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
Joliet, Illinois is a city that sits on both sides of the Des Plaines River.
It is the third-largest city in the state and just 40 miles from downtown Chicago.
Joliet is part of the famed Route 66 corridor that went all the way to the West Coast and there’s more history to explore there, including an abandoned jail.
From games of family fun at Haunted Trails to games of chance at one of two local casinos, you can play all day and night.
One Joliet fun fact is that it was the original home to the popular restaurant chain Dairy Queen, first opening in 1940.
There’s an Old Town area that hosts a variety of shopping and entertainment in this historic district.
The city has grown east and west of the river, so you’ve got more to explore than ever before.
While much of the central part of the city is a dense suburban area with a touch of an urban feel, once you are south or west of Joliet you are in a more rural part of Illinois.
There are 20 hotels in Joliet spreading from the Des Plaines River and west to Minooka, where there are a few more hotels.
A couple of pronunciation notes here. Illinois is “Ill-in-oye” not “Ill-in-noise” and Des Plains is “Dess Plains” not “Dee Plains.”
Warnings & Dangers in Joliet
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here. Crime rates are lower than the national average in every category and property theft rates are well below the Illinois average.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You can take the Chicago area Metra, which is an extensive train network that spiders out from central Chicago to the surrounding areas. There's also an Amtrak train station there. Taxis and rideshares are available. There are commuter lots where you can park a car if you want to have both a car and public transportation options. All of these are low-risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Unlike some other cities that report data to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, Joliet doesn't give detailed data on thefts. I can tell you the theft rate is half the national average, so the chances of being pickpocketed are low. You definitely don't want to let your guard down anywhere in the Chicago area or suburbs.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
You're going to face some extreme winter weather, bitter cold temperatures, severe weather capable of producing tornadoes, and the occasional earthquake here. While few of these events are catastrophic and come with plenty of warning (aside from earthquakes), you can enjoy a low risk if you are prepared for the weather of a particular season.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were just 29 robberies in 2020, and without the detailed data there's no information about how many of those were in public spaces. What is slightly more concerning is the higher violent crime rate with 546 violent crimes reported in 2020.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The Chicago area is the third-largest in the country and will also be considered a hard target. With Joliet being so close, it's lumped in with that whole area. Homeland Security is well aware of the risk and takes extra steps to monitor Chicago and keep the area safe from cyber, biological, and weapons attacks.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There aren't any scams that specifically target tourists, but there are a lot of consumer scams focused on residents. If there is ever a request for you to buy gift cards to pay a fine or help someone with a seemingly "desperate" situation, that's the first sign of a scam.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women have a low risk when visiting here but should use caution after dark or if traveling alone. This is part of a greater metropolitan region with a gang and drug problem. All personal safety should be taken seriously day and night. Most of all, go with your gut. If something feels wrong or weird, walk or drive away.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There are no tap water violations from the 2021 Annual Water Quality Report. The utility is in the middle of replacing all water mains installed before the 1970s, as an effort to continue providing excellent quality water.
Safest Places to Visit in Joliet
The Joliet Area Historical Museum is a great place to start learning the backstory of this region.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday.
Add a trip to the Old Joliet Prison, where you can tour the grounds at your own pace and even see inside the old cells that once housed infamous criminals.
There are also docent lead tours.
Be sure to book in advance so tours are available during your stay.
If this looks familiar to you, that’s because it was used in the Blues Brothers movie.
Haunted Trails Family Center sounds like a place that is only open during the Halloween season, but it’s an indoor and outdoor amusement park open throughout the year.
There are go-karts, laser tag, mini-golf, rides, video games, and batting cages just to get you started.
The Hollywood Casino and Harrahs Casino are both open around the clock for adults 21 years and older.
There are slot and table games just like any Las Vegas casino.
You can place a bet at the sportsbook or visit the nightclub after dining at one of the many restaurants in the casinos.
For a unique night out, see if the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate is holding events while you are in town.
This stunning and somewhat intimidating building was built in 1873.
It hosts special events and weddings, but there are occasional matinee series of dinner events that can be themed or black tie.
No trip to Joliet is complete with a stop at the Route 66 Visitor’s Center.
You walk through the doors into a bygone era of Elvis on the radio and the top down on the convertible as people explored the main road that headed across the country.
You’ll leave with a sense of nostalgia.
To spend some time outdoors, visit the Forest Preserve District of Will County just south of Joliet.
There are trails for walking, running, or bicycling for all skill and endurance levels.
You can even rent a kayak or paddleboat when the weather is warm enough.
Places to Avoid in Joliet
Looking at the crime maps, you’ll find crime is highest along both sides of the river and spreads out east and west.
The closer you get to the west side of the city limits, the lower the crime goes.
Joliet can really be a hit-or-miss city with a crime.
You should stay on main surface roads and don’t try to take a detour through neighborhoods if you aren’t familiar with the area or riding with someone from Joliet.
The average home price here is less than $200,000, so you aren’t going to find neighborhoods with a historical stature that warrant driving around.
It’s more of a working-class community and has a deep history in steel manufacturing.
