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Is Minneapolis Safe For Travelers? What to Know from a Local

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Things haven’t been so easy in Minnesota for the last few years. Not only was the state grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic (albeit better than most), but it has also been dealing with a number of high-profile crimes, including the murder of George Floyd at the hands of city police.

This is a sensitive topic throughout the state, but it’s no secret that Minnesota, Minneapolis, in particular, has a long history of violent crime stretching back to Prohibition.

Even from the late 1980s to the late ’90s, Minneapolis had the local nickname of “Murderapolis,” thanks to the city’s high violent crime rate. While still an issue, gun violence in Minneapolis was twice the national average during this period.

But should travelers nowadays have safety concerns if they’re visiting Minneapolis? What’s the violent crime rate like today? What about our petty crime rate versus other cities’ rates? What about things like natural disasters? Is Minneapolis safe?

Relax, curious traveler. We’re here to let you know whether Minneapolis is safe for travelers. There are many misconceptions about the Twin Cities regarding traveler safety, which we’ll hopefully clear.

How Bad is Crime in Minneapolis?

Despite the recent pains endured by the city, Minneapolis isn’t the lawless hellhole some say it is. Crime in Minneapolis decreased in 2022. But how does Minneapolis fare in the national crime index? Is Minneapolis safe from violence and theft? On the surface, even with the recent drop in crime, it’s not the best.

According to NeighborhoodScout.com, Minneapolis has a crime rate of 58.16 victims per 1,000 residents. If you look at the site’s crime index summary, you’ll see that Minneapolis scores 1 out of 100 – meaning it is safer than only 1% of U.S. Cities.

Per 1,000 people, 13.4 people living in Minneapolis will be victims of a violent crime (anything from murder to having a drink thrown in your face), and 44.7 will be victims of a property crime (anything from an art heist to bicycle theft).

This compares with the national average of 4 victims of violence and 19 property crime victims per 1,000 people.

Metric Minneapolis US Average
Violent Crime Rate 12.5 per 1,000 residents 3.7 per 1,000 residents
Property Crime Rate 56.3 per 1,000 residents 22.0 per 1,000 residents
Burglary Rate 11.1 per 1,000 residents 4.5 per 1,000 residents
Larceny Rate 37.8 per 1,000 residents 14.5 per 1,000 residents
Motor Vehicle Theft Rate 7.4 per 1,000 residents 3.0 per 1,000 residents

Source: NeighborhoodScout

These numbers may make for grim reading. However, remember that Minneapolis is a sizeable city. Like every big city, Minneapolis has dangerous areas but plenty of safe neighborhoods.

These numbers aren’t an indictment of Minnesota either. Despite Minneapolis’s ostensibly high crime rates, the state average is close to the national averages of 3.2 violence victims and 20.6 property crime victims per 1,000 Minnesotans.

Ultimately, Minneapolis has some problems, but it’s not bleak. Yes, some more dangerous neighborhoods make the city look bad – something certain news outlets and politicians pounce on. But the truth is that not every corner of Minneapolis is dangerous. Not even close.

Minnesota nice is a real thing (and I don’t mean in the passive-aggressive sense, which any Minnesotans reading this will nod their heads at). Most Minneapolis residents are pretty friendly and accommodating to newcomers. Frequently overlooked and virtually unknown to non-U.S. residents, Minneapolis (and the Twin Cities) is a great place to visit and live.

One thing to consider is that big cities have more crime. Like any major U.S. city, things like pickpocketing and assaults are not uncommon. So, is Minneapolis safe compared to other big cities? Yes, Minneapolis is pretty safe compared to other U.S. cities of a similar size or larger.

And that’s what I’m driving at here. Think about it: is any major city in the U.S. free from these issues?

What are Some of the Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Minneapolis?

Foshay Tower in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

So, for the country mice, how risky is visiting Minneapolis? Where is the crime most prevalent in Minneapolis? According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Police Association, and the Minneapolis Police Department, the area with the highest concentration of crime is North Minneapolis.

