Missouri : Safety by City
- Blue Springs
- Cape Girardeau
- Creve Coeur
- Jefferson City
- Kansas City
- Lee’s Summit
- Maryland Heights
- New Madrid
- Poplar Bluff
- St. Charles
- St. Joseph
- St. Louis
- Ste. Genevieve
Springfield, Missouri, proudly wears the proverbial crown as Queen City of the Ozarks.
While the city name of Springfield is one of the most common in America, this Springfield is unique—the headquarters of the Bass Pro Shops, the Birthplace of Route 66, and just 45 miles from Brandon, the Live Music Capital of the World.
Full disclosure: I attended what was then Southwest Missouri State University, so I’m a bit partial to Springfield.
My university is now named Missouri State University and shares the collegiate landscape with Drury University and Evangel University.
Given the larger population here (170,000 people and growing), it’s much more than a college town, also sharing the title of being the Buckle of the Bible Belt due to the number of churches and strong Christian beliefs here.
Those beliefs are tested, with a high crime rate that shocks just about everyone who knows the true heart of the city.
Civil War history rests here as the first major battle site west of the Mississippi River.
The protected site is open to visiting, and its influence is even seen in the city along Battlefield Road and nearby Battlefield Mall.
If all that isn’t enough, this is the hometown of famous movie star Brad Pitt.
I remember with epic clarity staying at school over a college break, having a beer with friends at a bar, and Brad was across the room with a man (his dad?), and we were all too scared to say hello, choosing instead to just awkwardly stare.
Warnings & Dangers in Springfield
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Springfield has a medium risk and a crime rate among the most dangerous cities in the state if you go by crime data alone. The risk is outweighed by the sheer number of things to do here in safe places with plenty of family-friendly options.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
CU Transit is the public bus system in Springfield, offering 12 routes throughout the city. Rental cars are readily available, and taxis/rideshares are popular with the college crowd. It's definitely safer to control your routes with your own vehicle, as the bus system does go through some dangerous parts of the city.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
My mouth is agape as I write that this is a medium risk. Not necessarily just for pickpockets, which averages 30 a year (26 in 2021), but for the exponentially high theft rates. The rate is on a downward trend but still escalated enough that you should clutch your purse and bury your wallet deep in your clothing.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
I'm recalling all kinds of fond memories as I write this; the ice storm during Thanksgiving I drove through to get home to St. Louis, the dozen or so times a tornado warning sent me to the basement of my dorm, and the temperatures so bitterly cold the university canceled classes. This is a medium risk, and you can't brush off severe weather threats here.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Robberies are more than twice the national average and have a historically wobbly roller coaster ride to get there. Just 17% of those robberies happen against strangers, but it's enough to keep your guard up.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's no overwhelming risk here, but nearby Branson could likely be one of the main targets for an international terror attack. In 2023, Lone Wolf and domestic terrorism is a much bigger concern, but that can happen in any American community. Just stay vigilant and report anything suspicious.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
A whopping 1,654 cases of fraud were reported in 2022. That averages almost five a day. For tourists, the upside is that most of those involve email, phone calls, and text fraud attempts. If you know basic cyber safety you can lower the risk, but be wary of any link or call you didn't initiate that involves money.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
17% of the sexual assault cases here involved strangers, which is enough to give it a medium risk, especially since the sexual assault rate is 250% higher than the national average. Stick with groups in well-lit places, and don't walk around at night.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. While most cities just provide a basic document of water quality details, this report is in color and details where water comes from, how it's treated, and what you can do to help keep the water safe.
Safest Places to Visit in Springfield
Springfieldmo.org is the official tourism site, which is a great starting point, especially to protect against cyber criminals looking to get personal information.
You can also access the Springfield Area Guide on that website without having to give away any personal information.
The Bass Pro Shops Flagship store is in Springfield, called Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World: The Grandaddy of All Outdoor Stores®.
I promise you, there’s an actual store in there, but you’ll be overwhelmed by all the other options:
- National Archery Hall of Fame
- National Rifle Association Sports Arms Museum
- Hemingway’s Blue Water Cafe
- Seven Aquariums
- A swamp with alligators and turtles
Also at this location is the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, the “Largest Immersive Wildlife Attraction in the World.”
I can’t even list all the exhibits because there are so many, but if there’s a body of water or land near water, it’s replicated in this museum.
You can even brag to your friends that you swam with sharks… in landlocked Missouri.
Looking for a few more furry animals?
Head to the Dickerson Park Zoo and walk among 500 species.
As with most American zoos these days, you can upgrade your basic ticket with an animal encounter of your choosing, like zebra feeding or a private elephant performance.
When I saw Pythian Castle open for tours, I was shocked that I had never toured this during my four college years.
Well, it just opened 13 years ago, and I went to college… before that.
This 1913 castle is open for tours and offers special events like ghost hunts and history tours, as this castle was first an orphanage, then a military operation, then a Big Band-era dance hall.
Even the owner says, “We found out it was haunted the hard way.”
Just northwest of Springfield is Fantastic Caverns, one of many tourable caves in the Ozark region.
The difference is that this one is a drive-through cave as well.
There are more cave attractions in this region, making it the safest way to explore.
You should avoid going into any cave you come across if you’re out in the wilderness.
History Museum on the Square explores the history of just about everything, using the platform that Springfield is the crossroads of America.
Even USA Today ranked it as one of the best new attractions in the country.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is just southwest of the city, with a driving tour that has educational lessons along the way.
Five trails, all less than a mile, offer a great way to stretch your legs.
You can also take a tour of historical markers related to the Civil War battle throughout the city.
If I can also personally recommend stopping by Lambert’s Cafe, about 14 miles southeast of Springfield in the town of Ozark.
It’s known as Home of the Throwed Rolls, and it’s truly a unique experience.
