Ohio : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Ohio - state review
Sitting on the southwest corner of Lake Erie, just below the Michigan state line, is the industrial city of Toledo, Ohio.
It’s known as Glass City for a once prominent glass production industry.
Toledo is a city of 270,000 people but is just an hour south of the much larger Detroit and two hours west of Cleveland.
While Toledo isn’t the industrial powerhouse it once was, there’s still a strong presence of industry and automotive with a surge in community art and cultural improvements.
The Maumee River feeds into Lake Erie but also runs the length of the city, offering great waterfront opportunities in the newly revitalized downtown.
As odd as it might sound, one of the best seafood meals of my life came from the Real Seafood Company restaurant at International Park in Toledo.
The river also adds a tourism element, including the National Museum of the Great Lakes, where “Ship Happens,” as the advertisement reads.
You can also take boat tours on the river into Lake Erie, where you’ll come very close to international waters.
When you’re scouring social media for Toledo ideas, look for #ThisIsToledo, as that’s the official hashtag for the city’s sites, locals, and visitors.
One note about Toledo for those unfamiliar with Rust Belt cities.
Toledo is a working-class town.
The average family income is under $40,000 annually, and nearly 26% of people live in poverty.
As I drove around the city with a friend who lived there, I asked, “where is the fancy part of the city?” and she was honest in that, “We don’t have too much of that here.
But we also have some of the nicest and most helpful people you’ll ever meet.”
Warnings & Dangers in Toledo
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Toledo has a medium risk, with a crime rate nearly three times the national average in 2021 and growing even higher in 2022. The city is much riskier for locals as strangers have a 23% or less chance of being a violent crime - provided they follow smart safety steps.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
TARTA is the public transportation that runs through the city and suburbs. You can also get a taxi, rideshare, or rental car. You can get a shuttle ride from the Detroit airport to Toledo if you choose to use the larger airport, but it will cost around $100-$150. I flew into Detroit for a Toledo trip but rented my own car at the Detroit airport. It's all highway driving between the two, and Detroit's airport is on the southwest outskirts of the city, making it an easy trip from Toledo.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Just 20 pickpockets were reported in 2021 out of more than 5,000 thefts. That's likely to be due to a city that isn't very crowded or too many opportunities to pickpocket. You should still limit what you carry and keep your wallet in a safe place.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Winter weather and flooding are likely the biggest concerns, but severe weather and tornadoes are also possible. Since every season brings some kind of serious weather potential, you can review the Lucas County Emergency Management plan to learn more.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is twice the national average, but diving deeper into the data shows that 23% of robberies are considered "highway robbery," which is more likely to be a tourist. You can lower your risk even more by avoiding dangerous areas and not participating in risky behaviors.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, with Detroit being a more likely target due to its size and industry. There is an operational nuclear plant about 26 miles east of Toledo. We'll talk about that safety concern shortly. Even the terrorism section of the emergency management website just addresses the "See Something, Say Something" motto that is common in America.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Tourists aren't likely to face scams here, and Toledo isn't really a big tourism destination. There are residential scams, and check-washing scams have become more common in 2022.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should use the standard caution here, but nothing in the crime data gives extra concern for them. As a woman who visited Toledo, I visited some parts where it felt a little uncomfortable, but I never felt threatened.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
By 2023, Toledo will have a newly renovated and improved water treatment plant to avoid algae booms and other contaminants. This renovation also adds ozone technology for additional protection. The water meets or exceeds all required standards and is tested 24/7 throughout the year to maximize safety. One important note - as I started researching this, I noticed through the emergency notifications that a boil order was in place that impacted 15,000 residents. This was due to a pressure issue from ongoing water pipe repairs. You can feel safe that the city will let you know if there's a risk, but you can also call the utility at (419)936-3021.
Safest Places to Visit in Toledo
VisitToledo.org is the official tourism website for the city.
