Illinois : Safety by City
- Arlington Heights
- Crystal Lake
- Des Plaines
- East St Louis
- Fairview Heights
- Granite City
- Mount Prospect
- Oak Lawn
- Rock Island
- Tinley Park
If Hollywood needed a movie set in a charming Midwestern town, they could just go to Palatine, Illinois.
The city somehow blends a history dating back to 1866 into a clean look of the modern-day.
You almost can’t help having a little spring in your step when walking around downtown and the train station.
This is a highly residential area with nearly 68,000 residents and folds seamlessly into the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
This is a diverse community with strong Asian and Latino populations.
The hotels aren’t going to be found in the city, they are on the northeast and southeast edges.
The city ranks #3 on the 2021 list of safest cities in Illinois.
It’s also the place where the notorious Brown’s Chicken Massacre happened in 1993, proof that no town is immune to the violence that still permeates America.
Seven people were killed in that incident and the two gunmen are now serving life sentences.
Palatine might not have a whole lot to offer for tourist attractions compared to the Chicago area as a whole, but there is a lot of wildlife and wildlands to explore.
The park system is robust, offering things to do during any season.
Warnings & Dangers in Palatine
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. This is almost as safe as you can get when it comes to crime in the Chicago area and some of the crime categories are so low you're more likely to see a coyote than be a victim of crime.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Metra train system runs through Palatine and the station is right in the heart of downtown. You can also easily get taxis or rideshares. If you are driving, you'll find easy highway access near all the hotel groupings. There's a low risk, whichever you choose.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with just 287 total thefts happening in 2020. There aren't a lot of gathering spots where pickpockets would be lying in wait. You should still practice basic personal safety.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Palatine, like every community in Illinois, runs the risk of increased tornado activity in spring, but that risk can happen until winter. There are severe thunderstorms throughout the year as well. You expect snow and ice in winter, with occasional dangerously low temperatures. An average day is a low risk, but if there's any kind of weather watch, that risk goes up to medium.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a very low risk here, with a one in 11,318 chance of a robbery happening. On top of that, only 33 violent crimes happened in the city in 2020, giving it one of the lowest violent crime and robbery rates in the state.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Palatine itself isn't considered a target, but being in the Chicago area is going to automatically give it a medium risk. You can review the Illinois emergency management plan on the city's website to learn more about terrorism awareness.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are plenty of traditional scams against residents, but nothing that would target a tourist. The police do ask everyone to use caution at ATMs and keep an eye on their surroundings when withdrawing cash. It's always safer to go inside the bank if you can to get cash.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The one crime statistic that seemed a little odd to me was that there were twice as many sexual assaults as robberies in 2020. With 12 sexual assaults reported, there's not an overwhelming reason to worry, but with just six robberies, it was an anomaly to how numbers usually stack up. Women should have a low risk here, but never let down personal safety standards just because a community is "safe."
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The required annual report on water quality shows no violations and all water meets the required standards. You can feel safe using the tap water here.
Safest Places to Visit in Palatine
The Clayson House Museum is a prime piece of historic real estate in Palatine.
It is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but it’s worth planning your trip around it to see the beginnings of this quaint community.
Twin Lakes Golf Course is a perfect place to get in some golfing during your visit.
You can reserve tee times online and via phone.
Payment is required at the time of booking.
If you’d rather watch sports, head to the Salt Creek Sports Complex for hockey action.
While looking at the cafe here, I saw a listing for Bosco Sticks.
I’m a Midwestern girl and I have never heard of this.
It’s a mozzarella stick inside a bun.
The Deer Grove Forest Preserve is just outside the city limits on the north side of unincorporated Cook County.
This was the first of many first preserves in the county and spans 2000 acres.
There are seven areas of the preserve, with Deer Grove East being the closest to Palatine.
The Palatine Bike Trail is a safe off-road place for cyclists to get some exercises and enjoy the fresh air.
You can also visit the Palatine Stables to see some horse competitions or sign up for a riding lesson.
Places to Avoid in Palatine
The crime maps show the numbers are much higher in the southeast corner of the city where it meets Rolling Hills.
However, Rolling Hills is another safe city coming in at #35 on the Illinois Safest City list for 2021.
There aren’t any bad neighborhoods or places to avoid in Palatine, but unless you’re an outdoor person there isn’t a lot to do here either.
There are a lot of great things to see in the surrounding neighborhoods and you can check out our safety guidelines for the largest northwest suburbs.
Keep in mind when you go to Chicago, the crime rate is going to change.
Palatine won’t give you any kind of city-feel or urban energization.
It will be a safe place to rest at night.
