safety by City
- Arlington Heights
- Crystal Lake
- Des Plaines
- East St Louis
- Fairview Heights
- Granite City
- Mount Prospect
- Oak Lawn
- Rock Island
- Tinley Park
Tell people you’re going on a beach vacation to the center of landlocked Illinois and enjoy a good laugh when they look at you funny.
You’re not wrong, though, because Carlyle, Illinois actually has four beaches along the state’s largest man-made lake.
This small town of fewer than 4,000 people is just an hour east of St. Louis, Missouri.
You really are going to need to like lake life because it’s the biggest attraction here by far, along with the Kaskaskia River.
If you don’t want to be in or on the water, why not walk above it?
There’s a suspension walking bridge that connects to a 10-mile path for bicyclists and hikers.
Carlyle and the surrounding lake area are a perfect place to visit if you like camping, rural cabins, or have your own RV.
There is just one hotel in Carlyle and the rest are going to be about 20 miles away in all directions.
This isn’t just a town for casual fishing.
Several tournaments are held here throughout the year and the competition can be quite tough.
If you really want to get away from it all, unplug, and enjoy the great outdoors without having to worry about your next shower or indoor toilet, this is the perfect place for you.
Warnings & Dangers in Carlyle
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here. There are some crime categories I can't even talk about much. It's not because I don't have the data - it's because there weren't any crimes! Rape, robbery, and arson were three categories with a big fat "0" in the crime statistics report. There were just three violent crimes in the city and surrounding Clinton County had just 33 violent crimes.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
South Central Transit is available to get you around the rural areas of central Illinois. I wouldn't count on taxis and rideshares being ready on demand. It's almost going to be required to have a car here unless you can walk really long distances.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk. This is such a small town and the area is so spread out that it would be a challenge in itself to pickpocket someone. Where you should pay attention is to any personal items you leave on the shoreline, campground, or in the RV.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You'll face a risk of flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, earthquakes, snowstorms, and ice storms. Aside from the earthquake, they all come with plenty of warning, but because so much can go wrong here and it's a huge outdoor attraction, there's medium risk.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were no robberies in 2020 and just one in 2019, so there's a low risk it will happen to you. Carlyle has seemed to escape the increase in gun violence that is plaguing other central Illinois communities. On top of that, they only have six full-time police officers here.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a very low risk any terrorist in the world could even find Carlyle on a map, so you don't need to worry about that.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of getting scammed here. There aren't even reports of the traditional scams that impact residents. The only scam, as far as I can see, is two men trying to tell the tale of spotting a "Loch Ness" type monster in the lake in April of 2020.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should be safe here but they need to be the outdoorsy type. There were no sexual assaults reported in 2020 and just one in 2019.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
No violations were found in any of the tap water tests done in 2021. You can feel safe using the tap water here with low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Carlyle
Lake Carlyle is the place to be.
There’s fishing, hiking, boating, camping, archery, hunting, swimming, hiking, and really anything else you can think of doing outdoors.
Carlyle Lake offers 85 miles of shoreline, so you don’t have to worry about too many crowds either.
You surely want to take a walk across the General Dean Suspension Bridge.
I’m really scared of bridges, but even this one seems low enough that I’d walk across it with no worries.
On the western shore of Lake Carlyle, you’ll find the Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area.
There’s a winery here called the Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery.
As far as I can see, there’s no actual wildlife except for the ones you might see in nature, but it does have a South African vibe.
Despite being called a lodge, there’s not a hotel here.
The word “lodge” means more of a gathering place than a place to rent a room.
You can watch the summer sailboat regattas from here.
The Hidden Lake Winery does have cabins for rent, as well as exclusive wine brands.
The winery also books live entertainment some nights of the week throughout the year.
If you are staying near Greenville, you might want to visit the American Farm Heritage Museum, paying tribute to the rich farmlands of Illinois.
There are events here by season, from tractor pulls to Christmas craft fairs.
Places to Avoid in Carlyle
There aren’t any bad parts of town or neighborhoods to avoid.
The one thing you should avoid is getting eaten up by mosquitoes, so bring a lot of bug spray.