This means you’ll be on a verified and secure website, and your personal information will be protected within the terms and conditions of the website.
Each year a Visitor’s Guide is published and available for download on this site, too, so you can see the new attractions in the city for every season.
The National Museum of the Great Lakes is one of the best things to see when visiting Toledo.
There are more than 40 hands-on exhibits and boat displays to explore.
The artifacts and history lessons in the museum date back to the 1600s.
The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium is one destination for exploring more than 10,000 animals, with 3,000 of those being aquatic.
Even in the cold winters, you can visit this attraction throughout the year, with special events during all the holidays.
Hollywood Casino Toledo brings the excitement of Las Vegas to northern Ohio.
You can play slots, table games, or have a meal at one of several restaurants.
There’s also a live poker room, whether you want to play or watch.
Toledo has an abundance of Metroparks, some along the river and still being developed, others in more remote areas.
Here you’ll find some great camping spots, hiking trails, sledding hills, and even sections dedicated to hammocking.
You can find a full list of parks at MetroParksToledo.com.
I played a fun game of sand volleyball there on the banks of the river one summer, and these parks are really a great community gathering spot any time of year.
Detweiler Park is one of the parks closest to Lake Erie, with a golf course, water rentals, and wetland wildlife.
If you want to drive around and find the “fancy part,” as I did, you should take a ride through the Old West End.
This historic neighborhood is one of the nation’s largest collections of mixed architecture homes, including Victorian, Edwardian, and Crafstman-style homes.
You can also visit the Toledo Museum of Art while in this neighborhood.
Places to Avoid in Toledo
Crime is pretty widespread in the community, with higher rates north and northwest of the city.
Toledo, being such a working-class town, can make it hard to distinguish between a dangerous neighborhood and one that just looks rundown due to poverty levels.
The safest way to travel is to stay on main roads and interstates.
In 2022, a surge of crime in the Library Village area of west Toledo brought a demand from neighborhoods for more police presence and some kind of action to be taken.
As of late 2022, 25% of all homicides were happening in that area.
“Don’t get tunnel vision in your morning routine,” assistant public information officer Andrew Dlugosielski told local television station WTOL.
“Definitely be aware of your surroundings, look around and make sure everything is safe, and if something feels off, it probably is.”
There is a grouping of hotels just southwest of this area, so tourists might want to consider staying downtown in east Toledo, but check the crime trends closer to your visit to be sure.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Toledo
- You can check those crime rates by using the interactive crime mapping feature on the Toledo Police Department’s (TPD) website. You can also look at the violent crime dashboard and search for different districts to see where crime is the highest.
- Toledo started a program using “Violence Interrupters.” The interrupters are people who work in tandem with the police, but are not police officers, to “interrupt” and prevent crime. Some of the people representing the program are former gang members or criminals who turned their lives around and now want to help pay it forward. If you look at the neighborhoods with violence interrupters, you’ll also know those neighborhoods are more likely hot spots for crime.
- Don’t assume Toledo is a safe smaller city just because it’s so much smaller than Detroit or Cleveland. There are gangs here. There is a drug problem here with illegal guns on the streets. You should treat any dangerous situation here as seriously as you would treat a situation in Detroit.
- You can’t talk or text while driving here, but you can use a hands-free device. Texting is also not allowed, even if you’re sitting in traffic or stopped at a light. You can get a ticket, as distracted driving is a primary offense.
- 30% of all thefts are car burglaries in Toledo. Don’t leave anything in the vehicle when you park – no GPS holder, trash, charging cables – nothing. Even a trash bag could look like a place someone might store valuables for a thief. Even if they don’t get away with anything, you still don’t want to deal with a broken window and a police report. Always lock the doors and leave the windows rolled up. You should also take rental car paperwork inside the hotel with you. Don’t leave it in the glovebox where a thief could get your personal information.
