Indiana : Safety by City
- Cedar Lake
- Crown Point
- Fort Wayne
- Michigan City
- Santa Claus
- South Bend
- Terre Haute
- Winona Lake
You can feel the stress of life melt away when you visit Winona Lake, Indiana.
This northern Indiana lakefront community is about an hour west of Fort Wayne and just two and a half hours from Chicago.
Winona Lake is the name of the city and the lake itself, and it is home to 2,800 people and many tourists, while the neighboring city of Warsaw is home to 16,000 people.
Between the two cities, you’ve got all the amenities you need to unplug and explore.
The lake itself brings plenty of recreational opportunities, and just on the other side of the street, you can explore the unique shops at the Village at Winona.
Each business is a revamped Victorian-era home with charm at every turn.
This region became popular for its Chataquas and ministry, and that theme holds today with nearby Grade College and Theological Seminary.
Billy Sunday was once the Justin Beiber of evangelism and his home still stands as a museum open for tours.
Limitless Park shows the true spirit of this community, as a playground accessible for anyone with a disability.
The community wanted to make sure that things like wheelchairs, walkers, or service animals couldn’t stop kids from getting to be kids on a playground.
For those who want a more extreme adventure, you can visit the elaborate trail system here for bikers and hikers.
There are different difficulty levels up to the “Dead Man’s Curve” black diamond route.
Although it feels weird to discuss something called “Dead Man’s Curve” in a travel safety article, right?
Warnings & Dangers in Winona Lake
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Crime rates here are very low for its small population and even lower for the number of visitors who come each year. You can feel safe visiting here using basic safety steps and have a great time while you're at it.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
There's not a traditional bus service here for public transportation and you can call a cab or rideshare, but it might take a while. Having a car is a necessity here. Provided you don't drive distracted or under the influence, you have a low risk when traveling around this area. Take extra caution during winter storms.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here. The entire city had 13 thefts in 2020, which means there's a rare chance of getting pickpocketed. You should still protect your valuables and don't leave your personal belongings unattended when you go in the water.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Here's where you need to keep a sharp eye out for developing weather. There can be thunderstorms and tornadoes throughout much of the year, with an emphasis on spring. Winter can bring blizzards, ice storms, and sleet, making travel hazardous. There's a medium risk because this can happen every year, but when there aren't any watches or warnings, you're safe to travel around the area.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There were no robberies in 2020, which is the lowest risk you can get. Even neighboring Warsaw only had four robberies in 2020.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Winona Lake and the surrounding county is a small population area so there's a low risk of any terror concerns.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
To show you it's very easy to fall for a scam, even Kosciusko County fell for one that cost them more than $300,000. A scammer posed as a vendor that does business with the county and managed to get an ACH payment. The biggest scam to worry about as a tourist is a home rental scam. Be sure the landlord can prove they have a rental permit and own the home being rented. You should never have to wire money to secure a home.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women traveling here should feel confident there's a low risk of anything bad happening, but still should not let their guard down. Avoid walking around at night and try to stay in groups when you can. Don't go hiking alone, either.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The water here passed all requirements in the 2021 Water Quality Report and had no violations. There's a low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Winona Lake
Winona Lake is surrounded by homes, but there is a public boat ramp and public access points.
The most popular spot to park is at Limitless Park, where the playground is.
There’s also a splash pad and the only public swimming area on the lake.
The Village at Winona Park is just north and east of that area.
There are 20 businesses, including souvenir shops, an ice cream parlor, boutiques, and cafes.
Just south of this area are the Winona Lake Trails.
These trails vary in difficulty and are popular with mountain bikers and hikers.
The people who use the trails here are a tight-knit community and they have a Facebook page with trail conditions, pictures, and they’re happy to answer any questions you might have.
For those who want a more laid-back experience on a trail, take the Heritage Trail through Winona Lake and see 10 artwork sites along the way.
Each piece of artwork depicts an attribute of the city, from kindness to generosity to respect.
The Winona History Center is a beautiful piece of architecture before you even walk inside.
It was once a grand hotel in this region, welcoming people during the Chautauqua movement, where more than 250,000 people visited each year.
You can also tour evangelist Billy Sunday’s home, as his widow insisted everything be left as it was so future generations could appreciate the ministry efforts of the family.
Kosciusko County Visitor’s Authority has a great tourism guide that shows you the attractions of the county and other nearby lakes.
If you aren’t sure how to pronounce Kosciusko, there’s a hilarious video on the tourism website showing people in the city trying to pronounce it – and most get it wrong.
It’s “Kahz-EE-oss-kow”, but nobody’s going to correct you.
Anyway, back to my main point.
Other lakes in the county have boat dinners and sunset cruises.
You don’t have to just stay at Winona Lake when there’s so much else to see and do.
