Minnesota : Safety by City
- Brooklyn Park
- Detroit Lakes
- Fergus Falls
- Grand Marais
- Grand Portage
- International Falls
- Maple Grove
- New Ulm
- Red Wing
- St. Cloud
- St. Paul
- Two Harbors
Mankato sits just an hour southwest of Minneapolis in the state’s southern region, where the Minnesota and Blue Earth rivers meet.
In fact, were it not for a typo, the city would be known as Mahkato.
The misspelling was never corrected, and it’s not as uncommon as you might think.
The same thing happened in Norfolk, Nebraska, which was supposed to be Norfork.
Spelling errors aside, Mankato became a popular industrial hub from its inception in 1852 and has been a thriving town since.
With 45,000 residents, this city is urban enough to have a vibrant downtown and rural enough to include parks and river activities without needing to fill up your gas tank.
In fact, you can have a craft beer and see a bison within five miles of each other.
Little House on the Prairie fans might recognize the name as the place where “Pa” made trips to the “city.”
Laura Ingalls’s childhood home in Walnut Grove is just 90 miles east, and just like the TV series, you’ll drive through good ole Sleepy Eye to get there.
Mankato (“Man-KAYE-toe”) has a strong footprint of Native American culture, which is rooted in tension and tragedy.
The nation’s largest mass execution was held here after the Dakota War of 1862, and the surviving tribal members were forced out of the state.
In 2019, the Minnesota governor apologized for “150 years of trauma inflicted on Native people.”
The solemn history here is enshrined in memorials and historical markers.
The lessons of the past remind us all to strive for a more inclusive and diverse community, and that is evident in modern day Mankato.
Warnings & Dangers in Mankato
OVERALL RISK : LOW
While there's a low overall risk in Mankato, that means there's an average risk in this case. We do have new crime data from the city for 2022, which gives us a better look at new trends. The city also offers many things to do, but it's definitely not one of those small towns where people leave their doors unlocked at night.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Mankato has a transit system that goes between the major destinations, like the university, mall, and downtown. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find. Rental cars are also available. All options are low risk, but having your own car would be preferable.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Recent crime data shows the risk is low, with just a handful of pickpockets reported over the past few years. The city has seen serial pickpockets in the past, so you should let a low risk mean you let go of those smart safety steps to protect your stuff.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The city faces risks throughout the year, so treat it with a medium risk. You need to stay weather aware. Severe thunderstorms capable of producing large hail, intense lighting, and tornadoes as possible from spring through fall, with spring being known as "tornado season." In April 2022, a storm brought hail the size of bottle caps to Mankato. Winter brings intense snow, wind, and ice, which is standard for any Upper Midwest city.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Robberies were down 41% from 2021 to 2022, giving the city a robbery rate nearly three times lower than the national average. You should be smart and avoid walking around at night alone.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The large-scale concerns here are much more about the weather than terrorism. It's a small enough town that it wouldn't be a hard target, but it's also big enough that Lone Wolf acts wouldn't be unheard of.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Mankato has seen a rise in social media scams, and it's something tourists should be aware of. The scam works like this - an attention-grabbing post, like a lost dog or missing child, is given a Mankato hashtag. People share it en masse. Later, scammers change the post information to spam links that can take personal information. You don't want to put your social friends at risk of being scammed, so don't share information unless it comes from a legitimate government or organization account.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women face the same average risk as anyone else and shouldn't feel comfortable enough walking around the town at night alone. Use the buddy system and always have security escort you to your car if you're out late at night. Winter temperatures can also be dangerously cold, so dress appropriately if you'll be bar hopping. At times, hypothermia or frostbite can set in within minutes.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance. I also give bonus points to any utility company that gets in front of concerning questions, like "Why are there particles in my ice?" or "What is the pink film in my toilet?" While usually, these items can be easily explained, it's helpful when the utility just addresses it ahead of time. You can get all those answers and more on the Water Quality Report section of the city's website.
Safest Places to Visit in Mankato
You have so many great options to research Mankato on secure websites.
Visit Greater Mankato covers the region.
