Michigan : Safety by City
- Ann Arbor
- Battle Creek
- Farmington Hills
- Flat Rock
- Glen Arbor
- Grand Rapids
- Mackinac Island
- Mackinaw City
- Port Huron
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Sterling Heights
- Traverse City
Muskegon, Michigan, sits on the western edge of the state along Lake Michigan, with most of the city wrapped around Muskegon Lake.
You can stand on the shore and wave to the people of Milwaukee, or better yet, take a ferry to visit both cities in one trip.
The city is just 45 minutes from Grand Rapids, and within an hour, you can visit the tourist towns of Grand Haven and Holland, each with its own unique brand of Michigan magic.
Muskegon “Mus-KEE-gehn” County offers a little bit of everything.
An urban downtown for day trips and nightlife, beaches, wilderness areas, lighthouses, and water activities on the lakes.
It’s a four-season destination with hiking trails turning into snowshoe routes and the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park navigating the different seasons with new and exciting activities.
All that and you still get small-town charm, as the city is home to just more than 38,000 people.
If you like road trips, drive three hours up the coastline to the impressive Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, which is a novelty in its own right.
Warnings & Dangers in Muskegon
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Muskegon's reputation is far worse than its crime rates, but there are definitely some neighborhoods to avoid. On top of that, the sheer number of activities makes it a safe place to visit with a low risk for a tourist since you won't just wander around trying to find something to do.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Muskegon Area Transit Service (MATS) is the local bus system with many routes throughout the city. You can get a taxi or rideshare quickly. Rental cars will give you more flexibility to explore the region. The ferry goes to and from Milwaukee twice a day, but the price tag is hefty at $187 for a round trip. Downtown is walkable, but you can easily walk too far and need a ride back. (Or am I the only one who does things like that?)
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The risk is low, with just one pickpocket reported in 2021. Car break-ins are much more likely, with 38% of all thefts being car burglaries or stolen car accessories.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
The weather risks here occur in all seasons. Winter can bring significant snowfall, blizzards, snow squalls, lake-effect snow, and ice storms. Spring kicks off a severe weather season with intense thunderstorms, lightning, and tornadoes. Flooding is a risk throughout the year. Extreme winter cold and intense summer heat are also possible. You will get plenty of warnings about any risk if you sign up for emergency notifications.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The robbery risk is lower than the national average, but 45% of those happen on public streets or sidewalks. While the risk isn't high, you should still use basic safety precautions and avoid wearing flashy or expensive clothing, purses, or technology devices.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The Muskegon County Emergency Management Office has a great breakdown of how to check the terror threat level in an easy color-coded system. While there's no overwhelming risk of an attack here, it's always good to know statewide and nationwide risks when coming to Michigan.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Muskegon makes the top 20 list of cities where the most scams happen, according to the Better Business Bureau. While most scams target locals, you should always be prepared for someone to offer a deal too good to be true. Be more prepared to walk away! You can review the Better Business Bureau local office to see scams trending before your visit.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There are plenty of safe spaces for women to visit, from outdoor adventures to downtown's social district. Knowing the places to avoid will help keep this a low risk. Senior female travelers or retirees can connect with Safe Seniors of West Michigan for more timely advice.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The Muskegon Water Quality Report for 2021 starts off with the reassuring line, "We are pleased to report that the water we treat has never had a violation of a contaminant level or any other water quality standard." Even looking at historical data, that's accurate. Lead levels are also low, which is a rare feat in Michigan. However, you should always let the water run for 30 seconds from a stagnant tap just to be safe.
Safest Places to Visit in Muskegon
When looking for a Michigan city’s tourism site, check for the “Pure Michigan” logo at the bottom.
Visit Muskegon is one of those sites, but be aware that it does cover the entire county.
That stretches north to Whitehall and south to Norton Shores.
The Downtown Muskegon Business Improvement District website gives you great information about the activities downtown, from social districts to lakeside activities.
Downtown Muskegon is the hub of activities here and the gateway to outdoor activities as well.
Choose a hotel in this region over Muskegon Heights.
The Social District has bars and restaurants where you can open-carry beverages (with specific rules) and enjoy the social aspect of the city safely.
The downtown area includes several historical sites and museums, including:
- Hackley & Hume Historic Site: Victorian elegance stands out in these mansions, rich in chestnut and chocolate colors, with stained-glass and intricate interior designs. Two homes and a barn are open for tours at this location, just blocks from the lake.
- Muskegon Museum of History & Science
- Muskegon Museum of Art
Heading to Muskegon Lake lakefront, Heritage Landing is a park right on the water where many festivals are held throughout the year.
It’s also along the City of Muskegon Lakeshore Trail, which runs the length of the safest part of the downtown area.
Scenic overlooks are clearly marked along the way.
Use the Downtown Muskegon website to find boat rentals, lake tours, and local events along the water.
You can be confident those businesses are legitimate and uphold safety laws.
Heading now to the Lake Michigan shoreline, you’ll need to decide if you want to visit the north or south side of the Muskegon Channel because drivers will take two different routes to get to each one.
The south side of the channel includes:
- Muskegon Beach
- Pere Marquette Park
- USS Silversides Submarine Museum
- Harbor Town Beach
- Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse: The lighthouse is accessible by a short concrete walkway.
- Muskegon South Breakwater Light: Accessible by walking a longer distance on the breakwater.
The north side of the channel takes you to Muskegon State Park, a wilderness and shoreline area with campgrounds, three miles of beach, dunes, and several trails.
Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park is right at the park’s entrance.