It’s homestyle cooking with a bit of Southern flair.
As the name suggests, rolls are thrown across the room when you’re ready for one, and a few might fly over your head on the way to a nearby table.
Servers also walk around with “Pass Arounds,” much like grandma at Sunday dinner trying to add more to your plate.
Places to Avoid in Springfield
The 2022 Annual Police Report shows heat maps that detail the locations where shootings happened, giving a great landscape of the most dangerous neighborhoods.
The neighborhoods north of Sunshine Street have the most reports, with a specific grouping north of the Chestnut Expressway to I-44.
The largest group of car break-ins and robberies were in the central part of the city near the universities, but that makes more sense since there are more people there.
There might be some confusion for those who are fans of the show Ozark but aren’t familiar with the Ozarks as a whole.
The show was focused on Lake of the Ozarks, near Osage Beach, which is 90 minutes northeast of Springfield.
However, the entire region of southern Missouri to northern Arkansas is the actual Ozark Mountains, with subsections within.
I bring that up to let you know you shouldn’t go looking for the Byrd or Langmore homes here.
In fact, those homes were all located in Georgia, so you can’t even find them in Missouri.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Springfield
- Follow Springfield Police on social media sites under @SGFPolice. While some cities with high crime rates tend to bury the dangerous details, Springfield PD is very transparent with crime rates, challenges, and successes.
- Springfield takes the Crime Stoppers program to a new level. You can report any criminal or suspicious activity by calling (417)864-1835. You’ll remain anonymous while still being eligible for a reward. On top of that, you can sign up for alerts to get information about the most wanted suspects.
- Since graffiti is usually tied to gangs, police aim to clear any gang vandalism as quickly as possible. If you notice fresh graffiti, call (417)864-1810 to report it.
- With 45% of all thefts being related to car break-ins or car accessory thefts, police need to keep officers focused on dangerous crimes. If you are a victim of a break-in after the fact, call (417)864-1810 to report it, or use the “Phone-In Report” website section to fill out the online report form
- Springfield police relentlessly attempt to stop crime before it happens, and the robust Crime Prevention Tips section of the site covers many great safety tips for adults, children, and vehicles. Seasonal crime advice is also included.
- The city has a program called City View that posts videos of local events, meetings, news conferences, and tourism updates. Review this website to get a better feel for the city since crime statistics can be off-putting.
- Anglers need a license from the Missouri Department of Conservation. You can purchase that online, but note the different seasons and types of fish while you’re there.
- Use the Notify Me section of the city’s website to sign up for local alerts, from road closures to severe weather. Don’t sign up for everything since there are dozens of categories, but be sure to get the “Alert Center” updates and review the list of “News Alerts” to see if there’s information you want to get, such as from the parks or health departments.
- While MoDOT offers a great statewide interactive map about road conditions and traffic, you can also use the Ozarks Traffic website to see localized incidents. Live cameras, a list of current incidents, and construction zones are marked on the site.
- If you prefer to walk or bike around the city, get a map of The Link available on the city’s website. This is a “low-stress route” through streets with lower speed limits and traffic volume. While The Link doesn’t cover the entire city, it does go through the main districts.
So... How Safe Is Springfield Really?
I actually laughed the first time I saw a report that said Springfield was among the top three most dangerous cities in the state.
Having grown up in St. Louis and attending college in Springfield, I couldn’t wrap my head around Springfield being anything other than a safe, Bible Belt town with conservative values and tree-lined streets.
A lot has changed since I lived there.
The violent crime rate is 350% higher than the national average, and that’s with the 10% decrease in crime reported in 2022.
The crime rate is fueled by aggravated assault cases, making up 79% of all violent crimes.
Both 2021 and 2022 had 17 homicides.
31% of the homicide victims in 2022 were not known to their assailants, but that doesn’t mean random people were getting shot on the street.
That could be a drug deal or a fight that escalated.
The pressure point on these crime rates continues to be gun violence.
Of all the percentages that went down in 2022, shots fired calls went up to a four-year high at 356 reports.
“Those are not good numbers, and that’s the one thing that continues to increase,” Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said in 2022.
“The amount of gunfire and the amount of folks getting hurt is increasing.”
229 illegal guns were taken off the streets in 2022, adding some hope to the mix, and that’s the highest number of confiscated guns since 2019.
2022 data also shows that more than seven vehicles are broken into each day or have an accessory stolen, like the valuable catalytic convertor.
You can’t risk security with your vehicle here.
Always lock it.
Roll up the windows.
Remove all belongings from the car.
The places I’ve mentioned to visit are in safer parts of town with plenty of crowds and surveillance.
Visiting Springfield is a wonderful experience, whether for a week or on the way to Branson.
How Does Springfield Compare?
|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
|Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)||43|
- Visas - International guests need a visa to get into the country, and the visa options are different for those here to attend school, be a tourist or work. A passport that isn't within six months of expiring is also required to get through Customs at the airport.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar, and with the theft rates here, don't carry around cash or even leave spare change in your vehicle. Credit cards offer the best fraud protection, and you should never throw a receipt out in a public trash can.
- Weather - Bring comfortable, casual clothing here and dress appropriately for the season since this region gets a robust dose of all four of them. Summers will be humid, so bring bug spray to ward off mosquitoes. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. If you'll be visiting the caves in the summer, you'll need a jacket as the temperatures hover in the 50s year-round.
- Airports - Springfield Branson National Airport flies direct to major cities from Los Angeles to Orlando. Charlotte, Dallas, and Atlanta are also on that list. The airport is just seven miles from downtown and is the best option nearby.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea when visiting a region like this that goes so much severe weather. You'll want rental car insurance, too, as the drivers here are a blend from all states and countries.
Springfield Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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