- If you aren’t a fan of cold weather and can’t walk confidently in it, then use rideshares or taxis to get around. When it’s cold, many people default to thick layers, hats, hoodies, and earmuffs while looking down at the ground. This could be attractive for a criminal looking for a crime of opportunity (and is also much more acclimated to cold weather). I’m a terrible cold-weather walker, and I lose peripheral vision, partial hearing from all the layers, and mobility with thick fabrics.
- Toledo has a color-coded and numbered snow emergency and parking plan. As a tourist, you don’t want to remember all of that. You also don’t want to get towed or sideswiped by a plow. When snow is in the forecast, park in a private lot or in a parking garage so you can avoid worrying about what color or number the plow path is currently in.
- Check the road construction plan on the city’s website before you visit. In places with harsh winters, like Toledo, the winter weather and freeze/thaw cycles tear up the roads. This means during spring and summer major road work happens all over town. This can confuse the heck out of a tourist’s GPS system. If you review the road construction plan, you’ll know how to select detours better and save your routes.
- Engage Toledo is the city’s app to connect with residents and visitors. I would strongly recommend getting this app because you get responses around the clock. This is great for safety and general information. You should still use 911 if there’s an emergency.
- The David Besse Nuclear Power Station is about 25 miles east of the city. While there’s no reason to think a nuclear emergency will happen, there’s an intense emergency plan detailed in the rare event one would happen. Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge is in what’s known as the “10 Mile Zone,” which would be especially susceptible to a nuclear disaster. You should read the information about the risk and safety steps if that’s something that concerns you.
So... How Safe Is Toledo Really?
Toledo’s crime rates are high and rising.
What I found especially interesting was the mayor’s take on the situation.
Here’s what he told the local station, WTOL.
“There is a fear industrial complex in this country that encourages people to sometimes live in fear,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said.
“I’m not going to fall for it, and I hope that Toledoans don’t fall for it either.
If you want to be afraid in life, you’ll find a reason.
But I focus on facts.”
While living in Toledo could come with a higher rate of concern, for a tourist, you just need to “stay in your own lane.”
Avoid dangerous neighborhoods, stick to main streets and tourist areas, and don’t go looking for trouble (or drugs).
Just 5% of the violent crimes that happened in 2021 were against strangers.
23% of robberies were “highway robberies.”
There is a higher risk for a local resident, as most crimes are against people who know each other.
Toledoans are also very protective of their city.
I’m sure some of you reading this are firing up a comment about how it’s not that dangerous, and it’s nothing compared to bigger cities.
Hey, I’m from St. Louis, so I get it.
These articles are written for the vast majority of travelers who could be of any age, any gender, and from any sized city.
If you’re used to an urban culture with gangs, guns, and drugs, you’ll have the street smarts to adapt to Toledo.
If you aren’t, I hope this has helped you learn a little more about a fun city.
Is Toledo too dangerous to visit?
You just need common sense and good safety standards.
How Does Toledo Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. Visa and passport, even if you're crossing from Canada near Detroit. The Visa process can take several months but start at the U.S. State Department website, where you can use the Visa Wizard module to get started on the right path.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here, and you can get by without cash. If you do want to carry cash, don't use public ATMs and exchange currency in a bank with security cameras.
- Weather - Toledo gets all four seasons, so winters can come with extreme cold, and summers can be oppressively hot. Dress for the season, but don't skimp on winter clothing. You'll need layers of insulated clothing for all the snowshoeing and sledding available. Bring bug spray too.
- Airports - Toledo has an "express airport" with Allegiant flights to select cities. If you want more travel options, drive an hour to Detroit's airport. Toledo's airport is 22 miles from the city center, whereas Detroit's is just 44 miles away. A little more driving gives you much better value.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance should be purchased when you buy the airfare, but at minimum, get the insurance 15 days before your trip. That insurance kicks in immediately, so let's say you get the flu before you travel - you'll still be protected by that insurance.
Toledo Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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