Thanks to poor economic opportunities, lax policing, and gang activity, there is a higher chance of shootings, aggravated assault, robbery, and property crimes in this part of town. The north side’s fourth precinct, in particular, can be a little hairy.

That said, most locals consider North Minneapolis a nice place to wander and enjoy a casual stroll, featuring unique shops, relaxing parks to explore, not to mention an insane brewery scene. Moreover, North Minneapolis is actually on the up and up and has been for a while, so things are likely to keep improving.

Additionally, Minneapolis’ most dangerous neighborhoods include:

  • Central
  • Cleveland
  • Folwell
  • Harrison
  • Jordan
  • Both Midtown & East Phillips
  • Ventura Village
  • Hawthorne
  • Near North

It’s also worth mentioning here the Winner gas station, north of the downtown area at West Broadway and North Lyndale Ave (right in between the Hawthorne and Near North neighborhoods), locally known as “murder station,” thanks to the frequent shots fired and lives taken around the intersection.

Again, not all of Minneapolis is like this. Yes, I listed a bunch of neighborhoods as dangerous, but take one peek at a map of the city, and you’ll see that these are pretty small chunks of a big ol’ city.

What are Some of the Safest Neighborhoods in Minneapolis?

Aerial View of Mississippi River and Minneapolis Skyline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Is Minneapolis safe? It kinda depends on where you are. Generally, if you’re looking for a place to stay in the city’s safer neighborhoods, south Minneapolis has a much lower crime rate than some neighborhoods north of the downtown core.

Do note that Minneapolis is a fun city too! Full of great museums, unique attractions, amazing restaurants, sports, culture, and nightlife for days. Plus, it’s easy to fly into Minneapolis, right next to MSP airport.

With travelers’ safety concerns in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the safest neighborhoods in Minneapolis.

See Related: Best Lakes in Minnesota (Ranked!)

Cedar-Riverside/Seward/Cooper

Sign and entrance of True Bread Company in Minneapolis

The Cedar-Riverside, Seward, and Cooper neighborhoods along the Mississippi and Longfellow Beach banks, with Saint Paul on the opposite bank, are great places to hang your hat if you’re looking for a quiet getaway or access to Minneapolis’ sister city.

You can use the bus services here to get deeper into Minneapolis for good times. Still, you’re close to some of Minneapolis’s favorite eateries and watering holes! Although Brit’s Pub on Nicollet Mall in the heart of Minneapolis might be an American’s idea of a traditional British pub, Merlins Rest Pub is much closer to the real deal and is a real treat.

On the flip side, you’ve got the delights of the all-American Hi-Lo Diner, well and truly stuck in the 1950s. And if you need a strong coffee and a perfect pastry, check out Turtle Bread, one of my favorite cafes in the twin cities.

If this area has one downside, it’s primarily residential and not bursting with accommodations or tourist attractions. Still, you can find some charming vacation rentals here, such as this condo, which is ideal for couples or small families.

Alternatively, you can always stay over the river in Saint Paul, which enjoys a lower crime rate and more favorable crime maps.

Downtown Minneapolis

View of Minneapolis Downtown from Stone Arche Bridge

The area in and around Minneapolis’ downtown is ideal if you’re looking to enjoy the city’s best tourist attractions, food, and nightlife. It’s a very safe part of the city, with a huge police presence, although I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t more crime downtown after dark. Find me a downtown anywhere that isn’t the same.

Downtown Minneapolis walking tours and scavenger hunts are very popular ways of exploring this central core of the city. Most of them are a steal, considering Minneapolis’ offerings.

You’re also within reach of prime attractions like U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minneapolis Convention Center, The Orpheum, First Avenue, The Gutherie, Mill Ruins Park, Gold Medal Park, The Mill City Museum, and Target Center.

You’re also conveniently located near Minneapolis’s main natural attraction, the Mighty Mississippi River. This part of the river, especially around Mill Ruins Park, is beautiful.

