Texas : Safety by City
- Corpus Christi
- El Paso
- Fort Worth
- San Antonio
Houston, Texas, is the fourth-largest city in the United States, with a population of 2.3 million.
While some cities are much smaller, with the metro area making up for the larger population, that’s not the case in Houston.
The city also sits on Galveston Bay, with the Gulf of Mexico just on the other side of Galveston.
This means you can have a day at the beach and enjoy the nightlife in a major city without a long drive.
This proximity to the gulf also puts it at great risk of hurricanes from June through November.
This is also one of the most well-known locations for NASA, with Johnson Space Center leading the way for manned flight and working on a program to take astronauts back to the moon.
While NASA’s locations here, including the popular tourist spot Space Center Houston, are technically in Clear Lake City, it is well known that they are referred to as Houston locations.
Houston is such a large city that you can quickly end up in a bad neighborhood, so we’re going to talk through the safe districts and the places to avoid.
Warnings & Dangers in Houston
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk with a high crime rate that just keeps growing. In fact, 2022 was the first year for a murder victim memorial where city leaders didn't read all the names of the victims because it would have taken hours.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Metro is the public transportation system in Houston, offering bus routes and rail lines. There are more than 2,200 taxis and just as many, if not more, rideshares available. Finding a rental car is easy too. Due to various risks with any option, treat this as overall medium risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
More than 500 pickpockets and purse snatching happened in 2021, but that's a far cry from the 56,000 thefts that happened. You should always be on your guard because robbery rates are exceptionally high here, so if someone wants your stuff, they'll use any method necessary to get it. Cut the medium risk by keeping your belongings out of plain sight.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Houston faces a medium risk throughout the year, with flash flooding being one of the biggest challenges the city faces. Hurricane season can be devastating for this region, as we saw in August of 2017 with Hurricane Harvey. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are also possible.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate here is more than four times the national average. Never fight back against a robber. This is a city where even getting upset by another driver can lead to a shooting, much less fighting back against an armed robber.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
With the NASA presence, military locations, and massive population, there's a medium risk here. That risk comes with abundant security from local, state, and federal offices.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The city website has a list of common scams here, and while there aren't any scams where tourists are specifically targeted, you should know what potential exists. This is a city where you simply can't trust anyone posing as a person in need or pushing you to make a purchase of any kind.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women face the same medium risk as men do. There might be parts of the city or times you're on the METRO system that might feel unsafe even if there isn't a present danger. The best way to avoid this is to travel in groups.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There are six water systems that serve the Houston area. In the 2021 Water Quality Report, all requirements were met or exceeded. You should have heightened awareness of water quality if there is flooding happening just before or during your visit. The city will send out notices should a water quality issue happen.
Safest Places to Visit in Houston
VisitHoustonTexas.com is the official tourism website for the city.
If you want to book attractions online, only use this official tourist site or individual tourist site for the best privacy.
The Heights is a historic district in Houston with a funky and eclectic vibe.
This is the perfect place for some for a unique dining experience or to browse through cool boutiques.
The Art Car Museum, otherwise known as the Garage Mahal, is also located here, with ordinary vehicles turned into stunning works of art.
Downtown Houston is the central business district but also has a lot of dining and shopping options.
You might choose to say at or near Avenida Houston, which is a massive convention facility with mixed-use restaurants, shopping, and entertainment.
You’ll also find the Downtown Aquarium and its 500,000-gallon tank here.
The aquarium takes you through a swamp, a shipwreck, a rainforest, and a sunken temple with several hands-on exhibits to spur the imagination.
The Galleria/Uptown part of the city is the premier shopping district and is home to the finest in food and shopping you’ll find in the city.
There’s an indoor mega mall and an outdoor district of shops to choose from while enjoying the beautiful park-like atmosphere along the way.
The Museum District lives up to its name with various museums.
Several of the attractions are free, helping you see more places without breaking your travel budget.
The Houston Zoo is in this district with 55 acres holding more than 6,000 animals.
Of course, Space Center Houston is one of the top tourist attractions, and it’s just down the road from Johnson Space Center.
Here you can explore the history and future of manned flights, from the moon all the way to Mars and beyond.
Rockets and astronaut suits are on display, along with a tram ride to see part of Johnson Space Center.
You can purchase VIP experiences to meet a real astronaut or get a behind-the-scenes look at astronaut training.
Houston is such a big city, it’s hard to get all the cool things to do into one article, even when just listing the safest things.
You can sign up for “experiences” that better fit your needs on the tourism website.
You’ll get discounts on tickets to certain areas, like a Museum Experience or a Space Explorer Pass.
There are food and drink experiences as well.
Places to Avoid in Houston
If you are traveling outside of the museums and tourist attractions, you should assume a neighborhood here is NOT safe unless proven otherwise.
Again, a city this large has so many micro-neighborhoods that it could be safe on one street and unsafe two blocks over.
In general, the east side and south side are filled with highly dangerous neighborhoods.
