How Safe Is Jacksonville for Travel?

Jacksonville, United States
Safety Index:
41

Jacksonville, Florida, sits in the state’s northeast corner along the stretch of shore known as the First Coast.

You will also see Jacksonville referred to as Jax, and not just because of the airport code.

This city is nearing a million people along major interstates to get you going in any direction

Its location for travelers is ideal, and it’s a huge shipping port with deep water to take in the massive ships.

Nearby Jacksonville Beach, or Jax Beach as locals call it, might as well be a world away with its laid-back beach vibe, while Jacksonville – the city – is an urban metropolis all its own.

You’ll have to be okay crossing bridges because Jacksonville has a lot of them.

On my first trip there, I was so scared of bridges in general, and I finally got so used to them that the fears melted away.

The waterways provide a lot of fishing, boating, and ocean life viewing for visitors and residents.

Jax has a large urban park system, too, the largest in America, covering 80,000 acres.

You can’t beat the temperatures here as you escape the bitter cold, but get a slightly cooler summer than down south in Miami.

This is also a diverse town, bringing many cultural festivals and a wide range of dining options.

You can get the classic Southern home-cooked meal, fresh seafood, Asian buffets, or Mexican restaurants just to scratch the surface.

It’s also a big brewery town, so plenty of cold ones are waiting for your arrival.

Warnings & Dangers in Jacksonville

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium risk in Jacksonville. The sensational nickname calls it "The Murder Capital of Florida" due to a high homicide rate. The medium risk really only pertains to certain areas, but with the number of violent crimes, it's worth treating the whole city as a medium risk so that you can prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) provides an extensive fixed-route bus system for the area. Taxis and rideshares are available and rental cars are plentiful. You can also use St. John River Taxi to get around by water. The JTA Skyway is a free option for many popular places downtown. All options come with low risk, but keep situational awareness at bus stops and on buses. Don't be distracted by headphones or your mobile device.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

86 pickpockets were reported in 2020, making it less than one per week. In a city of 949,000 people, that's a low risk according to the raw numbers. Don't let that give you a false sense of safety. In any major city, bring only what you need when you're in public and keep wallets and purses out of sight.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Hurricanes can be dangerous from June through November. Keep an eye on the tropics if you are visiting during this time. Even Hurricane Ian, which moved through in September 2022, crossed the state and caused a lot of flooding problems in the city. Flash flooding after rain is common in a city with so many waterways, and summer thunderstorms are as sure as the sun rising in the east.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

The robbery rate is 20% higher than the national average. That's not a big leap, but enough to keep a medium risk due to the higher crime rates in aggravated assaults and homicides. If you are approached by a robber, don't fight back. Just follow instructions and make it a goal to escape alive.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

The large population, massive port, and military presence make it a potential target. There's a medium risk here, but that risk also brings a large presence of Homeland Security and Border Patrol.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

There aren't any tourist-focused scams in Jacksonville, but Florida ranks among the top states for fraud. Scammers are much more likely to target senior citizens in Florida. Always beware of any service or deal that seems too good to be true. Never buy a gift card if someone you don't know is pressuring you to do so.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Women have the same medium risk as men. Nothing in the crime data suggests they are at a higher risk. Follow the same guidance as you would in any big city. Don't walk around at night alone, and always try to travel in a group or with a buddy.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The 2021 Water Report is available for download or from City Hall if you want to review it. The report shows full compliance for the year. There's a low risk, but if a hurricane or tropical storm has hit, or there has been heavy rainfall, check with the city for quality alerts or boil orders.

Safest Places to Visit in Jacksonville

VisitJacksonville.com is the official tourism website for the city.

Download the Visit JAX app to get all the information from the tourism bureau in the palm of your hand.

**NOTE: We are sticking to Jacksonville attractions here. If you want to see information about JAX Beach, St. Augustine, or Amelia Island, please see our other stories about those fine places to visit.

With so much to see and do in Jacksonville, a good way to save time and money is to go on a tour.

Tuk’n is a company that offers a wide range of tours – historical, public art, architecture, downtown, breweries, and a progressive dinner tour where you can sample food and drinks from four different restaurants.

Fort Caroline National Memorial is a place where, as the park service says, “Remember the failed French colony.”

The short-lived French occupancy of this fort is told through historical artifacts and occasionally reenactments.

There’s also plenty of hiking and wildlife viewing here too.

The Kingsley Plantation is the oldest home in Jacksonville, and it’s located inside the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

You can view the estate and slave cabins on the property while learning about this region’s storied past.

There’s a really unique story surrounding this plantation, and I don’t want to give it away, but it’s definitely worth the visit.

The Ritz Theatre and Museum was once a movie theater for African Americans and now stands as a testament and memoir of the strong spirit found within this diverse community across Jacksonville and Florida.

Check the schedule as there’s a new movie showing each week.

If you want to see animals, you have several choices in Jax;

  • Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens
  • Catty Shack Ranch
  • Museum of Science and History
  • Tree Hill Nature Center

You can also hop aboard a boat to tour everything from the waterways of downtown to the wide open ocean for deep-sea fishing.

While some boats leave from the beaches, you do have plenty of launch options in Jacksonville.

Places to Avoid in Jacksonville

There are rather dangerous neighborhoods south of I-10 and northside near Moncrief Park, Grand Park, and 29th & Chase (That’s not an intersection.

It’s the name of the neighborhood.)

Most of the neighborhoods with high crime rates are not places a tourist will end up anyway.

You will likely go to Jacksonville for one of three things – the downtown, the boating, or the beaches.

If you stick to those three things and use common sense, you’ll be fine.

