Minnesota : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Minnesota - state review
Minneapolis, Minnesota, is part of a much larger Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.
The two are twin cities, much like Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas.
Just don’t use the names of any of those cities interchangeably.
They are all unique cities with their own energy and attractions.
The city made global headlines and spurred nationwide protests against systemic racism and civil rights violations when Minneapolis Police Officer Derick Chauven was caught on video pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd.
Floyd had been accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill, but cameras rolled as Chauven held his knee to Floyd’s neck as the victim repeatedly shouted, “I can’t breathe!” Minutes later, Floyd died.
As much as that tragic moment caused such an outspread of protests, violence, and community discussions on how to stop system racism in America, it’s also not reflective of the Minneapolis community as a whole.
Minneapolis is split by the Mississippi River and is a nice mix of urban amenities and more than a dozen lakes.
It’s also an economic powerhouse, with Target, General Mills, and Pillsbury having headquarters here.
Many of you might have heard about the brutal winters in Minnesota, and it’s likely not an exaggeration.
From December through February, the average high doesn’t get above freezing.
The city is smartly designed to have climate-controlled skyway bridges covering 80 square blocks of downtown, making it easy to get around every season – but it comes in especially handy during winter.
For travelers coming from outside the United States, you should be aware that during election cycles, there can be a lot of rhetoric about crime statistics and perception as candidates face off for major offices.
I am running into this a lot as I research 2022.
It will likely be more intense in 2024, during the Presidential election.
Even numbered years are the main election events, and the closer you get to the first Tuesday in November, the more political slant you might see.
This is where it’s important to use unbiased news sources and crime information from law enforcement agencies instead of always trusting a news article.
Warnings & Dangers in Minneapolis
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a strong medium risk in Minneapolis, with crime rates surging and a violent crime rate in 2021 that is three times higher than the national average. 2022 is showing more crime. You'll likely not be exposed to much of this during a trip because crime is largely in the disenfranchised minority communities, where a lack of trust in the police, ongoing poverty, gangs, and drug use fuel the growing violent crime trend in America.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's an extensive public transportation system in Minneapolis through fixed-bus routes, light rail, and commuter rail. Taxis and rideshares are easy to find. Rental cars are available, but if you're not comfortable driving in snow or ice, I'd suggest using other forms of transportation to get around in the winter. As long as you avoid the more dangerous neighborhoods and keep good situational awareness, you should have a low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Purse snatchings are far more common in Minneapolis than pickpockets, according to 2021 data. 205 purses were stolen, while just two pockets were picked. Avoid carrying a large purse - especially if it's a name-brand, expensive purse. Using a crossbody purse placed under your jacket is a great way to keep your purse out of sight. Limit what you bring to your ID, one credit card, and your mobile device, which you'll keep tucked away when you don't need to use it.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Minneapolis has a medium risk all year long. Winters can bring intense snow storms, blizzards, and ice storms. While the people who live here would scoff at that being a risk, many travelers aren't used to such extreme winter weather. Spring brings severe thunderstorms and tornado potential. With the Mississippi River running through the region, there's also a risk of flooding. You can learn more about all the risks through the Minneapolis Office of Emergency Management.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is a staggering six and a half times higher than the national average. The more positive side of that statistic is that while 72% of robberies happen in public places, only 19% of crimes happen against strangers. You should still treat this as a medium risk. If you are the victim of a robbery, don't fight back. Follow instructions and remember as much detail as possible to help police catch the criminal. If you are in a business being robbed, the same rules apply. Don't try to be a hero.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
This is a massive metro area and one of the largest in the country, so that's going to come with a medium risk but also with a high level of protection from Homeland Security. Not only will law enforcement protect against attacks, but they'll also work to catch homegrown terrorists well ahead of time.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a scam awareness page where you can also report attempted scams. While there aren't tourist-specific scams, you'll likely encounter panhandlers, people offering a "great deal" with "urgency," or phishing phone calls. It's important when you research any city, you don't give personal information to non-official websites. This could be sending your personal information to scammers.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The sexual assault rate is twice the national average, yet women are slightly less likely to be a victim of violent crime overall. You'll need to use an abundance of safety and avoid walking around at night alone. If you are renting a car, make sure you have basic supplies, at least half a tank of gas at all times, and a phone number to call if your car breaks down.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report from Minneapolis Public Works proudly proclaims, "We are happy to report that no contaminants were detected at levels that violated federal drinking water standards during 2021." You can read the report to see where the water comes from and how it's treated.
Safest Places to Visit in Minneapolis
Minneapolis.org is the official website for tourism in the region.
If you also want to get information about nearby St. Paul, that official website is visitsaintpaul.com.
