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
Tree-lined streets greet you at every turn in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, Illinois.
The community is so built around its trees that there’s more than one tree for every person who lives here.
At just 10 square miles, Elmhurst offers a dense suburban feel and parks to get away from it all, making this a popular place to stay in the Chicago area.
Whether you want urban, suburban, or rural, you can find it all in Elmhurst.
Elmhurst University is a liberal arts college here and brings even more life to an already vibrant arts scene.
You can also dig into history here with museums showcasing the timeline of a city founded in 1822.
The city’s motto is “Close to Everything, Unlike Anything,” if that resonates with you.
It is a central location to the entire Chicago area in a safe suburb, but it’s also a place that could easily fill a few days of touring without leaving the city.
This otherwise safe city was rocked to its core in 2014 when the only homicides of the decade happened.
A local elderly man was caring for a disabled wife and two adult children with severe disabilities.
He took their lives before turning the gun on himself.
While the sense of safety wasn’t lost in this community, there was a sense of pity for a man who was just at the end of his limits and chose a terrible way to escape a stressful and unhappy situation at home.
Warnings & Dangers in Elmhurst
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with those homicides being the only ones dating back to at least 2010. The violent crimes here don't reach triple digits in an average year. In fact, they never go higher than 40.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
It's good to get familiar with the various public transportation methods in the Chicago area. There's the Metra and the "L" train, which are not the same thing. The Metra runs to Elmhurst, the "L" doesn't. You can also take a Pace bus around the region. Taxis are available and you can also call a rideshare. There's low risk with any option you take. If you rent a car, do so at the airport so you can pick it up and drop it off there. On weekends in the summer, there is a free trolley that goes around the city from noon to midnight.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There was a pickpocket ring of thieves working in this area in 2018, so there's always going to be a risk, but it's not high here. The risk of theft is one in 118. Elderly people tend to be more vulnerable. If you carry a backpack around, don't put valuables in any of the easy-to-access pockets on the outside. This is the first place a pickpocket will try.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
The biggest risk here is severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, mostly in spring and summer. The city does have tornado sirens, so if you hear a long, steady tone, that means to seek shelter immediately. There is a required siren test on the first Tuesday of each month at 10:00 am. You don't need to seek shelter when you hear the test siren. Winter is going to bring snow and slick streets. On an average day, there's a low risk, but when a weather watch or warning is in place, that goes up to medium risk.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
You can count on one hand how many robberies the city had in 2020 (5) and there's rarely a year with more than 10 robberies. This is a low risk, but keep in mind that risk could change immediately outside of the Elmhurst city limits.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
The large population center of Chicago and surrounding suburbs is always going to be medium risk and there have been terror plots thwarted in the Chicago area. You should stay vigilant, but not afraid when visiting Elmhurst.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The Elmhurst Police Department has a list of common scams on its website, so you should review that before you visit. They are mostly the common scams that can happen in any community and none are directly targeting tourists. You can feel safe with low risk, but don't let your guard down.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The sexual assault rate here is lower than the national average and seven cases were reported in 2020. There are a lot of attractions here for women, like a lot of shopping and cool restaurants to check out. The parks are pretty enjoyable too, so you need to always practice good personal safety steps when visiting anywhere in the Chicago area.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2020 Annual Water Quality Report shows no violations and all categories met or exceed required standards. The city added this reassurance of low risk to the report, saying, "In this era of increased security concerns, please rest assured that the City of Elmhurst has taken every precaution possible and will continue to remain vigilant to ensure the highest protection of the purity of the water supplied to our customers."
Safest Places to Visit in Elmhurst
There is a strong push called “Support Elmhurst Safely” encouraging people to shop at the local stores and stray away from name-brand stores.
The website Explore Elmhurst has a lively calendar of events that is great to check before your visit to get a real essence of the community.
City Center is a great starting point with shops, restaurants, fountains, businesses, and nearby museums.
The historic York Theatre is a renovated old-school-style movie theater that gives a unique experience to a commonly popular event.
The Elmhurst History Museum is a free attraction (donations are welcome) and shows the history of the city from 1822 through the present with some incredible architecture to take in.
The Elmhurst Art Museum is also nearby if you want to make an afternoon of exploring museums.
This is a great option for a rainy day.
Wilder Park is in the center of all this with a huge playground for the kids and it’s also where you’ll find festivals and cook-offs throughout the year.
It’s hard to believe this was once a cow pasture when you see all the city regions that surround it.
The Elmhurst Park District oversees the 28 parks in the area and details the best places for a summer hike or winter sledding.
There is also a lagoon that turns into an ice rink in the winter, but that does come with certain challenges.
I grew up in the Midwest and I still never trusted the ice on a lake and always opted to find an indoor rink.
However, it is a popular activity, so I’m not saying don’t do it.
Just know that there’s no guarantee the ice is frozen deep enough to handle the weight, especially after a warm winter spell.
Always proceed with caution.
Just about every park has a trail on it if you want to go for a morning run or evening stroll.
The Illinois Prarie Path is perfect for those who want to go longer distances or have a bicycle to ride.
It spans 62 miles through Cooke, DuPage, and Kane counties.
You might even cross paths with some horse riders on your route.
You have nearly a dozen places to shop here, with City Center being one of them and Spring Road being the “see and be seen” part of town.
Spring Road also hosts many activities through the different seasons, with St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas season getting a lot of attention.
Places to Avoid in Elmhurst
The very southern part of Elmhurst has the highest crime rates, and there’s a spot in the center of town (with more people) that understandably has more crime.
However, there are no bad neighborhoods to avoid here.
