Michigan : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Michigan - state review
Detroit, Michigan, made the list of “World’s Greatest Places” by Time Magazine in August of 2022.
The Motor City keeps motoring forward, despite financial challenges and ongoing crime concerns, as innovation and cultural expansion are grabbing more headlines now.
“There’s something magical about experiencing the birthplace of the American automobile industry, exploring the legendary Motown music scene, experiencing the delectable culinary creations, and so much more that the city has to offer,” David Lorenz, Vice President, Travel Michigan, commented when hearing about the Time award.
This city is gritty in many ways, symbolic of hard work and blue-collar jobs that keep Americans moving.
There’s an ethnic mix here, with 77% of the city being African American, 8% being Latino/Hispanic, and 11% being Caucasian.
Asians make up 2% of the population as well.
The Detroit River runs on the city’s Southside, where you can cross over into Canada.
Yes, a fun trivia fact is that this is a place where you technically go south to cross the northern border.
Lakes Huron, Erie, and St. Clair are all nearby.
Another fun fact?
There’s also an island and beach to explore here, though definitely don’t go there in the winter.
The city is split into different neighborhoods, all spanning out from the downtown core.
Macomb is known as the “Eastside” and has great access to the water and surrounding nightlife and shopping.
Oakland is a suburban oasis that’s more relaxed while still having an elegant chic about it.
Wayne is the cultural southwest side of the city, with various ethnicities having a strong presence and an Avenue of Fashion on top of that.
Warnings & Dangers in Detroit
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There is really no getting around the medium risk in Detroit. Crime rates, even with a decline in 2021, are still extraordinarily high, and 33% of the city lives in poverty. Hollywood hasn't helped Detroit's image with hit movies like 8 Mile. It is not a city too dangerous to visit, but you do need to do research, and we'll walk you through all the risks in this article.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Download the Park Whiz app if you have a rental car here, as you'll need to find a parking spot in advance. Public transportation includes buses, trains, light rail, street cars, and shuttles. VisitDetroit.com has a long list of transportation methods, along with prices and routes. You can get anywhere in the city or the suburbs using one of the public systems, but taxis and rideshares are readily available. All come with a medium risk due to high crime rates, and car thefts were up 24% in 2021. There were 216 carjackings as well, so even having your own car doesn't lower the risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, too, though this is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is, the pickpocket and purse snatching rate isn't as high as in other major cities. The bad news is that criminals would rather take things by force than by manipulation. Either way, always carry only the minimum items you need and keep valuables out of sight.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Winter is brutal in Detroit, but if you're from a place that gets really cold weather you might not notice it that much. Spring can bring tornadoes, but places farther south in the Midwest get more aggressive storms. Flooding is also a risk with so much water nearby. There's a medium risk here, and don't come for winter unprepared for frigid temperatures.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is three times higher than the national average, so there's a medium risk here too. Never fight back against a robber in general, but especially in Detroit.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Since it's such a big city with a large industrial presence, there's going to be a medium risk. As recently as 2022, several terrorism-related plots were thwarted by ongoing efforts by the FBI and Homeland Security.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are a lot of fraud and scam rings in Detroit. While most are focused on locals, there are rental scams and stolen credit card activity that should make you use the utmost caution. Also, don't buy items from people on the street or out of a car trunk. These are usually things that appear to be high value, like gold, but at a deep discount. Once the person finds out the gold is fake, they have no way to get their money back.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
The sexual assault rate is three times higher than the national average, but for overall violent crime, a woman is just as likely to be a victim of a crime as a man. You should never walk around Detroit alone at night, even on a well-lit street. Stick to rideshares or your own car, and never hesitate to ask a security or police officer to walk you to your car or back to your hotel.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There was one water violation in 2021 that was related to a filter issue. The problem has been resolved, and there was no risk to the public. All other categories were in full compliance, and there's a low risk. The water quality in the river and lakes is a different story, and we'll go through that shortly.
