How Safe Is St. Louis for Travel?

St. Louis, United States
Safety Index:
58

St. Louis, Missouri, is known as the Gateway to the West and is easy to recognize with the giant Arch that sits on the riverfront.

St. Louis is referred to in several ways, like STL, Gateway City, and “The Lou.”

The city is east of the Mississippi River and fans out from the banks into Missouri, but across the river, parts of Illinois are still considered the St. Louis Metro area.

While Kansas City, Missouri, is technically bigger than St. Louis, the STL Metro area is larger than the KC Metropolitan region.

St. Louis is also closer to major cities like Memphis, Chicago, and Louisville.

As a born-and-raised St. Louisan, I’m excited to tell you about my city.

I’m also going to tell you the not-so-good parts – like St. Louis repeatedly making “Dangerous City” lists and topping the list in 2022.

I’m an objective writer, except when it comes to Major League Baseball, and then, as far as I’m concerned, the St. Louis Cardinals are the best team ever.

St. Louis is rich in architecture and history, with different cultural neighborhoods and green spaces to explore.

Forest Park brings botanical gardens and the St. Louis Zoo, which has always been free to visit.

There is “The Hill,” where Italians reign, and Soulard, which gives New Orleans a run for its Mardi Gras beads with a major celebration.

One of the great things about St. Louis is – even with the crime rates – there are rather clear lines about where the safe vs. not-so-safe areas of town are located.

Warnings & Dangers in St. Louis

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

There's a solid medium risk here, with some neighborhoods belonging to a "don't go there" high-risk category. The "Most Dangerous City" ranking also includes additional safety concerns, such as traffic accidents and severe weather.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Public Transportation is the Metro Link and Metro Bus here. The safety of those routes is more about the neighborhoods where you wait for the bus and the routes you take. There's not an overwhelming risk in just using the systems. Taxis and rideshares are easy to get, and rental cars are plentiful. If you want to visit parts of the metro area, it will be best to have a car as the rideshare or taxi costs will quickly add up.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

With just 88 pickpockets reported in 2021, out of nearly 11,000 thefts, it seems like a low risk. The challenge here is that criminals are more likely just to take what they want through force than trying to manipulate it from you. Carry only what you need and keep purses and wallets out of plain sight. It's best to use an inside jacket pocket or front pants pocket to hold your wallet.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

St. Louis gets a little bit of everything and should be treated with a medium risk. You'll see what I mean if you search YouTube for any kind of natural disaster and add "St. Louis" to the search string. Winter weather can include blizzards and ice storms. Spring brings tornado season and severe thunderstorms that last into winter and fall. Earthquakes are possible, too, with the proximity to the New Madrid Fault line. Aside from wildfires, my St. Louis childhood prepared me for the worst of the worst in my adult life.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

The robbery rate is more than three times the national average. On top of that, 54% of the robberies happen on sidewalks, roads, or parking lots. You might see someone else being robbed even if you aren't targeted. Never get involved in an altercation here with the presence of gang members and violent offenders. Call the police at the sign of any disturbance.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

St. Louis and the surrounding area are home to almost three million people, have major corporations, and a strong military presence. That's going to come with a medium potential risk, but any large city will also have a lot of extra security visible and behind the scenes.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

Most of the traditional scams happen against residents here, like fake utility or IRS calls. You should watch out for pushy vendors or people selling items out of a car's trunk.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Women face the same risk as men and statistically have a slightly lower risk of being a violent crime victim. You can lower any risk by traveling with a buddy, avoiding walking around at night in poorly-lit areas, and being confident in your stature. You might face some catcalling, but that's common in any large city.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance for the year. You should always check the city's social media when you visit a new place to see if there are any water quality issues. Some boil orders can last just a few hours or days.

Safest Places to Visit in St. Louis

ExploreStLouis.com is the official tourism website for the city.

Using sites that are backed by the city/county/tourism bureau are just safer for surfing and purchasing tickets.

You can download a digital version of the Visitor’s Guide without giving any personal information.

Let’s start at the Mississippi Riverfront.

The Gateway Arch and a surrounding park sit right on the banks.

