Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
Wichita, Kansas, is a medium-sized city in the nation’s Heartland, offering one of the best values for travelers and a great quality of life focused on modern amenities with Midwestern charm.
You might hear people refer to it as Cowtown, based on the history of cattle drives coming up from Texas.
The aeronautical industry’s presence also made it the “Air Capital of the World,” but there’s also a large military presence at McConnel Air Force Base on the city’s southeast side.
While it’s smaller than Kansas City, Wichita is really the last stop for those heading west on road trips.
Beyond Wichita are the plains giving way to the foothills of the mountains and a lot of open land and empty space.
Downtown Wichita is revitalizing as part of a plan to attract more young professionals and keep locals from leaving, but there are also wonderful river opportunities along two branches of the Arkansas River.
A music festival on the river has been happening yearly for half a century.
With the advent of true crime television show popularity, you might have heard about Wichita in connection to the BTK Killer.
Dennis Rader, nicknamed BTK because he would Bind, Torture, and Kill his victims, was from this area and terrorized the neighborhoods for 15 years until he was caught.
If you are researching Wichita Falls, it is not near Wichita.
Wichita Falls is in Texas and about four hours from Wichita, Kansas.
Warnings & Dangers in Wichita
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Wichita has a medium risk with violent crime rates two and a half times the national average. While it's not as large as Kansas City, it does have similar crime rate percentages. We'll discuss the reasons why crime is so high here a little later on in this article.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Wichita Transit provides public bus transportation with various routes through the city and surrounding neighborhoods. Visitors can use the Q-Line to get around Douglas Avenue's entertainment district for free. Taxis and rideshares are available, with rental cars ready for you at the airport.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The risk is low, with just 93 reported in 2021 out of more than 15,600 thefts. Reduce what you carry in your wallet or purse to the bare essentials, and be wary of any crowded space where pickpockets might lurk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH
Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are the biggest risks here. Kansas is part of tornado alley, and some of the strong twisters can happen here. Wildland fires are another risk, along with flooding and winter weather. While every season brings risks, most concerns can be minimized with good preparation and safety action.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The risk is low for visitors as long they aren't looking for trouble or going into dangerous parts of town. Most robberies here are among people who know each other or business robberies where the robber is looking for quick cash.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The most likely target here would be McConnell Air Force Base, but that location also has a lot of security and some of the best technology to prevent terrorist attacks. This is not a risk you should be concerned about here, but there's an ongoing request from Homeland Security to "See Something. Say Something."
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There is a scam reported here against international students where fake government officials demand money for some made-up reason. No government or official entity will call you on the phone and demand payment. You can contact the police department's fraud office if you have any questions about scams or frauds happening closer to your visit.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Wichita has faced a rising domestic violence crisis, so the crime data shows a higher risk for women than a female tourist would likely face. Using basic safety precautions will go a long way here. Don't walk around downtown at night, either. Grab a cab, even if you're just walking a few blocks.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations in the tape water. Check with the city for water quality issues if flooding happens during your visit. Flood waters can sometimes cause pressure issues in the water treatment systems or lead to contamination.
Safest Places to Visit in Wichita
VisitWichita.com is the official tourism website for the city.
Searching for attractions here offers a more secure cyber experience than just randomly Googling Wichita attractions.
Since this city has a lot of local events, you’ll want to check out the city website and social media pages to see neighborhood happenings and the bigger festivals.
Most of the places you’ll likely want to visit are within three to five miles of each other.
Unless you’re going to a local park or a nearby city, you might not even leave the central part of town as the surrounding area is very suburban.
The River District is where the Arkansas River splits off, creating the Little Arkansas River.
At that junction, the Keeper of the Plains stands overlooking the region.
The Mid-America All-Indian Museum is at the same location.
Weather permitting, there’s a fire ring each night that lasts 15 minutes as part of a ritual honoring the elements – earth, water, air, and fire.
