Indiana : Safety by City
- Cedar Lake
- Crown Point
- Fort Wayne
- Michigan City
- Santa Claus
- South Bend
- Terre Haute
- Winona Lake
Indianapolis, Indiana, is synonymous with NASCAR racing and the Indy 500, but there’s much more to this major metropolitan area in the heart of the Hoosier State.
The White River winds through the west side of downtown and offers urban adventures with a state park and zoo just a few blocks away.
Indy is known as the Crossroads of America for the many interstates that run to and through the city, making it a great place for a pit stop, weekend getaway, or full week of vacation.
Downtown Indy has six cultural districts to explore:
- Wholesale District: An urban and historic melting pot makes this a great place if you want to sample a little bit of everything Indy has to offer.
- Fountain Square: Shop unique shops while working up an appetite in this most historical of all districts, being active since the 1870s.
- Market East: A foodie up-and-coming neighborhood with plenty of green spaces to explore.
- Mass Ave: This is where you’ll find arts and entertainment of all kinds, from theater to art galleries to sculptures along the road.
- Canal/White River State Park: Right in the heart of the city sits a state park along the river with a large zoo to explore. Check the calendar for local events happening here during your visit.
- Indiana Avenue: This is an African American historical neighborhood with culture, food, and architecture to explore.
Indianapolis also has some great suburbs to explore, with Carmel and Fishers being the more traditional upscale suburban neighborhoods.
Warnings & Dangers in Indianapolis
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk here, with Indy being named one of the most dangerous cities in America and a growing violent crime rate showing no signs of slowing down. Is there anything that makes Indianapolis exclusively more dangerous than, say, Chicago? No. It's just important for tourists to know there is a lot of violent crime here so they can take proper precautions.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
IndyGo is the bus system here, but this city loves its cars, so it's not as popular as other modes of transportation and has its fair share of crime. Taxis, rideshares, and rental cars are available. Having a car here brings its own set of safety concerns, mainly car break-ins.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, with nearly 300 pickpockets in 2020, and that was the pandemic year with lockdowns and fewer people on the streets. You should carry small purses that can be across your body and keep wallets in your front pocket or in hidden jacket pockets.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Indianapolis gets a wide variety of storm risks, from winter blizzards and ice storms to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Flooding is another risk you need to be aware of when visiting. Extreme temperatures can happen in winter and summer.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery risk is three times the national average and growing. This isn't a city where you want to drive through neighborhoods or just drive around randomly. Stick to main streets and use GPS to get from one destination to the next. If you are confronted by a robber, don't fight back. Try to remember as much as you can to be a good witness. The medium risk here is more about awareness and prevention than an ongoing major risk of getting robbed while walking down the street.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
A medium-risk exists in this category as well since it's such a large city and transportation hub. Homeland Security will really beef up patrols and surveillance during the Indy 500 over Memorial Day weekend each year.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are a lot of scams here, but mainly focused on locals. Scammers are known for creating a sense of urgency and a "rock bottom deal" if you act "now." Don't fall for any scam like this. Don't send any money through a mobile app that isn't initiated by you, and never wire money to secure a rental home or condo.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women actually have a lower risk than men of being a victim of violent crime, according to 2020 crime data. The sexual assault rate is 30% higher here than the national average. The same medium risk exists for any gender, and you should avoid walking around alone at night.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Citizens Energy Group provides tap water for this region. There are three areas serviced and each one has its own separate Water Quality Report listing. For 2021, all water tested was found in full compliance with no violations. The utility has a Water Wizard FAQ section on its website if you want to learn more.
Safest Places to Visit in Indianapolis
The official tourism website for Indianapolis is visitindy.com, and you can download a visitor’s guide on the website without giving away any personal information if you’d like.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is massive, with five stories to explore and several world-record attractions.
Even walking by the museum is a photo op with a giant dinosaur wrapped around the front of the building.
If you’re visiting during the first Thursday of a month, tickets are discounted to just $6.
White River State Park sounds like it’s a long drive to get to, but it turns out this park is just west of downtown.
The park itself is great for taking a stroll and watching the river go by, but there are also several attractions here:
- Indianapolis Zoo
- White River Gardens
- Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
- NCAA Hall of Champions
- Indiana State Museum
Mass Avenue touts itself as “45 Degrees for Ordinary,” so get ready for an eclectic tour of a unique neighborhood where you can feed your artistic soul, shopping spirit, and appetite.
Be sure to sample “The Best Chocolate in Town” while you’re there.
It’s worth the splurge to dine at St. Elmo Steakhouse downtown.
This restaurant has been serving patrons since 1902, and even Forbes magazine rates it as one of the top places to dine in the country.
The lowest-priced steak is $45, and prices go up to $135 for a cut of meat, so check out the pricey menu before you go.
Old World Gondoliers take you on a ride that will make you swear you’re in Italy.
You can take a gondola ride and be serenaded along the way or ride a cocktail yacht.
All boarding is at Fresco Cafe on Michigan Street.
Harrah’s Hoosier Park gives you the gaming action of Las Vegas while still being in the hub of Midwestern friendliness.
You have to be 21 years old to enter the casino, and you can also enjoy live horseracing here.
Places to Avoid in Indianapolis
South Meridian Street is the nightlife core of the city, and it recently had a shooting with hundreds of rounds fired at closing time.
While this is a great spot to enjoy nightclubs, bars, and live music, it has recently seen more crime happening due to a lot of intoxicated people and personal arguments that spill into public spaces.
