How Safe Is Kansas City for Travel?

Updated On October 9, 2022
Kansas City, United States
Safety Index:
39
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
76
* Rated 76 / 100 based on 16 user reviews.

Kansas City, Missouri, is a twin city on the other side of the state line from Kansas City, Kansas.

To better discuss the two, we can use their nicknames KCMO (Kansas City, Missouri) and KCK (Kansas City, Kansas).

Together, the metro area has nearly 2.4 million people, but KCMO is home to 508,000 of those.

The cities (and states) are split by the Missouri River, which forms the state boundary.

North Kansas City is a separate city just north of KCMO.

Without Kansas City, the world might never have known about the creative mind of Walt Disney.

An initiative called Thank You Walt Disney is underway to preserve the history and influence Kansas City had on the man who brought the world of Disney to our daily lives.

Here you can take part in the great American barbecue war, which is really just a personal preference, but we like to make a big deal about it.

Kansas City Barbecue is known for its signature sauce that is thick, sweet, and poured on meat that’s been dry-rubbed and slow-cooked.

It’s a style so popular that Kansas is known as the Barbecue Capital of the World.

On both sides of the state line, Midwestern values reign, and the Chiefs might as well be the best football team ever created.

The Kansas City Royals MLB team brings in big crowds too.

I grew up across the state in St. Louis, so we’re sports rivals with KC.

It’s really important when visiting this area to make sure you know WHICH Kansas City is being referred to, so always look for the MO or KS after the address.

Warnings & Dangers in Kansas City

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM

There's a medium to high risk in KCMO. The crime rates are exponentially higher than the national average based on recently released 2021 crime data. While there are pockets of the city to avoid and places that are safe, we'll investigate all the different options and statistics.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Ride KC offers fixed-route, express, and streetcars to get around the greater Kansas City region. It spans both states and offers easy routes no matter where you want to go. Taxis, rideshares, and rental cars are also available.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

Of the 14,000 thefts in Kansas City in 2021, just 55 were pickpockets or purse snatchings. It's technically a low risk, but treat it as a medium risk because it's just too easy to get distracted and make yourself a potential target.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

There's a medium risk here as KCMO gets storms throughout the year. Winter can be just as dangerous as summer, but there are also years you get mild seasons, and you'd never guess it's a disaster-prone area. You should also watch out for river flooding during periods of heavy rain.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM

The robbery rate is three times the national average, so there's another medium risk. Limit your exposure by not carrying around a large, dangling purse or wearing expensive jewelry.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM

It's a major metro area, so yeah, there's medium risk. There's also law enforcement presence with Homeland Security support on both sides of the river.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

If you're looking to buy tickets to a sporting event, avoid buying them on third-party websites. I know you want a good deal, but a deal that is too good to be true usually is. You might even pay full price for tickets that aren't valid. Other than that, most scams are focused on residents.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM

Women have the same medium risk as men. The sexual assault rate is just more than twice the national average. This isn't a city to walk around alone at night, and you should always give your full attention to walking and situational awareness. Leave the headphones at the hotel.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance with state and federal standards and gives in-depth explanations of where the water comes from and how it's treated. The only concern in this part of the country is lead in the water, which usually comes from aging pipes, not the treatment process.

Safest Places to Visit in Kansas City

VisitKC.com is the official tourism website for the region.

Note the word “region” because it includes KCMO, KCK, Johnson County, and all the other suburban cities.

If I get through this article without ordering BBQ, it will be a miracle.

While you really can’t go wrong with any barbecue, I’m going to avoid my own recommendations and let Kansas City Magazine take the blame/credit.

Their top three BBQ locations in KCMO (not a suburb or across state lines) are:

  • Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue
  • Big T’s Bar B Q
  • Gates Bar-B-Q

There’s an app called KC’s Barbecue Experience where you can see all the options available and earn badges along the way.

I can’t stress enough how much you should try the Burnt Ends at any place you visit.

Now that you’re full let’s go explore the museums of Kansas City.