As far as accommodations are concerned, you’re spoiled for choice. There is a plethora of top hotels to choose from, such as the Hampton Inn & Suites – Minneapolis/Downtown, the Hilton Minneapolis, the Renaissance Minneapolis, the Emery Hotel, and the Hotel Ivy, not to mention countless vacation rentals.

Diamond Lake/Hale/Nokomis

5-8 Club restaurant sign

Diamond Lake, Hale, and Nokomis neighborhoods are some of the best places to stay if you’re searching for safety and proximity to places like MSP Airport and the Mall of America. It’s also a great part of the city to stay in if you love a good lake.

After all, this is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” and Hale is the center point between three popular lakes, the namesakes Diamond Lake and Lake Nokomis, and local favorite Lake Hiawatha. These locations are ideal in summer for fishing, swimming, boating, and other water sports. You can stop by in winter for ice skating, hockey, or broomball. But, regardless of when you visit, each of these lovely lakes is an ideal place for a stroll.

You’re just up the road from the 5-8 Club, one of the city’s most famous restaurants. Best of all, though, you’re very close to Minnehaha Regional Park and Minnehaha Falls, which might be one of Minnesota’s most beautiful and captivating locations.

You won’t find many hotels in this neck of the woods (outside of the hotels you can find around the MOA and MSP Airport). Still, there is an active vacation rental market, including this classic Minneapolis family home.

Linden Hills/Uptown/Bde Maka Ska

Sing a Song mural in Minneapolis

The area around Linden Hills, Uptown, and Lake Bde Maka Ska is one of the safest in the city and perhaps one of the prettiest. It’s the place to be if you’re looking for small-town vibes but with big-town attractions nearby.

For hotels, MOXY in Uptown is a fun, kooky, pet-friendly hotel with an awesome bar that might be one of my new favorite Minneapolis hotels. There is also a handsome array of vacation rentals to suit all tastes and budgets, from charming bungalows to crisp, modern apartments and even literal mansions.

Highlights of Linden Hills include two of the city’s top lakes. Locals love Lake Harriet in the summer for its sports and its views. In addition, summer is a wonderful time to visit because you’ll enjoy regular live music events at the Lake Harriet Band Shell.

Then there’s the equally beautiful Lake Bde Maka Ska, home to Thomas Beach, which is perfect for paddling. The lake is also a great place for fishing, with anglers visiting Bde Maka Ska year-round.

You’re also near the Bakken Museum and Garden, a super cool facility with a fascinating focus on electricity and electromagnetism. Plus, you’re hip-deep in some of Minneapolis’s best eateries and breweries – places where locals get their kicks.

Tips for Staying Safe in Minneapolis

While most of Minneapolis is a very safe city, you’ll never be 100% safe, no matter your location. However, smart travelers can take extra measures to ensure their safety and well-being – you want to be smart. Read on for top safety tips!

Stick to Crowded Areas

Crowd in a Festival

There’s always safety in numbers, and that’s pretty true for most of Minneapolis. Where there are crowds, you can expect it to be considerably safer. This is partly because of the increased police presence that typically comes in these areas but mostly because you’ll be surrounded by people to whom “Minnesota Nice” really means something. Feel the love!

Risk for Female Tourists and Solo Female Travelers

Most of Minneapolis is suitable for solo female travelers to wander during the day. However, ladies going solo might want to avoid walking alone late at night. Like every U.S. city, it can come with risks.

Think about a personal defense system like pepper spray or a Taser; just be sure to learn how to use these properly before using them. I’d also trust the yellow or the blue & white taxi cabs or rideshares like Lyft if you’re planning on traversing Minneapolis alone after dark.

Is Minneapolis Safe for Queer Travelers?

LGBTQ+ Rainbow Flag

If there’s one good thing you can say about Minneapolis, it’s one of the safest places in the country for the LGBTQIA+ community! There’s a thriving queer community in the Twin Cities, a plethora of LGBT bars and clubs, and Minnesota has always been at the nation’s forefront of gay, lesbian, and trans rights movements.