Places to Avoid in Winona Lake
There aren’t any neighborhoods that are too dangerous to be in here.
You should avoid private property, especially on the lake front.
People pay a lot of money for that view and trespassing is illegal.
There are plenty of public places to enjoy the water.
Avoid swimming in the water outside of the swimming area on very busy boating days and always wear a floatation device, just in case.
I was a little too rambunctious with my kayak in my early adventure days and I was tipped several times by the wake of boats before I insisted on the utmost safety around boats.
(Ok, it’s really because I once fell into jellyfish filled water, but that can be our secret.)
The people who maintain the trails of Winona Lake are very particular about when you can use them.
If it’s after rain or thaw, the trails will be closed.
This is to protect people on the trails from mud and rockslides and to preserve the integrity of the trails.
The Facebook page for the trails is updated daily with the status of being open or closed.
Don’t take it as a suggestion.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Winona Lake
- The Winona Lake Police Department doesn’t have a website, but they do have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so that’s the best way to keep up with the crimes in the area and to contact them for non-emergencies.
- You can download an app for the Town of Winona Lake that will sum up the activities and attractions available. This is a great reference guide when you’re looking for something new to do or planning out your day.
- You need a fishing license from the state of Indiana to be able to catch fish here, even if you’re doing catch and release. You can get a license online from fish & game. Be sure to purchase a non-resident license.
- When you park a car here, you still need to lock the doors, take the keys with you, and roll up all the windows. Don’t leave anything in plain sight inside the car. Even with just 13 robberies, a few of those were car break-ins.
- Warsaw, the neighboring city, is said to have one of the highest crime rates in Indiana. I dug into the numbers, and while some rates are much higher than the national and state averages, it’s also a small town of 15,000 people. That means a few crimes can greatly skew the numbers. There were 134 violent crimes in 2020, and the city center is the highest crime area. The closer you get to Winona Lake, the safer you are. Don’t think that Warsaw is too dangerous to visit, because it isn’t.
- If you are riding a bike on the trails here, you are required to wear a helmet. You aren’t going to get a ticket, but you’ll likely get an earful from other bicyclists or pedestrians. You can rent bikes and helmets in the village.
- An ice auger can save your life in Winona Lake during the winter. This device can measure the depth of ice on the lake before you risk falling through the water. The fire department recommends the ice be at least four inches deep before skating or ice fishing and five inches deep before snowmobiling. When you go to the lake in the winter, don’t go alone, bring at least 40 feet of rope with you, and ice awls.
- If there is sleet falling or ice on the roads, don’t drive. Even the best jeep can’t handle itself well on slick roads. There are too many risks in this town with two-lane roadways. You can either re-arrange your travel plans or stock up at the grocery store and stay put until the roads are cleared. If you’ve ever fallen on a sidewalk covered in ice, you know even walking can be challenging.
- If you are visiting the lake and see geese wandering around, don’t feed them. The geese can get sick from the food you give them, and goose droppings can lead to unhealthy water quality in the lake. This could turn into the water being too dangerous for swimming and fishing, and nobody wants that.
- If you do find someone peddling a product, you can ask to see a merchant’s permit to make sure they are legitimate. Nobody can do business door-to-door or on local streets without one.
So... How Safe Is Winona Lake Really?
Winona Lake, taking the information from the FBI Uniform Crime Report in 2020, has very low crime rates.
Here are the raw crime numbers:
- Violent Crimes: 16
- Homicides: 0
- Sexual Assaults: 3
- Robberies: 0
- Thefts: 13
It’s a town that is seemingly so safe the police department doesn’t feel it needs a website with the typical safety and contact information.
There are no plans to get a police department website, so those social media channels I mentioned are your only option.
There are some cities in Northern Indiana that aren’t as safe as Winona, especially some of the larger cities.
Before you visit any of those, we encourage you to review our reports on any city you plan to visit.
How Does Winona Lake Compare?
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)||63|
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)||61|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
You'll have several steps to go through to get your visa, so you should plan early. You'll also need a list of all your social media accounts from the past five years. Once you get the visa, you'll only need it when going through Customs, not to get around Indiana.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar (USD) here. You should only carry cash if you need it, and use just one credit card for purchases to better protect against fraud. If you want to do currency exchange, you should do that at the airport before you come to this small town.
You should dress in layers throughout the year, and bring heavy winter clothing. You'll also want hiking boots and water shoes. Bug spray will be needed in the warmer months. A rain jacket is a good idea too.
Fort Wayne International Airport is about 45 minutes from Winona Lake. The South Bend airport is about an hour away and to get to Indianapolis International Airport, you'll have a two-hour drive ahead of you.
Travel insurance is a must in a post-pandemic travel world with all the reports of unruly passengers, wild weather, and staffing issues.
Winona Lake Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Indiana - Safety by City