Traveling can be a great adventure. Seeing new places, experiencing new cities, and enjoying cultural experiences are some of the highlights of visiting communities in the United States. It is a great experience until you stumble upon that city that feels and is unsafe.
The problem with dangerous cities in America is that they are often also some of the most culturally and historically diverse to visit. But you should never put an experience or a new place ahead of your safety. To help you avoid these places that put your safety at risk, we have put together a list of the 25 most dangerous cities in America.
As you read along, you may be surprised by some of the inclusions, but for each city on this list, there is a good reason why you may want to skip the visit, no matter how amazing the location or the experience.
25 Most Dangerous Cities in America
Our list covers a variety of communities across America. It is important to recognize that while a city may have a high crime rate, there are safe places in that community that are great for visitors and families.
Additionally, our sources rely on the FBI crime database to develop reasoning for rating a community as they do. The FBI crime database is not reflective of the current year’s criminal activity. Most of the references on this are utilizing the data from 2021, as it is the most current year available on the FBI’s database website.
1. Detroit, Michigan
Situated on the banks of Lake Michigan, Detroit was once a booming industrial city. It was known as Motor City USA as home to factories for the major US car brands (Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet).
It is also home to the historic and renowned Motown Records. However, as the US automakers shifted production to other countries, the community suffered.
Today, despite the best efforts of its residents, and numerous cultural highlights, the city is perhaps the most dangerous city in America. According to the data compiled by Security.org, Detroit checks almost all of the boxes for crime.
Detroit ranks in the top ten for violent crimes, murder rate, robbery, and aggravated assault, it also has the second-highest crime rate in the US. For a larger community with some amazing experiences, it may be best to steer wide of Detroit, Michigan in your travel plans.
2. Bessemer, Alabama
Bessemer, Alabama is a smaller community located outside of Birmingham, AL. It seems surprising that such a small community would rank this high, but it has one of the highest incidents of violent crime per 1,000 people, according to NeighborhoodScout.com and Security.org.
These two websites rank Bessemer as number one and number two, respectively on their lists of the most dangerous cities. In fact, according to the FBI’s crime reporting statistics for 2021, almost 3 in 10 people in Bessemer, AL are victims of violent crime.
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The City of Brotherly Love is apparently not as loving as it seems. Philadelphia is one of the most historically significant cities in the United States. It also has a crime problem.
Actually, it has a murder problem. According to Security.org and the FBI crime statistics, Philadelphia has one of the highest murder rates in the United States. With 316 murders in 2021, Philadelphia only ranks below Chicago, IL, and Baltimore, MD in the number of murders.
This one factor isn’t the only one that puts Philadelphia at number three on our list, it also ranks 4th in the number of robberies. As robbery is one of the most common crimes against travelers, this number tells us that there is a risk to visiting Philadelphia.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
For many travelers, New Orleans is a city that cannot be missed. With such a diverse history that includes French colonists, pirates, indigenous peoples, and of course, Mardi Gras, New Orleans offers a ton of opportunity.
But, if you tell people you are heading there for a visit, many people will point out the crime rate. Mardi Gras, particularly, sees a spike in crime in New Orleans, but the community struggles with safety issues year-round.
According to NeighborhoodScout.com New Orleans has a crime index rating of 2 out of 100. Annually the community reports 20,722 crimes to the FBI, and the crime rate is 54.97 per 1,000 residents.
5. St Louis, Missouri
Home to the Gateway Arch, St. Louis is a popular tourist destination for those that are interested in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the westward expansion history of the United States. For 2024, Forbes.com lists St. Louis, Missouri as the most dangerous city in the United States.
However, their list is the only one that places this community in this ranking. Forbes.com references MoneyGeek as their source, which also utilized FBI crime data to determine their ranking. In this case, St. Louis, MO is added to the list due to the cost of the crimes per capita.
NeighborhoodScout.com ranks St. Louis as the 23rd most dangerous city in the US, with a violent crime rate of 14.9 incidents per 1,000 residents.
6. Monroe, Louisiana
Monroe, Louisiana is located in the north-central part of the state. It is the eighth-largest city in Louisiana and has a population of approximately 48,000 people. This community is an interesting spot for visitors to Louisiana as it is the original home of Coca-Cola.
It also has some unique wildlife viewing opportunities. However, this small community also has one of the highest crime rates in the US. According to NeighborhoodScout.com, this community has an extraordinarily high violent crime rate for such a small community, at 82.46 crimes per 1,000 residents.
7. Peoria, Illinois
Peoria, Illinois is a larger community located almost in the center of the state. It sits on the Illinois River and is a beautiful and older community in the state. It has great, family-friendly sights, like a zoo and museums. However, according to PopulationU.com, Peoria is the 13th most dangerous city in the United States.
