Is Detroit Safe? The Answer From Someone Who’s Been

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from my visit to Detroit. I’d heard great things about the city from fellow travel bloggers Hecktic Travels and LLWorld Tour: Detroit is the comeback city, regeneration is happening… and there’s an amazing BBQ joint. That last point is usually enough to take me to any city, regardless of scare stories.

And boy are there plenty of scare stories – mainly from the mainstream media and always highlighting that Detroit is the most dangerous city in the United States of America. It’s not an unfounded claim – Detroit is number 23 on the world list of cities by murder rate; it tops the charts for being the most violent city in the USA and, of course, there are those stories that revel in the details of the city’s financial downfall.

Hell, even Eminem cashed in on Detroit’s bad reputation with the movie 8-Mile.

So, I’m not afraid to admit that I had more than the usual amount of butterflies in my stomach when my Amtrak train rolled into Detroit station.

Where to stay in Detroit

On a budget: Hostel Detroit: Click here to read reviews and check prices on HostelWorld.

Hotels in the centre of downtown: 

Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor.

The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor.

MGM Grand Detroit. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor.

Hotels within downtown but close to the Riverfront:

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Centre. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor.

Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverside. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor. 

First impressions of Detroit

Is Detoit safe repairs
Roadworks in Detroit – you could find this same scene in any town or city.

Having travelled to many developing countries, I’m familiar with the signs of poverty and having visited a fair number of places with challenging crime problems, I’m no stranger to places that have below average safety.

Yet I didn’t get a derelict, dangerous vibe from Detroit – not for a second.

Sure, the city, with weeds standing tall between the cracks in the pavement, was in desperate need of a date with a lawn mower, and the electricity poles were at angles that spoke volumes about the lack of money for repair, but given that Detroit has stared down the barrel of bankruptcy, it’s doing pretty damn fine all things considered.

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Is Detroit Safe? The hard, cold facts

Before I arrived in Detroit, I did some research and most of the advice fell into two camps.

There were, of course, the scaremongering, doomsday predicting naysayers – a bit like this:

is detroit safe scaremongering
Anyone else wonder if this dude got dumped by a pretty lady from Detroit or, more likely, has never been?

There was even an article by a woman on a reasonably reputable website declaring that any woman visiting Detroit is destined to be drugged, kidnapped and enslaved into prostitution. I’m intentionally not linking to that story because it’s the epitome of everything I hate about alarmist travel advice on the web.

Fortunately, there was also a sufficient stock of positive articles that took a more rounded view and had the same general theme: stick to the safer neighbourhoods and you’ll be fine.

The problem was, most of those articles didn’t list which neighbourhoods were safe.

Not helpful, particularly given it’s the top question on potential visitor’s lists.

is detroit safe which areas are safe

I tried to do my own research on the subject, but I really struggled to get my hands on reliable statistics about Detroit on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood basis, which is a shame because, just like Mexico, Detroit’s high crime levels are not representative of all parts of Detroit – some neighbourhoods are much safer for visitors than others. Likewise, simply quoting the overall crime statistics isn’t helpful either because they’re not representative across the city.

The best statistics I found are here, and to some extent include a breakdown on a place by place basis. But they are by no means definitive and complete.

In the end I did a lot of my trip planning based  of my research on Wikitravel (not my usual go-to resource) and together with conversations with locals, I decided I would visit (and did visit):

Downtown

Greek Town

Mid Town

Corktown

Prefer to take a tour of Detroit?

If you’re thinking of visiting Detroit and you’d prefer to have a local show you around, there are plenty of tours to choose from. Here are a few to check out:

Detroit Urban Adventures: visit the landmarks and find out about the city’s rise, fall and renewal. Click here to read reviews on TripAdvisor

Detroit Segways: a sightseeing tour on two wheels. Taking a Segway is some of the most fun you can have anywhere IMO! Click here to read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Is Detroit safe? Don’t listen to people like Robert

Is Detroit Safe?
Does Detroit look unsafe to you? The riverfront in Downtown was one of my favourite parts of the city.

One thing Detroit’s not short on is opinions about Detroit’s safety and I happened to have the misfortune of bumping into one of the more emotional (rather than fact) based opinions when I arrived in the city.

Travelling without a car, I decided to play it safe and order a ride with Uber to take me from the Amtrak station to my hostel. Within seconds Uber confirmed that Robert (not his real name) was on his way. Phew.