From there, cross the pedestrian bridge to Exploration Place, a science center that challenges your imagination with hands-on exhibits.
The center has indoor and outdoor spaces, plus theaters with revolving STEM shows.
Botanica is one of the best botanic gardens in the country, with extensive gardens to explore through all seasons.
You can also see the Wichita Art Museum in this district.
Old Cowtown Museum is a living museum – meaning it’s more like a theme park with live gunfights and crafters at work, just like it was back in the cattle-driving days of Wichita.
Tickets here won’t cost you more than $8 a person, which is a great deal for everything you can see and do.
You can then head to the Delano District, which was the Wild West of Witcha in the Cowtown days, with saloons and brothels lining the streets.
It’s now a more developed area with 250 stories, restaurants, and other businesses to visit.
Downtown Wichita has a mix of businesses, restaurants, and green spaces.
Naftzger Park is a place to enjoy Wichita’s bustling food truck scene.
Gallery Alley is a reimagined side street that’s now a hot spot for artists, performances, and outdoor movies.
Old Town is the charming section of the city, with brick streets leading to historic warehouses and gas-lit lampposts that fire up each night.
The Museum of World Treasures takes you on a trip through time and global locations to explore the wonders of the world and beyond.
One of the coolest exhibits is the Sea Creatures of the Plains, with replicas of species living underwater in Kansas’ pre-historic ocean.
The Douglas Design District brings the city an electric and artsy vibe, with renowned architect Frank Llyod Wright’s Allen House design on display.
In Clifton Square, you’ll be able to drink and dine in Victorian homes renovated into businesses.
Be sure to see the murals as you explore and grab a patio seat when the weather allows.
Places to Avoid in Wichita
Depending on where you’re from, you might not consider any portion of Wichita a place to avoid.
Those from a bigger city tend to laugh at the “violent crime” in a city if they come from a more violent city.
I’m from St. Louis, the “most dangerous city in America,” and as I see it – a gun shoots the same in any city, and criminals can be masterminds in any community.
Just look at the BTK killer who became notorious, in part, because he was in “good ole safe Wichita,” committing heinous crimes.
All that said, there’s a particular problem with crime near 9th Street and Grove.
Violent crime has been surging in that area, with the community finally getting fed up and demanding a meeting of the minds to reduce crime.
The dangerous neighborhoods in that area spread as far south as Central Avenue and as far north as 21st, with Broadway forming the western boundary and Oliver as the eastern boundary.
For visitors, there’s not much to see in that neighborhood, so you don’t have a reason to be there.
If you need to get gas or groceries, the city’s southeast side has lower crime rates.
Theft rates are high everywhere, and if you don’t habitually lock your car door with the windows up, you’ll likely lose what is inside that car.
There’s a crime mapping tool on the police department’s website to show current crime trends and reports in the area.
For example, I search for individual robberies within five miles of downtown.
I found that for six months in 2022, the safest place to avoid a robbery is on East Douglas between the river and Old Town.
When I searched for thefts, I found Old Town and the River District, by far, have the most auto thefts or purse snatchings.
Use that tool to see which places YOU want to avoid.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Wichita
- Check your mobile device to confirm that Wireless Emergency Alerts are enabled on your device. You’ll need this to get severe thunderstorm and tornado information. I’m shocked there isn’t a more formal city system to send these messages. The local television stations, like KAKE and KWCH, have mobile apps where you’ll get local forecasts and alert information too.
- If you rent a car here, ask if you can get one with a car alarm. Auto theft is rising in Wichita (and many other communities), and you need every possible deterrent for a thief. Also, don’t leave a car running to warm up because thieves particularly look for that opportunity.
- Look at the Wichita Police Department’s (WPD) Community Liaisons web section. Here you’ll find officers dedicated to physical challenges and cultural groups. Having someone who can help speak in your native language or understands your limitations will make you much more likely to open up and ask questions.
