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
Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a far northwestern suburb of the Chicago metro area, with the namesake lake being the main focal point in addition to the charming downtown district.
For those of you who have watched Friday the 13th, this isn’t THAT Crystal Lake, and there’s no Camp Crystal Lake here either.
But, for those who haven’t, Camp Crystal Lake was the setting for the movie where serial killer Jason Voorhees roamed.
This lake is so inspiring that the first person who saw it proclaimed, “That water is so clear, it’s like crystal!” and a town name was born.
The lake water was so clean that ice became a big business when it froze in the winter as the lake ice was chopped up and shipped around the area.
That’s until refrigeration was invented, and the ice business thawed.
A wealthy businessman loved this area so much that he purchased 1,000 acres and built his dream mansion on it, complete with a railroad to the front door.
What has developed around the lake since being founded in the 1830s is a community with a love of the outdoors and small-town hospitality while still wanting the convenience of a nearby city.
Downtown Chicago is just an hour away.
What I find especially appealing for a tourist here is that the lake isn’t just available to residents, as many waterfront communities in the nation do have those restrictions (looking at you, Connecticut).
The only downside is that there are just four hotels in the city, but they are all located near a shopping district and the lake.
Warnings & Dangers in Crystal Lake
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here and a high quality of life for tourists. The crime and property rates are much lower than the state and national averages.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Metra train comes through Crystal Lake, and the train depot is right in the heart of downtown. You can also get taxis and rideshares quickly. So there's low risk with any option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The theft rate here is 35% lower than the national average, and there's a low risk of getting pickpocketed or having a purse snatched. It would be best if you still kept a close eye on your belongings when visiting the shopping areas or downtown and especially when you're relaxing on the lakeside beach.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
A major tornado came through here in the 1960s and killed five people. That risk still exists today. Spring is considered "tornado season," but the late fall "secondary season" also happens. Severe thunderstorms loaded with lightning can occur throughout the year, and winters will bring snow and ice.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of just one in 5,752. Only 11 robberies were reported in 2020. So you can feel safer here than in some other Chicago suburbs from this risk, but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
The entire Chicago area is considered a hard target just because of the 10+ million population size. However, Crystal Lake isn't a hard target, and it's far away enough that an attack in Chicago wouldn't have too much impact. Regardless, we'll put it at medium risk, but it's the very low end of medium.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The biggest scam here has been unemployment fraud using the names of people who live in Crystal Lake. It has been such a problem that a whole section of the police department website is dedicated to this. As a tourist, you'll have a low risk of this or any other scam.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's low risk for women here. The sexual assault rate is lower than the national average. There are many things to do here, indoors and outdoors too, but women should still practice basic personal safety even in a safe community like this.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water supply is safe for drinking and bathing and comes with low risk. However, there is a big water concern in Crystal Lake, and that's the sheer supply of water. A colored system determines the water demand and conservation needed for any given day. For example, as I write this, there's a yellow risk. That means lawn watering hours are limited.
Safest Places to Visit in Crystal Lake
Downtown Crystal Lake invites you to “Shop, Dine, Stroll” through various shops and restaurants.
You’ll also find fitness classes, farmer’s markets, and town festivals here.
In addition, you can view an interactive map of downtown on the Downtown Crystal Lake website.
The Dole, as it’s called, is the historic Dole Mansion and surrounding park area.
The Dole preservation committee hosts events throughout the year, like music festivals and the popular annual Lakeside Festival, in a carnival setting.
You can also visit the Listening Room to have a drink in a speakeasy setting.
Crystal Lake itself is a vast gathering spot for the community and visitors.
As a result, it can get very crowded, especially in the summer.
Homes surround the lake, but you can also find tourist parking.
There are two beaches, designated swimming and boating areas, and watercraft rentals.
While the bulk of activity happens when it’s warm outside, the Main Beach is open on weekends in the winter.
Three Oaks Recreation Area contains another lake, so don’t confuse this park with the actual Crystal Lake.
This park hosts many of the same amenities and also offers scuba diving for those who are scuba-certified.
Placess to Avoid in Crystal Lake
Northwest Highway is the main drag through the community, and it’s also the highest crime area.