It’s also worth noting that the Twin Cities Pride Festival is one of the biggest and best pride festivals in the Midwest, normally seeing over 300,000 people (or about the same size as the population of Saint Paul) descending on Minneapolis over the two-day festival.

Avoid Pickpockets, Purse Snatchers, Petty Theft, and Armed Robbery

After assaults, Minneapolis’s most common violent crimes are armed robbery and petty theft. While tourists generally don’t bear the brunt of these crimes (Minnesota Nice in action, maybe?), these are probably the crimes tourists are most susceptible to.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to be aware of your surroundings and not to make yourself a target. Flaunting wealth or fancy belongings is a good way of painting a target on your back, as is dressing like a tourist. Consider also investing in anti-theft bags.

Recent Strife in the Twin Cities

I Can Breathe mural of  George Floyd

Over the past decade, there has been a slew of killings at the hands of Twin Cities law enforcement agencies, but none sparked more outrage, disgust, and distrust than George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

While these recent events don’t necessarily paint the average Minneapolis police officer in a good light or make the average Minneapolis resident look like a saint, it’s far more complicated than that.

State patrol police officers standing guard towards minneapolis riots and controlling demonstrators and protestors for George Floyd
MUNSHOTS / Shutterstock.com

It sucks to say, but the police in Minneapolis have a reputation for being quick to escalate, especially when interacting with people of color. If you must interact with a police officer, know your rights, but be respectful.

And (obviously) don’t break the law. Also, remember it is your legal right to film any on-duty police officer in public. So, if you feel like your civil rights are threatened by a police officer, start recording them on your phone.

Chance of Civil Unrest

I can't breathe sign in the middle of the crowd during a protest for George Floyd
XanderGallery / Shutterstock

Hopefully, Minneapolis has lost its taste for riots like those following George Floyd’s murder. Still, there have been incidents since that continue to highlight the animosity between the Minneapolis Police Department (and other metro area PDs) and the people of the Twin Cities.

This means there is not only a risk of sub-par policing in Minneapolis, but also a heightened risk of civil unrest compared to other cities in the U.S. Stay abreast of the news and don’t get caught up in a protest or riot.

Winter Weather and Natural Disasters in Minneapolis

Pantages Theater in Minneapolis during winter

Minneapolis sees fierce winters yearly, so it’s smart to be prepared for them. But is Minneapolis safe from other extreme weather events and acts of God?

Winter Weather in Minneapolis

Mississippi River Sunset Scenery

Is Minneapolis safe in winter? Well, life certainly gets a little more complicated. There’s a local saying that “in Minneapolis, you have four seasons: winter, winter, winter, and construction.” This is fairly accurate – winters can run from October to May.

So one major safety consideration you want to consider when visiting Minneapolis is the weather. Are you visiting in winter? Consider it because Minnesota is a genuine winter wonderland during winter. Plus, if you’re visiting Minneapolis, you’ll have a chance to really explore the Skyway system, the largest of its kind in the world!

If you plan on going outside, seriously prepare for winter weather. Minneapolis winters can easily cause severe frostbite, and winter weather here does kill people every year.

Natural Disasters in Minneapolis

Is Minneapolis safe from natural disasters? Minneapolis doesn’t see many natural disasters (and I’m using the term “Natural Disasters” pretty broadly here), but there might be the odd one now and then.

Snow Emergencies

Man walking alone in a harsh snowy day in Minneapolis

Minneapolis will see a few “snow emergencies” every winter. This could mean a lot of snow, ranging from several inches to several feet, is predicted to fall relatively quickly. It could also mean heavy snow blizzards severely reducing visibility just as much as it could mean snowfall for days on end.

Most snow emergencies are over quickly, and Minneapolis is more than capable of dealing with heavy snowfalls. But depending on the emergency, there is a chance that several feet of snow could fall, making life more complicated. For example, our last “moderate” snow emergency surrounded my house with three feet of snow in as many hours.