The Third Ward is a historic district celebrated for its civil rights fights of the past and holds a lot of diverse cultural landmarks.
At the same time, in 2022, this district is facing an increase in crime, and neighborhood residents are demanding the city take action.
It would be best to avoid the bars on Riverside Drive.
In February 2022, there was a shooting outside of one of those bars, and it was the tipping point for neighbors to demand action.
There are a lot of tourist sites that list Battleship Texas as a tourist attraction, but it’s no longer open.
It needed extensive repairs since it was the only ship of its kind from World War I and World War II.
Unfortunately, the dock location in Houston didn’t bring enough tourists.
Once it’s repaired, it will move to another city for tourists.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Houston
- You can research crime data using the community map on the police department’s website and do a deeper dive into neighborhoods on the Glenda Gordy Research Center website. The city also has an Excel document detailing all of the crimes from 2021.
- Houston is a very congested city, and that means a lot of cars on the road. One trend that is worrisome is road rage. Do not use your horn, mouth, or middle finger to express anger while driving. There has been a rash of shootings and assaults connected to road rage. If you are being followed by someone who appears angry, go directly to a police station or a safe public area and don’t get out of your car.
- Download the Crime Stoppers of Houston mobile app so you can have a direct line to contact the police. This will allow you to report information about a non-urgent crime without having to give your name. You can also call (713)222-8477.
- Downtown Houston has a series of underground tunnels that are climate-controlled and get you around the top attractions in the area. The tunnels are six miles long and have shops along the way, so it’s not just a boring walk through a tunnel. You can see a map of the system at downtownhouston.org.
- The Houston Police Department has dozens of crime safety tips on its website. Look under the Crime Prevention header. You can also subscribe to the department’s YouTube channel to get more information.
- Download the ParkHouston app, so you have a blueprint of the parking lots and garages available. You can also pay for parking through the app or use Google Pay. You can also text PARK to 77223 to pay via text. Your license plate is recorded when you park, so you don’t need a ticket or receipt.
- Sign up for emergency notifications through AlertHouston. This will let you know about any approaching severe weather, road flooding, or major accidents. You can’t afford to miss important weather information when visiting here.
- If you come across a flooded street, do not try to drive through the water. Turn around and find another way to get to your destination. It just takes a few inches of water to knock down a person or carry away a car.
- For those who have more questions about what to expect in Houston, use the city’s 311 service. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org. This is also a great way to report any issues you see during your visit, like a pothole or fallen tree.
- Houston has at least 20,000 gang members involved, with more than 30 gangs. If you see large groups of people dressed in similar colors or a lot of graffiti in an area, it might be a gang neighborhood. Gang members might also make hand gestures toward each other or opposing gangs as a “symbol” of their gang affiliation. Gangsters can also travel into suburban areas as the drug addiction issue expands. If you ever suspect gang activity is happening, go the other way.
So... How Safe Is Houston Really?
“Houston, we have a problem.”
Some of the numbers can seem staggering, such as 25,444 violent crimes, 16,000 aggravated assaults, and 15,500 thefts.
It’s important to remember this is a city of 2.3 million, which means the raw data is going to be higher than other cities we’ve talked about.
That said, Houston still has a bad crime problem, and it’s only getting worse.
Homicides in the city went from 261 in 2020 to 473 in 2021.
Aggravated assault is up 35% in 2022, and robberies are up 12%.
The only real sigh of relief for a tourist is that the majority of violent crimes are domestic in nature, but it’s another breath-taking moment to find out the number of people who were innocent bystanders – especially the number of children – when those violent crimes took place.
65% of thefts are related to car break-ins, so you had better lock your car and roll the windows up each time you park.
Don’t leave anything personal inside, and take your rental car paperwork into the hotel with you.
Is Houston dangerous?
Is it too dangerous to visit?
Most of the big attractions are in places where violent crime isn’t as high.
You should stay on the main roadways and don’t go driving around without a clear path to get to your destination.
In any big city, you should be prepared for petty crimes and thefts.
Always have situational awareness and bring only the bare minimum with you as you visit all the great places in Houston, Texas.
How Does Houston Compare?
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- Visas - Foreign travelers need a passport along with either a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver. The U.S. State Department has a long list of details on how to get a visa. You should prepare at least four months in advance.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here as currency, and you want to avoid carrying cash in Houston. Don't use public ATMs to exchange currency. A credit card is the best option to protect against fraud.
- Weather - For the most part, you are escaping a harsh winter here, but you should still plan on a jacket and some sweatshirts or sweaters. Jeans will be comfortable most of the year but might feel too heavy in the humid summers. Bring comfortable walking shoes, bug spray, and sunscreen. The sun can be very intense here, especially in the spring and summer.
- Airports - The Houston Airport System provides two commercial options - Bush Intercontinental Airport on the north side of the city and Hobby Airport on the south side.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a must when this area can experience so many flight delays or cancelations due to weather. Any trip to a medical facility will cost a lot out of pocket, so look into health travel insurance too.
Houston Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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