Oh, and if you are a true crime fan, don’t go looking for the Brown’s Chicken where the massacre happened. It has long been torn down.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Palatine
- Right on the front page of the Palatine Police Department’s website is “Report a Coyote Sighting” link, and no, that’s not a mistake. With so much wilderness area in this suburb, coyotes still call Palatine home. If you haven’t been around coyotes that might be really scary to hear, but they are generally not aggressive toward people. You should take a picture (from a distance) and submit a report. You will be asked to gauge the health of the coyote, and there are pictures to help discern between a healthy coyote and a sick one.
- To get the full breadth of the park system here, download the Palatine Park District app. You can see maps of the trails, learn about the events happening, and see where restrooms are located.
- Birchwood Park, Celtic Park, Community Park, Eagle Park, Tom T. Hamilton Reservoir, and Ost Field are the parks that have lightning detectors. If you don’t live in a severe weather area, this might be confusing because there are tornado sirens here as well. The lightning detectors make a sound a flash a light when lightning is in the area, and that park is closed. A tornado siren will sound when there has been a storm spotter report or a radar-indicated tornado. These are not the same things. You can listen to a sample of the lightning detector noise on the Palatine Park District’s website.
- You’ll need an Illinois fishing license to fish at any of the parks in the district. On top of that, if you want to fish for trout, you need an inland trout stamp on the license. You can learn more at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website. Ice fishing, where allowed, is done at your own risk.
- You can sign up for emergency notifications through the Citizen Alert program. This covers Palatine and five other nearby communities and includes weather, criminal, and civil emergency information. The link to sign up is on the city website.
- If you are bicycling on city streets, you might notice they start and end randomly. There is a plan to expand the bicycle lanes, but you should become familiar with the bike lane map on the city’s website. You can still ride on a street without a bicycle lane, but you should still follow all the laws as if you were driving a vehicle.
- The city has red light cameras, which means if you run a red light you’ll be mailed a ticket. It might take up to 30 days to get that ticket. Yes, rental cars can be traced back to the person driving at the time. I’ve lived in several red light camera cities, and I can tell you, you have to be fully – no question about it – running a red light. People going through the intersection on yellow won’t be sent a ticket (and no, I’m not giving you permission to run yellow lights).
- You can’t park on a street overnight in Palatine (or most of the suburbs in Chicago), but if you need to for whatever reason, you can request an exemption on the city’s websites under the “Overnight Parking” section. You can also call (847) 359-9000 to learn more.
- Palatine has several major roads in its jurisdiction and that means you’re going to be sharing the road with semi-trucks. I actually did an investigative piece about the stopping and acceleration patterns of semi-trucks when I was frustrated during a road trip, and the bottom line is – for the utmost safety for everyone on the road – don’t try to quickly pass around a truck or tailgate. Just be patient. It is illegal to pass a truck (or any vehicle) on the right, so don’t try because it’s also very dangerous.
- If more than two inches of snow have fallen during your visit, there is no street parking allowed anywhere in the city. This is so the snow plows can get through. You can’t park on the streets until the road has been sufficiently plowed or you might get a ticket or have your car towed.
So... How Safe Is Palatine Really?
You don’t get to be the third safest city without having an incredibly low crime rate.
Here are just the raw numbers of crimes from 2020:
- Violent Crime: 33
- Robbery: 6
- Sexual Assault: 12
- Theft: 287
- Motor Vehicle Theft: 15
I have seen crime numbers that low before, but it’s usually in cities half the size of Palatine and not connected to a major metropolitan area.
I always get concerned when I punctuate the safety of a city for fear it means people will let their respective guards down.
This is still a city in the Chicago area.
You can still get robbed on the Metra.
You could still get your car broken into.
Crazy chicken restaurant massacres can happen here.
You should never throw caution to the wind when it comes to your safety, but Palatine is almost as safe as you can get in the entire Land of Lincoln.
How Does Palatine Compare?
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- Visas - You will only need your Visa at the airport when you arrive and before you can go to baggage claim. It's important to remember that a visa doesn't guarantee you entrance into the United States, so even if there's a long line of Homeland Security is taking a while to get through the paperwork, be patient and calm. You won't need to show your Visa as you go through the Chicago area. Your passport will be your only necessary ID.
- Currency - You can also use the U.S. Dollar here and there's very little reason to carry cash. Using a credit card is a safe way to track purchases and make sure there isn't any fraudulent activity.
- Weather - You will get all four seasons here, but the temperatures can fluctuate. Be sure to pack really warm winter clothing because it can get dangerously cold here. Summers are generally nice but very humid. There is a chance of extreme heat. Be sure to bring a water bottle so you can refill it as you visit the city.
- Airports - O'Hare International Airport is about 20 minutes from Palatine. Midway International is a little further away and it will take about 50 minutes to get there.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want to get travel insurance to protect your flight purchase and baggage when visiting Palatine, Illinois.
Palatine Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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