Safest Places to Visit in Detroit
The Ford Family Estate, grounds, education center, and restaurants showcase the family’s beloved spirit, style, and charm.
The lovely gardens and elegant home are open for tours, with an educational wing to learn about automotive history and the Ford family influence.
You can also have a meal on the banks of Lake St. Clair.
For more history, visit the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant and Model T Automotive Heritage Complex to see the birthplace of Ford vehicles.
The first 12,000 Model T’s were made at this very location.
Detroit Princess cruises offer seasonal rides for lunch or sunset dinners that run for several hours and include entertainment and history lessons as you glide on the water in an elegant steam cruiser.
You’ll get to see both the American and Canadian sides of the river.
There are a variety of walking or trolley tours.
You can sample the breweries in the city or learn about history and preservation.
You can also book tickets through the links on VisitDetroit.com so you can be sure you’re getting them from a verified source.
The Motown Museum is one of the best ways to explore the musical history of Motor City.
The museum is expanding in Hitsville, USA, with more buildings and exhibits being offered.
It’s like a musical and architectural park of the music that changed the world.
Several museums celebrate different cultures in Detroit.
There’s the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Polish Art Center, the Holocaust Memorial Zekelman Family Campus, and the Arab American National Museum, just to name a few.
Belle Isle Park is on an island in the Detroit River but still on the United States side of the border.
The nearly 1,000-acre island has a conservatory, zoo, aquarium, Great Lakes Museum, three lakes, and a beach.
You can also see the oldest marble lighthouse in America.
There is a bridge you can drive over to get to Belle Isle.
Corktown is the oldest neighborhood in Detroit and is filled with historical architecture, intimate coffee cafes, Irish bars, and plenty of shopping and dining on top of that.
You can also dance the night away or listen to live music until 2:00 am.
Ford Motor Company is investing a lot of money and energy in this neighborhood, so look for new places to open as the neighborhood expands.
Places to Avoid in Detroit
Detroit is a city better explained by the places that are safe to visit than those that aren’t safe.
If you say in tourist areas, you should have a certain degree of safety – but every neighborhood has some degree of crime.
That’s no different than any other major city.
Downtown, Midtown, Corktown, and Belle Isle are among the safest communities to visit.
Whatever you do, don’t go around looking for the “bad parts” of Detroit to make poverty and crime a tourist attraction.
This is unacceptable behavior, and no matter how tough you think you are, the streets of Detroit will prove tougher.
Even Eminem’s childhood home is no longer there, so don’t go try to find it.
There are neighborhoods that might look like empty, dilapidated homes, but crime could be happening inside, so don’t get out of the car to go take a look.
While this sounds like common sense, you’d be surprised how many people ask about the “bad parts of town” so they can get a glimpse.
If the safety threat isn’t enough for you, it’s also illegal to go into an abandoned building.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Detroit
- Anytime you have information about a crime that is non-urgent, you can report it anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (1-800-773-2587).
- There are 11 precincts for the Detroit Police Department. You can review the crime statistics for each precinct on the Community Safety section of the department’s website. There is also information about what is being done to cut down on violent crime.
- Detroit Alerts 365 is an app where you can sign up for emergency notifications. This will cover any kind of severe weather event, flooding, or power outages happening.
- Speaking of power outages, Detroit is prone to them because of an old electrical grid and aging equipment. You should keep your devices charged as much as possible and avoid opening the refrigerator as much as possible when the power goes out. When storms come through this area, trees on private property that aren’t properly trimmed can lead to chaos for power crews. In late August of 2022, more than a quarter of a million people were left in the dark because of downed trees during strong winds.
- The roads and stormwater infrastructure is aging too, and this can lead to flooding being more common than it should be. Never drive along a flooded roadway. There are many places, along the river and even inland, prone to flooding during heavy rain. Even some of the Detroit Mover public transportation vehicles have been prone to flooding. t
- Before you head to Belle Isle Park or any of the attractions there, sign up for text alerts through the website. This will let you know about any events, delays, or weather concerns that might limit what is open on a particular day.