This area is full of tourists, field trips, and local business workers, so you can feel safe here.

The Museum of Westward Expansion is under the arch and shows how pioneers crossed the river to explore the West.

You can take a tram ride to the top of the arch, which is more than 600 feet high.

Even on a windy day, the Arch is built to sway a little bit, so don’t get scared if it feels like it’s moving.

You can take riverboat cruises on the Mississippi, but check the river levels before you book a ticket.

As of late 2022, the river levels were historically low, causing some travel disruption.

Just to the north of the Arch is Laclede’s Landing, with cobblestone streets.

It’s fun to visit during the day, but it gets lively at night too.

The Old Courthouse is filled with history and is located just on the other side of the Arch.

The courthouse was temporarily closed as of this publication, but check closer to your visit.

There’s a lot of history that has happened in this courthouse, and I never want to ruin a good story for those of you who plan to take the tour.

Lafayette Square is a throwback to the Victorian Era, with great architecture and local eateries filled with more locals than tourists.

It’s a great place to explore, and you can fill up an Instagram page with beautiful buildings.

Union Station was built in the late 1800s and served as an important transportation hub when the World’s Fair was held there in 1904.

The impressive architecture of the building still stands but with modern amenities like a 3D show, shopping, dining, and the St. Louis Aquarium.

Forest Park is a great place to spend a day.

The St. Louis Zoo is there, which, again, is free.

The hardest part about visiting the zoo is getting a parking spot, so arrive early if you can.

The St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, and the Jewel Box are also in this park.

The Jewel Box is a botanical garden of sorts with seasonal displays inside a domed building.

The Jewel Box is not to be confused with the much larger St. Louis Botanical Garden just a few miles away.

Nearby Tower Grove Park also hosts concerts, festivals, and farmer’s markets throughout the year.

Anheuser Busch has been a St. Louis staple since the 1850s, and you can still go on tours of the impressive facility and sample the beverages if you are over the age of 21.

There are several tour versions and seasonal additions, so check the website before you go to see which one is best for you.

A VIP experience promises you’ll “Meet a Clydesdale,” but let me tell you a little St. Louis secret.

If you go to Grant’s Farm, which is 20 minutes from downtown, you can get a tour of land founded by President Ulysses S. Grant and became the Anheuser Busch home.

The Clydesdales are housed there and are part of the tour.

The best part?

It’s all free!

It’s really hard to get all the great parts of this city into one summary article, but I’d put Soulard and The Hill on your list of places to see, especially if you like local flavor.

St. Louis is famous for its Toasted Ravioli and Gooey Butter Cake.

Places to Avoid in St. Louis

The city’s most dangerous areas are north of Delmar and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

You also should avoid the southernmost inner city, mainly south of the Anheuser Busch brewery.

You will know with no uncertainty when you are in a dangerous or bad part of town.

Stay in the central part of the city or the entertainment districts to have the safest environment.

Just across the river is East St. Louis.

A traveler who isn’t familiar with this area might think it looks like a close yet less expensive place to stay.

It’s not safe at all, not even to stop and get gas.

I had my hubcaps stolen while I was inside paying for gas there once (it was an emergency of my own making that forced me to stop there).

If you want to stay on “The East Side,” go to Collinsville or Fairview Heights.

We have a summary of both cities on this website.

Also, no matter what the river levels are, avoid getting into the Mississippi River.

It’s polluted, stinky, and full of debris.

That’s not even to mention the swift current that could easily carry a person away.

If you want to enjoy a river in this area, head west to the Meramec or Missouri rivers.

The Meramec is my personal favorite.

