Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
Olathe, Kansas, is a little bit country, a little bit “big city”, and a whole lot of barbecue and fun times.
This large suburb sits on the far southwest corner of the Kansas City metro area.
Of course, Kansas City is known for its barbecue, and I wish I hadn’t been writing this near dinner time because the menu for Joe’s Kansas City Bar-be-cue is making me crave a Z-Man.
Have one for me when you go.
This is one of the largest parts of the KC area, with more than 141,000 people.
Whether you want wine, wagon wheel adventures, or a wonderful museum, this is the perfect place to get a little bit of everything the Midwest has to offer.
If an automotive fan is in your group and goes missing, they’re probably just at the Kansas City Auto Museum.
Olathe, pronounced “Oh-LAY-thuh”, is part of Johnson County and is also surrounded by several other suburbs.
This is the area of Kansas City to stay in if you want the suburban feel with close proximity to Kansas open space.
You won’t get a city vibe here, but you’ll be in one of the safer communities across both states of the metro.
Warnings & Dangers in Olathe
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here. A city of 141,000 people is going to have its fair share of crime, but Olathe is below average in every category.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
RideKC is a public transportation system with routes through Johnson County and some direct routes to the downtown areas. Rideshares and taxis are plentiful. Rental cars are widely available. There's low risk with whatever option works best for you.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
20 pickpockets or purse snatching were reported in 2020, with an average loss of $290. In 2019, there were seven pickpockets reported. There's still a low risk, even though that number is higher than in most cities. That's more than one in 7,000 risks of being a pickpocket victim.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Kansas is known for its wild weather, and Olathe is no exception. You can expect thunderstorms with possible tornadoes, flash flooding, dangerous lightning, winter snow and ice, and extreme temperatures in winter and summer at times. Because of the year-round potential, it's a medium-risk, but this is nothing the KC area isn't prepared to handle.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were 22 robberies in 2020, which ends up being a fraction of the national average for robberies in a city. There's a low risk it will happen to you, but that only holds true in Olathe. Check surrounding cities for the risks there.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Only because this is part of a large metro area of more than two million people, we have to give this a medium risk. A potential target could also be Fort Leavenworth, which is 30 miles north. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has great tips on terrorism safety and awareness on its website.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk just because there are a lot of scammers at work here. Some target businesses with a "quick change" scam, which is a sleight of hand move. Others are asking for donations to a false police charity. While most of the calls are focused on residents, this is a city where the average household makes $100,000, so scammers are always going to be looking to make a quick buck.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should visit here knowing it's a low-risk, but not no-risk. There are plenty of places to be a potential victim of opportunity, like when carrying a lot of shopping bags or drinking by yourself at a local pub while letting your guard down as you meet new people. If you stay focused on your surroundings and are protective of your valuables, you shouldn't have a problem.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There was one violation reported in the 2021 Annual Water Quality Report, but it was related to a failure of reporting information, not because of water quality issues. All the water meets or exceeds the required standards.
Safest Places to Visit in Olathe
Lake Olathe is on the fringe of the community, so it feels like you’re a world away from the big city when you’re actually still close.
This is a 170-acre lake for all kinds of water fun – swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing.
Be sure to explore more than the water as there’s an amphitheater, interactive sculpture garden, a natural playground, and scenic vistas.
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site provide a way to go back to the days of pioneers and homesteaders.
This was once a stop for travelers of the Santa Fe Trail, and it has been reinvigorated for tourists to explore.
There are many different attractions here, indoor and outdoor, that are replicas of life in the 1800s.
Stagecoach rides are available as staffing permits, and different attractions are open at different times of the year.
Check the website for that information because it’s pretty detailed.
Have you ever had one of those “Why didn’t I think that?” moments?
I’m having one now as I look at the Stone Pillar Vineyard and Winery website.
Yes, they have the traditional wine and vines to explore, but there are also jugs of wine slushies for purchase.
There are plenty of events on the schedule here, from grape stomping to Friday night music to Taco Tuesdays (Tacos & Wine? Ok, I’ll try it.)
There’s a great stop for expanding your knowledge of diversity and inclusion at the Museum of Deaf History, Arts, and Culture.
One of the most powerful exhibits here is a movie detailing how the deaf use the power of sight to “hear” things.
You can also learn about De’VIA, which is a creative way for deaf people to express themselves.
TimberRide Adventure Center is a great place to get creative outdoors.
There are challenging courses and team-building exercises throughout the park.
It’s best to reserve a group activity here.
You can also look into a summer camp here for the kids.
Rev your engines for the Kansas City Automotive Museum, located in Olathe.
You’ll see hot rods and antiques plus some stylish motorcycles from the past century or so.