For the state of Minnesota, you’ll use exploreminnesota.com.
Most tourism sites for each city will include neighboring city attractions as well.
The Minneapolis tourism site has a great breakdown of all the neighborhoods in Minneapolis.
Please explore that because there are far too many to mention here.
The general regional breakdown is as follows:
- Downtown Core
- East of Downtown
- South of Downtown
- Northeast of Downtown
- Northwest of Downtown
We’ll talk about which section of town is the most dangerous in the next section.
For now, let’s dive into some safe attractions for tourists.
A great way to start visiting any city is by taking a tour specific to your interests.
Fans of Prince will want to start on the Purple Paisley tour, where you can visit the place where Prince recorded some of his biggest hits and stand on the stage where he held private concerts.
You can upgrade a tour here to a VIP tour or the Ultimate Experience Tour.
You’ll spend at least $50 on each ticket.
You can take tours through various methods of transportation, from riverboat tours to seaway tours to walking tours to food and drink tours on a roving pedal bar.
Historical tours, distillery tours, a tour of Target Field where the Minnesota Twins play, and even ghost tours during fall.
One bonus of Minnesota’s brutal winter is the introduction of ice castles and playgrounds.
Just 15 minutes from Minneapolis, you can visit Ice Castles, with massive sculptures, caverns, and a slide made of ice.
On the flip side, you can visit a water park in the winter, too, as Tropics Indoor Waterpark is warm and inviting even in the dead of winter.
To pay tribute or as a sign of solidarity, you can visit George Floyd Memorial Square at 38th Street E and Chicago Avenue S.
Look for the GeorgeFloydGlobalMemorial.org website to get information about this site, what to see, and a preview of the artwork you don’t want to miss.
Visitors here are encouraged to share in the spirit of preserving peace and justice for all.
With more than 50 museums to visit, you have a wide selection of options tailored to your tastes.
We recommend the Mill City Museum, which shows the beginning of this city with flour production and the power of the mighty Mississippi River.
The Hennepin History Museum shows the diverse cultures that settled here and grew the region into a multicultural destination.
The Weisman Art Museum is hard to miss, with an elaborate exterior that draws you in to see permanent and rotating exhibits.
This is located on the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus.
Admission is free, making a nice escape from the cold or humid weather.
The North Loop/Warehouse District is the place for the “cool kids” with high-energy day and night.
This is a good spot for those seeking a nightlife activity, but also good for lunch and shopping in a neighborhood designed around warehouses.
Target Field and Target Center are also in this neighborhood, making it really busy before and after games.
Here’s a Minneapolis fun fact – the city was intentionally designed so that no residents lived more than six blocks from the closest park, so you’ll have plenty of green spaces to explore, even in an urban enclave.
West of downtown is a series of lakes, starting with Cedar Lake just south of I-394.
You’ll find activities for every season, from fishing, snowshoeing, hiking, beach, ice rink, and so much more.
Places to Avoid in Minneapolis
West of the river and north of Highway 55, you’ll find many of the more dangerous areas.
South and southwest of downtown, there are higher-crime neighborhoods too.
The city is laid out pretty well so that you won’t end up in a dangerous neighborhood when visiting entertainment districts or tourist attractions.
Important: Just north of downtown, there’s an intersection at W. Broadway and N. Lyndale Avenue that has been dubbed “murder station.” The violent crime, overt drug dealings, and sense of lawlessness make this a place you just want to avoid altogether. Looking at a map, it seems perfectly nice – there’s a grocery store, pharmacy, and gas station.
George Floyd Memorial Square is in one of the safer neighborhoods if that brings any concerns.
With any attractions, we recommended visiting during the daytime.
Please be respectful of the people who are there, as there are a lot of emotions flowing.
You might see people crying, chanting, protesting, or gathering in prayer.
Please avoid coming here unprepared for the winter, no matter how tough you think you are in the winter cold.
Unless you are from Northern Alakasa, you’ll need to bring all your winter amenities.
Dress in layers, keep hydrated, and if you plan on spending a lot of time ice skating, snowshoeing, or otherwise, buy some handwarmer packets at a local store.
I like to put them in my boots, too, to keep my feet and ankles warm.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Minneapolis
- You can view year-to-date crime statistics on the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) website. This is a great way to see updated crime trends, as we only report the official numbers from the year before for consistency and accuracy. You can also narrow down a search to a certain police precinct if you want more specific data.
- You can search for your hotel’s address on the “Precinct Finder” of MPD’s website. This will get you contact information for that precinct if you want to reach out and ask more specific questions.