Safety Tips for Traveling to St. Louis

  1. The reputation of St. Louis as a dangerous city can be intimidating. The St. Louis Metro Police Department (SLMPD) posts monthly updates for crime data for neighborhoods, districts, or citywide. This is a great way to see crime trends closer to your trip.
  2. Use the crime mapping portal on the department’s website for even more recent crime information. It’s an interactive map, allowing you to search for things like car break-ins within a mile of your hotel.
  3. Sign up for city notifications through the Nixel program. This is a free service; you’ll get updates on criminal activity or road closures as fast as the local news outlets do. You can also add any agency that utilizes Nixle, which is great for frequent travelers.
  4. For those worried about terrorism, you can view the National Terrorism Advisory System to see the latest bulletins sent out by law enforcement and the government. There’s a module on the SLMPD website, but you can also just bookmark the site on the Department of Homeland Security website.
  5. MetroLink and MetroBus users can download the Transit App to get schedule information and pay for tickets through their mobile devices. Visit StLouisMetro.org and review the “Secure Platform Plan” for upgrades and updates that make the public transportation system safer for all. There are several safety videos there too. You can also view crime summaries from the past months and years.
  6. There are nearly 50,000 parking spots in downtown St. Louis, but each garage has its own pay scale, time limits, and rules. You can review the maps of different neighborhoods on the parking section of the city’s website. Check the schedule of the pro sports teams here too. Parking could be more expensive and harder to find if there are sporting events at one or two of the stadiums.
  7. The Central West End is a favorite hangout spot for LGBTQ visitors and locals. The tourism website has a list of the most inclusive neighborhoods with plenty of shopping, dining, and drinking. You shouldn’t feel like there’s any part of the city where LGBTQ guests aren’t welcome, but a few hot spots might be more comfortable for first-time visitors.
  8. Since St. Louis has several rivers throughout the area, flooding can quickly block off busy roads and lead to GPS nightmares. Check the river levels before you travel here to see if there are any risks. The Meramec was flooded back in the 90s, and what should have been a 15-minute drive for me took 45 minutes with a detour.
  9. The Missouri Department of Transportation has a Gateway Guide to help you navigate traffic in the city and suburbs. GatewayGuide.com shows you live cameras, construction, and road conditions in the greater metro area. It doesn’t cover the Metro East in Illinois, but you can bookmark GettingAroundIlliois.com and click on the Metro-East St. Louis map to see traffic there.
  10. Download the SLMPD app so you can submit crime tips, contact the police, or find a specific department. While this isn’t a substitute for calling 911 in an emergency, it’s still a great safety tool to have during your travels.

So... How Safe Is St. Louis Really?

It’s easy to say, “it depends on where you’re from and how much crime you’re used to,” but I’m from St. Louis, and I don’t want to downplay the parts of it that are definitely not safe.

Looking at the numbers from 2021:

  • Violent crime = 3.6 times the national average
  • Robbery = 2.3 times the national average
  • Theft = 2.6 times the national average

Now here’s a little more context to those numbers:

  • 54% of robberies were “highway robbery,” meaning an individual is robbed in a public space outdoors.
  • 32% of violent crimes were against strangers.
  • 70% of violent crimes happened outside of private homes.
  • 62% of all thefts were car break-ins or burglaries.

All that comes with the asterisk mentioned earlier about the lack of full transparency in reporting crime data.

There are a few things you don’t need crime data to tell you, however.

There are gangs here.

There is a drug problem here.

Too many illegal weapons are on the streets.

On top of that, there aren’t enough police officers, with one headline even reading the lack of officers is “Reaching Critical Mass.”

St. Louis is one of many cities facing too few officers and growing violent crime and homicides.

You’ll need to avoid those parts of town we mentioned above unless you visit friends and family there.

The city is working to provide more lighting around downtown, but you must stay in well-lit areas and don’t walk around at night alone.

Even if you need to Uber to your car a few blocks away, it’s safer than taking the risk.

There’s too much to see and do here to avoid the city due to the crime rates.

The worst crimes are largely in specific areas by a specific group of people targeting each other.

Reviewing those monthly neighborhood crime statistics reports will help you see which areas are safest for your trip.

How Does St. Louis Compare?

