Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
What Salina, Kansas, lacks in a specific theme or culture, it makes up for with a wide variety of things to do.
There is a little something for everyone in this central Kansas town nestled in the Smoky Hills.
Salina comes with a vibrant downtown close to several parks and even a nearby zoo.
Being along two major interstates makes Salina a great stopping point on a road trip, no matter what direction you are heading.
It’s also one of the larger of the smaller towns with 47,000 people.
Don’t confuse the Smoky Hills with the Great Smoky Mountains, as the two are about 1000 miles apart.
The Smoky Hills are part of the Great Plains, making it a little bit more confusing when it comes to the wording.
The Smoky Hills are rolling landscapes with some unique rock and land formations, breaking the notion that all of Kansas is flat as a board.
Another point of confusion and, thus, clarification, Salina is pronounced “Suh-LINE-uh” while the county where it’s located is Saline (pronounced: “Suh-LEEN”).
Warnings & Dangers in Salina
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here with high crime rates in key categories. Property crimes and violent crimes are both above the national and state averages. The theft rate here is double the national rate.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Salina CityGo is the bus system in Salina with more than 200 stops along the routes. The buses run every day except Sunday. You can also get taxis and rideshares here. Rental cars are available as well. There's low risk with any option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There was one purse snatching in 2020, with one the year before, and five pickpockets in 2019. With the high rate of theft, getting your wallet stolen isn't the biggest risk. There's a low risk, but a lot of other types of crime, so you should still use extra caution.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Kansas gets a lot of wild weather, from windstorms to severe thunderstorms to winter storms. Tornadoes are a risk throughout the year, with an increased risk in spring. You should know how to handle the severe weather during the season you visit as there's a medium risk year-round.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
With 20 robberies in 2020, that comes to a risk of about half the national average. While the risk is technically low, there are a lot of violent crimes, including aggravated assault, which can happen when a robbery gets more violent. Due to the violent risk in the city, this is medium risk.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here since it's not a large area and there aren't any military targets nearby. The closest city with any considerable concerns would be Wichita.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The typical scams that happen nationwide happen here, but there are people still falling for them. One involved a woman wanting to raise her credit score and trying to purchase large amounts of gift cards. Another man thought he was talking to a computer repair company that ended up scamming him out of $60,000. You should always use caution when a deal seems too good to be true or involves gift cards, but there's a low risk a tourist-centric scam will be happening here.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
The sexual assault rate is slightly above the national average with 29 incidents reported in 2020. Add that in with the violent crime rate where women were victims 60% of the time, and it's a medium risk for visitors here. Please travel with a buddy if you can and don't walk around at night alone.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Annual Water Quality Report confirms there were no violations and water met or exceeded the standards. You can feel safe using the water here with low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Salina
Downtown Salina is where a large chunk of the attractions and action are located.
There are restaurants, shops, and art galleries.
The Smoky Hill Museum isn’t like any other historical museum you’ve seen.
This is more like a science center with hands-on and interactive activities, along with artifacts that are still being turned in by locals as time goes on.
The gift shop also has a lot of original Kansas items for sale.
The Garage is a car museum with restored classics and custom-tailored cars by the brightest automotive minds.
Exhibits include several simulators, a hot wheel exhibit, and a trivia tower.
The museum is open seven days a week.
The Rolling Hills Zoo is about 15 minutes west of Salina.
There’s also a museum here where you can learn about animals from other continents throughout the centuries.
Kid’s Country is part of the zoo where you can get a little closer to the animals and don’t forget to see the Dwarf Zebu.
Indian Rock Park is along the Smoky Hill River and there are two waterfalls to see.
The drops from the waterfall aren’t dramatic, but it’s a tranquil place to watch the river run by.
This park is a popular rock climbing spot.
Marty Bender Nature Area is just outside the southeast corner of Salina.
It’s part of The Land Institute which studies and preserves the land and crops of Kansas.
Three miles of trails offer stunning views of the Smoky Hills, art displays, and a tree swing in the picnic area.
Places to Avoid in Salina
The highest crime rates are north of Crawford Street all the way up to I-70.
The eastern part of the city has the highest crime rates but also includes the downtown area.
The more people there are – the more crime there will be, so that’s not shocking.
Trying to research Salina isn’t as easy as some other towns.