This makes sense since it’s lined with dozens of name-brand stores and restaurants.
You aren’t going to find a bad part of town here or a neighborhood too dangerous to drive through.
The street layout here is a little wonky.
It’s not a grid system, which can make getting around confusing for a tourist.
This can also lead to traffic, so be patient when driving and allow yourself plenty of time to get to a destination.
When you’re driving around, know that you’re probably going the wrong way if you hit a cornfield.
Recreational marijuana is legal here, but it’s only allowed in private residences.
You can’t use it in public, including in the lakes and outdoor areas.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Crystal Lake
- Before you go to any outdoor area, call the Rainout Line at (815)506-9333. The hotline will tell you about any delays or closures due to the weather. This includes winter sports, like sledding or ice skating. You can view the current status of all parks on the rainout website.
- If you get information about a crime, you can report it by texting CLPDTIP 847411 (tip411). You should give as much information as you can about the crime and note if you want to stay anonymous or want a call back. All tips are eligible for a reward through the Crimestoppers organization.
- Sign up for police alerts through Nixle.com. It is a website I use daily in my own community. You’ll get crime, traffic, or weather emergency information as soon as the local news gets it.
- Don’t try to pass a bus while the stop sign arm is extended. Police are known to ride busses looking for people breaking the law and then call ahead to another officer waiting to pull you over. This is part of “Operation Stop On Signal.”
- Download the Passport Parking app to pay for parking without having to go to the pay station or pull out your wallet. Parking is free after 4:00 pm downtown and costs $1.50 per day if you arrive before then.
- No personal paddleboards or kayaks are allowed on the lakes here. This rule keeps invasive species from infecting the lake. However, you can rent any watercraft you need.
- You need to have a license to fish here. You can get that through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Please check the park system website to see restrictions on how many fish can be caught per day.
- You should check for water quality warnings before getting into any of the lakes here. When so many people use the lake, it can cause algae blooms or bacterial infections. The water gets tested daily for your safety.
- There are tornado sirens in Crystal Lake to alert you in case of a confirmed tornado in the area. However, you can’t rely on these sirens if you are inside, so you need to have emergency alerts activated on your phone through whatever weather app you choose. You won’t get an “all clear” siren after the threat passes.
- You can go sledding or ice skating in winter as conditions permit until 9 pm. Ice rinks won’t be open unless there are five inches of ice. You skate and sled at your own risk.
So... How Safe Is Crystal Lake Really?
Crystal Lake is a middle to upper-class neighborhood on the fringe of the Chicago area.
The community has excellent safety statistics and crime rates.
Here’s how the risks break down:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 1088 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 5,752 risk
- Theft: 1 in 105
With thefts, most of those will be property crimes like home burglaries since this is a highly residential area.
As long as you don’t mind driving or commuting an hour or more to downtown Chicago, you will enjoy staying here.
There are a lot of shopping and dining options, plenty of hotels, and great outdoor events throughout the year.
The only caution I’d give is that you can’t let your guard down even when visiting a safe area.
Illinois has seen a drastic increase in gun violence and is dealing with the Opioid Crisis, like many cities in the nation.
You should still lock your car and roll the windows up when you park.
No matter how tired you are, take all your belongings out of the car before you go inside or to a lake.
You should leave nothing in plain sight.
How Does Crystal Lake Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
- Visas - You will just need your Visa at the airport when you arrive in the United States and won't need to show it when you are going between the Chicago-area cities.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. You might want to carry some cash for parking fees and other incidentals but never lump cash together in your wallet where someone can see it.
- Weather - The weather here is very seasonal, as are many of the attractions. You should always plan to have a jacket in case of a cool summer day, but in winter you need to bundle up. Bring waterproof boots and good hiking shoes if you're going to visit the trails.
- Airports - O'Hare International Airport is 35 miles away and it's going to take just under an hour to get there. If you are flying out of Midway International Airport, plan for a 90-minute drive. You can also head to the Milwaukee airport, which will also take about 90 minutes by car.
- Travel Insurance - It's smart to get travel insurance in a place where the weather can be extreme and unpredictable.
Crystal Lake Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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