CitySafety Index
St. Louis58
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37

Useful Information

  • Visas - You'll need a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver from the U.S. State Department to get through Customs. This process is very detailed and can take several months. Schedule your appointment at the embassy for the in-person interview as soon as possible because wait times can be backlogged for several months.
  • Currency - You can exchange currency at the airport, but you'll get better value if you do it before arriving in the U.S. Don't use public ATMs and carry only the cash you need.
  • Weather - St. Louis gets all four seasons, but even those seasons can be temperamental. Bring layers of clothing, so you have many different options, but you'll need a coat in the winter with gloves and a hat. Summers are humid, and you'll need bug spray to keep the mosquitos away.
  • Airports - St. Louis Lambert International Airport (sometimes referred to by old people like me as Lambert Field) is 15 miles from downtown. It's a large airport with a lot of direct flights, so you don't need to research other options.
  • Travel Insurance - We always recommend travel insurance for the peace of mind it provides. With the volatile weather that can happen here, you don't want a weather system to cause you to lose money due to cancelations or delays.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

St. Louis Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -1° C
Feb 2° C
Mar 8° C
Apr 15° C
May 20° C
Jun 25° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 26° C
Sep 22° C
Oct 16° C
Nov 9° C
Dec 3° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
471320253032312721147
Low
°C
-5-3391519222116104-2
High
°F
394555687786908881705745
Low
°F
232737485966727061503928

Where to Next?

22 Reviews on St. Louis

  1. Downtown St. Louis is NOT safe. My family and I have lived in the St. Louis area since 1960, and it’s getting to the point that even during the daytime it’s not safe for a single person to walk around.

    I get the feeling this article was written by the Chamber of Commerce.

    1. Should be on high risk of crime related not fair article for tourists

      I think your probably right

    2. I would agree with the chamber of commerce comment. As a midwesterner I find it hilarious that there is a medium risk for weather, citing earthquakes, etc but mugging, theft etc is considered low risk.

  2. Robbed & Raped

    This is Racist and wrong view of St. louis. “North of Delmar” is mostly Black. That’s why this writer says its more dangerous, that’s not true. You can get robbed and raped in South St. Louis too where its mostly white criminals. Dont buy drugs and dont leave the yellow brick road and you should be fine.

    1. L
      Lifer in TheLou says:

      I agree that bad situations can arise anywhere and we should always be vigilant not to characterize certain neighborhoods with a racially-tinted brush, but statistics don’t lie and numbers aren’t racist. The risk of crime is statistically higher in north St. Louis than other sections of town. This is simply a sad fact.

      1. Love St Louis, but...it has some flaws...

        I live in St Louis, and sadly, north of Delmar IS the high risk areas.it’s just a fact….societal issues abound, good people in a bad area..downtown overall, I still find pretty safe, sadly because most of the area other than the large venues, is boring….

        1. Can somebody please help me I'm trying to figure if this is a good move to something

          What do you think about somebody moving to St Louis in which part is the good part to move me Columbus square is that a good area for midtown or somewhere around midtown area I’m just trying to get some pointers and I’m looking for a good psychiatrist

  3. K
    Kaelin Brown says:

    My father lived in the city of St. Louis before but its violence there and could here lots of gun shooting day & night

  4. R
    Richard says:

    Article is false information

    This article is false in so many ways, this is as updated January 2021 For more information, see our FAQ on how we rank the most dangerous cities in America

    1. Detroit, MI

    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 19.5
    Your chance of being a victim: 1 in 51
    2. St. Louis, MO

    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 19.2
    Chance of being a victim: 1 in 51
    3. Memphis, TN

    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 19.0
    Chance of being a victim: 1 in 52

    1. I think the article overstates how safe it is but analyzing the data the way you have is also misleading. St. Louis is an older city and as a result and the vast majority of people in the St. Louis metro area live in areas that are unincorporated, with the city of St. Louis mostly only covering the most dangerous parts of the metro area. Most crime also happens between people who know each other and only about 20% of violent crime happens between people who didn’t previously know each other. So I think it’s very inaccurate to say a tourist’s chance of being a victim is 1-57 when that’s really not the case, especially when a person is taking precautions to keep themselves out of sketchy situations such as not walking around after 12, avoiding certain neighborhoods, not showing off wealth, avoiding arguments with people, etc.

  5. “Junkies and homeless” lol I hope the demographic of folks who visit this site for information are just as weirded out by that characterization as I am.