The Chamber of Commerce has a website, but it’s almost like a game of hide and seek to find information about what an attraction is.
It’s more set up like a directory than a tourism site, so you’ll be five clicks into a category before you finally get to the website of your possible destination.
There is a tourism app called 67401 Salina, which is a smaller version of the directory.
You have to enter “67401” in the app store or else the app won’t come up.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Salina
- The Police Department issues Annual Reports of the previous year, summarizing challenges and successes. The most recent report, which is the 2020 report as of mid-2022, is available. Hopefully, the newest version will be updated by the time you check it out. This is a great way to get the pulse of crime activity and control in any community.
- You can sign up for CodeRED alerts, which will send emergency information to your mobile device. This will include weather information, which you must have when you visit a place with so much extreme weather. You will also get civil and criminal emergency information through this program.
- There are bicycle lanes on some of the Salina streets and more are on the way. You can ride on the road as long as you obey all the traffic laws as if you were a car. While helmets are not required for adults or children, it’s safest to wear them at all times while riding.
- At Indian Rock Park, don’t climb the rock unless you are experienced and have the right equipment. This is one of the only rock climbing locations in Kansas, so it is very popular.
- One of the only benefits of having a list instead of descriptions is finding a way to report issues in the community. On the city website, you can look under the “Report Problems” section and see hyperlinks to report crimes (non-urgent situations), potholes, traffic signals, or animal issues.
- Salina doesn’t have snow emergency declarations that impact where or how you can park. While it is suggested you don’t park on a street when it’s snowing or just after a snowstorm so the plows can get through, you won’t get a ticket for doing so. You might get sideswiped by a plow or blocked in by a wall of snow, so park at your own risk.
- In another head-scratcher, the city of Salina will plow the snow into the center of the streets downtown in a tactic called a windrow. This will leave a wall of snow in the center of the street, but allow cars to drive in the lanes.
- Anglers need to get a fishing license to use any of the rivers, lakes, and streams in this area. The Kansas Department of Wildlife issues those licenses and you can purchase them online. You cannot use the license from your home state or city.
- You should avoid swimming in the Smoky Hill River due to all the debris in it. You’ll even see at the waterfalls there are large branches of trees being swept down the river. Don’t get too close to the edge where there is a bluff near the water.
- In 2020, there was an average of 3 car accidents per day in Salina. 202 of those were injury accidents and five people died. Do not drive distracted here and always leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you.
So... How Safe Is Salina Really?
Salina’s violent crime rate is 22% higher than the national average and the theft rate is double the national average.
There doesn’t seem to be a perfect answer to why the crime rates here are so high.
There is an 11% poverty rate, but usually, when the rate is 20% or higher, that’s when you start to see poverty-driven crimes increase.
What I can tell you after digging through the data is that 18% of violent crimes happened against strangers and was the second highest category for victims.
54% of the violent crimes happened in private homes, so that should make you breathe a little easier here if you’re worried about violent crime.
For theft rates, 23% of the thefts were car break-ins and 32% were shoplifting.
There was a case in June of 2022 where a woman approached another shopper at a clothing store and made a friendly conversation.
Later, the shopper realized their wallet was missing.
That person had fraudulent charges totaling $8000 in a short period of time.
It’s a good reminder to always keep your purse closed and wallet secured.
There’s just a lot more crime than the average small to middle-sized town might see here.
It’s nothing that some good personal safety tactics can’t overcome, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind when you visit Salina, Kansas.
How Does Salina Compare?
- Visas - You just need your U.S. Visa when you go through Customs at the airport and don't need to show it as you travel through Kansas or Salina. It takes a few months to go through all the visa issuance steps, so plan well ahead of time.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. Since this is a remote area, you should give your bank a heads up that you'll be traveling to avoid fraud holds as you make purchases. It would be wise to carry very little cash here.
- Weather - Kansas weather can be all over the place as far as the temperature goes, so pack layers of t-shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, and shorts for much of the year. In winter, you'll need a coat, gloves, and a hat, but even January can get a mild weather spell. For summer, you'll definitely need bug spray and sunscreen.
- Airports - There's a small airport in Salina with one commercial airline. You can be at the Topeka airport in less than two hours and the larger Kansas City airport in less than three hours.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a good idea due to the wide range of weather that can cause delays and cancellations.
Salina Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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