“There isn’t this unlimited bag of resources that we can keep going to out there to protect a two-block area that you’d think grown adults should be able to control themselves in an environment like a bar,” IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said.
If you are going to enjoy the nightlife in South Meridian, please avoid being there at closing time, and don’t be baited into an argument.
The 200 and 300 blocks are seeing the highest number of crimes.
The recent surge in crime hasn’t left any neighborhood untouched.
There are some parts of town with higher crime rates, but they aren’t the typical spots a tourist would go anyway.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Indianapolis
- The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) has an interactive crime map on its website, so please review that before your visit. Since crime rates are growing and changing neighborhoods at times, it’s good to see the most recent crimes and not have to rely on data from the year before. If you want to search for car break-ins near your hotel in the past month, you can set those search parameters.
- The non-emergency line to IMPD is (317)327-3811. Store that number in your phone now in case you need it. For emergencies, you’ll dial 911. You should also look at the IMPD website to see which Police District you’ll be staying in or visiting to get contact information specific to that area.
- You can request a ride-along with an IMPD officer if you’d like, and since you have to schedule that at least two weeks ahead of time, it’s easy to add it to your itinerary.
- If you notice any suspicious activity that could be terrorism-related, you can call the local police or dial 1-877-226-1026 in Indiana. American law enforcement is very big on the concept of “See Something, Say Something,” so don’t ever assume it’s not any of your business to report something that seems off.
- You can anonymously report crime information to Crime Stoppers by downloading the app or calling (317)262-TIPS (8477). You’d be surprised how even the smallest detail can help crack a case. Tips that lead to an arrest could be eligible for a reward.
- For those who love the outdoors, download the Indiana Department of Natural Resources app. You’ll get all the information about water quality, fishing, hunting, and hiking. There are different license rules for anglers and hunters, and you want to know the water quality of the river or lake before you go swimming.
- DowntownIndy.org has a list of all the parking spots and lots available in the city. There are more than 73,000 spaces, so you should have a wide variety to choose from, and this city does allow overnight parking in some areas if you are too drunk to drive or want to leave your car overnight after a concert.
- The tourism bureau offers an Indy Daily Deals newsletter. You can sign up, and a link will be sent to your mobile device. You’ll get information about discounts for attractions or restaurants, helping you save money and know you’re visiting an approved vendor by the tourism board.
- People in Indiana are pretty numb to any kind of severe weather but don’t follow their lead. I’ll admit, as a Midwesterner, I’ve grown pretty numb to things like tornado watches and warning sirens. However, I also know exactly how to get to safety in 2.5 seconds if need be. Be sure to use all the basic safety precautions if a tornado watch or severe thunderstorm watch has been issued, and don’t go outdoors for extended periods of time if storms are in the forecast.
- If you are visiting during the winter, you’ll need to watch out for weather advisories related to snow or ice. The city, county, and state can all issue travel advisories or snow emergencies. In a worst-case scenario, you could get ticketed for driving when there’s an emergency declared.
So... How Safe Is Indianapolis Really?
Indianapolis is one of those cities where if you don’t go looking for trouble, you probably won’t find it.
The only caveat here is that trouble might find you based on nothing but terrible luck or being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
A growing trend in this area is juveniles being perpetrators of and victims of violent crime.
There’s no ongoing risk that tourists will be in danger, but stray bullets fueled by gangs or drug wars show no mercy.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor told local station WRTV that most violent crime starts with verbal disputes or social media posts, and criminals decide to handle things themselves.
“These are people upset with social media posts, feeling disrespected, parking spots, and just a variety of other reasons why people decide to pull the trigger,” Taylor said in November of 2021.
“None of which are good, and all of which are concerning.”
Car break-ins are another thing to worry about if you’re renting a car.
42% of all the 21,170 thefts in 2020 were because of car break-ins.
Many of those were related to cars left unlocked, so you improve your risk by simply locking the doors and keeping the windows rolled up.
Leave no personal belongings inside, not even your GPS holder.
Take your rental car paperwork with you to the hotel so you don’t have your personal information inside the car.
The northern suburbs of Indianapolis are much safer if the crime numbers really concern you, and you can read the articles we’ve written about those.
Going to small-town Indiana isn’t always going to fix the problem either, as high crime rates are happening across the state and the Midwest.
Just bring your common sense, situational awareness, and good safety steps with you to have a great time in Indy.
There’s a strong chance you won’t even notice any of the crime.
How Does Indianapolis Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. Travel or Work Visa to get into the country. Check the U.S. State Department website to see if you're in a country that allows a Visa Waiver. This process can take several months, so start planning early.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only currency allowed here. You can exchange currency at the airport or one of many banks in the city. Never use a public ATM here, especially at night. You can get by without cash here too. Using a credit card provides better fraud protection anyway.
- Weather - The weather is cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but other than that, the weather can really fluctuate here. The joke is that you can have all four seasons in one day, and if you don't like the weather now - wait a few minutes, it will change. Bring layers of clothing, so you're not stuck sweating or freezing. You'll need good walking shoes and bug spray too.
- Airports - Indianapolis International Airport is on the southwest side of town, about 20 minutes from downtown in smooth traffic. Plan for 30-45 minutes to be safe.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is critical to protecting your travel investment, baggage, and health. If you are renting a car, make sure you know what insurance is covered by your own car policy and what supplemental insurance might be smart. Ask your own insurance agent about this because the rental car company will try to sell you the highest-priced insurance.
Indianapolis Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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