Florida : Safety by City
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Tallahassee, Florida, is in the Panhandle of the state in an area known as the Big Bend.
It’s the home to Florida State University, so there’s a lot more activity during the fall and spring semesters, with a slowdown in activity during the summer.
Tallahassee, or “Tally” as it’s sometimes referred to, isn’t on the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s just 45 minutes from the water.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Big Bend in Florida is the lack of traditional beaches and barrier islands.
Those are more for the western end of the Panhandle and the east and west Florida coast cities.
Here there’s more marshland and wooded areas.
The city is home to nearly 200,000 people, but up to 70,000 of those are students at FSU and other colleges in the city.
Florida A&M University in Tally is a historically black college with high accolades.
Tallahassee (“tal-uh-has-ee”) is also the state’s capital, so there’s increased activity during legislative sessions and political seasons.
Winter also brings snowbirds, which are retired people who are escaping the harsh winters of the north.
The city sits along Interstate 10, one of the largest coast-to-coast highways in the country.
Tallahassee is also halfway between Jacksonville and Mobile, Alabama, making for a great place to stop for a meal on a road trip.
I’ve stayed in Tally several times on various road trips.
Warnings & Dangers in Tallahassee
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Depending on how you spend your time here, there's a low to medium risk. One of the poorest zip codes in the state is here, with increased homicide activity. There's a party atmosphere at the college. There's also plenty of wilderness to explore nearby. Tally is dealing with the violent crime increases many other cities face.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Tallahassee has various options for travelers, from fixed-tour bus services around the city through StarMetro, to the "Mega Bus," which takes travelers throughout Florida. Taxis, rideshares, and rental cars are widely available. It's great to have your own car here, so you can head to the coast or explore the woods in this unique Florida setting.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
TPD doesn't list the pickpocket and purse snatching data each year, so I can't give a firm answer here. What I do know is that any college town is going to have wild parties, busy areas, and game day crowds that are wall-to-wall. Treat that with a medium risk, since thieves will be looking for a crime of opportunity. Carry only what you need, and limit the size of the purses. Put your wallet in your front pocket or inside your jacket pocket, so it's not easy to steal.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Tallahassee can get a little bit of everything, but be especially aware during hurricane season. It runs from June through October. Even though it's 30 miles inland, it can still get forceful hurricanes and tropical storms. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can happen at any time of the year. There can be freeze warnings and occasional snow, but that's very rare.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
As of 2020, the robbery rate was 1.5 times higher than the national average. In 2022, there is an increase in gun violence, but the robbery rates from 2020 have been following a downward trajectory since 2016. It's unlikely a tourist would be a robbery victim, but there are certain neighborhoods where that rate would go up. We'll discuss that a little later on.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Tallahassee is pretty remote, surrounded by woods on three sides, with the nearest big city being hundreds of miles away. There's a low risk, but with political tensions in the state (that's a whole other rabbit hole to go down), it's not unthinkable a homegrown terrorist might try to attack. There was a mass shooting here in 2018 at a yoga studio fueled by a madman who hated women. Six women were shot, and two died.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Look out for ticket scalpers and third-party websites for rentals or tickets. That's really the biggest risk here. The other popular scams focus on locals, like utility and IRS scams that happen in most cities.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
As a single woman, I've visited Tally several times alone, and I've never felt unsafe. I also didn't really get into the party scene, so anyone who wants to enjoy the college town vibe should use the standard cautions. Don't go to a private party with people you meet at a bar; always keep your drink covered so nobody can slip a drug in it, and stick with a buddy or a group instead of venturing solo through the bars.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance in the water. If you've never read a Water Quality Report, they are actually very interesting. You can see where the water comes from, how it's treated, and what contaminants are "acceptable" levels. It's a wealth of information, especially for those who are pregnant or dealing with immune system issues. You should also beware of the water if flooding has happened or is happening and if a hurricane comes through. The city will issue warnings in those specific cases.
Safest Places to Visit in Tallahassee
VisitTallahassee.com is the official tourism website for the city.
Ensure you type the name correctly, so you don’t get sent to a spoof site.
This website covers Tally and the surrounding Leon County.
You can download a free visitor’s guide on the site.
Florida Historic Capital Museum is a great place to start to learn how this small town became the big capital of a powerful state.
The exterior is worth an Instagram photo, with striped awnings and stained glass windows complementing the 1902 architecture.