- Detroit is one of several U.S. cities that uses a technology called “ShotSpotter.” This device lets police know as soon as a gunshot is heard in certain neighborhoods. This gets first responders to the scene faster. Even with this technology in place, you should still call 911 to give any information you have.
- Look for Project Green Light signs and lights at local businesses. This is a partnership between the city and the community to install cameras that send video feeds back to the Real Time Crime Center and are monitored around the clock. Not only does this deter criminals, but you can also see the video of crimes as they happen.
- No matter how cold it is, don’t ever leave your car unattended to warm up. Never, even for a few minutes to run into a gas station, leave your car unlocked. Car theft is way too common here, and the thieves know how to take a vehicle in just a few seconds. Never leave anything in your vehicle, and if it’s a rental car, don’t leave the paperwork in the glove box. Take that into the hotel room with you. If your car does get stolen in Detroit, you must go to the police department to make a report. You cannot report it online.
- Winter visitors need to know the signs of frostbite. With the bitter cold temperatures here and the wind mixed together, you get a “wind chill” that can make the air feel a lot colder than it is. Any body part that is exposed can get frostbite within 15 – 30 minutes, depending on how cold the wind chill is. If you do think you have frostbite, don’t soak your affected area in hot water. Since you’ll be numb, you could end up burning your skin and cause more damage.
So... How Safe Is Detroit Really?
Detroit’s violent crime rate is six times higher than the national average, and that’s with a 4% decrease in homicides in 2021.
There are a lot of crime problems to be solved in the city, and leaders are making strides.
The best way you can help is to avoid dangerous neighborhoods.
You’ll know which ones they are because they won’t be on any tourism bureau map.
You won’t have to walk between abandoned and blighted homes to visit the popular museum.
Detroit becomes more dangerous when you try to “experience the real Detroit” and don’t look for 8 Mile Road, made famous by the Eminem movie.
While it sounds like common sense, I can’t believe the number of tourist websites I’ve reviewed that offer this same piece of advice – that means it’s a real problem of people trying to get a look inside the “Gritty” side of Detroit.
The city is more than its crime rate.
It has a history that keeps the automotive and musical world moving forward.
It has museums celebrating many cultures.
It brings an international experience with Canada across the way.
There’s too much to see to wrap yourself up in a true crime story or Hollywood experience you want to relive.
Use common sense.
Don’t walk around alone at night.
Don’t buy drugs.
Don’t carry valuables around with you.
Keep away from neighborhoods that don’t look like places inviting to tourists, and you’ll be able to enjoy Detroit and all it has to offer.
How Does Detroit Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. Travel or Work Visa or a Visa Waiver to enter the United States. There are several different processes to go through, so please research this information thoroughly on the State Department website.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar (USD) here. Please don't carry cash around Detroit. Try to pay for as much in advance as you can to avoid having to pull out your wallet. If you want to exchange currency, do so before you arrive to get the best value.
- Weather - Michigan has some of the mildest and most beautiful summers in the country, but winters can be tough. Plan to wear full winter outwear from November through April. You'll want snow boots, hiking boots, or other comfortable closed-toed shoes. Dress in layers for those unpredictable spring and fall days and nights. Rain gear should be helpful throughout the year.
- Airports - Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is on the southwest side of the metro area, and it's going to take you at least 30 minutes to get there. Plan ahead for traffic and give yourself an hour. Windsor International Airport is about 30 minutes away, but you'll be crossing the Canadian border if you choose that airport, so definitely plan extra time to go through Border Patrol.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great way to avoid fees for any cancelations or delays, and you'll want to have health insurance if you are coming from outside the country. Any health care necessary here will cost you a lot of money out-of-pocket otherwise.
Detroit Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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