Ohio : Safety by City
- Cuyahoga Falls
- Port Clinton
- Yellow Springs
Cincinnati, Ohio, locally known as Cincy, is a major metropolitan area right on the border with Kentucky.
In 2022, MSN rated it as one of the top 25 U.S. travel destinations.
This city is a mix of history, culture, and a vibrant art scene that MSN claims “flies under the radar.”
The metro area extends into some unique attractions on the Kentucky side and even a few that stretch into Indiana.
Many of the downtown hotels have stunning views of the Ohio River, the bridges, the Cincinnati Reds ballpark, and the Cincinnati Bengals stadium.
You can even get a little bit of Las Vegas here with the downtown Hard Rock Casino location.
If you want to cross into Kentucky, you don’t even have to drive.
The Roebling Suspension Bridge has a walkway with great views during the day and creative lighting at night.
Even if you get claustrophobic in the big city, Eden Park is a great place to spread out and enjoy nature without leaving Cincy.
This region is great for history buffs, as it’s the line between the Civil War north/south boundaries, and you get a Midwestern lifestyle mixed with Southern charm as a great two-for-one vacation in a vibrant city spanning three states.
Warnings & Dangers in Cincinnati
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk in Cincy with higher than average violent and property crime rates. The good news is crime rates are regularly going down, with even robbery at half the rate it used to be. In the mid-2000s, one of the neighborhoods in Cincy was deemed the most dangerous in the nation. Any large city is going to have crime, but this one has so much to do that it's worth investing your time reading articles like this one to find out the best safety practices.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Go Metro is the public bus system in Cincinnati, and you can download the mobile app for maps and payment options. Taxis and rideshares are available around every corner. Having a rental car is an option too, but there is the typical large city traffic to deal with.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, with 82 pickpockets and purse snatching reported in 2020. The average theft value was $450. I visited Cincinnati one winter and had to walk about 10 blocks from a restaurant to my hotel downtown. I can say I didn't feel unsafe, but there was a general unease that made me clutch my purse tighter.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Cincinnati runs the gamut of weather risks, from tornadoes to winter storms. There's a medium risk throughout the year because there really isn't a "calm" season, though the average day will be perfectly safe. You just have to keep your eye on the weather.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
The robbery risk is three times the national average, so that's a medium risk for tourists. 10 years ago, it was twice as high, so progress is steadily being made. Never fight back against a robber; just comply and try to remember as much as possible to report to the police.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
Given how large Cincinnati is and the major sports teams here, it will be a medium risk. That also means there's a much higher Homeland Security presence keeping people safe.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There aren't any out-of-the-ordinary scams reported in the Cincy area, but one of the top ones is a rental scam. If you choose to rent a home or condo while staying here, never wire money ahead of time and always speak to the person through video chat. Confirm they have a license to rent a property. While the risk is low, it's still a possibility.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
42% of the violent crimes in Cincy happen to women, so men are actually more likely to be the victim of a crime. The sexual assault rate is almost twice the national average. Because of the violent crime overall, we're giving this a medium risk. Even though I did walk around at night alone as a woman, I would have felt a lot safer having someone with me. Try to travel in groups when you can.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report goes into a lot of detail about the water comes from and how it's treated, but you can rest assured all samples tested were in full compliance with state and federal standards.
Safest Places to Visit in Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Center is a safe place for family fun.
In the summer of 2022, a new baby hippo named Fritz stole the show and became one of the most popular attractions.
Another big draw is the Kangaroo Walkabout, where you take a trail through the kangaroo habitat without fences.
Parents, there’s also a beer garden if you want to enjoy a different kind of “hops.”
Cincinnati Street Car tours give you safety in number and explore different neighborhoods and restaurant options throughout a three-hour adventure.
You’ll get history lessons along the way as well.
Bring your camera to take photos of the incredible murals along the route.
Riverside food tours are also available.
The Cincinnati History Museum is a wonderful chance to learn about the city as a whole, but you can also pick a transportation niche by visiting the Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati or the Cincinnati Aviation Heritage Society and Museum.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center takes you through interactive exhibits about slavery and the escape to freedom across the Ohio River.
The William Howard Taft National Historic Site you can explore to see where the 27th President of the United States grew up.
The site is under the National Park Service, so rangers are there to help you every step of the way.
Be sure to stop by the visitor’s center before exploring to get a map and tour details.
You can also visit the former home of Harriett Beecher Stowe, famed author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
No visit to downtown Cincinnati is complete without a stop at Fountain Square.
Throughout the year, there are events here, so check the schedule for what’s happening during your visit.
Places to Avoid in Cincinnati
Over-the-Rhine (OTR) is the neighborhood once considered to be the most dangerous in the country but has gone through a revitalization – some call it gentrification – and is now one of the most popular places for nightlife and visitors in the city.
While it’s still not rid of crime completely, you can feel safe walking around here.
Just ideally, walk around in a group, at least in pairs.
West of I-75 is North Fairmount and South Fairmount.
Those are two places to avoid, but they also won’t be on most tourists’ GPS anyway.
In general, avoiding the west of I-75 is a smart plan.
If you are driving, avoid the downtown area during the rush hour traffic.