The Tallahassee Museum is a tribute to the wilderness and wildlife in the Big Bend region, set on more than 50 acres.
Here you get history, animals, fauna, and even some dinosaurs.
You can tour a 19th-century village on site too.
For those looking for more excitement, take a zip line ride or climb the aerial adventure course.
The Museum History of Florida has all the typical artifacts and art from a time gone by, but one of the most outstanding exhibits is from the Florida Highwaymen.
As a former Florida resident, I don’t think these amazing artists get enough accolades.
The Highwaymen were 26 African American artists who created dynamic and exquisite paintings and sold them door-to-door from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Because of racial disparities, no museum would allow the paintings to be hung, and stores refused to sell them.
Now, many of their artworks proudly hang in this museum.
If you’re looking for a college experience, go to CollegeTown – one of the entertainment districts in Tallahassee.
Here you’ll find hotels close to the stadium, restaurants, and bars at every corner, and that lively spirit only a college town can bring.
The Railroad Square Arts District is for the eclectic artists among us.
The funky vibe is reflected in the restaurants, stores, galleries, and general atmosphere.
On the first Friday of every month, you’ll find an art and music festival here.
One must-see place in this district is the train caboose turned into a cafe.
Just off I-10 at Thomasville Road, you’ll be far from the college crowd and in the Market District.
I had one of the best hamburgers of my life at Ted’s Montana Grill in this district.
It’s more of a suburban neighborhood, but for some people, that is just what they are looking for, and it’s right off the interstate, so there’s less traffic to deal with going all the way downtown.
Head a little more northeast from this area, and you’ll be in Uptown at Bannerman Crossings.
It’s a growing neighborhood with more mature shopping and dining than CollegeTown.
For those who want to see the water (I mean, you ARE in Florida, right?), head south to one (or more) of the following options:
- St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge: A great place for birding with a lighthouse open for tours during limited hours.
- Bald Point State Park: Marshes, beaches, woods, and bald eagle sightings are among the things to see and do here.
- Lake Talquin State Park: For lake lovers, this is the place to visit just west of Tally.
Places to Avoid in Tallahassee
A lot of law enforcement focus has been put on safety in the 32304 area code due to increased violence and safety issues.
When you look at the map, that’s going to be concerning because FSU is in that zip code.
There’s a particular part of that zip code near the Springfield Apartments that should be avoided.
This part of the zip code is widely responsible for many violent crimes.
If you aren’t on one of the college campuses, stay away from directly north and due west areas of town.
If you’re looking at a map of the Big Bend area, you might notice I left off the Flint Rock Wildlife Management Area in my outdoor list.
There’s a reason.
You need a recreational use permit to enter the area.
This is mostly land designated for hunting with a select few other activities or events.
Review the Flint Rock Wildlife Management Area website before you consider going there.
It’s not a bad place to be, you’re just not going to get in without following the instructions.
Here’s something I CAN NOT STRESS ENOUGH – Do NOT go to any of the wilderness areas without ample amounts of bug spray, knee-high socks, and hiking boots or shoes that cover your ankles.
Lots of them.
Even St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge mentions near the top of the landing page to watch out for “a variety of biting insects.”
Also, don’t get false hope that the canopy of trees will help keep outdoor areas cool in the summer.
The humidity here is very high, and you will likely sweat completely through your clothing.
You might want to bring a change of clothes for the ride back to Tallahassee.
Even trying to cool off in the water is a no-no because there are alligators in this region.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Tallahassee
- Use the TPS “TOPS” program (Tallahassee Online Police Statistics) to check crime rates closer to your time of visit. You can search certain neighborhoods for types of crime and go back as far as 365 days. While there aren’t official crime statistics, you’ll get an idea of what types of crimes are being reported.
- DigiTally is an app to connect citizens and tourists to the city of Tallahassee. You can report issues like potholes or graffiti and reach different departments to answer your questions. For those who want to know more about the parks and trails, download TallyParks for maps and guidance.
- Parking in a college town is always a bit challenging, so get ahead of the crowds by using the ParkMobile app. You can search for available spots and pay for your parking through your mobile device.
- For those on a road trip, use FL511 to see traffic, delays, construction, etc. You can also look at live cameras and see real-time accident information.
- If you’re taking I-10 around Tallahassee, stick to the speed limit. I lived in Florida for many years, and I can tell you the highest concentration of highway patrol running radar and pulling people over is immediately west and east of Tallahassee. The same thing goes for anyone driving near Gainesville on I-75.
