Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
Garden City, Kansas, sounds like a blooming city with vibrant flowers and trees.
It’s a name so serene it goes in stark contrast to the reality of the location.
Set in the high plains of Kansas, it’s more of a dry climate as the plains give way to the arid climate of the Colorado mountains.
You’re more likely to see a tumbleweed than a trove of tulips.
The name also flies in stark contrast to what was once of the most brutal murders of its time and was so shocking that acclaimed novelist Truman Capote wrote “In Cold Blood” about what is known as the Clutter Murders.
For a city of fewer than 30,000 people, there sure is a lot to do here.
Whether you want to interact with animals at the zoo or make friends with a bison, animal lovers will have the time of their lives.
Waterparks flow here throughout the year, and you can even go down the slide in a blizzard!
A ghost town duo awaits outside the Garden City boundaries in open Kansas land.
Two cities that once dreamed of being the county seat are now just piles of rubble.
Anglers and hunters will find plenty of opportunities to catch their prey in some of the best outdoor adventures available.
Even if you want to catch a storm, this is the place to do it.
Warnings & Dangers in Garden City
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in Garden City, with higher than average violent and property crime rates compared to national and state levels. This is also a city where some very odd crime happens. While it's still a great place to visit, there's just peripheral crime to be aware of while spending time here.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There is no traditional scheduled bus service here. You can get a taxi or rideshare, but not with the ease of a bigger city. Having a car is really the best idea - especially if you want to explore some of the ghost towns and wilderness areas nearby.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Pickpockets, no. Purse snatching, yes! There's a medium risk here, with five purse snatchings reported in 2020, a year when fewer travelers were on the road. In 2019, four pickpockets were reported to the tune of $1000 a piece! 2018 saw eight pickpockets or purse snatchings. Hold onto your goods here!
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk because - WOW - Kansas gets wicked weather throughout the year. Winter storms can be loaded with wind, ice, and heavy snow. Spring kicks off tornado season with wild thunderstorms, intense lightning, huge hail, and blowing dust. Flooding is also a concern. This is just a typical year in Kansas, but if you're used to a calmer atmosphere, some of this might catch you off guard.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here with three of the 16 robberies in 2020 targeting strangers, and those robberies averaged a $3350 theft from the victim. There is also a higher than average aggravated assault rate, which is what a robbery can advance to if it turns physical.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
It's rare I would give a city with no military base and a small population a medium risk, but Garden City breaks that mold. In 2016, a terror plot was uncovered by local terrorists who wanted to blow up an apartment complex where Somali refugees lived. The plot was a bust, and nobody was hurt, but three men went to prison for the plot. This is a diverse community, and I would be remiss if I didn't reveal this story that rocked Garden City.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
There are some odd scams going around, and while most of them are regional or national, there's a medium risk here. One involved a fake child abduction post on Facebook. There's another scam where a caller says they are from a local business and asks you to confirm your credit card number because they believe it was compromised. You have to be on your toes here and never give personal information. Never buy gift cards to pay a debt. Never wire money to reserve a rental.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women should enjoy visiting here but with a medium level of caution. The sexual assault rate is 32% higher than the national average. There is a lot of violent crime here, and it's just worth giving extra thought to visiting alone, traveling after dark, and using caution when meeting new people.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There's a low risk in tap water, as the latest Water Quality Report shows no violations in 2021, and all standards were met or exceeded.
Safest Places to Visit in Garden City
Downtown Garden City has two sections that will have a little something for everyone.
There’s the historic downtown, with unique shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
This is also where a lot of events happen throughout the year.
This is also close to some of the other attractions that line the Arkansas River on the south side of town.
There’s also a commercial downtown district with many hotels and big box stores for national brands.
The Lee Richardson Zoo is a free attraction that you can walk through or drive through.
You can scour the plains of Africa or visit Wild Asia.
There’s a Lemur Forest and a South American Pampas.
You can also go Down Under or visit Cat Canyon.
During the summer, stop by The Big Pool right next door to cool off.
This pool was built in the 1920s after the town’s residents dug it out BY HAND!
At one time, it was one of the largest concrete community swimming pools in the world.
Now the pool has been renovated and has several slides.
For winter swimmers, you can go to Parrot Cove, an indoor waterpark.
The park recently tried to break the record for the World’s Largest Swim Lesson.
That was in June 2022, and we’re still waiting to hear if they broke the record.
There are sandboxes, slides, and several pools for all skill levels.
Whistle “Home on the Range” while visiting the Sandsage Bison Range.
There are several tours available, including bison tours and wildflower walks.
Call ahead of time to book a tour.
That number is (620)276-9400.
The Finney County Historical Museum has several displays for the public, including a True Crime exhibit.
While you’ll learn about some of the most notorious cases, solved and unsolved, throughout the country, the biggest one is the Clutter Murders.
This was a heinous crime involving four Clutter family members and two men on parole who thought they would strike it rich in the farmhouse.
If you’ve read Capote’s “In Cold Blood”, you know part of this story already.
Places to Avoid in Garden City
The southeast section of the city has the highest crime rates, and the good news is that it’s on the other side of the highway from the tourist attractions.
There’s really no reason to be in the southeast section as it’s all industrial and mobile homes.
Violent crime is a little more spread throughout the entire city than property crime.
There’s an attraction called Riverside Ranch Outfitters that appears to be a guided fowl-hunting tour.
All of the tourism sites have this listed, but when you go to the venue’s website, it’s a dead link.
