Iowa : Safety by City
- Arnolds Park
- Cedar Falls
- Cedar Rapids
- Clear Lake
- Council Bluffs
- Des Moines
- Fort Dodge
- Fort Madison
- Iowa City
- Mason City
- North Liberty
- Pleasant Hill
- Polk City
- Sioux City
- Spirit Lake
- Storm Lake
- The Amana Colonies
- West Des Moines
Davenport, Iowa is the patriarch of the Quad Cities region along the Mississippi River at the Illinois border.
The Davenport metro area is home to five major cities, even though it’s called the Quad Cities (East Moline is sometimes not mentioned in reference to the moniker).
Davenport holds almost a third of the population in the metro area and is the largest.
Other cities in the area are Bettendorf, Iowa, Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island in Illinois.
One unique part of the Quad Cities is that the Mississippi River flows east/west here.
While the entire river is a north/south river, it just takes a turn right through the heart of this metro area and also acts as the state line between Iowa and Illinois.
Davenport is broken down into several districts:
- Downtown: The live/work/play area where history, culture, and cuisine meet
- Village of East Davenport: Known as “The Village”. Six historic blocks surround boutiques, breweries, and restaurants with some historical culture mixed in.
- McClellan Heights: A great drive-through neighborhood to see the beautiful architecture of the neighborhoods. The roads are more winding here, so don’t get too distracted behind the wheel.
- Gold Coast & Hamburg District: Reflects the German heritage of the town and is home to some of the most impressive homes in the entire region.
I’m not going to bury the lead here.
Davenport isn’t the safest city in the country, much less in the Quad Cities.
However, we’re going to talk about the safest ways to visit the city and enjoy your time here.
Warnings & Dangers in Davenport
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There is no getting around the medium risk here. Crime rates are high across the board and many categories are growing. The city averages 10-15 homicides a year. The violent crime rate is 37% higher than the national average and in stark contrast to the much safer Bettendorf, Iowa, next door.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The Citibus Transit is the way to get around Davenport. The planners of the Quad Cities didn't work together to have a transportation system for all the cities, so you'll have to figure out connecting systems for Davenport, Bettendorf, and Rock Island. Citibus does go into Moline and Rock City.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here. The theft rate is almost twice the national average and the city has a 16% poverty rate. There's also a growing drug problem that can lead to more theft. Use a lot of caution here and don't bring anything of value with you as you tour Davenport.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
There is an ongoing risk of flooding in all of the Quad Cities. A quick YouTube search will show you how bad the flooding can be here. That's on top of the warm weather risks of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Then there are winter concerns of blizzards, snowstorms, and ice storms. It all adds up to medium risk and you should be prepared for anything during a visit here.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
The robbery risk is nearly 20% higher than the national average, so proceed with medium risk. A robbery attempt can quickly escalate to an aggravated assault, which is 35% higher here than the national average.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
The whole area has a medium risk due to the impact an attack could have on river traffic and water quality. There's also an Army Arsenal on Rock Island, which could be a terror target.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There's a warning on the police department's website about elderly scams, so if you're of a certain age you should review that before visiting. However, the most common risks are the ones that happen everywhere. There's no tourist-specific scam or unusual scam in this area.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
Women, have your guard up and travel with a buddy if you can. On top of the crime rates we've mentioned, the sexual assault rate is almost twice the national average with 108 varieties of sexual assault in 2021.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The tap water is the safest part of Davenport, with low risk. The 2021 Annual Water Quality Report shows no violations and all water meets or exceeds requirements. That can quickly change if there is flooding, so check the city website before you use water during a flood.
Safest Places to Visit in Davenport
Celebration River Cruises offer rides from sunset tours to historical narrations to oldie jams.
The port is technically in Moline, Ilinois, but you’re going to see a lot of boats on the water and wonder “How do I get on one of those?”
There’s even a day-long cruise that takes you to Dubuque and back.
For longer adventures, check out river cruises that run the full length of the Mississippi River.
Downtown Davenport has a historical architecture with plenty of shopping and restaurants.
The Bix Beiderbecke Museum is also located there, with reflections on the jazz musician’s life and musical stylings.
Events are held at the museum throughout the year, so check the schedule before you visit.
The German American Heritage Center is another reflection of cultural influences in Davenport.
The city prides itself on being “the most German city” in the Midwest.
The museum is a great place to see how the city earned those bragging rights.
The Sky Bridge is a high-tech design pedestrian skywalk that gives unmatched views of the Mississippi River.
(Well, as a St. Louis native, I must say St. Louis Arch does too, but it’s along the water and not over the water like the Skywalk.)
At night the Skywalk is lit in LED colors.
I’m not sure which part of the Village of East Davenport looks more fun – the activities throughout the year or the unique stores and restaurants.
Rhythm City Casino Resort is on the north side of Davenport.
The casino has all the amenities of a Las Vegas one, with table games, a sportsbook, and slot machines down every aisle.
There is a hotel there if you’d like to stay and play.
Restaurants are on site too.
You even have the Bellagio conservatory of the Midwest here in the form of Vander Veer Botanical Garden.
This floral wonderland has been open since 1885.
There is also a children’s garden here filled with sculptures.
Bring your camera because you can’t pick the flowers.
Places to Avoid in Davenport
Central and downtown Davenport have the highest crime rates after reviewing a crime distribution map.
The closer you can stay to Bettendorf, the safer you’ll be.
All the hotels are right along the interstate, and crime maps on both sides of the river show low crime rates.
A good percentage of the crime here is being driven by the young adults and juveniles of the city, so don’t assume because you see young people – children even – that an area is safe.