  6. M
    Matt M Garza says:

    dumb article

    “Junkies and homeless” are people, too. The crime that often happens in predominantly black neighborhoods is due to poverty, not due to race. When you oppress a group of people for centuries, robbing them of their wealth and human rights, you’re going to create a massive set of social problems that will take decades, if not centuries, to unravel.

    1. Time For Change

      And what political party has been in power for the last 72 years? There’s your answer.

  7. NOT FOR TOURISTS

    This review is completely reckless and will put anyone in harms way who follows it’s advice. St Louis is extremely dangerous. It is NOT safe for tourists. NEVER get on the Metrolink. You rated earthquakes as a bigger risk than crime? Are you kidding me? We don’t have earthquakes. We DO have shootings and robberies and murders throughout the city: north, south, midtown, you name it. I don’t know who paid you for this review but it is patently irresponsible.

    1. S
      STL at heart says:

      STL Forever

      You are putting fear places it doesn’t belong. Metros are fine to ride. I ride them all the time and have lived in the city since 2012.

      The article is accurate. This city is a blast and my friends and I rarely feel unsafe because we follow BASIC SAFETY PRECAUTIONS of any big city. Get outta here with the fear nonsense.

  8. S
    Scared in St. Louis says:

    Number 2 most dangerous cities in the United States! I live here, I know. The first 15 minutes of any local news cast is focused on Homicides from the previous 24 hours. Want your car window smashed out, even in broad day light, just go downtown to see the Blues or Cardinals.
    It’s so sad to say but St. Louis city has become a blight on surrounding towns. Going downtown? Better take your pistol, NO joke.

  9. A
    Anonymous says:

    A person is flat-out crazy to park a car in downtown St. Louis. The chances of your car being broken into are very high. Along with Detroit, St. Louis is the city I most dislike traveling to on business. And I would never take my family.

  10. A
    Anonymous says:

    Albuquerque is the only red city in us
    rank no.9 in danger by better danger rankers
    st.louis is ranked no.2

  11. Lots to see, but can be dangerous in certain areas

    You can do a lot of things while in St. Louis and maybe that’s why so many people keep visiting it. It’s not the safest city but also not the most dangerous one from what I can tell.

    A lot of interesting architectural influences here which I personally enjoyed a lot.

  12. R
    Resident says:

    Not safe. Go somewhere else

    I live here but never go downtown. Crime has been spreading to the suburbs over the years too, making it so bad that people keep moving away from the city and in time away from the state.

    Break-ins, armed robberies, home invasions, shootings, drugs, kidnappings, you name it.

    Minorities are not welcome here, jobs are below average, you can see the effort to revitalize downtown, but you know what they say about lipstick on a pig.

  13. One of the more dangerous place in the US

    St. Louis is indeed a special place, with plenty of things to do (and I’ll share a few of them) but we can’t overlook the elephant in the room here. The crime rate in this city is very high and I think it is one of the unsafest cities to live in (or even visit) in the US at this time. I don’t know if this was always the case or not because I don’t live here.

    I stayed here for 5 days in which I had a chance to see, firsthand, some pickpockets, hear about a rape that happened close by and also a shooting. Plus having talked to a few people that do live here, they said things seem to only be getting worse with each passing year.

    It seems the areas where Black people live are more dangerous but this is probably only because these people are not helped, they don’t have enough money, jobs and such things will always lead to poverty and crimes. It doesn’t matter what color your skin has. But crimes do happen in most parts of the city so you will need to exercise caution wherever you are.

    Ok, now enough of that. Let’s see some of the good things about Saint Louis. The Magic House is a wonderful place to visit with your kids as they will learn about science, computers and will encourage them to learn by engaging with different things. There’s also a special room for babies or toddlers and this room is particularly made to soothe and relax them. For some parents this is a Godsend.

    The City Museum – again, another one that you can go to with kids. There’s a museum, circus, aquarium and the whole thing is something else (when you get there you’ll see what I mean).

    Other interesting places include the Laumeier Sculpture Park, Campbell House Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, Forest Park or the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Rated 2.64 / 5 based on 22 user reviews.

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