Places to Avoid in Olathe
The higher crime areas are along I-35 as it heads into Kansas City, north of Sheridan.
This is quite common because the interstate and surrounding areas generally have more people coming in and out.
As far as the “Don’t Go There!” areas, there aren’t any.
This is a middle to an upper-class community with a 5% poverty rate.
In KC, four of the neighborhoods rank in the top 1,000 most affluent neighborhoods in the nation.
While Olathe isn’t one of them, it’s still relatively upscale with moms in Lululemon and typical suburban traffic.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Olathe
- You can keep up to date on crime happening closer to your visit using the police department’s interactive crime map. You can search for the parameters of time frame, type of crime, and specific location.
- If you are renting a car and traveling with a child, stop by the police station and an officer will help you make sure the car seat is installed properly.
- When driving in suburban traffic, it’s always smart to stop at least one car length behind the car in front of you. This helps if someone bumps you from behind so you don’t hit the car in front of you. It also gives you a way to escape if a carjacker attempts to get control of your vehicle. Always park and drive with car doors locked, and if you ever feel unsafe while driving, roll up the windows and drive to the nearest police or fire station.
- The police department has a program called “Olathe Connect”. If you see any suspicion of gang activity (yes, suburbs have gangs), you can report the information through this section of the police department website. This includes graffiti, which is usually a mark of gang members claiming territory.
- Download the Olathe Connect app and you can be in touch with city events, parking locations, and all of the FAQs a tourist might have. You can report other things aside from gang activity, like potholes or broken street lights.
- Before going to one of the parks, call the Rain Out Line (913) 204-0867. There is also a website where you can search for individual parks. This will help if there has been rain or a storm recently because both can leave damage or a mess behind.
- In winter, you cannot go on any public lake or pond that is frozen over. The ice here rarely gets thick enough to ice skate or ice fish.
- The city of Olathe now has Bird scooters, which are electric vehicles, for residents and tourists. You can pay for it through the Bird scooter app, and they can be used on roads with a speed limit of under 35 miles per hour. However, you can’t go more than 17 miles per hour on a scooter. A helmet is not required, but it is safer to ride with one on.
- You can sign up for emergency and community notifications on the Olathe city website. I would also recommend having a good weather app. Kansas City is one of the best television markets in the country with experienced meteorologists, and several of the stations have exclusive weather apps (not combined with the local news app). KCTV and WDAF are two of the most popular weather apps in the city.
- Anglers will need a fishing license from the Kanas Department of Wildlife. You can purchase it online, but before you do, review the different types of fish permits or stamps you might need. There is quite a variety of options.
So... How Safe Is Olathe Really?
Olathe is one of the safest large cities I’ve researched.
It’s important to remember every community is going to have some level of crime – and sometimes it can be outrageous crimes.
I look for details that will impact tourists.
Most travel safety articles I write would be completely different if they were relocation safety guides.
Here are the risks of being a victim of certain crimes in Olathe:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 393
- Robbery: 1 in 6,422
- Theft: 1 in 89
As far as violent crime goes:
- 16% of violent crimes were against strangers
- 60% of violent crimes happened in homes
- 54% of violent crimes were against women
Digging deeper into theft/larceny details:
- 30% of thefts were car break-ins
- The average stolen value of car break-ins and car accessory thefts was $1,088
- 32% were shoplifting
When it comes to theft, the value above shows why you should never, ever, leave valuables in the car.
Even a GPS holder can suggest there’s technology in the vehicle.
Always lock your car door and leave the windows rolled up when you park.
Never leave a car running to “warm up” in the cold unless you are with the car.
Olathe is a safe place to visit, and if you use the basic safety steps and common sense, you’ll have a great time.
How Does Olathe Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need to plan a few months ahead of time to go through all the steps to get a U.S. Visa. Bring your visa on the flight with you, because you'll need to show it at Customs before you get to the baggage area.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar (USD) here. There are a lot of places that accept credit cards or mobile pay apps, so you can keep cash to a minimum. You'll find plenty of currency exchange locations if you forget to do it at the airport.
- Weather - The weather fluctuates throughout the year here, but winters will be very cold at times and summers will get dangerously hot at other times. Pack layers of t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and sweatshirts, and bring winter gear from November through March. You'll need bug spray and sunscreen in the spring, summer, and fall.
- Airports - Olathe is about 40 minutes from the Kansas City International Airport, but you do have to drive throughout the heart of the city. Give yourself at least an hour if you're driving during rush hours.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea for visiting a place where the weather can quickly shut down air traffic and where there is a lot of road traffic, meaning you will be dealing with different driving styles and skill levels compared to what you are used to at home.
Olathe Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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