The city is making a concerted effort to crack down on crime, but as of mid-2022, there’s a lot of work to be done and a growing trend of gun violence isn’t helping.
Homicide rates have doubled here in just the past few years.
If there is flooding happening in Davenport before you visit, you might want to delay your trip.
Flooding can be extreme here, and you don’t want to end up spending your vacation sandbagging or in a shelter because your hotel is flooded around the perimeter.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Davenport
- It’s important, even as a visitor here, to report any suspicious or illegal activity you see. Even a gut feeling is worth a phone call to the police. The non-emergency number is (563)326-7979 or you can email email@example.com. A big part of the crime crackdown plan is a community engaged in helping report crime before it happens. You can also reach out to Crime Stoppers of Quad Cities to give a tip anonymously and be eligible for a reward.
- There are red-light cameras in Davenport, which means you could get a ticket mailed to you long after you’ve left (yes, even if you rent a car). You do have to fully run a red light as it won’t send tickets to people who squeak by on yellow. However, it’s worth obeying the traffic signals for safety.
- Bookmark the city website section titled “Be Prepared Davenport.” The city really doesn’t mince words by stating, ” As a city positioned along the banks of the Mississippi River and nearly 100 miles of streambank, flooding is a reality.” This website will allow you to learn about flood levels and sign up for flooding notifications.
- From that page, you’ll see a link to “Street Closures and Lane Reductions.” Bookmark this too. You should review the current closures during your visit to make sure GPS doesn’t take you to a construction zone. Plenty of streets in Davenport are one way, so you need to be able to navigate around with the intelligence of what roads are being worked on.
- You also need a bookmark on the “Snow and Ice” page as this has all the information you need during winter travel in Davenport. You’ll see when a snow emergency is issued, how that impacts parking, and what snow routes are available for safer travel.
- Anyone wanting to fish in the Quad Cities needs a license from either Illinois or Iowa, but not both. The two states have an agreement that a license holds on both sides of the state line. If you are ever visiting an area that is close to another state, you should check to see if a similar agreement is in place. These are usually called “Reciprocity Agreements.”
- Alert Iowa is the statewide emergency notification plan. This can literally be a life saver for all the dangerous weather that comes through Iowa.
- Davenport sends a newsletter twice a month to those who subscribe. It’s called “The Pulse” and provides safety and event information. There’s also a podcast if you’d prefer listening instead of reading.
- The River’s Edge is an indoor ice skating rink where you can rent skates. There is an outdoor rink in Bettendorf, but it’s subject to weather conditions and rental skates aren’t available. The Davenport ice rink is safer because it’s inside, but there might be limited hours for reserved activities on the ice.
- It’s not advised to swim in the Mississippi River. The strong current, pollution, and debris in it make for a dangerous way to cool off. I’ve swam in my fair share of rivers, but I grew up along the Mississippi River in Missouri and I’ve never been in the water. The smell alone keeps me away. Nobody is going to stop you from swimming in Davenport, but add in all the water traffic like the cruise ships and it’s even more dangerous. Never try to swim ACROSS the river.
So... How Safe Is Davenport Really?
“It’s like a little Chicago now,” said one Davenport resident.
The city is facing increased gun crime, gang activity, and drug incidents.
It’s not that the police aren’t making arrests or focusing on the problems, it’s that the crimes keep happening.
The juvenile offenders are quickly released to start committing crimes again.
The city has launched several juvenile education and recidivism education plans, as well as programs offered to families to have resources so they don’t resort to crime.
There is also a call for community assistance with policing because if nobody reports a crime or says what they know, it’s hard to prosecute many of the crimes.
“Not only has the frequency of shootings increased in our community, so has the magnitude of these events,” Police Chief Paul Sikorski told local station WQAD in 2021.
“Four shooting scenes involved multiple shooting victims last year.
And at one homicide scene, we determined that there were 98 rounds fired by at least nine different weapons.”
Sikorski added, “As a community, we should all collectively mourn the fact that this violence has become normalized and even accepted in some areas of our community.”
Many of the crimes that happen shouldn’t concern a tourist, other than the risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
There isn’t a rash of strangers being targeted.
Many of the especially violent crimes are gang-on-gang crimes or domestic situations.
Nevertheless, the crime risks might make some tourists a little uneasy:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 157 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 1,030 risk
- Theft: 1 in 37 risk
It’s smart to visit Davenport during daylight hours and stay on the main roads.
Always be aware of your surroundings and trust your gut instincts.
Don’t leave cars or hotel rooms unlocked.
The stretch of hotels along I-74 is in the safer part of the community, and if you can, get a hotel that’s labeled as being in Bettendorf, a much safer part of this region.
How Does Davenport Compare?
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Start the visa process at least three to four months ahead of your planned trip. You will need to give a lot of personal information, including all the social media sites you've been active on in the past five years, even if you don't use one of the accounts anymore.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and preferably choose a currency exchange in the safety of the airport. Don't carry cash around Davenport and, if you insist, carry as little as possible.
You'll need to dress for potential extremes in winter and summer. Winters can get wind chills below 0°(F), so bring as much winter clothing as you can to cover your head, face, and fingers. In summer, you'll need comfortable, loose clothing because it's so humid here you'll sweat a lot, even at night. Spring and fall can be variable, so pack several layers of t-shirts and sweatshirts to keep up with the temperatures into the day and night.
Quad Cities Airport is across the bridge in Moline. It's about 10 miles away, and that's the closest option. You can drive about two and a half hours to Des Moines or Chicago to use an airport in one of those larger cities.
It's a great idea to get travel insurance for a place that comes with so many natural and criminal risks. Make sure you're clear about what insurance your rental car has if you get one since there are a lot of car break-ins in Davenport.
Davenport Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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