Indiana : Safety by City
- Cedar Lake
- Crown Point
- Fort Wayne
- Michigan City
- Santa Claus
- South Bend
- Terre Haute
- Winona Lake
Marion, Indiana, sits tucked away from Interstate 69 in north-central Indiana, about halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.
The “blink and you’ll miss it” exit is definitely something you don’t want to miss.
Without Marion, the world would never have enjoyed a Garfield cartoon or a James Dean movie.
Marion is not in Marion County.
It’s in Grant County.
This can be confusing for a tourist new to Indiana because Marion County is where Indianapolis is located.
Be sure you’re looking for Marion, Indiana (there are other states with a city called Marion) and/or within Grant County, which has other small towns worth exploring.
The largest private university is in Marion.
Indiana Wesleyan University has a student enrollment of under 3,000.
There’s also a river winding along the east side of town.
The Mississinewa River is a branch of the Wabash River and goes all the way into Ohio.
The holiday season is a great time to visit what local leaders have dubbed “Christmas City” with one of the largest light displays and holiday celebrations in this entire state.
That’s quite a feat for a city of fewer than 30,000 people surrounded by rural land.
Warnings & Dangers in Marion
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Marion is a low risk, but the crime statistics might teeter on the edge of medium risk. Marion hasn't provided crime statistics for public viewing since 2019, so we're left to use those numbers for this report. Whether that's a transparency or staffing issue, I don't know, but I even messaged the people within the police department who could have the updated numbers and didn't get a response.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Many cities this small don't have a public transportation system, so kudos to Marion for offering a transit service. There are just five routes, but between them, they cover all of the top spots in the city. Some taxis and rideshares might be a little slower to arrive than in bigger cities. Having a car is going to be ideal, but there's a low risk in whatever option you choose.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here even though the theft rate is one in 39. Theft can be everything from shoplifting to pickpockets to car break-ins. While Marion law enforcement doesn't provide specific data, there really aren't crowded spaces where a pickpocket can thrive. You should always be protective of your wallet and carry it in the front pocket or inside jacket pocket instead of the back pocket. Never leave a purse unattended on the back of a chair at restaurants.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Marion can experience flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, winter storms with snow and ice, and there's also a risk of river water pollution. While a normal day is going to be a low risk, you should stay weather aware and consider it a medium risk when a weather watch or advisory is issued.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were 30 robberies in 2019, which is rather high for a city the size of Marion. Since it's not clear which ones were highway robberies or in private homes, I did some digging into recent crimes. There is a report of a bank robbery and some drug-related robberies. The risk of a tourist being a random victim of a robbery is low, but you should definitely pay attention to your surroundings as it's easy to get a false sense of safety in a small town like Marion.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. Marion is a town I doubt terror groups could even find on a map, much less consider a hard target. You can rest easy with this risk, but always follow the guidelines of "See Something, Say Something" if you see something suspicious.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The most recent scam in Marion is a scammer calling someone to tell them a loved one has been arrested for DUI and they can pay for the bail over the phone. This is a fake scam and is not how paying bail works anyway. You can rest assured there's a low risk, but scammers are always coming up with something new, so be alert and report any new scams you come across.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should feel safe visiting here with low risk. The sexual assault rate is below the national average. The same rules in any city apply where you shouldn't be walking around at night alone.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Marion Utilities provides a water quality report for 2022, but it's akin to solving a puzzle because the "is it safe or not?" question requires some digging. Luckily, that's what I'm here for. The water samples showed no unhealthy or dangerous levels of contaminants and the city hasn't had a water quality violation since 2014.
Safest Places to Visit in Marion
You can start the James Dean Landmark Trail at his birth site in Marion at 4th and McClure streets.
The rest of the trail will take you south to Fairmount, where the Fairmount Historical Museum has some of Dean’s artwork, motorcycles, and trophies.
There’s also a display about Jim Davis, who brought our favorite grumpy cat, Garfield, to life.
There’s also a Garfield Trail throughout Grant County to explore.
The Gardens of Matter Park in Marion marks one of the stops on the Garfield Trail.
This garden blooms every season of the year.
More than 100 acres are available to view and there’s a picnic area for warmer months and a Garden House to warm up in during the winter.
The Mississinewa Riverwalk is a nearly 2.5-mile stretch of trail along the river.
You’ll even pass a fishing pond along the way, so anglers can take a pitstop.
Just be sure you have an Indiana Fishing License.
The Riverwalk and Matter Park explode with Christmas lights during the holiday season, so even if you’re just driving through Indiana, it’s definitely worth the stop.
Not sold on it yet?
How about a fire-breathing sea dragon decked out in holiday lights and a nearly 100-foot long riverboat belting the holiday classics?
Quilting is its own intricate art form in the Midwest, so it’s no surprise the Quilters Hall of Fame is located in Marion.
Even if you know nothing about quilting, you’ll be amazed at the designs that can be crafted by hand.
Summer visitors will find a splash park that is much bigger than you’d expect in a small town.
Splash House has a windy slide, racing slides, a wave pool, and a safe play area for the younger kids.
Places to Avoid in Marion
The highest crime rates are north of Highway 18 and in the southwest corner of town.
Those are mostly residential areas, which suggests a lot of the crime that happens here is residential or domestic.