Clutching my iPhone inside my jacket pocket and tap dancing against the cold I watched as locals were collected by loved ones. “Hi,” one woman smiled. “Hi,” I smiled back. “Enjoy your visit,” said an older man, “Have a nice stay,” said his wife. Stealing furtive 30-second glances at my phone, my inner suspicion wondered if it was a ploy – was this unanticipated niceness a prelude to a bag…or body snatch?

I waited impatiently – nervously – but nobody did anything but smile, welcome me to their city and go about their day.

And then Robert arrived.

I’ve recently written about the faces of Uber and the many wonderful stories I’ve heard from drivers. But Robert was different. Don’t get me wrong, he was a charming man filled with good intent, who drove a fancy SUV and dropped me off at exactly the right spot, but he was just another example of the kind of person who shouldn’t be giving travel advice.

“Take this mace,” he said as we pulled up at my hostel.

“Why?” I asked, wondering if it was a joke. As we’d driven through the streets of Detroit from Downtown to Corktown, I’d not seen any carjackings, nobody had been murdered, there were no burning buildings, there wasn’t a single gang hanging around – even Eminem had, apparently, had long left town.

“You’ll need it,” Robert replied and I looked at him with a slight frown. I’ve never carried Mace. To me it feels like carrying fear in your pocket. And I don’t want to live like that. I certainly don’t want to travel like that.

“Seriously?” I asked. I looked around the area and saw nothing that made we worry. In fact, had I been dropped into this part of Detroit without knowing the city I was in, I’d have described it as a 1/10 on the fear scale. It looked like a slightly overgrown version of suburbia.

“I wouldn’t let my daughter walk alone during the day in this neighbourhood, let alone stay here,” Robert said. He couldn’t have been more serious and for a solid few seconds I considered taking the mace. But then I remembered a crucial fact: en-route to the hostel Robert had confessed he’d not been in this part of Detroit (Corktown) before.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the past five years on the road, it’s never to take travel and safety advice from someone who’s never been to a place. Just because Corktown wasn’t the safe suburb of Detroit where Robert had chosen to live didn’t de facto make it unsafe.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine.” I reassured Robert as I got out of his car.

And, d’you know what. I absolutely was.

Related article: What to Do in Detroit: The City’s Pretty Parts.

Real versus perceived danger

Is detroit safe street art

I’m not going to lie to you, there are still some very dangerous parts of Detroit. However, for the average visitor who is likely to place themselves in Downtown or Corktown (where a lot of creative types have chosen to base themselves) Detroit doesn’t present a real risk of danger. Sure, don’t flash your cash or wander drunk through the streets alone at night. And certainly don’t go looking for trouble or go searching for the burned out, derelict neighbourhoods you see on the news. I wouldn’t add 8-Mile to my list of sights either. But, visit with your sensible head on and you’re going to be fine.

I’ve talked before about the differences between real and perceived danger (my article about visiting Naples is a good example) and the fact is that most instances of danger exist in our mind – in that moment when a man puts his hand in his jacket pocket and pulls out his phone, but we’re expecting to see a knife; in that moment when we hear fast footsteps behind us and brace, ready to be mugged, when it’s just a jogger trying to get past.

I had a couple of those moments in Detroit, where my imagination created a sense of danger that wasn’t real but after a few hours in the city, my mind started to calm. Person after person, smile after smile, no matter how far Robert’s worm of doubt had worked itself into my brain, it was hard pushed to compete with the friendliness, openness and welcoming vibe that came from the locals.

Surviving three nights in Detroit

Within an hour of being in Detroit and during my quest to find an open supermarket on a Sunday I manage to wander out of the safe neighbourhood where I was staying into the neighbouring area which, by the admittance of the local guy I was with, was somewhat sketchy. Maybe I was lucky; maybe I’d built up a whole stack of good travel karma. But, guess what – I survived.

The following a day, I wandered around Downtown, Mid-Town and Greek Town with a map in one hand and my iPhone in another, navigating the sights. And, guess what – I survived.

One evening, I walked a few block – in the dark – to a local bar with a travel buddy for a few beers with the locals and, guess what – I survived.

I took no special measures and I survived.

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Higher than the crime rates: local friendliness rates

Is detroit safe friendly locals

Crime statistics aren’t the only thing that are high in Detroit – the friendliness of the local people is also performing way above the national and global average.

From the cops in the coffee shop who insisted that I go ahead of them in the line to the waiter who gave me the full truth, with a full smile, that it wasn’t customary to add ketchup to my Coney Dog (I did ask), to the Vietnam vet on the monorail who shared a synopsis of his life story – it’s been a very long time since I’ve been to a place where the people have been so warm and welcoming.