When you look at its social media, there haven’t been any updates since 2020.
There is also Riverside Outfitters, which comes up in different states when searching.
I couldn’t get anyone on the phone to give me updated information.
Avoid banking on this attraction unless you have new information that it is open or re-opened.
The Clutter murders happened in nearby Holcomb.
I’m not going to give you the exact address because it’s a place I would suggest you avoid.
The house is still there, and it is someone’s home.
It’s on farmland in a remote area.
There is enough information to satisfy True Crime fans at the historical museum.
Let the home, family, and new residents be in peace.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Garden City
- Since there’s a medium risk here, I wanted to make sure to provide you with the tools to track crime closer to your trip. There’s a crime search function on the police department’s website. You can search for crimes near your hotel or favorite tourist spot to see what trends are happening.
- The police department also sends out a daily bulletin of crimes that happened the day before. Many cities I’ve researched with higher than average crime rates aren’t this transparent, so take advantage of the opportunity to decide how much of a risk you think it is to visit here.
- You can also sign up for crime alerts through the police department’s website. This will let you know about road closures, criminals on the loose, or other police activity that impacts the community.
- Go to the Finney Emergency Management website to sign up for AlertSense. This isn’t about crime but about severe weather potential and activity. You must keep a close eye on the skies in Kansas, and emergency notifications allow you to go about your day knowing you’ll get a text message if there’s any weather worry.
- Garden City has a list of storm shelters provided on its website. Since there is a large number of mobile homes here, residents need a safer place to stay when severe thunderstorms or tornadoes happen. Tourists are welcome to stay in the storm shelters as well. Finney County also has an interactive map of the available storm shelters in the whole county.
- If you want to go fishing while you’re here, you need a fishing license from the Kansas Department of Wildlife. The website is very thorough in explaining requirements, permits/stamps, and the best fishing locations.
- Hunting licenses are going to be a little more complicated to get. You have to pass a safety certification test or show proof you have an equivalent test from your home state or city. Be sure to plan ahead of time to get a hunting license, as you likely won’t be able to get one on the day you want to go hunting.
- Garden City has a YouTube channel with updated videos covering everything from events to community improvements. This is great viewing on the plane trip here to get a sense of what’s happening in Garden City.
- Check the Sansafe Bison Range Wildlife Area before you get too excited about that tour. As of summer 2022, the website says the tours are on hold with no expected date for return. If you do go on a tour there, do not pick any of the wildflowers. You can get fined for doing so. You can still drive by the bison range if you’d like, and there are spots on the road to safely pull over to take pictures.
- If you encounter a bison in any Kansas range, leave it alone. Bison can be very aggressive if provoked. Their tail will tell the tale of how annoyed they are. A flat tail means they are calm. A tail pointed horizontally means they know there’s something suspicious around (aka – YOU!), and a tail straight up means a bison is about to charge. You cannot outrun a bison and never turn your back on them if they are charging.
So... How Safe Is Garden City Really?
Garden City is just a small town with medium crime levels.
A medium-risk doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there, or else nobody would visit places like Chicago, Memphis, or St. Louis.
It just means you need to use extra caution, especially when it’s easy to get a false sense of safety in a small rural town.
Here’s how the risks break down, just going by the crime data:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 199 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 1,759
- Theft: 1 in 37
When we dig a little deeper into the context of those numbers, 9% of violent crimes happened against strangers.
61% of violent crimes happened in homes.
That means there’s a much lower chance you’ll be a victim of a violent crime, but you might see or hear about it while visiting.
The three highway robberies that happened, which means a robbery in a public place, were valued at $3,350.
This is a great reminder not to carry valuables with you.
Don’t bring your designer bags here and leave large amounts of cash in the hotel safe.
Only bring what you need when you visit here.
40% of the thefts reported were car break-ins.
Don’t leave a car unlocked here or park with the windows rolled down.
Remove all personal belongings from the vehicle before you park.
Even a GPS stand can indicate there might be a valuable inside.
The weather here is a real risk.
While western Kansas is usually windy, the wind can also be relentless with blowing dust and reduced visibility.
In April of 2022, several days of dust storms were topped by two tornados in one day.
Please follow the guidance of the meteorologists and severe weather alerts while visiting here.
A day can start sunny and nice and turn into a monster storm front looming.
How Does Garden City Compare?
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- Visas - A U.S. Travel Visa costs $160 and takes several steps of processing for approval. A visa doesn't guarantee you get access to the country, as you will need final approval from Border Patrol and Homeland Security as you go through Customs. Your visa won't have to be shown as you travel throughout Kansas.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and you should exchange currency at the airport to ensure you get what you need. Small town banks might not always have that option.
- Weather - Kansas is one of the states that gets the wildest and most fluctuating temperatures throughout the year. Winters will require, at times, full head-to-toe winter gear. Winters can also be mild. It's important to check the forecast for your trip. Several layers of shirts are helpful, so you can peel them off as it warms up. Fall and spring are really fluctuating, even sometimes throughout the day. Summers will be warm, with an occasional cold night or morning. Bring bug spray and sunscreen, too.
- Airports - Garden City Regional Airport has one airline that only goes to and from Dallas. Dodge City, an hour east, has a small airport with flights to and from Denver. Wichita has the largest airport nearby, and that's about a three-hour drive.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea, especially if you're using a smaller airport. Flights can be delayed, or airports shut down due to weather, and you want to protect your trip.
Garden City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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