I would very much recommend studying outdoor weather safety for the conditions during the season you plan to visit.
There’s not going to be much to do on rainy or stormy days and you don’t want to be stuck outside in a thunderstorm.
The winter can get awfully cold, so you’ll want warm layers of clothing.
You should also avoid coming here without waterproof shoes.
The trails could be muddy and I am embarrassed to tell you how many sandals I’ve lost from walking through Midwest trails on a sunny day, forgetting about the previous rain that left a lot of mud behind.
One thing I like to do if I’m renting a car and visiting an outdoor area like this is swing by a thrift shop, like Goodwill, and buy some flat sheets.
I’ll put those on the backseat and trunk of the car to make sure dirt, debris, fish smell, and other outdoor scents don’t make it into the seat cushions.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Carlyle
- It’s good to have the police department’s number in case you have non-emergency questions. That number is 618-594-2488. You can also call to ask about any new crime trends closer to your time of visit.
- Carlyle does allow golf carts to be driven on public streets, but you need a permit. You can call that police number if you have more questions. There’s also a map of the streets where golf carts are allowed on the city’s website.
- The city’s website shows a list of places where you can see bald eagles. You cannot hunt, shoot, feed, or take a bald eagle. You also can’t take any part of a nest or eggs. This is per Illinois law and you can face steep fines for violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
- More than 800,000 people come through this area every year. The campgrounds can fill up quickly. Call as soon as you know your travel dates to make reservations for a campsite.
- Check the city website for any boat ramp closures. The list stays updated and there can be a lot of construction once the winter thaw happens.
- The CodeRED Weather Warning system is a great app to download if you want to stay on top of Carlyle and Clinton County weather and emergency warnings. This is a free app and it just takes a few minutes to set up.
- Each of the four beaches offers a little something different for visitors. For example, if it’s important to have a show and toilet, you’ll want to visit McNair or Coles Creek beaches. You can find descriptions of each one under the Tourism section of the city website.
- You will need to have a fishing and/or hunting license if you plan to do those activities. There are different seasons and rules for where you can and can’t fish or hunt, so be sure to check with the park service for your preferred area.
- The small towns of Illinois were hit hard by the pandemic, and it’s helpful if you shop and eat locally instead of swinging through national fast-food restaurants.
- There are six places where you can rent cabins and many of the reservations can be made online or via email. Be sure you call the location if you are reserving so you can make sure you aren’t having a rental scammer contact you.
So... How Safe Is Carlyle Really?
I’m just not sure how much safer you can get, even in a small town.
Here is the number of crimes from 2020:
- Violent Crime: 3
- Robbery: 0
- Sexual Assault: 0
- Theft: 51
The biggest risks are going to come from the wilderness, either getting skunked, bitten by mosquitos, water injuries, slipping and falling on rocks, sunburn, or hypothermia.
You should wear comfortable shoes with a firm grip on the bottom.
Wear a life vest when you’re in or on the water, even if you are an expert swimmer, just to set a good example.
Mobile phone service might be spotty, so you should check coverage areas with your provider before you go.
You shouldn’t expect a lot of free WiFi here, so ask when you book a reservation if that’s important to you.
If they don’t have it, you can also buy and bring a hot spot with you.
How Does Carlyle Compare?
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- Visas - You won't need to show your Visa in Carlyle, as it will have been addressed and stamped at the airport. You will need a passport for a legal ID.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. You should try to book and pay as much in advance, so you don't need to worry about pulling out your wallet a lot. While it's not a place where carrying cash is a bad idea, you still shouldn't carry a large amount of it.
- Weather - All four seasons here make the outdoors beautiful but come with certain challenges and risks. Summers will be humid, so you'll sweat a lot. Bring plenty of drinking water and don't forget the electrolytes.
- Airports - Your closest commercial airlines are St. Louis Lambert International Airport and MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. Lamber is 62 miles away, but it's by far the biggest. MidAmerica is 30 miles away but has much more limited flight options.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance in case of flooding in Carlyle forces you to cancel the trip or other weather delays your travel.
Carlyle Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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