Check a weather app or the local news to find out what kind of snow emergency you’re dealing with whenever one is announced. And be mindful of snowplows and gritters charging through the city’s main thoroughfares. You might have to move your car if parked on the street.

Tornadoes

Damage to homes in South Minneapolis after a Tornado hit
mollyapolis / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Like other cities across the Midwest and the wider U.S., the Twin Cities run the risk of tornadoes touching down. In fact, on the first Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m., the Twin Cities echoes with hundreds of tornado sirens being tested.

Tornado season runs from March to November, with the heights in June, July, and August. It’s common for multiple tornadoes to touch down in and around the metro area yearly. The most recent tornado hit Minneapolis in December 2021, causing property damage.

Most tornadoes in and around the Twin Cities rarely do any major damage, particularly in urban parts of Minneapolis, as the built-up city breaks up most tornadoes. The suburbs are far more vulnerable.

If you hear a siren (outside of the first Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m.), find somewhere to shelter in place, stay there until the siren sounds the “all clear,” and check weather apps and local news. You’ll probably have automatic updates sent to your phone, too.

Getting Around Minneapolis

Blue Line Minneapolis Light Rail

Minneapolis has a robust and inexpensive public transportation network, which I thoroughly recommend. Comprising several bus lines and the light rail, public transportation is easy to access and enjoys great coverage across the city.

Cheap and easy to use, it’s also pretty safe. Most trains and buses will have some sort of CCTV on board. But, again, I recommend the yellow or the blue & white taxi cabs or reputable rideshare services if you plan to travel around Minneapolis alone after dark.

Minneapolis is also easily traversable from behind the wheel or on a bike saddle, being an extremely bike-friendly town. So if you are driving or biking around town, just be aware of your surroundings, obey the road laws, and take extra care in winter!

What are the Best Things to Do in Minneapolis?

Boats in a lake in Minneapolis

Now that we know Minneapolis isn’t a warzone or sitting on any active volcanoes and how to navigate it, let’s think about what you can get up to in the City of Lakes.

Explore the Restaurant Scene in Minneapolis

Street Tacos from Lake Street, Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Minnesotan cuisine gets a lot of stick thanks to its Scandinavian influences. But, let’s face it, it is the world’s most perplexing blend of bland, juxtaposed with flavors for more “exclusive” tastebuds.

But Minneapolis is a cultural melting pot, with a belly-full of cuisines and fusions. Here are a few top eateries in safer parts of Minneapolis:

  • Owamni by The Sioux Chef – Located right on the banks of the Mississippi River near the Mill City Museum, Owamni takes a gourmet approach to authentic Native American cuisine.
  • Sooki & Mimi – Located in Uptown, Sooki & Mimi is a unique eatery blending Korean and Mexican classics seamlessly.
  • Manny’s Steakhouse – There’s a good chance you’ve heard of it! Considered by many to be the best steakhouse in the cities, Manny’s is in the heart of downtown.
  • Martina – This Linden Hills restaurant is as gorgeous as its delectable food. European classics and Argentinian flare unite.
  • Zen Box Izakaya – Minneapolis has some great Ramen; you’ll find plenty of it here. Located on Washington Ave, Zen Box Izakaya features fantastic Japanese fare.

See Related: Breweries in St. Paul, Minnesota

Biking, Hiking, and Walking Tours Around Minneapolis

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

In that brief period when it’s not winter, Minneapolis is a terrific city to explore on the streets. Walking tours are one of the best ways to discover the history of Minneapolis, the city’s most popular places, and get a first-hand view of the city as you stroll and make friends.

Besides that, you can always hop on your bike and explore Minneapolis from your handlebars. The Twin Cities are one of the nation’s most bike-friendly metro areas, and there are tons of great biking opportunities for you to explore. Just remember to stay safe and wear a helmet!