Other places to consider on this side of the lake include:
- Pioneer County Park (Two miles north of the state park)
- Duck Lake State Park (Seven miles north of the state park)
- Michigan’s Adventure Amusement and Water Park (Open seasonally, 10 miles north of Muskegon)
- White River Light Station & Museum (17 miles from Muskegon in Whitehall)
Look for the ferry dock in Muskegon to find the business district filled with eclectic shops and cafes with a different vibe than downtown.
Places to Avoid in Muskegon
The way Muskegon is laid out, the safe places to visit are all along the waterfront.
Stay close to the shoreline in all directions, and you’ll be at a much lower risk.
There is little reason for a tourist to venture south, but if you do, avoid Muskegon Heights, especially near Highway 31 and Sherman Boulevard.
While it’s not the most dangerous area in Michigan, it’s where most of the crime happens, and there’s little reason for you to be there unless you visit friends or family.
If you have some flexibility in your hotel location, you’ll want to find a place in Muskegon near the water or consider another city like Holland or Grand Haven.
The grouping of hotels near Muskegon Heights puts you farther away from the city with some potentially dangerous neighborhoods nearby, not to mention the airport noise right next door.
Avoid thinking of Muskegon as a summer destination only because of the lake activities.
There is truly something for everyone in each season, and the town doesn’t shutter its doors during the winter.
In fact, Michigan people have perfected the art of winter fun.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Muskegon
- Muskegon has its own police department and a newly designed website that’s easy to use. Crime statistics are reported under “Crime Stat” to get a more recent look at crime trends than the official FBI data that is released annually.
- Muskegon and Muskegon Township are two different places right next to each other. You’ll find this in many Michigan cities. While it’s confusing for a tourist, you should always confirm you are looking at the right city, police department, or amenities. You can find Muskegon Police on Facebook @MuskegonPolice and the city @CityofMuskegon. North Muskegon is also its own city.
- Sign up for a Nixle account to get safety information as fast as the local newsrooms get it. I use this in my own community, and it’s a very helpful tool. You’ll see safety messages like road closures or get crimes in progress details.
- To get weather alerts for the entire county, sign up for CodeRED alerts through the county’s website. This will include watches and warnings ahead of a storm, impacts during a storm, and safety messages after a storm.
- There isn’t a one-size-fits-all guide to parking in Muskegon. The beaches have different rules, costs, and sticker requirements than parking downtown. Neighborhoods have their own set of rules in each season. Winter parking rules are different from summer parking rules. Use the city website’s Parking section to prepare for every place you are going to park a car.
- If you get a parking ticket, pay it within 14 days, or the fine doubles. After 21 days, the fine triples. They will be able to track down rental car drivers.
- Use Mi Drive to check traffic, routes, construction, and closures on all of Michigan’s roadways. If you create an account, set up preferred routes, so you’ll get alerts when there’s a roadway issue.
- If you have information about a crime that isn’t urgent, use the Silent Observer program to share that information anonymously. Police say the increase in calls has helped solve several major cases in the community.
- Enjoying the lakes should start with researching the weather conditions on a given day. You should know the winds, boating advisories, and water quality issues. Use the NOAA website or the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) site to get that information.
- Anglers need a fishing from DNR to fish solo or on a charter. You can purchase the license online or at sporting goods stores in town. Ask your fishing charter if the cost covers the price of a license, so you don’t spend the money twice.
So... How Safe Is Muskegon Really?
Muskegon is facing an all-too-familiar challenge of rising violent crime rates with more juveniles being involved in or victims of the crime.
In 2022, homicides were up at least 60%.
Violent crime was nearly twice the national average in 2021, and Muskegon Heights had a violent crime rate of more than four times the national average.
“We have not seen any real pattern,” Muskegon Police Capt.
Tim Bahorski told a local news outlet in 2022.
“The homicides we have seen this year have been domestic-related, robbery-related, and as a result of negligence by people handling guns.”
The positive side of this for a visitor is that the crimes aren’t random acts of violence.
Here’s some context:
- 60% of violent crimes happened in homes
- 4% of violent crimes happened against strangers
- With 38% of thefts being car break-ins, locking your car and removing all personal belongings lowers that risk dramatically.
Police lament the importance of locking car doors and add that even spare change in plain sight can trigger a thief to break the window.
Stick to the shorelines, parks, museums, and water activities, and you likely won’t notice any of the crime that feeds this beautiful city’s bad reputation.
It’s truly a city working to redefine its image.
How Does Muskegon Compare?
- Visas - A passport and U.S. visa will be required to enter the country, but you can rent boats and take tours - even cross the lake on the ferry - without having to go through Customs again. The U.S. State Department loosened some of the Travel Visa restrictions in 2023, so check its website to get started.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar currency here. While there are places to exchange currency here, you'll likely face higher fees than if you did so at your home bank. Try to purchase tours and tickets in advance, lessening the number of times you'll have to pull out your wallet.
- Weather - There are four distinct seasons here, so dress for the worst of the weather while always erring on the side of more layers. Even summer nights or mornings can be cool. If you forget a winter clothing accessory or get stuck on rainy days, there are outfitters here with all the supplies and clothing you could need to thrive in the Michigan outdoors.
- Airports - The Muskegon airport is just four miles from downtown and offers four daily flights to Chicago. You can also drive an hour to Grand Rapids and use Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR).
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance gives you peace of mind, especially when doing such robust activities and facing potential weather delays. Supplemental insurance is important to avoid hefty out-of-pocket costs if you don't have health coverage in the U.S.
Muskegon Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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