I placed this community at number 7 on our list because while it is a larger community, its population is declining, but over the past few years, its crime rate has increased faster than other communities, according to NeighborhoodScout.com
8. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN is one half of the “Twin Cities”, home to large corporations like Target and General Mills, this is a thriving and historic community in the Midwest.
However, with thriving and growing populations you often see increases in violent crimes. NeighborhoodScout.com, using FBI crime data gives Minneapolis, MN a crime rate of 58.16 crimes per 1,000 residents.
While this is certainly not as high as in some other cities, what stands out is that compared to the rest of the state of Minnesota, your chance of being impacted by a violent crime is 1 in 75 in Minneapolis, and 1 in 317 in the rest of Minnesota. PopulationU.com ranks Minneapolis as their 16th most dangerous city.
9. Houston, Texas
If you are a space buff, Houston, TX is a community that you must visit. It is home to the NASA astronaut training and flight control complex. It is also home to a beautiful historic district as well as the world-renowned Houston Grand Opera. However, Houston has a darker side.
US News and World Reports place Houston at number 16 on their list. Their compilation of FBI crime reporting data shows that Houston has a higher-than-average crime rate for larger cities, with 625 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
10. Memphis, Tennessee
I’ve placed Memphis, Tennessee in the middle of our list because depending on your source of data, this community ranks differently for every source.
Memphis is home to Martin Luther King Jr, Elvis Presley and has a beautiful and thriving downtown historic district and it sits on the banks of the Mississippi River.
As a larger community, Memphis has one of the highest crime rates in the US. According to PopulationU.com Memphis has a crime rate of 2071 crimes per 100,000 people. MoneyGeek.com tells us that this higher crime rate costs $7,184 per capita for a community of 1.3 million people.
11. Bakersfield, California
Bakersfield is a popular mid-way point between San Francisco and Los Angeles. If visiting Bakersfield, CA the standout feature is the acres and acres of farmland.
The community is affordable and has plenty of trails and parks. US News and World Report gives Bakersfield a higher-than-average crime rating, with 693 crimes per 100,000 people.
For a community of just under 1 million people, the good news is that the number of violent crimes is lower than in other larger communities. However, there is a higher number of property crimes in this community than in similarly sized cities.
12. Springfield, Missouri
Located in central Missouri, Springfield is a community of approximately 171,000 people. Though a larger community in the state, Springfield is surrounded by farmland and forests. Visitors to this community can enjoy the Springfield Zoo and the Fantastic Caverns.
The problem with Springfield is that their crime rate is pretty high. NeighborhoodScout.com lists the crime rate for Springfield, Missouri as 80.08 per 1,000 residents.
For a community of this size, this is a very high crime rate. However, the majority of the crimes reported in Springfield are property crimes, not violent crimes. If you visit this community, make sure to keep track of your stuff.
13. Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, MD is a popular excursion point for visitors to Washington, DC. Located just a short drive from our nation’s capital, Baltimore is home to unique museums, and Fort McHenry which is considered to be the birthplace of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Baltimore is also popular due to its shopping districts and a world-class aquarium. NeighborhoodScout.com gives Baltimore a crime rate of 46.05 crimes per 1,000 people.
Most crimes are property crimes, and MoneyGeek.com ranks Baltimore, MD as their 3rd most dangerous city, because the cost per capita for crimes in the city is nearly $8,000 per incident.
14. Kansas City, Missouri
If you are looking for a community that has sports, culture, and a thriving food scene, Kansas City, Missouri is a great tourist destination. Straddling the Mississippi River and located in both Missouri and a little in Kansas, Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri with a population of 2.2 million people.
US News and World Reports ranked Kansas City as their 17th most dangerous city in America. However, it ranks higher according to PopulationU.com.
This variation of ratings is likely due to the high number of property crimes versus violent crimes that occur in Kansas City. With a crime rate of 578.4 crimes per 1,000 people, Kansas City has a higher-than-average crime rate, but violent crimes only make up approximately a quarter of the reported crimes.
15. Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado was once a thriving mining community. However, today this community struggles to stay afloat, and the crime rate shows this struggle.
Pueblo is a larger city in Colorado, with a population of 113,000 people. The community is located just south of Colorado Springs and is home to colleges and the Colorado State Fair.
NeighborhoodScout.com ranks Pueblo as the 39th most dangerous place in America. I put Pueblo, CO on our list at number 15 because it has a much higher crime rate than most communities in Colorado, making it one of the least safe places to visit in this picturesque state.
16. Oakland, California
Oakland, California has long had a reputation for being a less-than-safe community. As the neighboring community to San Francisco, Oakland is often a more affordable place for visitors to stay than in San Francisco.
Forbes.com and MoneyGeek.com both place Oakland, CA as their number 11 most dangerous city in America. However, this community should be given some respect, as they are one of the communities on our list that have crime rates that are actually decreasing, according to the FBIs crime statistics.
17. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI seems like an unassuming place to visit. However, this growing community on the western shore of Lake Michigan has some surprising tourist destinations.
Visitors love to tour the many breweries and visit the Harley-Davidson Museum. Forbes.com has Milwaukee listed as its 12th most dangerous city, while US News and World Report has it listed as number 19.
Though the crime rate in Milwaukee is higher than in other similarly sized communities, the violent crime rate is quite a bit lower. This community gets ranked higher than others because it has a property crime rate of 1902 per 100,000 people.
18. Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma, WA is a great place to visit. It has unique neighborhoods and sits on the Puget Sound. From this community, you get to experience both the ocean and the mountains. Visitors come here to visit the Chihuly Glass Museum, tour breweries, and see the towering Mount Rainier. For many years, this community was one of the safest in America.
However, as it has grown the crime rate has increased and it now ranks as one of the least safe cities in America. NeighborhoodScout.com has Tacoma ranked in the top 50 most dangerous cities. For a community with a population of 220,000 people, it has a fairly high crime rate of 80.08 crimes per 1,000 people.
This is fairly significant. However, most crimes are property crimes, and Tacoma actually has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country.
19. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM is the largest city in New Mexico and is one of the oldest towns in the western United States. It was founded in 1706 by the Spanish and has a very unique, historic old downtown area.
It is best known for its annual balloon festival which occurs each October. US News and World Report ranks Albuquerque, NM as the 2nd most dangerous city in America.
This city’s crime rate is much higher than the average, for both violent and property crimes. It also has seen an upswing in crimes over the last few years. It is important to note that though the crime rate is high, most of the crimes reported to the FBI were property crimes, and not violent crimes.
20. Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, AK is a surprising addition to the many lists of most dangerous cities in the US. This city was founded in 1914 as a rail stop. Today, Anchorage is often the first stop for the many people that visit the state each year. It is also a starting point for the numerous cruise ships that provide Alaskan cruises.
Anchorage is one of those communities that is on most lists of dangerous communities but isn’t at a consistent ranking. NeighborhoodScout.com ranks Anchorage at number 59, while US News and World Report list it at number 2.
Though low in violent crime, Anchorage does have a very high rate of property crimes so visitors should be mindful of the property and be aware of their surroundings.
21. Rockford, Illinois
Rockford, IL is a fairly large community set equal distance between Chicago and Milwaukee. With a population of 148,000 people, this town with numerous art museums and one of the most stunning Japanese Gardens in the US, was once an industrial center for the area.
Today, much of downtown Rockford is empty buildings that once housed businesses. This decline in the economy has had an impact on the crime rates in this city. PopulationU.com ranks Rockford at number 7 on its list of most dangerous cities.
Per capita, it has a higher crime rate than other similarly sized communities. It also has an equal number of violent and property crimes. However, we rank it lower on our list, because it isn’t a huge tourist destination.
22. Little Rock, Arkansas
Home to many civil war sites and plenty of good food and museums, Little Rock, AR is a great spot for visitors that are interested in the US Civil War and the history of the southern United States.
This community once was a sleepy city, but as more people are looking for affordable housing, Little Rock is quickly growing into a bustling metropolitan area.
According to NeighborhoodScout.com, Little Rock ranks as the 9th most dangerous city in America. However, they are the only site that lists Little Rock. For the size of the community, Little Rock has a higher-than-average crime rate. With a population of just under 202,000 people, this community has 73.31 incidents per 1,000 people.
Keep in mind, most of these are property crimes. However, Little Rock does seem to have a higher rate of violent crimes than some other communities.
23. Stockton, California
Stockton, CA is located on the San Joaquin River in central California. This area is known for its wineries and abundance of vegetable farms. Stockton, a city with a population of approximately 320,000 people is a good stopping point between Sacramento and Modesto. This community has great museums and a well-known zoo.
Annually, Stockton has a higher-than-average crime rate compared to similarly sized communities. However, only 1.2 percent of those crimes are violent. Most crimes reported in Stockton are property crimes which include robbery, trespassing, or vandalism.
24. Cleveland, Ohio
According to Forbes.com and MoneyGeek.com, Cleveland, OH is the 6th most dangerous city in America. This community is located on the banks of Lake Erie. It is a popular destination for sports fans and those that want to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I have placed Cleveland on our list because, whilst it has a fairly low violent crime rate, the rate of violent crimes compared to other communities is much higher. This, however, is not unexpected given that Cleveland is the second-largest city in Ohio.
25. Saginaw, Michigan
Saginaw, MI is a smaller community located northwest of Detroit. It sits along the Saginaw River and is mostly considered an agricultural community, though it does have some unique spots like the Saginaw County Castle Museum.
This community of 44,000 people ranks at number 4 on NeighborhoodScout.com list of most dangerous cities. While the community has a total crime rate of 42.41 incidents per 1,000 people, it has a lower chance of crime than other cities in Michigan.