- You can download the P3 mobile app to submit anonymous tips in Wichita and surrounding Sedgewick County. Helping reduce crime comes partially from brave people speaking up about a situation. You can also call (316)267-2111. You could even be eligible for a reward.
- Kellogg Avenue and Seneca Street is the most dangerous intersection in town, with speeding, failing to yield, red light running, and panhandler distractions as the most common causes of accidents. In 2021, Wichita faced 43 deaths due to traffic accidents. Take your time, and don’t drive distracted. If you need to pull over to review your GPS, please do so.
- WPD is on social media, including TikTok. Just look for @WichitaPoliceDepartment on TikTok. There’s a mix of news, safety information, and just entertaining events in the city.
- DowntownWichita.org is a website where you can see all the different options downtown, from parking to hotels to emergency services. Be sure you bring change for parking meters here, as they won’t accept bills.
- Know the difference between different levels of storm advisories, which you can see on the emergency management website for Sedgwick County. One important difference to note is a tornado watch vs. a warning. A watch means that conditions will likely create storms capable of producing tornados within the next 2-12 hours. A warning means you should seek shelter immediately because a tornado has been spotted or seen on the radar.
- There are no public safety shelters for tornadoes. You should know the safe place to go in your hotel – just ask when you check-in. Also, if you are in a public place, look for a place as far inside a building as you can get, like a bathroom or inner closet. Crouch down and cover your head.
- Download the KanDrive app to get updated traffic information on your mobile device. Yeah, this helps with traffic and road construction, but you can also see road conditions during winter weather or closures due to blowing wind and snow.
So... How Safe Is Wichita Really?
Wichita is yet another city facing a growing risk of violent crime.
It’s not just that crime is rising; it’s also that more people are repeating criminal activity while younger people are getting involved.
On one summer weekend, six gun crimes happened.
That might not be a big deal in places like Detroit, but in Wichita, it’s a very big deal that is becoming too common.
From a tourist’s perspective, you can lower all crime risks with the following steps:
- Stay out of neighborhoods where you don’t have a reason to be.
- Lock your car, even when running into a gas station for a few minutes.
- Don’t leave personal items in your car.
- Don’t walk around confused and looking at your phone. Stop and ask a police officer or business manager for help, so you don’t stand out as a visitor.
It’s helpful to know that 30% of violent crimes happen against strangers, so there’s a lower risk for you than someone who lives here and knows more people.
There’s truth to the “don’t go looking for trouble, and you won’t find it” saying in this city.
Kansas is also being impacted by the drug problem hurting the country.
Kansas was the second-highest state for drug overdose deaths.
While you shouldn’t use illegal drugs ever, you need to know that it’s common now for drugs in America to be laced with deadly doses of fentanyl.
You can’t see, smell, or taste it, and you won’t know it’s there until it’s too late.
The College Hill area is more prone to flooding, even during a routine rainstorm.
Don’t ever drive through a flooded street.
There is no aspect of the weather in Wichita you should take lightly.
How Does Wichita Compare?
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- Visas - The U.S. State Department will issue your Visa or Visa Waiver, but you have to go through a lengthy process if you're visiting from outside the country. Be sure to start planning at least three to four months ahead of time.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. While you need change to feed the parking meters, most purchases can be made with a credit card, which offers the best fraud protection.
- Weather - Dress for each season, from full winter outerwear to comfortable and loose summer clothing. The summers are sometimes humid and scorching, but they are also one of the bigger weather risk seasons. For spring and fall, bring various layers of clothing so you can acclimate to changing temperatures. Don't forget the bug spray.
- Airports - Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport is really the only option, and it's a larger airport with plenty of flight options. You'll have to drive for several hours to get to a larger airport.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a smart idea for a trip to Kansas. Be sure you understand what is covered on the rental car, too, as the hail storms here can do a lot of vehicle damage. You should also know what health insurance coverage you get if you have an accident or need medical attention.
Wichita Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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