Texas : Safety by City
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“Howdy, y’all!” Let’s explore the safety steps and incredible adventures of Dallas, Texas.
The Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is one of the top five largest in the nation, but don’t confuse Dallas with Fort Worth and vice versa.
They are very unique and distinct cities.
Dallas is home to several districts that might appeal to tourists:
- Arts District: 20 square blocks of walkable downtown entertainment, art, shopping, and dining
- Bishop Arts District: A more eclectic artsy vibe than the above-mentioned Arts District with unique shops, galleries, and cafes.
- Design District: From antiques to high-end art, this stylish district offers breweries and more places to shop and explore.
- Uptown: Even more shopping and dining with nightlife second-to-none.
- Deep Ellum: Once a warehouse district but not a hub for nightlife, live music, and different varieties of bars.
Most of Dallas is within the I-635 loop, with several interstates connecting to nearby Fort Worth.
If you like barbecue, Texas can hold its own with other varieties throughout the United States.
You’ll have a hard time choosing just one favorite.
It’s not all urban life here.
The Trinity River runs through Dallas with a Greenway offering an expansive trail system.
Nearby Lake Ray Hubbard offers many ways to explore the water, giving much-needed relief during the humid summers of Texas.
Warnings & Dangers in Dallas
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk across Dallas due to growing crime rates, including the homicide rate. This isn't a unique problem in Dallas. Many American cities of all sizes are facing rising gun crime rates. With a new police chief, there's a 29-page Violent Crime Reduction Plan. Time will tell if it works. Meanwhile, enjoy Dallas, but use common sense and caution as you would in any major city.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
DART is the public transportation system to get you between all the different districts. You can download the GoPass app to get route and payment information while live tracking your bus. Rideshare and taxis are going to be very easy to find. Driving your own car is a good plan too, but you will be dealing with traffic. If you are prone to road rage, take a deep breath before hitting a Dallas highway.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk of being pickpocketed or having a purse snatched, with 100 incidents reported in 2020. The theft rates have been fairly consistent going back to 2014. There's a one in 49 chance of being a theft victim.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Dallas can get major storms, including tornadoes, flash flooding, and the occasional crippling winter storm. While not a traditional place for winter weather, when it does happen, power outages and road closures are common. All this adds up to medium risk, but be especially aware of the weather in the spring when the tornado season ramps up.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is more than three times the national average, but since the new policing plan was implemented, the rate has decreased significantly. There's still a lot of work to do. Less than 20% of the robberies happened in public places. While there's still a medium risk, this category is moving in the right direction.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
It's just such a large area that we have to give it a medium risk. An attack here could cripple transportation, distribution, and many top companies in the country. This is also the place where President Kennedy was killed in 1963. Those terrorism concerns come with a great presence and focus from Homeland Security.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
While there isn't an imminent threat of a tourist being scammed, it's smart to study the most popular scams against tourists in large cities. This includes fake rental listings, scammers pretending to be a front desk hotel worker and asking for personal information, or someone on the street pressuring you to buy tickets to an attraction. It's sad to say, but you can't trust anyone you meet in a new city. Always verify, ask for identification, and go to the front desk if anyone calls for information.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women were the victims of 42% of the violent crimes, so men are actually more likely to be a victim. The sexual assault rate is slightly higher than the national average. We have to call this a medium risk due to all the other high crime areas, but be especially careful and rely on the buddy system when you're enjoying the great nightlife of Dallas. Don't go to a private place with someone you met online, and never accept a drink from someone if you don't see the bartender make it. One common trick women can use at a bar is to order an Angel Shot from the bartender. This is a cry for help, and the bartender will intervene on your behalf while you get to safety.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Dallas water is safe to drink and use for bathing, according to the 2021 Water Quality Report. All standards were met or exceeded.
Safest Places to Visit in Dallas
They say, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” and that’s no joke.
There are many big things to do, but don’t lose sight of the smaller neighborhood bars and unique dining options.
VisitDallas.com offers itineraries for lovebirds, families, girlfriends’ getaways, bachelor(ette) parties, and so much more.
One of the must-see locations is the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which walks you through that fateful day when the nation mourned the loss of President Kennedy.
I just watched the movie Parkland, which focused on that day and the following days from a more intimate perspective of JFK’s inner circle.
It also shows the downright depressing reaction of Abraham Zapruder, whose video of the assignation will forever be etched in our memories.
You learn about the doctors who tried to save President Kennedy’s life and then, shortly after, find themselves trying to save the life of the man accused of killing JFK.
There is more to this story than you’ve seen, and this museum is a great way to explore it.
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is another humbling experience of the Holocaust tragedy and how international human rights are still being fought for today and into the future.
The stories in the museum are emotional, inspiring, and resonating.
To lighten the mood a bit, because that’s a lot to take in, visit the Children’s Aquarium.
Get wet and wild with some of the coolest fish you’ll ever see up close.
You can do everything from petting a stingray to mining for gems.
It’s so fun you might never want to go above water again!
Dallas is a shopper’s delight.
Enjoy the lap of luxury at Highland Park Village, walk through a traditional American mall at Northpark Center, or stroll through the Metroplex at Southlake.
That’s just scratching the surface of the shopping opportunities in “The Big D.”
The Deep Ellum neighborhood is the place to find live music, bustling nightlife, and performance art on the streets.
This is a place where going to The Church isn’t about religion and enjoying Trees has nothing to do with the outdoors.
Be sure to use a taxi or rideshare to get back to your hotel if you’re going to be drinking.
Looking at the list of art venues, it’s hard to just list a few.
You can enjoy the Nasher Sculpture Center or the Dallas Museum of Art.
