Oklahoma : Safety by City
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In the heart of Oklahoma lies Stillwater, a vibrant city steeped in history and a dynamic pulse that echoes through its streets.
Known as the “Town of Red Dirt,” its heritage echoes the whispers of frontier settlers and Native American tribes who once called this land home to a city that became a trading post and an agricultural hub of Oklahoma.
Central to Stillwater’s identity is Oklahoma State University, an academic beacon that illuminates the city with innovation and spirit.
Home to the Cowboys, this institution isn’t just about sports; it’s a hub for research and creativity, fostering minds that fuel progress in various fields.
Stillwater invites exploration through its charming downtown, where local boutiques and eclectic eateries line the streets.
Take a leisurely walk around Boomer Lake Park or catch a live performance at the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts.
Country music fans should check out Willies, where Garth Brooks made his first public performance.
It’s also a place that he says is near and dear to his heart.
“You’re playing in Ireland, you’re playing wherever, and these people are singing along, and all I can think of is, ‘I wish I was playing at Willie’s,’” said Brooks when he returned to Stillwater in April 2023 for a fundraiser concert.
Whether drawn from its rich heritage, academic vibrancy, or the allure of its famous sons, Stillwater stands as a testament to Oklahoma’s spirit.
Warnings & Dangers in Stillwater
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here, with both property and violent crime rates at or below the national average. Plus, you've got the excitement of a college town to explore.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The Oklahoma State University (OSU)/Stillwater Community Transit System provides public transportation here. Rideshares and cabs will be easy to find, and rental cars give you more flexibility. It's also worth noting that public parking is free in Stillwater. All options are a low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
I saw one pickpocket reported in 2022 but wanted to go back a few more years to be sure. Over the past five years, just one pickpocket or purse snatching was reported, which is quite impressive for a college town with packed games and large crowds. Enjoy the low risk, but don't take it for granted.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is a medium risk because Oklahoma gets some rough weather. The biggest and most intimidating risk is the infamous tornadoes that roll through "Tornado Alley." However, you'll get plenty of advance notice that a storm is coming. The true risk is based on how much attention you pay to the forecast and how educated you are about storm safety. Winters can bring ice storms and snow storms, so you need to be prepared throughout the year.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The robbery rate is 75% lower than the national average, another low risk that you shouldn't allow to create a false sense of safety. Robberies can happen; they just happen much less in Stillwater than in most other places.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Stillwater is a rural community between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. There's no reason to worry about international terrorism here, but no community in the United States is free from the risk of domestic terrorism or mass shootings. The most important thing you can do is report any suspicious activity and stay away from any trouble that appears to be brewing (fights, large crowd disturbances, etc.)
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The risk is low, but that doesn't mean there aren't scammers out there. Stay informed by reading the latest reports from the police department. Most scams target the trusting Oklahomans and not tourists.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Statistically, women have a slightly lower risk of being a victim of a violent crime. While there's no reason to avoid Stillwater as a woman, please know it's still a college town with parties that can get out of hand or pose inherent risks. Just be smart, stick with a buddy, and use common sense to keep the risk low.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows three violations, but the concerns were clearly explained, and the issue would require long-term exposure to the water to cause health issues. All steps have been taken to improve the water problem, and you can read more about it on the city's website. Since the U.S. has incredibly high tap water standards, there's no reason to let this impact your decision to visit. It's this kind of ongoing testing that helps keep the water safe.
Safest Places to Visit in Stillwater
VisitStillwaterOK.org is the official tourism site for the region.
You can download a visitor’s guide, but you are required to give your name and email address.
That’s usually a dealbreaker for me, but when planning a trip, I will also create a new email that is ONLY for the trip.
That way, any spam or unwanted emails are clogging up my personal inbox.
One of the city’s prominent attractions is the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, showcasing the rich history of this sport through exhibits and memorabilia.
Visitors can explore the interactive displays and learn about legendary wrestlers who have left an indelible mark on the sport.
Art enthusiasts can appreciate the OSU Museum of Art, featuring a diverse collection of contemporary and historical artwork.
The museum regularly hosts exhibitions and events, providing a platform for local and international artists to showcase their creations.
Continue your art tour by visiting the Downtown Stillwater Cultural District, with galleries, sculptures, and murals to explore.
A visit to Stillwater wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University.
Spanning over 100 acres, this picturesque garden showcases various themed gardens, including a Japanese garden and a native prairie garden.
It’s an ideal spot for nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil environment.
For a taste of local history, the Sheerar Museum of Stillwater History offers a glimpse into the city’s past.
Exhibits here delve into the area’s heritage, displaying artifacts and stories that highlight Stillwater’s evolution over the years.
For those inclined towards nature, Boomer Lake Park provides a serene escape.
This 250-acre park offers walking trails, fishing spots, and picnic areas.
The scenic lake serves as a focal point for leisurely strolls or enjoying a day outdoors with family and friends.