The far south and northwest sides of the city have the lowest crime.
There are parts of Marion where you’ll have to go by gut instinct as to how safe you feel there.
The city has a 28% poverty rate, which is one of the higher percentages I’ve seen.
Like all Indiana counties and following a trend across America, there has been an increase in gun violence and drug crimes.
This is a conservative area and while the people are friendly to an extent, there might be a little hesitation in meeting strangers.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Marion
- Marion Police Department doesn’t have any crime mapping or crime statistics available on the website, like many other cities. To get a better grasp on crime trends closer to your time of visit, call the police department at (765)668-4421.
- You can’t submit a crime tip online, but you can call the non-emergency number to dispatch if you have information about a crime that isn’t an emergency. That number is (765)662-9981. You can call Crime Stoppers of Grant County at (765)662-TIPS (8477) and there’s a possibility your information could get you a reward.
- Grant County also provides crime alerts through Nixle.com. I use Nixle every day for various communities I research and I’ve also worked in local newsrooms for many years. When you sign up with Nixle you’re getting information as the local newsrooms do. While Marion Police aren’t on Nixle (I checked), the Grant County alerts can help with countywide issues or weather alerts.
- 511in.org is the travel website for Indiana. This is ongoing updated information from the Indiana Department of Transportation. You’ll get details about road closures, traffic accidents, and weather delays. There are live highway cameras too, so you can see road conditions for yourself. I use the 511 services for my state and I’ve always gotten great information updated constantly. It has saved me more than once from sitting in traffic after a major accident on the interstate.
- I couldn’t understand why the police department did not post crime information on its website, and then I looked at its Facebook page. There are plenty of details there about current crimes and police blotters are posted every couple of days. This is the closest you’ll get to recent crime data, so I’d suggest you give them a follow.
- The state department of natural resources has an interactive fishing map where you can search by location and see any water dangers. This could include fast currents, water pollution impacting fish consumption, and flood stages.
- There is a small dam on the Mississinewa River near the intersection with Wharton Drive at River Road. This is a no-swimming area. The current from the dam can quickly pull an experienced swimmer under.
- Discover Marion Downtown is a great Facebook page to find out about safe local events happening closer to your visit. Without this, how would I know about the hyper-local but very popular Crab Races that happen every Thursday at Folkie’s Tavern?
- There are just four hotels in Marion and they are all on the north side of the city. If you are coming for the Christmas events, be sure to book early.
- If you aren’t from an area that gets tornadoes, you should research the safety steps through the Grant County Department of Emergency Management. I grew up in tornado alley and I actually do some storm chasing now. These storms are not to be taken lightly, and while it’s cool to go outside and see a storm or try to catch a viral video of a twister, you should let the professionals do that and you seek safety when a tornado warning is issued.
So... How Safe Is Marion Really?
One of the challenges with gauging crime in a small town is the way crime is calculated.
The way the FBI reports data is “per 100,000,” because, in theory, that puts every city on the same playing field.
The problem with smaller towns is that several more or fewer crimes in a category can have an exponential effect on the math done to get to “per 100,000.”
In Marion, using the FBI math, the violent crime rate is just under the national average.
There were 103 violent crimes.
The theft rate is higher, coming in at 2,504 per 100,000, while the national average is 1,398 per 100,000.
Thefts could be anything from stealing a bike to stealing a purse to breaking into a car.
Unfortunately, the police department doesn’t give us better data to break down which crimes would impact a tourist.
Here’s how the risks break down:
- Violent Crime Risk: 1 in 274
- Robbery Risk: 1 in 943
- Theft Risk: 1 in 39
You’d like to think in small-town America you can leave doors unlocked and windows open, but that’s an era long gone from the reality of a state with growing crime and gun violence.
There were four homicides in Marion in 2019 and nine in 2018, yet 2017 had no homicides.
Before that, there weren’t more than four homicides in a year dating back to 2010.
Marion is a town where you can feel safe visiting, but there are some unpleasant and potentially dangerous parts of town.
The police reported several drug houses busted up lately, and a shooting that ended up being a man who accidentally shot himself.
You should still roll up your windows and lock doors on hotel rooms and cars and keep your valuables hidden away.
However, you shouldn’t stop planning to visit here because of the crime rates.
Compared to some other Indiana cities, like Gary and Evansville, this is by far the safer choice.
How Does Marion Compare?
|Belize City (Belize)||37|
|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
- Visas - You'll just need your visa when you arrive at Customs after landing at your final stop in the United States. To get around the city, you'll use your passport for legal identification.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only currency accepted here, and if you need to exchange currency, you should do so at the airport.
- Weather - The weather here is typical of all four seasons. Summers are going to be hot and humid. You'll need bug spray. Winters can get cold and snowy. Sometimes winter temperatures get dangerously cold, so pack plenty of warm layers. You'll want waterproof boots or shoes throughout the year if you plan on visiting the parks or river.
- Airports - Indianapolis International Airport is the largest airport nearby, but it's still a 90-minute drive. You can get to Fort Wayne International Airport in about an hour.
- Travel Insurance - You should consider travel insurance for all the risks that can delay or cancel flights here. Be sure you know how much is covered for "Acts of God" like winter storms or tornadoes.
Marion Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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