This is a very family-friendly community.
One weather warning in Elmhurst is about flooding.
The city doesn’t have the best systems for flood retention, but the one it does have is designed to keep homes from flooding.
That means during extended periods of rain, the excess water goes into the streets before filling up retention ponds.
With so many trees here, leaves, fallen branches, and other debris can get in the way of the water flow.
Just be very careful if you’re staying during a rainy period.
The roads might be flooded and you should never try to cross a flooded road.
If you wait a few hours, the flooding will go down.
It’s worth noting the proper pronunciation of Illinois because a lot of visitors say it wrong.
The “S” at the end is silent, so you say “Ill-in-oye”, not “Ill-in-noise.”
Safety Tips for Traveling to Elmhurst
- Elmhurst has dealt with a crime trend of car burglaries. This happens most often to cars left unlocked or with windows rolled down. Don’t let the safe nature of the community fool you – there are still crimes that happen here and you shouldn’t make it easy. Roll up the windows, lock the door, and make sure no valuables are left in the vehicle, even if you park in a monitored lot.
- There are 13 railroad crossings in Elmhurst. After 3 deadly accidents involving trains in the 90s, the city started cracking down on people who drive or walk around an active crossing. Never think you can “beat the train.” Allow yourself plenty of travel time. I live in a railroad town myself, and I just always assume I’m going to get stopped at the tracks, so it’s a blessing when I don’t.
- Even if you see a non-emergency situation happening that would warrant a call to the police, you should call 911. The Elmhurst Police Department states on its website that the only way to get an officer dispatched is through 911. This is very different than any other community, so it was worth bringing up.
- Elmhurst is a highly residential area and every single neighborhood street has the same speed limits – 25 mph. It might feel very slow when you’re driving, but you should always be on the lookout for a child or pet to dart out into the street. Don’t be in a rush and speed through a neighborhood as you could risk hurting someone or getting a ticket.
- Sign up for CodeRED notifications through the city of Elmhurst website. You can choose to get general notifications or emergency notifications, or both. You should definitely have emergency notifications enabled for when severe weather approaches.
- There might be some wildlife sightings when you are enjoying Elmhurst parks. Berens Park and Illinois Prairie Path both have bee boxes. You should not interfere with or disturb the bees in any way. If you are allergic, park as far away as possible. When you come across a sandy area of a park, it is most likely home to some “Killer” wasps. They look scary but they are not aggressive. Just leave them alone. There have been coyote sightings at parks here as well. Generally, a coyote wants nothing to do with you. If you have a pet, you must keep it on a secured leash and pick it up if you can. Get out of the area if you do have a pet.
- Download the RainoutLine app and sign up for information about the Elmhurst Park District. This is a great tool to explore before you go to a park to check on rain closures, trail debris, or sledding hills that are open/closed.
- There are sledding hills at three of the local parks and it’s a popular way to enjoy a snow day. Please know you are sledding at your own risk and there is nobody there monitoring the safety of others. You are responsible for yourself and any children with you. Only plastic sleds, saucers, and inner tubes are allowed for sledding. Don’t try to use a wooden sled here or else you might be asked to leave.
- The Eldridge Park Lagoon is popular for ice skating in the depths of winter, but be sure there is a green flag posted. The park staff does intricate testing daily to make sure the ice is safe. Any other color flag means there’s a warning on the ice.
- The parking in the downtown area is free, but it does come with time limits. Different zones have different limits, so be sure you know the time limit before you leave. If you need to stay longer, you have to move the car to a different parking zone.
So... How Safe Is Elmhurst Really?
This is a city that gets less than 40 violent crimes in a year, as far back as crime data has been reported to the FBI.
That’s a one in 1174 chance of being a victim whereas other neighborhoods I’ve researched in Chicago were closer to one in 200.
There have only been three homicides since 2010 and that was that sad case I told you about earlier where a man killed his family and then himself in a planned violent act that in no way posed a threat to anyone in the public of Elmhurst.
The city hasn’t had more than 11 robberies in a year in the past decade.
Here’s something interesting that I just found in the recent crime list.
A car was stolen even though the car had a remote start and they didn’t have the key fob.
There’s new criminal technology that amplifies the power of a key fob and allows crooks to start the car if a key fob is within that amplification range.
How do you avoid this?
Don’t leave your key fob anywhere near where the car is parked.
Keep it as far of a distance away as possible.
You can also store the keys in a metal box instead of hanging them on a hook or putting them in a purse while you’re at home (or at the hotel).
The metal prevents the key fob from being accessed.
Aluminum foil works as well.
How Does Elmhurst Compare?
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- Visas - You will use your Visa when you are going through Customs at the airport. After that, you won't need to show it to get between the cities. Your passport will be used as your legal ID.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and just about everything can be purchased with a credit card or mobile pay. You can set up your card to use the chip to tap a payment machine so you never have to enter a PIN again.
- Weather - There are four seasons here to enjoy, but you'll dress differently in each one. Winter can get cold, with wind chills near 0°(F). Bundle up! Summers are going to be muggy and hot. Yes, even at night. Sometimes it's so humid you feel like you're walking through a wet rag. It can also fog up glasses, so bring anti-fog spray or use your contacts instead if you have them.
- Airports - Midway International Airport is 18 miles away and the mapping system shows that it's going to take about an hour to get there. You can take a longer, but faster route on the freeway if you want. O'Hare International is much closer, just a 15-minute drive and 10 miles away.
- Travel Insurance - You'll be thankful with all the crazy weather that can happen in Chicago, that you have travel insurance. It gives you peace of mind.
Elmhurst Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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