City Center Mankato details the downtown area.
Old Town Mankato MN focuses on the older part of the city but is conveniently located next to downtown.
You can also use the Explore Minnesota website and look at the Southern Minnesota section to research cities in this region.
The bulk of hotels in Mankato is near River Hills Mall on the eastern side of the city.
There are a handful of hotels downtown.
Across the Minnesota River in North Mankato (a separate city), you’ll find a few more places to stay.
Downtown offers as much entertainment, shopping, and dining as it does history, nature, and architecture.
Download the walking tour map to guide yourself to your preferred spots.
This area also has many events throughout the year, like a happy hour event oddly named “Alive After 5” (was there any doubt?) and holiday celebrations.
You can also get a map of the U.S./Dakota Conflict of 1862 historical points.
Reconciliation Park is also between the river and downtown, with some somber and commemorative artwork.
Plan for some extra time here, as the story behind the park’s name is quite unsettling.
For more history, visit the Blue Earth County Historical Society Center & Museum and the Historic R.D. Hubbard House.
The museum is appropriate for children and adults, but you can review the latest exhibits before you go.
Again, the story of the massacre is a terrible moment in history, but the museum does a good job of not ignoring the tragedy while not sensationalizing it either.
Old Town Mankato is full of artsy and eclectic spaces with a good dose of history as well.
Don’t miss the silos painted with stunning art.
Old Town has nearly a dozen murals that make great Instagram moments.
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is another great family-friendly location with plenty of play spaces that invigorate and inspire the imagination.
More than a dozen exhibits take you through the treetops to river bottoms to a butterfly garden.
Sibley Park is just west of the museum and includes Sibley Farm, where a petting zoo allows for interaction with alpacas, goats, peacocks, and horses.
Campsites are available here as well.
Follow the Minnesota River west to Minneopa State Park, where several dozen bison herd around the park.
When you’re on Bison Drive Road, you can use the car’s radio to get a pre-recorded educational lesson about bison.
Pay special attention here to the roads where you can get out and hike and those that require you to stay in your car.
You don’t want to come face to face with a mad bison.
Places to Avoid in Mankato
Mankato is sort of stuck in the middle between “too small to have dangerous neighborhoods” and “too big just to wander wherever you want.”
Stay on the main roads and highways to get around and avoid taking shortcuts through a neighborhood.
If a part of town is underserved, you’ll be able to tell quickly.
The city does have a 22% poverty rate, so you might notice rundown communities or some blight, along with panhandlers.
It’s just very apparent here where it is safe and where it’s welcoming.
The area near the university will be rowdier, as it’s the college crowd.
That also could mean more interactions with drunk people or loud noise from house parties.
Not a place to avoid, just to be aware it’s a large university once ranked as a top party school.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Mankato
- Mankato has its own police department, and you can find monthly crime statistics on its website under “Public Safety Data and Policies.” This is a great way to see newer crime trends since “official” data is only reported to the FBI once a year.
- Remember that Mankato and North Mankato are separate cities with separate police departments. Follow the Mankato PD on Facebook @Mankato-Police-Department, but you’ll only find North Mankato PD on Twitter @NorthMankatoMN. Social media for Manaketo PD isn’t as updated as the city’s page, which is @CityofMankato.
- Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 lakes, but not every body of water you see is one of them. Mankato has a lot of water holes that are “stormwater ponds.” These are designed to prevent flooding so that stormwater can gather, but they are also ripe with toxins, bacteria, and debris after a storm. Only use designated city lakes for swimming or ice skating, as can be found on the parks and recreation website.
- Winter visitors should be aware of a Snow Emergency, meaning parking rules will change on all city streets. Keep it simple by not parking on any city street if snow is forecasted. You can be ticketed or towed if you’re on the street during a snow emergency. Worse yet, you could be hit by a snowplow. You can get text alerts about snow emergencies by sending START to 507-200-3003. There is also the 24-hour Snow Emergency Hotline – (507)387-9001
- Sign up for CodeRED alerts through the emergency management website, and you’ll get advance notice about any approaching storm risk throughout the year. These alerts are critical to planning your day and seeking shelter when necessary.