I’ve visited Jacksonville many times, but I always stayed at the beach.

There I felt safe walking the beach at sunrise each day and met some of the nicest people.

As big as Jacksonville is, there are a lot of residential areas with some cool attractions around the water and the different downtown districts.

Avoid Jacksonville if there is active tropical weather.

Even a hurricane on the west side of the state, like Hurricane Ian, can move across the state with hurricane power and cause flooding and power outages.

It’s not worth it to be in a hurricane-ravaged area, no matter how many Floridians choose to stay during storms.

Up to a week before a storm, evacuations can start, and businesses can begin closing.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Jacksonville

  1. JaxReady.com is the emergency management website for the region. Here you can learn about all the safety steps during severe or tropical weather. You’ll be able to sign up for emergency alerts, which is a must when visiting this region.
  2. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department has an updated and interactive crime mapping system. You can search for a certain address and look for different types of crime in a certain time period. For example, you might want to know how many car break-ins happened around your hotel in a one-mile radius.
  3. Each part of Jacksonville is in a police zone. You should check to see which zone you are in so you can call or stop by the appropriate office when you get there. This is a great way to meet officers and learn about the latest safety concerns.
  4. If you have information about a crime or witnessed an incident, you can report it to First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866)845-8477. You can also email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.
  5. For those driving in Jacksonville, if you get into an accident with no injuries, less than $500 in damage, and every driver stays at the scene, you can report the accident online without calling a police officer. You are required to report any accident within 10 days, and you can do so at the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle website.
  6. You’ll need a Florida saltwater fishing license if you want to catch fish here. If you plan to go to a freshwater lake or river, you’ll need a separate license for that. Check out the Florida Wildlife Commission for information about license costs and requirements.
  7. Wondering if there are alligators in Jacksonville? There are, but not as many as you’d find in Tampa or Sarasota. Urban alligators are generally pushed into the tributaries of rivers, away from the saltwater. Alligator hunters and poachers have also limited the number of these predators in the region. While you should always assume freshwater bodies have alligators in them, there’s a slightly less chance that communities are more rural or further south.
  8. Traffic in northeast Florida is a beast all of its own, so the Department of Transportation has a website just for traffic there. It’s northeastfloridatraffic.com. There are some toll roads around Jacksonville, so check out that information on the traffic website too. If you’re renting a car, ask if there is a Sunpass device in it so you can breeze through the toll booths.
  9. When you’re looking for directions, check out JaxRiverTaxi.com to see where the water taxi stops are. You might be able to get a good parking spot and then a water taxi to the busier location. Extended hours happen during major sporting events or big festivals.
  10. If you want to eat fresh seafood, this is the place for you. Before you order, check out the Florida Health Department fish advisories. Search by county and location to see any warnings about the fish in the water. For example, as I’m writing this, I see an advisory about weakfish from St. Johns River demanding the fish not be eaten because of contaminants.

So... How Safe Is Jacksonville Really?

Jacksonville is a big city with big city crime issues.

The majority of the especially violent and tragic crimes are in certain neighborhoods among people who know each other.

It can be fueled by a gang and drug activity and poor community engagement with the police force.

Unfortunately, it’s the poverty-stricken areas that see this increase in crime.

For all the talk of the “Murder Capital of Florida,” you’ll likely only see that on the local news.

The things a tourist should worry about involve locking car doors and keeping the vehicle secure, since 35% of the nearly 19,000 thefts were car break-ins.

One statistic that jumped out at me was this; of the 928 robberies in 2020, 75% of them happened in public places.

As you would in any large city, avoid an area or group of people that seem suspicious to you.

Never get into a road rage argument or honk at people for no reason.

Another concern is that Jacksonville ranks as the 6th Most Dangerous City for Pedestrians.

In 2021, there were 492 pedestrian crashes and 45 pedestrian deaths in Duval County, where Jacksonville is located.

Even if you have the right-of-way, make sure other drivers see you before crossing a street, and NEVER cross a street outside of a crosswalk.

How Does Jacksonville Compare?

CitySafety Index
Jacksonville41
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37

Useful Information

  • Visas - You need a U.S. Travel or Work Visa to visit Jacksonville from outside the country. A valid passport is also required. Check with the U.S. State Department to see if your country allows Visa Waivers.
  • Currency - In Jax and all of Florida, you can only use the U.S. Dollar. As this is such an urban area, there's nothing that will require cash. You can use credit cards or mobile payments for everything. It's a lot safer to avoid carrying cash anyway.
  • Weather - Bring some sweatshirts or jackets in the winter, but you won't need a thick coat. It does get much colder than Miami here, but it's not enough to warrant full winter outerwear. The rest of the year, you'll go from warm to hot and have a lot of humidity. Bring bug spray and plenty of sunscreen. If you are a surfer, bring a wetsuit because the ocean water can be cold in winter and early spring.
  • Airports - Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) is on the far north side of the city, about 30 minutes from downtown. If you are traveling during rush hour, give yourself 15-30 extra minutes.
  • Travel Insurance - You should examine options for travel insurance to protect your flight investment, rental car, baggage, and health. Even a jellyfish sting could be bad enough to send you to urgent care, and you don't want to see U.S. prices for out-of-pocket treatments.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Jacksonville Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 14° C
Feb 15° C
Mar 18° C
Apr 21° C
May 25° C
Jun 28° C
Jul 29° C
Aug 29° C
Sep 27° C
Oct 23° C
Nov 18° C
Dec 15° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
192024273032333331282320
Low
°C
891215192324242318139
High
°F
666875818690919188827368
Low
°F
464854596673757573645548

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