Check the seasonal guide for agricultural products, from Christmas tree farms to berry picking to pecan farms.
Head to Lost Creek Safari if you want to see some wild animals up close in a unique setting.
They do close in the winter.
If you’ve seen the movie “We Bought a Zoo,” this is a very similar story.
Additionally, sports enthusiasts can catch thrilling games at the Boone Pickens Stadium, home to the Oklahoma State University Cowboys football team.
The electrifying atmosphere during game days attracts both locals and visitors alike.
Places to Avoid in Stillwater
Stillwater’s highest crime neighborhoods are near downtown, which makes sense since it’s where most of the people are and where most tourists spend time.
There’s a chance you found this article because you thought the crime rates in Oklahoma City and Tulsa were too high and were looking for a safer community.
Well, you found it.
The only thing that might deter visitors is that this is a tried-and-true college town.
If you aren’t into that vibe, you might not like it here.
However, as a former Oklahoman, I can tell you the spirit of the community is endearing, so don’t write it off.
While there are no dangerous places in Stillwater that are “too risky” to visit or drive through, the same can’t be said for Tulsa or Oklahoma City.
Please read our articles about those cities before you consider a day trip.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Stillwater
- Stillwater has its own police department. You can follow them on Facebook @StillwaterPolice or call (405) 372-4171 with specific questions.
- Oklahoma State University (OSU) also has its own police department under the Public Safety Division. If you are coming to college here or a parent visiting with a student, please review the website and follow the university on social media.
- Sign up for Be Informed Stillwater alerts on the emergency management section of the city’s website. You can’t afford to miss weather warnings here. The city has seen 18 tornadoes since 1954.
- To learn more about storm safety, follow the City of Stillwater Emergency Management (SEMA) Department on Facebook @StwSema.
- Anyone who knows the words to “Oklahoma’s” title song knows the “wind comes sweeping down the Plains.” Be prepared for windy conditions throughout the year. That could impact what you pack, as flowing skirts and dresses or long hair will get blown around.
- Fishing licenses are required for any angler, and there’s a special license for those who come from out of state. You can get one through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
- Even though parking is free, there are time limits in certain areas. Be sure you read the sign and move your vehicle before the time is up. You don’t want to get a parking ticket, but if you do, you can pay for it online through the city’s website.
- Anytime you see a road with the name “Turnpike” in it, that means it’s a toll road. You can review the toll costs and how to pay for them on the Pike Pass website. Even if you have a rental car, the state can still track down unpaid tolls.
- Oklahoma recently released a free ProtectOK app. This app helps you report suspicious activity without having to call the police or go to the station.
- When you’re driving, if you see emergency responders on the side of the road, you are required to get (safely) into at least one lane away as soon as possible. When you see signs that say “Move Over, It’s the Law,” that’s what the signs are about.
So... How Safe Is Stillwater Really?
Stillwater’s violent crime rate is about 22% lower than the state and national averages, and just 21% of those crimes happened against strangers.
At the same time, 58% of violent crimes over the past five years have happened in private homes.
The only hiccup I see looking at the big picture is that violent crime has been at a fairly steady level since 2014.
Normally, we’d like to see a history of crime dropping over time.
But at least crime isn’t spiking as we’re seeing in far too many other American cities.
It’s a safe city, but it still falls under the “Don’t go looking for trouble, and you won’t find it” umbrella.
Recent headlines show many drug arrests, including one touted as the arrest of the “largest fentanyl distributor in Stillwater.”
Theft rates are just below the national average, but 53% of thefts over the past five years involved car break-ins or accessory thefts. It’s another reminder to lock car doors, leave personal items out of plain sight, and never leave keys in a vehicle.
The majority of crimes in Stillwater are among people who know each other or are involved in shady activities.
Nothing in the crime data or recent news reports shows there should be any hesitation for visitors.
How Does Stillwater Compare?
|Santiago de Chile (Chile)
|Hong Kong (China)
International travelers must secure a visa or visa waiver to gain entry into the country. The U.S. State Department website provides detailed information on your eligibility for a visa waiver. You can also use the Visa Wizard module on their site to determine the required visa. If you are a student, you will need a student visa - not a tourist visa.
All purchases will be in the U.S. Dollar currency. There isn't a foreign currency exchange at Oklahoma City or Tulsa's airports. The Burser's Office at OSU has information about paying in foreign currency for students.
You'll get four seasons here, so plan accordingly. Summers are hot and humid, and winters can get cold but are usually relatively mild aside from a few winter blasts. Spring and fall often fluctuate, so bring layers. You'll want bug spray and sunscreen, too.
Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City is about an hour south. Tulsa International Airport is an hour east. OKC has the larger airport, so I'd go with that one if I were you.
Comprehensive travel insurance is ideal to cover any travel delays, cancelations, health issues, or rental car problems. Be sure to buy the insurance as soon as you book your trip because it goes into effect immediately.
Stillwater Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Oklahoma - Safety by City