You can find something for all your interests, from history to sports to art:

  • National WWI Museum and Memorial
  • Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
  • College Basketball Experience (with the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame inside)
  • American Jazz Museum
  • National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
  • National Airline History Museum
  • The Money Museum
  • Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

Country Club Plaza, referred to as “The Plaza,” is a midtown shopping and dining destination.

It combines a laid-back vibe with elegance seamlessly.

If you get a chance to be here for the Christmas lights, you won’t regret it.

While you have various restaurant options here, it’s a great place to try a Kansas City steak.

Crown Plaza downtown is outside the headquarters of Hallmark and gives that “Hallmark Movie” vibe.

Stop by the Hallmark Visitor’s Center, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, and SEA LIFE aquarium.

It’s touted as a “City Within A City,” so this could be a good location for booking your hotel.

Visit the KC Film Office to schedule a Film History Tour or a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Season 3 tour.

You’ll be amazed at how much Hollywood history is nestled here in the middle of the Midwest.

Places to Avoid in Kansas City

There are a lot of places that light up as high crime areas on crime distribution maps!

In general, east of Highway 71 and south of Independence Avenue are home to the highest crime rates.

Any neighborhood with Marlborough in the name should be avoided, Knoches Park too.

Swope Park is near the Zoo, but the neighborhood itself isn’t too safe.

Just go to the zoo and then leave the area on major streets or interstates.

There aren’t any crime rashes at the zoo, but be sure to lock the car door when you park.

I really can’t stress this one enough – know which Kansas City you are booking a hotel in and double-check before finalizing the purchase.

The Kansas City Marriott could be one of many locations on both sides of the state line.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Kansas City

  1. I was able to pinpoint some of those dangerous neighborhoods by looking at the KCMO Police Department’s interactive crime map. It’s a great tool to see crime trends closer to your visit. I would recommend searching the crimes of robbery (look for strong-armed or armed street incidents), vehicle thefts, thefts from vehicles, homicide, and aggravated assault. Don’t click on just “thefts” because that will overwhelm the map.
  2. You can add this number to your phone directory to get the police department information line – (816)234-5000. Each area has its own patrol division, and there are two community interaction officers.
  3. The Police Department posts an annual report each year where you can read crime details, challenges, and successes. The website has two sites that claim to be for annual reports, but you want the one under the MEDIA tab, as it is the most updated.
  4. The Greater KC Crime Stoppers program covers the entire metro area. If you have information about a crime that already happened, call (816)474-8477. You can remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward. If there is a crime in progress, always call 911. There is also a form on the police department’s website where you can report suspected drug activity without putting in any personal information.
  5. Look for the Crime Prevention Handbook on the police department’s website too. It’s an extensive list of every type of crime and best safety practices.
  6. If you are on one of the main roads (not interstates) between KCMO and KCK, don’t be surprised if the street name changes. This is quite common (and poor planning, if you ask me). For example, West Bannister Road in KCMO turns into W 95th Street if you cross into KCK. Yet, just south of there, 103rd Street keeps the name as you go across the state line.
  7. Keep up with traffic by downloading the KC Scout app. You can see real-time traffic information, construction zones, and accidents. It covers the entire KC metro area.
  8. For those enjoying the nightlife in KCMO, you can take the free streetcar to get around, but it does stop service at midnight. Some bars are open past that. Make sure you have a rideshare or other way to get home. Don’t walk back to your hotel that late at night.
  9. Looking to save money and avoid pulling out your wallet in KC? Sign up for KC Savings through the tourism website. You can get hotel, shopping, parking, and restaurant discounts. The pass is free to everyone as a way for KCMO to introduce you to “The New Midwest.”
  10. Do not attempt to swim in the Missouri River. It’s muddy, swift, and full of debris. Then there’s the water quality issue, assuming you get past all those other challenges.

So... How Safe Is Kansas City Really?

The violent crime rate is more than three and a half times the national average.

That’s enough to convince some people it’s REALLY not that safe.

Perspective is important, however.

As I mentioned, I’m from St. Louis, and I laugh when I think that Kansas City is “SO DANGEROUS.”

That’s not to make light of crime at all, it’s just that St. Louis is a pretty dangerous city (and larger).

KCMO and St. Louis are always near each other on the “Most Dangerous Cities” list.

