Missouri : Safety by City
- Blue Springs
- Cape Girardeau
- Creve Coeur
- Jefferson City
- Kansas City
- Lee’s Summit
- Maryland Heights
- New Madrid
- Poplar Bluff
- St. Charles
- St. Joseph
- St. Louis
- Ste. Genevieve
The Carthage, Missouri, nickname of “The Maple Leaf City” might beckon you for the fall colors, but it’s a four-season destination in the southwest part of the state while being near the borders with three other states.
One of the most charming aspects of Carthage is its commitment to preserving its history.
The city has several museums and historic sites, including the Powers Museum, which houses exhibits detailing the city’s past, and the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site, which commemorates the first Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River.
Visitors can also take a walking tour of the historic homes and buildings in the city, many of which date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The small town of 15,000 hosts several cultural events throughout the year, including the Carthage Maple Leaf Festival, which celebrates the city’s rich maple syrup heritage with parades, live music, and plenty of delicious food.
Visitors can also take a short drive to the nearby Roaring River State Park, which boasts some of the best trout fishing in the state.
You’ll also be less than two hours from Kansas City and Branson, with Joplin and Springfield under an hour in either direction.
Warnings & Dangers in Carthage
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk that keeps getting lower. 2022 crime data shows encouraging trends, while many other cities face increased incidents. This is also one of the best towns for retirement, which is indicative of the slow pace of a laid-back lifestyle. It's a safe place, but it's not all that exciting if you're looking for nightlife.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The only public transportation here is for residents, which is geared toward grocery shopping or doctor visits. Taxis and rideshares are available but shouldn't be relied upon as the main means of transportation. You'll want to have your own car here or get a rental at the airport.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
This is a low risk, with just two purse snatchings reported in the past decade. This is definitely a town where someone is more likely to tell you that you dropped your wallet than take it and run.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
This is a medium risk because severe or extreme weather can happen in any month. Carthage is right along a region known as Tornado Alley. That risk starts in the spring and keeps going through fall. Winter storms and ice storms can hit this part of the country hard. There is nothing out of the ordinary about the weather risks here, but if you aren't used to these extremes it will help to review storm safety on the emergency management website.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Another low risk here, with just one robbery reported in 2022 and two in 2021. It's not safe enough to let your guard down, but definitely not something you should be concerned about if it's a decision-maker in your travel plans.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This part of the state is rural and open, leaving it at low risk for any kind of terror attacks. Domestic terrorism and lone wolf acts can happen anywhere, so staying vigilant is the best advice when reporting anything suspicious to the police.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Scams here will target residents and the elderly, mostly through emails, texts, and phone calls. Review safety advice from the Better Business Bureau to know common scam signs.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
It's definitely a safe community for women to visit, even if traveling solo or with kids. You won't find a lot of amenities like massive malls or elite spas, but if you want to enjoy small-town culture, this is a safe space.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water report from 2021 shows no violations and full compliance, making Carthage water safe to drink. If there is ever a quality risk throughout the year, the city will post social media updates.
Safest Places to Visit in Carthage
ExperienceCarthageMo.com is the official tourism site and likely the best source of information you’ll find online.
Nearby Joplin has a tourism site similarly named VisitJoplinMo.com.
Downtown Carthage is one of those “trips back in time” with a courthouse square surrounded by shops, restaurants, and historic buildings.
The tourism site has a 30+ page booklet to take you on a walking tour of the most historic buildings.
You can also download the historic homes driving tour to see some of the tree-lined streets with stately architecture along the way.
The Jasper County Courthouse will beg for a photo, and you’ll have a tough time deciding if the outside architecture or the inside ornate details are your favorites.
One block north of the square, visit the Civil War Museum, where you can learn about the Battle of Carthage.
A miniature display lays out the unique landscape of this battle.
Admission is free.
The Precious Moments Chapel is one of the hidden treasures here.
Visitors can admire the intricate murals and sculptures inspired by the popular Precious Moments figurines and stroll through the peaceful gardens surrounding the chapel.
Red Oak II is a restored early 20th-century village.
The village was created by artist Lowell Davis as a way to preserve and share his memories of growing up in rural America.
Visitors can explore the vintage buildings, antique cars, and unique artwork throughout the village and gain a glimpse into the past.
Carthage also has a rich history with Route 66 that is reflected in Red Oak II, but a newly restored Boots Court motel can also scratch that nostalgic itch.
The Route 66 Drive-In is open in the summer too.
20 minutes south of Carthage, you can visit the George Washington Carver National Monument under the umbrella of the National Park Service.
The historical and educational site in Diamond, MO, is dedicated to the life and work of George Washington Carver, a prominent African American scientist, and educator.