- If you’re visiting a Mankato city park between October 15 and April 15, use the restroom before you go. The water is shut off during those months to prevent frozen pipe breaks. You won’t be able to flush or wash your hands, so plan ahead of time.
- Use the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website to check the water quality of local lakes and rivers. The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also posts daily River Levels so that you can get a better idea of currents and other risks. While you’re there, look for the Fish Consumption Guidance for the rivers and lakes. This information tells you what fish have consumption risks and safe portion sizes.
- Use MN 511 to keep track of road conditions, traffic, and construction projects. In the winter, a snowstorm can shut down long stretches of highway – including major interstates. You should never try to “beat the storm” by leaving ahead of a front. You’ll be able to look at live cameras on the 511 MN app to see just how treacherous those roads can be.
- Use the 311 Mankato mobile app to connect with the city during your trip. This also provides a direct and fast line of communication to report issues like potholes, storm damage, or sidewalks covered in snow or ice. As a bonus, you’ll also get an interactive bike path map.
- Check the Water Main Flushing section of the city’s website, just to be safe. The water mains throughout the city are flushed twice a year, with five sections of the city covered over five days. During this time, water pressure may be low, quality could be compromised, and use will be restricted. It’s a step to keep the water safe, so your patience and understanding are appreciated.
So... How Safe Is Mankato Really?
Mankato is pretty average across the board when compared to the national average.
While some national crime trends, like the increase in juvenile crime, have hit this community, the surge of violent crime has not.
Between 2021 and 2022:
- Assault is down 8%
- No homicides in 2022, with two in 2021
- Motor vehicle theft is down 29%
- Larceny/Theft up 5%
Nearly half of all violent crimes happen in homes and between people who know each other, while 24% of crimes were against strangers.
28% of all thefts were car break-ins, punctuating the message to lock your car and remove all personal belongings from inside.
You should also never leave a car running unattended to warm up in the winter.
Car thieves wait for people to make that mistake.
Juvenile crime is the one warning sign here (and in other communities).
In 2022, juvenile crime was up 27%, with almost one crime being committed by someone under 18 daily.
This crime increase is largely blamed on little to no accountability for juvenile offenders with criminal records for kids sealed forever.
In the big picture for a visitor, you just need to know that seeing a group of teenagers doesn’t mean you’re in a safe space.
Kids can be violent or cause trouble.
The public safety department of Mankato attacks crime increases at the root by offering prevention efforts and by targeting hot spots for crime as new issues arise.
“We really have to work with the community, the residents, the visitors, the people that come here for work, just to make sure they are aware of what is happening and making sure that they are doing what they can,” Mankato Public Safety Deputy Director Matt DuRose said.
You should also be prepared for wilderness and wildlife safety if you’ll be enjoying the great outdoors.
Review the ice safety message on the DNR website and study the difference between watches and warnings for severe weather season.
How Does Mankato Compare?
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- Visas - If you're visiting from outside the U.S., you'll need a valid passport no more than six months from expiring and a visa designating the reason for your trip. Don't say you need a student visa if you're just traveling, etc. That can cause an immediate denial and force you to start the arduous process all over again. The Travel Visa takes more time, but there's no way around it unless you're from a country where Visa Waivers are accepted.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar, and you should exchange the cash you need at home to get the lowest fees. Credit cards offer the best purchase protection against fraud. Be sure you take a photo or write down your credit card numbers, so you can quickly report them if they get lost or stolen.
- Weather - With four distinct seasons, you'll need to dress for the occasion. Winter and summer can be easier to pack for, but fall and spring can be tricky with fluctuating temperatures. You can sometimes get two seasons of temperatures in one 24-hour period! Bring comfortable walking shoes and bug spray.
- Airports - Mankato is less than 90 minutes from (or to) the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Use MN 511 to check the route before you go to time for traffic delays, construction, or accidents.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance gives you peace of mind in case of an accident, weather delay, or illness. Severe weather across the Midwest can easily delay flights or cause a ripple effect that leaves passengers stranded at connecting airports.
Mankato Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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