You’re doing the right thing by researching this because I can’t tell you the awesome things you’d miss if you were scared off by crime numbers.

It’s knowing what parts to explore, what parts to avoid, what’s safe day vs. night, etc.

Just 19% of the violent crimes were against strangers, and 55% of violent crimes happen in homes.

That’s enough to lower the risk for a tourist without making them nonchalant about the inherent risks.

30% of highway robberies are in public places, which lowers the risk of a person being robbed vs. a business.

On a somewhat positive note, the robbery rate is down 64% since five years ago, so there is progress being made.

You just have to see the forest through the trees.

Treat this city as you would any major metro area.

Stay in the entertainment districts and avoid dangerous neighborhoods.

It can be that easy, along with situational awareness, common sense, and standard safety practices.

How Does Kansas City Compare?

CitySafety Index
Kansas City39
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Boston67
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

A U.S. Travel or Work Visa is required to enter through Customs. You can also check the State Department's website to see if you qualify for a Visa Waiver. You can travel freely between KCK and KCMO without having to show proof of your visa.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted throughout the metro area and both Kansas and Missouri. You can exchange currency at many banks and through airport services. Avoid using a public ATM to get cash if you can.

Weather

Weather

There are all four seasons here, so dress for the season, but don't be surprised if the weather changes. Midwestern weather is notorious for its fluctuations. One day might feel like spring, and the next day you're in bone-chilling cold. Summers will be hot and humid, so don't wear clothing that can't have sweat stains washed out.

Airports

Airports

Kansas City International Airport (KCI) is on the far north side of town on the Missouri side. Plan 30 minutes for travel time, but check traffic maps to see if there are delays during rush hours.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

It's smart to protect your travel investment and your belongings with travel insurance. Make sure you know how severe weather or snowstorm delays will impact rescheduling or refunding flights.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Kansas City Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -1° C
Feb 1° C
Mar 8° C
Apr 14° C
May 19° C
Jun 24° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 26° C
Sep 22° C
Oct 15° C
Nov 7° C
Dec 1° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
461319242932312720126
Low
°C
-6-428131922211692-4
High
°F
394355667584908881685443
Low
°F
212536465566727061483625

Missouri - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Blue Springs82
Boonville83
Branson70
Cape Girardeau72
Carthage80
Chesterfield78
Clayton72
Creve Coeur78
Fenton72
Ferguson43
Frontenac72
Hannibal76
Independence74
Jefferson City75
Jennings31
Joplin53
Kansas City39
Kirksville72
Kirkwood77
Lee’s Summit78
Maryland Heights79
Mehlville73
New Madrid84
Poplar Bluff57
Rolla58
Springfield62
St. Charles79
St. Joseph47
St. Louis58
Ste. Genevieve83

Where to Next?

16 Reviews on Kansas City

  1. KC resident

    As a Kansas City resident, I believe KC to be similar to other cities in terms of safety. There are areas that you avoid, but overall, I feel very safe going places. Over the past 20 years, downtown has been transformed from a place that emptied out on weekends to a destination for tourists and residents alike. We have world class restaurants, art museums and cultural venues. You can get almost anywhere in forty minutes without the hectic traffic prevalent in other, larger cities. The cost of living is low and the suburban school districts are excellent. I moved here 22 years ago and love the city and all it has to offer.

  2. G
    Gary Shafer says:

    Safty is not a problem its just being over taxed

    I love Kansas City and have lived here for over 35 years, but what I do not like is the jackson county assessment on homes, It has made it unrealistic to own a home here because the taxes are totally unresonable.
    If I had known how bad this was I would have not purchased a home here and bought a home in overland park Kansas Instead. When I am ready to retire I will have to move out of this crazy town.

  3. I’ve been a KC native my entire life and my parents and grandparents before them. And to tell you the truth, my grandparents moved her from the south in the 60’d because KC was diverse, with out racism. This comment “
    There are shootouts at the bars, high-way shooters and white supremacists planning terrorist attacks on synagogues, mosques or just shooting up people that don’t look white.“ is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS, and clearly from a writer who is only read the news and not experienced a beautiful city. Don’t state out past 1am in any city or your asking for trouble.