The Crow Museum of Asian Art is another cultural experience, along with the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection.
Dallas has the largest Arts District in the country, so explore and tell us your favorite part in the comments below.
Places to Avoid in Dallas
The neighborhoods immediately east and south of the city’s center have the highest crime rates, but to be fair, crime is pretty spread out around the city.
The best plan for a tourist is to stay in touristy areas.
Stay on main roads and interstates, and don’t drive through neighborhoods unless you visit a friend or loved one.
In the summer of 2022, massive flooding hit Dallas with unprecedented rainfall in a short period of time
The downtown area was under water for a brief time, and highway traffic halted.
Never drive through a flooded roadway, especially in a city you aren’t familiar with – it’s just too dangerous.
Avoid planning outdoor activities if there are severe storms in the forecast.
Tornadoes are no joke here, and severe weather can drop large hail, intense lightning, and torrential rain.
The meteorologists in the Dallas television station market are some of the best in the business.
Never plan a day without checking the forecast.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Dallas
- The Texas Department of Transportation has an extensive website for road conditions and traffic updates. You’ll be able to spot closures or delays ahead and get real-time traffic estimates. Live cameras provide a look at the road ahead of you as well.
- There’s the M-Line Trolley for tourists to get around downtown. The cost of this is whatever donation you’d like to make. When you are ready to get off the trolley, just pull the overhead string, and you’ll be able to exit at the next stop.
- You can read the 2021 Crime Reduction Plan front and center on the Dallas Police Department’s website. After hearing about how dangerous the city is, this might give you some peace of mind.
- Remember all the COVID dashboards where we could see cases and such? The Dallas Police Department has a dashboard just like that but for crime analytics. It’s a great way to see crime trends and a heat map of the top crime neighborhoods with up-to-date information.
- DPDBeat.com is a website separate from the regular police department’s website that is dedicated to the transparency of information and news releases.
- Crime Stoppers is an anonymous program where people can submit crime tips without revealing who they are while still being eligible for a reward should their tip lead to an arrest. Rewards go up to $5000. The number to call is (214) 373-TIPS. You can also call a toll-free hotline at 1-877-373-TIPS.
- Sign up for Dallas Alert to get weather notifications on your phone. You’ll get updates about storm watches, warnings, aftermath issues, or other emergency situations.
- Download the ParkMobile app for a simple and safe way to pay for parking in Dallas. Each space will have a parking zone number, and you just tell the app how long you want to stay, and you’ll be charged for it. If you run over on time, you can add more money through the app. You can also call 1-877-727-5953 to add more funds to your parking spot.
- The Dallas Police Department has a Crime Prevention section on its website with many ways to stay safe in this city. This includes a list of seven things you can do to deter auto burglars (did I mention 60% of all thefts are related to car break-ins?)
- If someone in Dallas talks to you about the High Five, they don’t want a literal high five with your hand. That’s referring to one of the most baffling and layered interchanges known to man, right in the heart of Dallas. Plan to be confused or get lost going through this. Be patient, and a friendly wave goes a long way in Dallas if you make a driving error like cutting someone off or going too slow.
So... How Safe Is Dallas Really?
Dallas is REALLY trying to make itself safe with this unique approach to crime prevention and accountability.
Even criminologists are being used to help spot patterns and the best ways to tackle problems.
However, it’s a big city with big city problems.
America has a gun problem, and people in Texas love their guns.
America has a drug problem, and not even a friendly place like Dallas is immune to that.
Here’s how the risks break down in Dallas:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 113 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 396
- Theft: 1 in 49
Half of the violent crimes here happened against strangers, and less than 30% happened in private homes.
That means nearly 70% of violent crimes are in public spaces.
Meanwhile, just 18% of robberies were in public.
There’s always safety in numbers, so going on tour groups is smart.
Traveling with friends, especially at night, is going to help too.
Dallas people are a unique breed, so even when you meet new friends, never talk about guns in a negative light.
Don’t argue about politics and certainly don’t say anything but AMAZING things about the Dallas Cowboys and their cheerleaders.
There’s too much great stuff to see in Dallas to avoid it, but you’ll need to be aware of your surroundings in this city of 1.3 million people.
Most of all, always trust your gut instincts.
How Does Dallas Compare?
- Visas - You must plan ahead to get a U.S. Travel or Work Visa. Ideally, plan three to four months ahead of time. Be sure to schedule your in-person interview at the embassy ahead of time so you can reserve your spot. Some countries are backed up for months. You'll need a visa to get in and out of the country, but you can travel freely throughout Texas without showing it. Store it in a safe place until you leave.
- Currency - The Big D takes the USD (U.S. Dollar). It's the only currency you can use, and there are many ways to spend it. Try to purchase as much as possible through apps or online ahead of time. Don't pull out your wallet any more than necessary and if you do get cash, use an ATM inside a bank or business.
- Weather - Aside from a rogue winter storm, you can get by in Dallas without a winter coat. However, you might see people dressed like a blizzard is coming. The fashionistas of Dallas don't want a chance to miss a "season," even if it's 70°(F) outside. Winter is going to be hot and humid. You'll sweat a lot. Bring your own cowboy hat if you'd like, but never touch another man's hat.
- Airports - DFW airport is about 40 minutes from downtown Dallas, right in between Dallas and Fort Worth, while Love Field is slightly closer to downtown. Either way, you'll be sitting in traffic to get there, so check "travel time" on your GPS to ensure you have enough time to get there.
- Travel Insurance - You definitely want travel insurance because of the number of delays that can happen here and the severe weather that can cripple air travel.
Dallas Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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