- The George Floyd murder brought a lot of additional tension between the residents and law enforcement. If this makes you reconsider visiting Minneapolis, read the Police Reform Work section of MPD’s website to see what’s being done to plan for a better future with more justice and accountability.
- At MetroTransit.org, you can buy a ticket for the bus or rail lines ahead of time, so you won’t have to pull out money for each stop. You can buy a week-long unlimited ride pass for $24.
- The Minnesota Licensing Department oversees all licenses and permits for hunting and fishing activities. Non-residents over 15 need a license, and those under 15 can only fish if they are with an adult who is licensed.
- Don’t swim in the Mississippi River. It has a fast current, lots of debris, and potentially dangerous levels of bacteria. There are too many great lakes in this city to risk getting into that nasty river.
- Anyone visiting from late fall through early spring should download the Snow Emergency app to get information about parking restrictions, snow plow routes, and other changes due to snowfall. You can also call the snow emergency hotline at (612)348-7669(SNOW).
- The 311 mobile app for the city is another great resource. You’ll have a direct line of contact with the city to ask questions about parking, safety regulations, and any other topic that isn’t related to law enforcement. If you prefer to call, just dial 311 when you’re in the city. You can also email through the city’s website.
- Using the Skyway is a great way to get around, but be prepared for certain sections to be closed at different times. Not all the businesses that are connected to Skyway have the same hours, so it’s really more of an issue during opening and closing hours. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help if you get lost. Look for someone in seasonally inappropriate clothing. They live in the Skyway world, so they know the system well.
- Use the MLPS Parking app to reserve spots ahead of time and pay through your mobile device. How wonderful to avoid driving around looking for a spot! This also gives you information about carpooling options and locating EV charging stations.
So... How Safe Is Minneapolis Really?
Minneapolis had the nickname “Murderaplois” in the mid-90s, and now homicide rates are creeping up to that 1995 historic high.
We could go through the decades of crime data, but let’s focus on 2020 and beyond.
The George Floyd murder was a boiling point for a city and country fed up with systemic racism and underprivileged communities facing higher drug, crime, and poverty rates.
The fuse was lit with “Defund the Police” cries.
More than 1/3 of the Minneapolis Police Officers quit or retired.
The lack of trust in police led to criminals, including an influx of juveniles, taking retaliation matters into their own hands.
Minority neighborhoods have people crying for help as they feel police don’t give as much attention to crimes as they would in affluent or Caucasian communities.
That is a very broad stroke of the issues in Minneapolis, and if you’re considering staying in St. Paul – the crime rates are only slightly lower there.
The best advice for a tourist is to use all the common safety steps as you would in any big city.
Lock your car – consistently.
Don’t leave it to warm up unattended – no matter how cold it is.
Stay out of neighborhoods where you have no business, and always be aware of your surroundings.
Don’t walk around with headphones on.
Is Minneapolis safe for tourists?
Some of that depends on what you can stomach based on what you are used to – but there’s not a rush on tourists being involved in violent crimes.
At worst, most likely, you’ll face a petty crime, and it probably would be due to a crime of opportunity.
There’s too much to see here in this great city to spend too much time worrying about statistical data, but you’re now better prepared to explore the city safely with all the resources you need to get vetted information from officials.
How Does Minneapolis Compare?
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- Visas - Those arriving from outside the U.S. need a Visa or Visa Waiver and a passport to get through Customs. You'll be asked a few questions at Customs to verify your identity and why you are here. Answer directly and without any jokes. If you are unsure what Visa you need, the U.S. State Department has a Visa Wizard module on its website that can easily answer your question.
- Currency - You can exchange currency at the airport or at many locations around town, but don't use public ATMs just as a matter of extreme caution. You'll need the U.S. Dollar (USD) currency. One credit card should cover all purchases here, and it's smart to buy tickets online before your trip to avoid pulling a wallet out in public.
- Weather - Please bring fully insulated winter attire, including coverage for the face, ears, fingers, and toes. During winter, temperatures can get so cold you can get frostbite very easily. Summers are going to be the opposite, but bring a jacket or sweatshirt for cooler mornings and nights. You'll also want bug spray because the humidity breeds some of the biggest mosquitoes you'll ever see. Spring and fall are going to have fluctuating temperatures, so bring a mix of clothing that allows you to dress in layers.
- Airports - The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is less than 13 miles from downtown, but it can take a half hour or more to get there, especially during high-traffic times. This airport is consistently rated one of the best and most efficient airports in the country.
- Travel Insurance - We always recommend travel insurance for those traveling abroad. Winter weather delays and spring storm delays can mess up travel plans, cause you to miss a hotel check-in, or get your baggage lost in transit. You also want to have some kind of health protection here because there is no free healthcare in the United States.
Minneapolis Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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