  4. S TOWN STAND UP

    KC is terrifying brah. I’d rather walk around Mogadishu Somalia at night trying to pick up hookers than visit the Power & Light district after 7 PM

    1. Wrong

      You must have had one bad experience because I have lived in KC my entire life and nothing bad has happened to me nor have I seen something happen to another person like always stay safe after dark, but your analogy is ridiculous!

  5. E
    Ebenezer Wiggins says:

    Truth

    KC is quite safe unless you are MU fan and forget to breathe. However, that could happen anywhere.

  6. h
    hawkdogger says:

    Kansas City is generally safe, except when the cattle trains come into town and the cowboys go crazy. Lots of six guns and arm wrestling when that happens. Indian raids are always a risk, but increasingly rare, especially in cold weather. White Supremacists can be warded off by giving them the white salute if cornered, which involves placing your hand over your heart and yelling “Sucotash” loudly. Beware the hinterlands, which are plagued by roaming bands of suburban youth gangs, such as the Leawood Gourmands, the Overland Park Nantucket Reds, and the MIssion Hills Gucci Guys. They are recognizable by the fashion neckwear they sport. Also, US currency is no longer acceptable in most areas of KC, which now take only bitcoin, barbecue, or swiss francs. Good luck.

    1. Hilarious

      Love this! LOL!

    2. The one who said that white supremacist (whatever that means) is crazy. KC is a safe and beautiful city

    3. LOL!

      Wow, I think this account of KC is actually more accurate than the article! Awesome!!!

  7. L
    Lifelong says:

    What? Are you talking about?

    Don,t have a clue what this reviewer is talking about. No white supremacists running around. Been hanging in bars 40 years no shootouts yet, not been shot at while driving either. Admittedly some places in southeast I would not go too. But if you are a tourist and do tourist type things you are fine. Who ever wrote the bullshit has no clue…… He or she is a dumbass

  8. FREINDLY BLACKS

    Took the Bus in KC as a Visitor Black Bus Driver friendly, so was Black Passengers.

    Great way to see the City !

  9. Love Living in KC

    Like every big city, KC is diverse and complicated. In some parts, like City Market, the diversity shines and people from many different backgrounds come together to shop, sell, and experience each other’s culture in a positive, fun, and engaging way. In some other places, not so much. Unlike what “Lifelong” stated yes there are plenty of bigots’ and depending on your skin color you could have problems with law enforcement. But the museums, West Bottom’s antiques, restaurants, shops are great. It’s pretty easy to get around. Don’t forget to check out the Kansas City Speedway across the river in KC Kansas (also where Sporting KC, the soccer team, plays). Lots more shops and restaurants. My wife and I love living in KC (I’m from Colorado and she’s from Texas). Safety is average for an American big city, but well worth the visit.

  10. J
    Jay plumber says:

    Kansas City Meh

    The people that grow up in Kansas City love it, but I lived there for five years and I thought it was absolutely meh. The City is okay, not impressive but some nice things to do, generally overpriced. The people were just a bunch of angry libs and spoiled kids, especially on the Kansas side, not to mention having a huge chip on their shoulders. Compared to other bigger Cities its very overrated. It is fun to watch your favorite baseball team go there and destroy the royals. BTW any mention of St. Louis and you’ll find that they have a general unsolicited hate or disdain for the STL, you’ve been warned. The BBQ and the Mexican food is great, most other cuisines weren’t too good besides a small handful of mom and pop restaurants. I would rate it a 4/10. Just about anything in this town can be found in other cities and done better, stop at one of those cities instead. Bottom line if you’re Liberal and you’re tired of bigger cities you’ll probably love it, everyone else its not worth your time.

  11. A
    Aries McGee says:

    Genuine

    Having spent time in Pella, I can confirm it’s a safe and welcoming town. The picturesque surroundings and the genuine hospitality of the locals contribute to a pleasant visit.

  12. E
    Emery Lamb says:

    Relaxed and safe

    I appreciate hearing honest perspectives on KC’s safety. I was surprised during my visit, a peaceful and secure town that’s perfect for a relaxed getaway.

Kansas City Rated 3.81 / 5 based on 16 user reviews.

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