- The Tallahassee Emergency Management website has an extensive list of natural disaster preparedness information on its website. There are activities for children to learn about safety as well. Pay special attention to the Hurricane Connection, Flood Awareness, and Mosquito Safety.
- If you are planning a visit during Hurricane Season and you see topical weather moving toward Tallahassee, strongly consider canceling your trip. Don’t try to “squeeze it in.” Evacuations can start days ahead of time, and businesses will begin closing. Supplies like water and bread can be cleared from store shelves a week ahead of time.
- Senior citizens are welcome to stop by the Senior Center at 1400 N. Monroe Street to meet locals and get safety advice. You can also learn about the accessibility options in the city. The phone number is (850)891-4000 if you want to call in advance.
- When you’re driving around town, you’ll see solid white lines at the intersections. Stop BEHIND the white line so it can signal to the traffic light that a car is there. This will help speed up the time it takes for the light to turn green. If you go over the white line, the sensors won’t be able to detect you are there. You could end up waiting longer.
- For pedestrians, you have the right of way, but that doesn’t mean you should risk your life to prove it. Always use crosswalks and wait for the signal to cross. Before stepping into the roadway, look in both directions to confirm that cars are stopping. This is especially important at night when the bars are packed or on game days when there’s a lot of traffic. Drivers could be distracted or intoxicated (even though it’s illegal) and not pay attention to pedestrians as much.
So... How Safe Is Tallahassee Really?
Tallahassee has a violent crime rate twice the national average, and that’s according to 2020 data.
We also know gun crimes and homicides have increased in 2021 and into 2022.
In late October 2022, a mass shooting outside a liquor store west of the FSU campus (In that 32304 area code!) left one person dead and eight more hurt.
The shooter was seen firing into a crowd.
It’s those kinds of random acts of violence that make it seem like a city isn’t a safe place to visit.
It’s a problem happening all across America in 2022 and into 2023.
You can limit your risks in any city, but especially Tallahasse, by not being out late at night.
Certainly, don’t walk around alone at night.
Avoid the non-campus areas of the 32304 zip code.
You can just type that zip code into Google Maps, and you’ll see the boundaries.
Avoid the Springfield Apartments area too.
I’ve written hundreds of articles like this one, and each city – including Tally – has a common threat.
Poverty-stricken areas were hit hard by the pandemic, and people turned to a life of crime or joined a gang to survive.
There’s also a trend of juveniles getting caught up in more brazen criminal activity, and the courts aren’t tough enough or don’t have laws that back them up from accountable behavior.
The cycle of criminal activity continues.
The community is gathering to find solutions to the crime wave, but as a tourist, the more you stay in the entertainment districts and in the north or northwest part of town, the less risk you’ll face.
The most common risks are going to be petty theft like car break-ins or stolen shopping bags.
Lock your car and roll up your windows when you park.
You also want those windows rolled up, so mosquitos don’t get in.
How Does Tallahassee Compare?
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- Visas - The U.S. State Department issues Visas for those coming from outside the country. There is a lot of information on the department's website, but it can be overwhelming. Start with the Visa Wizard to see which type of Visa you need or if you qualify for a Visa Waiver.
- Currency - Avoid carrying cash as much as you can here because credit card and mobile payments are widely accepted. If you do want cash, it will need to be the U.S. Dollar. Don't use public ATMs for safety and to avoid hefty withdrawal fees.
- Weather - You'll get warm to hot weather throughout the year, with some comfortable - at times, cold - weather in the winter. It will be humid throughout the year, likely at a level you aren't used to, so bring or purchase electrolytes to add to water and keep you hydrated. Bring bug spray too. Wear comfortable, loose clothing, as this is a pretty casual town.
- Airports - Tallahassee International Airport is less than seven miles southwest of downtown. Unless you want to drive 2-3 hours to Mobile or Jacksonville, that's really the only airport option. However, the drive to a larger airport is on a major interstate, so it's not a difficult drive at all.
- Travel Insurance - We always recommend travel insurance, especially if you invest a lot of money in the trip. If a hurricane is heading anywhere in Florida, airports will start to close down, which could impact connecting flights. Have some kind of health coverage because even dehydration or heat exhaustion care could rack up hundreds of dollars in medical bills.
Tallahassee Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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