People are trying to cross bridges, get through intersections just a block long but backed up for miles, and don’t always have great patience about it.
It’s just gridlock during certain times of the day.
I was in a rush to get to the airport, which is on the Kentucky side, and it took my rideshare driver longer to get out of the downtown area than it did to get to the airport on the highway.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Cincinnati
- The Cincinnati Police get an A+ for their transparency with crime data. Reports are issued weekly with comparisons of year-to-date, year-to-year, and interactive columns where you can create your own display. There’s a simple-to-read dashboard of recent crimes too. Review this just before your visit, and you’ll have a better handle on crime trends.
- The non-emergency number for the Cincinnati Police Department is (513)765-1212. You can also call (513)352-3040 if you have information about a crime but want to remain anonymous. Some locals don’t want to report crimes for fear of retaliation, but as a tourist, you have a great opportunity to report something a local might not.
- Some communities don’t require you to call a police officer if you are involved in a non-injury accident. The Cincy police DO want you to call if the accident is on a public roadway. If you have an accident on private property, only call the police if there is an injury. Otherwise, you can file the report online for insurance.
- If you get a traffic ticket while visiting, you still have to pay for it. Online payments are not an option. You must mail a check or money order to: The Clerk of Hamilton County Municipal Court, 1000 Sycamore Street, Room 115, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.
- If you are parking in downtown Cincinnati, download the Cincy EZ Park app. This will allow you to find parking spots and pay from the privacy of your vehicle or add money to a parked car while you are out exploring. For garage parking, make sure there is a sign that reads PUBLIC PARKING, as some garages are for monthly tenants and residents.
- The Fix It Cincy! app is another great tool where you can report things like potholes or broken stoplights while you’re visiting. These small things add up to great safety benefits for future visitors. You can also tweet to the city @311Cincy.
- You also want to get the Alerts HC (Hamilton County) to sign up for weather, hazmat, and other emergency alerts that could impact your travel. Even if you choose not to use that app, please download some kind of weather app with notifications enabled. You don’t want to be caught outside in a tornado warning.
- Another good tip for downtown traffic in Cincinnati is to check the schedule during major sports seasons. Knowing the start and approximate end time of a game will help you avoid the rush of people coming in or out.
- You might find in your research reports that the Roebling Suspension Bridge is closed to car and foot traffic. The project was recently completed, and now it’s open to all traffic. The pedestrian bridge might be a bit much for people afraid of heights, but it’s safe to walk, and there’s plenty of room for large crowds. It’s actually now safer than ever with the renovations just completed.
- Safety rankings of cities can change quickly, and we have extensive details about the surrounding neighborhoods in Kentucky and Ohio on our website. Please review each one if you plan to visit, so you know the insider information to stay safe.
So... How Safe Is Cincinnati Really?
On paper, Cincinnati doesn’t look all that safe.
In a unique twist, the downtown area is actually one of the safer parts of the city.
Many answers also depend on where you are coming from before your visit.
If you live in a place like St. Louis or Chicago, you’d scoff at the crime numbers here.
Medium and small-town residents might be a little intimidated.
Let’s look at how the risks break down from the 2020 data provided to the FBI:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 114 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 412 risk
- Theft: 1 in 42 risk
Usually, this is the part of the article where I can tell you things like “Most of the violent crime is among people who know each other” or “Most of the crimes happen in private places.”
I can’t say that here.
Here are some facts that give the crime data a little more context:
- 50% of robberies happened in public places.
- The average robbery theft was $1600 in value.
- 50% of violent crimes were against strangers.
- 40% of violent crimes happened on the streets.
- 40% of all thefts were car burglaries.
- The average pickpocket or purse snatching loss was $450.
You need all the city safety smarts and common sense to enjoy your time here.
When in doubt, avoid a neighborhood or schedule a tour that gives a sense of safety in numbers.
Stay on the main roads or interstates and don’t cut through neighborhoods.
You should always lock your car with the windows rolled up and don’t leave anything, and I mean ANYTHING, inside.
Even a GPS holder suggests there is a GPS device in the car.
If you just use good vigilance and keep researching articles like this, you’ll find there is more to enjoy than worry about in Cincinnati, Ohio.
How Does Cincinnati Compare?
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The U.S. Visa process has several steps, and you must complete them all before you can be issued your visa. Start planning about three to four months ahead of time. You can cross the state lines without showing your Visa, but you'll need it at the airport when you arrive and depart.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. It's smart to purchase as many tickets online from your hotel room or before you arrive to avoid having to pull out your wallet. Everything can be paid for with a credit card, so don't carry cash.
You'll need winter outerwear from November through March and a bunch of clothing layers for the variable temperatures of spring and fall. Summer will be warm and humid, so wear comfy clothing and be prepared to sweat in the Cincy humidity.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport is about 20 minutes from downtown Cincinnati, but that largely depends on the time of day and associated traffic. On the day of your departure, it might make more sense to explore the Kentucky side, so you don't have to worry about traffic across the Ohio River.
Travel insurance is a wise investment to protect your baggage, flight purchase, and your health in case of any unpredictable accidents or weather events.
Cincinnati Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Ohio - Safety by City