Visitors can tour the museum, hike the trails, and learn about “The Peanut Man’s” contributions to agriculture and society.
Places to Avoid in Carthage
You won’t find bad parts of town or dangerous neighborhoods here in this charming small town.
The only caution I’d advise is not to let that give you a false sense of safety.
No town is safe enough to be cavalier or let your safety standards slide.
This is a very conservative and religious region.
You’ll find that people will ask you about your religion or invite you to church as part of regular conversation.
This is not an attempt to scam or lure you but to welcome you to the city.
You are not under obligation to attend any church services, but it’s best not to get into political or religious discussions as people here are very set in their ways.
Always check the weather as the main decision-maker for your itinerary.
Storms can creep up slowly or explode quickly, especially in spring and summer.
You don’t want to get caught outside in a severe thunderstorm.
Don’t seek refuge under one of the massive trees here, as they are more likely to attract danger – like lightning – than provide shelter.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Carthage
- Carthage does have its own police department. Follow them on Facebook @carthagepd for updated information about safety, events, road closures, and criminal activity.
- You can provide crime tips by calling WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-782-7463). You can also use the WeTip website, and all tips can be anonymous.
- You can report a concern through the city’s website by creating an account. You will be able to track your request. This is great for issues like potholes, blocked storm drains, and graffiti.
- The city does have a taxi service for its residents, but it’s mostly used for elderly people who need a ride. Staffing issues in 2023 have limited the availability of the service, so don’t rely on it as a form of transportation. You can call (417)359-6589 to get more information.
- If you’re visiting for the Maple Leaf Festival, book your reservations early, or you might end up staying in Joplin. Many roads will be closed, so check the social media pages of the police and the city to get the most updated information.
- If you’re visiting the National Monument, check the trail conditions through the National Park Service app before you go. You can also search for other National Parks in the region through this device. Downloadable maps are available that work with GPS, not mobile service, to keep you on the right path.
- If you’re heading west on I-44 during your trip to Carthage, be aware that the interstate turns into a toll road as soon as you cross the border. Use the Pike Pass website to learn more about tolls and payment options.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the Missouri Department of Conservation. You can purchase those online and confirm you’re getting a non-resident pass.
- While the tourism website is a great source for overall attractions, use their social media sites @experiencecarthagemo to find local events and community gatherings. Details of holiday events or new festivals will be found there, along with items like square dancing at the YMCA.
- Should severe weather happen during your visit, there is a storm shelter at Carthage Junior High School. This is the only storm shelter in the city open 24/7. Other shelters will open depending on the time of day. You should also ask your hotel if there is a tornado shelter on site in case a storm happens in the middle of the night.
So... How Safe Is Carthage Really?
Carthage is a respite from the violent crime increase in many American cities and quickly becoming a popular place for retirees.
Even car break-ins, which usually account for 30% of an average American city’s theft rate, are just at 10%.
(But you should still lock your car every time!)
One trend in 2022 that was concerning involved cyber criminals luring juveniles, and the rash of incidents prompted a community education session about cyber safety and parenting techniques to spot pedophiles targeting their kids.
“Here in Carthage, it’s open to the public.
It’s going to be held at the branch of the Christian Church here in Carthage.
I anticipate that we’ll probably replicate this training a couple more times throughout the course of the year.
I can’t emphasize to the public enough how significant this is,” said Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser.
Over the past decade, just 12% of violent crimes happened against strangers.
Carthage has a strong community policing vibe, and you can visit knowing that residents are going to be actively involved in keeping it safe.
You should do your part to report suspicious activity, but enjoy this safe space in the heartland of America.
How Does Carthage Compare?
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- Visas - International travelers need a passport and visa to get through Customs at the airport. You can travel between the four states in this region without showing an ID at the border. Once you are in America, you will use your passport as your legal ID for room reservations, rental cars, and proof of age.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted. Identity theft was the top fraud complaint in 2022, so take steps to alert your bank about your travels, set spending limits, and check your accounts daily for accuracy.
- Weather - Outside of winter, which will require long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a coat, the temperatures can swing wildly, especially in fall and spring. Bring plenty of layers and comfortable walking shoes. This is a casual Midwestern town, so don't feel inclined to dress up. Summers will be humid and hot, so bring bug spray and breathable fabrics.
- Airports - The closest airports to Carthage, MO are Joplin Regional Airport (JLN), located about 15 miles to the southwest, and Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF), located about 75 miles to the east.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is always wise when visiting a place that can be impacted by weather cancelations or delays. If you're visiting during severe weather season, additional car insurance can protect costs against damaging weather events, like hail storms or falling tree branches.
Carthage Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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