If you order pizza while you’re here, avoid complaining or even commenting on how thick the crust is if you don’t like it.
Chicagoans don’t kindly to people disrespecting their pizza.
Being from St. Louis, I’m a fan of our thin-crusted variety, so I just skip the pizza when I visit there.
Also, you’ll get funny looks if you order a hot dog that is any style but the Chicago way.
Whatever you do, avoid asking for or putting ketchup on a hot dog.
It’s an insult to vendors.
Truth be told, I LOVE ketchup on my hot dogs, so I just have to sneak a few packets and put it on out of sight of any judgy Chicago people.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Joliet
- One of the first things you should do is sign up for the Joliet Smart Message Community Alerts. This brings alerts from police, fire, and the city right to one spot on your mobile device.
- More than 500 cars were broken into in Joliet in 2021 and guess how many were unlocked when that happened? 88%!! Please lock your car doors here and, well, everywhere. In all my research, one of the top crimes in any community is theft from cars that were unlocked.
- The general number for the Joliet Police Department is (815) 724-3100. It’s good to save this number on your phone now in case you want to call and ask about crime trends or ask any other specific safety questions related to your trip.
- There are a lot of train crossings in Joliet. If you come across a malfunctioning signal, there is a blue and white sign on all crossings. Call the Emergency Notification System (ENS) number on the sign to report the issue. Don’t assume someone else will do it. This line is answered 24 hours a day.
- If you are using one of the commuter lots for parking to take public transportation, download the Passport Parking app. This will tell you about parking availability and allow you to pay for your parking right through your mobile device.
- When visiting the Forest Preserve, you can still call 911 for emergencies, but if you notice a non-urgent safety concern, call the Laraway Communications Center dispatch at (815)727-6191. Forest Preserves have their own police agency who will respond.
- Of all the things you can do on the water of the Forest Preserve, standup paddleboarding is not one of them. SUPs aren’t available for rent and you can’t bring your own. You have to be in a floating device with rims on it, like a boat or kayak.
- If you are visiting the Old Joliet Prison, you have a variety of tour options, from a haunted history tour to a guard’s tour to a basic tour. Do not try to climb the fence or enter outside of the main entrance. Any trespassers could find themselves in a real jail.
- If you are going to ride Metra during your time in Joliet, you should also save this number – (312)322-2800. That is the number for Metra Police.
- When booking a hotel, look for how close it is to a Metra line. There are certain federal requirements for all trains to blast the horn when approaching and going through public crossings. This is a non-negotiable part of being in a train town.
So... How Safe Is Joliet Really?
There are parts of what is sometimes called “Chicagoland” that are perfectly safe and others you shouldn’t even drive through at top speed in the middle of the day with the windows rolled up.
Joliet is more toward the safe side, but with enough criminal activity that you can’t let your guard down.
There were 546 violent crimes, which puts it just above the Illinois average but just below the national average.
The theft rate is far lower than the national average and property crimes as a whole are lower than state and national averages.
The far west end of Joliet is by far the safest.
The closer to a river or railroad tracks, the more risk you will find.
When you’re leaving the casino, you should keep your keys in your hand and head on a swivel.
If you have won money and are walking out with a load of cash, you can ask security to escort you to your car.
That goes for any casino you ever visit.
How Does Joliet Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
- Visas - You just need to show the Visa when you are at your final stop in the U.S. and getting ready to leave the airport. You will have to go through Customs and will need to show a Visa and Passport.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and it's best to keep all cash in the bank. With so many mobile pay options and the widely accepted use of credit cards, cash is rather unnecessary.
- Weather - The Chicago area feels like two different cities in each season. Winter is brutal with a lot of lake-effect snow from Lake Michigan (but just call it "The Lake" when you visit.) Spring brings a huge St. Patrick's Day party. Summer is warm, albeit a bit humid, but there is a beach on "The Lake", so bring a bathing suit. Fall brings a nice respite from the summer humidity and there are a lot of great activities. Dress for the season and bring warm layers in the winter.
- Airports - Chicago has two airports, Midway and O'Hare. Both are less than an hour away. O'Hare is the bigger and much busier of the two.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea for a trip to Joliet and make sure you are clear about what kind of coverage you get for flight delays, cancellation, and lost baggage. Check your airline's policy about covering lost baggage as well.
Joliet Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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2 Reviews on Joliet
While the author gives a very good all around summary of Joliet, there’s a few things to clarify. Most people will visit Joliet because of the racetracks, Route 66 Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway, or to see a show at the Rialto Square Theatre. There is also a minor league baseball team called the Slammers. But the biggest misconception about Chicago is that we eat deep dish pizza. Most Chicagoans only have it for a special occasion. Throughout Chicago and the suburbs, we eat round thin crust pizza that is cut into square pieces. It’s technically called tavern style but we just call it pizza.
Joliet is a rather run down city, similar to other Illinois cities such as Peoria, Kankakee, and Decatur that have seen their better days. Much better to stay in a nicer suburb if you have to visit Joliet.
(I live about ten miles away in Plainfield.)