Here are some great hiking and biking options:

  • Lake Harriet
  • Minnehaha Falls Regional Park
  • Theodore Wirth Regional Park
  • Lake Bde Maka Ska
  • Minneapolis Riverwalk

Attend One of Many Sporting Events

Baseball Game in a Stadium

If you are a sports junkie, you can go to Twins, Vikings, Wild, Loons, or Timberwolves games. The Twin Cities has a team or organization for every major sports league, so this city is a paradise for sports lovers.

The good news is the areas around these major stadiums and fields (yes, even the ones in Saint Paul) are pretty safe neighborhoods and are always highly policed on game days.

Find Culture at Museums and Galleries in Minneapolis

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden featuring the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, contemporary art, and city skyline.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If art galleries and historical tours are your vacation essentials, you’ll be pleased to know that Minneapolis has a wealth of outstanding art galleries and museums concerning a range of topics for you to tour.

Here are some top museums and galleries to consider:

  • Minneapolis Institute of Art
  • Weisman Art Museum
  • Walker Art Center & Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
  • American Swedish Institute
  • Mill City Museum
  • The Como-Harriet Streetcar Line
  • The Bakken Museum

See Related: Best Museums in the U.S. to Visit

Rock Out with Live Music and Performances

Building Front with a Billboard and First Avenue Sign

Minneapolis is one of the Midwest’s biggest destinations for major live music acts. First Avenue, Target Center, and U.S. Bank Stadium all feature huge live music events throughout the year, and there are tons of other venues, too. So check out your favorite artist’s tour dates; there’s a good chance you’ll see them playing in Minneapolis.

Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to watch a Broadway show but want to avoid the tourist trap that is Broadway, Minneapolis is the place to be. Many Broadway productions tour through Minneapolis and Saint Paul, meaning you’ll get the same show, generally for a cheaper ticket, in a significantly cheaper city.

Shop ’til You Drop at the Mall of America

Nickelodeon Universe in Mall of America
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

While not in Minneapolis proper, it’s one of the area’s obligatory and safest tourist attractions. You must visit the country’s largest mall if you’ve never been!

Like the Skyway system, the MOA is its world, and you can realistically live here with all you could ever need to survive without ever leaving. Aside from all the shops, stalls, and eateries that call the mall home, the MOA is an unrivaled entertainment destination.

You’ll find hours of entertainment with options for watching movies, going bowling, laser and Nerf tag, escape rooms, and wasting hours in arcades. If that’s not enough, the Mall of America is home to SEA LIFE Minnesota, the Crayola Experience for young kids, and Nickelodeon Universe, America’s first and largest indoor theme park!

See Related: Restaurants in Minneapolis & St. Paul (Twin Cities)

Final Thoughts

Aerial View of Minneapolis Skyline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

So, is Minneapolis safe? It depends on how you quantify “safe” more than anything else. Compared to most major U.S. cities, Minneapolis is safe, but the numbers aren’t as favorable if you widen that spotlight to include every town in the country.

But this is the same as any other big city in the U.S. It shouldn’t color your judgment, despite how Minneapolis has come across in the news over the last few years.

Minneapolis is a great city and a year-round vacation destination. However, if you’re still wracked with safety concerns, there are ways to address those worries and make the most of your trip when visiting Minneapolis.

FAQs

Is Minneapolis safe for tourists?

Minneapolis is mostly as safe as the average large city in America. Admittedly, the crime rate is a little higher than the national average. Still, most severe crimes happen within certain neighborhoods less likely to be visited by tourists. Additionally, the areas around tourist attractions and well-traveled areas are safer than other parts of town.

What are the most dangerous areas in Minneapolis?

While North Minneapolis sees the most widespread crime, there are a few other areas you should be wary of. Ventura Village, Midtown Phillips, and East Phillips are all neighborhoods just south of downtown Minneapolis, with some of the city’s highest violent crime rates.

How can I stay safe while walking around Minneapolis?

Be aware of your surroundings, stick to well-traveled, well-lit, heavily populated areas as best you can, don’t walk alone, don’t flaunt wealth or belongings, and consider bringing a personal defense system like pepper spray or a taser. The Skyway system is generally pretty safe for navigating the downtown area.

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