The bar I visited was no different – the barmaid, her daughter, a local firefighter, a yoga teacher, another Vietnam vet, a biker and a bunch of local business men one by one came over and introduced themselves. They each had a story – about Detroit, about their live and about their passion for their city. In turn, they wanted to know what I thought of Detroit.

I love it here, was my answer. Hand on heart, honest to God truth.

I’ve found throughout my travels that it’s the people who have the least or have suffered the most who usually offer the friendliest smiles and most welcoming arms. And this was absolutely true in Detroit.

Not a single person tried to rob me, con me, scam me or cheat me – things that have all happened in other countries, some of which you’ve probably visited.

Nobody shouted at me, bumped into me, cursed me or sighed at me – things that have all happened in other countries, places where some of you live; places where I’ve lived.

Even Robert, my first Uber driver, as unfortunate and inaccurate as his advice had been, had my best interests at heart.

So, is Detroit safe?

I can’t and won’t promise that you’ll have a safe and trouble-free trip to Detroit because crime rates are high and if you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, things can go wrong.

However, although crime may be common in Detroit, the genuine warmth you’ll find radiating from the people is rare. And for that reason above all, I’d return to Detroit and I’d encourage you to consider putting this down but certainly not out city on your travel wish list.

Where to stay in Detroit

On a budget: Hostel Detroit: Detroit has one hostel but the fact it had any hostel at all was inspiring. I stayed here and as well as well as having all the wonderful facilities of a hostel (kitchen and cool people to chat to), the hostel is run by a group of people who love Detroit and know their city inside out.

If you’re looking for the local scoop on where to get the best food, which bar has Mystery Monday (everything costs a dollar and you get whatever comes out the fridge) and where the go/don’t go areas are, you’re in the best place to find out.

Tip: the hostel is based in Corktown (a place where I felt safe) and it was within walking distance of local shops and restaurants.

Click here to read reviews and check prices on HostelWorld.

Hotels in the centre of downtown: 

The following hotels are perfectly situated for Greektown and the Theatre District:

Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor.

The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor.

MGM Grand Detroit. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor.

Hotels within downtown but close to the Riverfront:

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Centre. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor.

Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverside. Read reviews and check prices on TripAdvisor. 

Have you been to Detroit? What did you think of the city? Let me know in the comments below.

You might also like my related article: What to Do in Detroit: The City’s Pretty Parts

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Is Detroit Safe - the answer from someone who's been

114 thoughts on “Is Detroit Safe? The Answer From Someone Who’s Been”

  1. Is 28 Grand apartment building in Detroit safe live? My son ei he living there while he attends Wayne University.

    Reply
    • Hi Lucy, I visited as a tourist so I’m afraid I can’t help. Some of the local residents who stop by this post might be able to help. Good luck.

      Reply
    • 28 and grand is very safe in fact downtown and Midtown are probably the safest areas in Detroit I live in Detroit’s southwest/Mexicantown area where safety can be questionable but still a decently relatively safe area if you know where to go and not to go.

      Reply
      • Hi, thanks for wading in with tips. I have edited the comment as part of it did not comply with my content policy – please email me if you want to discuss.

        Reply
    • I’m a professor at WSU and I’ll echo the other comments that this area is very safe. On top of that, the WSU police have very good response times and active patrolling.

      Reply
  2. Hello Jo. Your article was touching. Maybe I’m emotional today, but it bright tears to mi eyes. I’ve lived in Detroit for majority of mi life. We get a bad rep, but for the most part we are friendly and look out for one another…. I appreciate your honesty and transparency here. There are many good places to eat west, east, and Southwest Detroit! If you’re ever back here I can send you a list!!!!!

    Reply
  3. I lived in Detroit for 18 years born & Raised. I was the only white family on my block even though there’s mixed n my family. I grew up at 7 mile and Livernois and never had major issues. We had our trash cans caught on fire for 2 years in a row we put cameras around the house no one did anything again. Sherwood Forest is actually a great neighborhood to live in.

    I hope to move back to Detroit hoping to find a sweet deal in the 6 mile- Livernois area. I wouldn’t advise going to the a Eastside unless you’re going to work or something like that.

    I personally encountered more issues outside of the city, don’t get wrong there’s bad people in the city as well.

    Like I said I’m Caucasian and I didn’t get jumped or robbed in the city. A white suburban kid stole my shoes in the winter one year and people in the city helped me out.

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    • Thanks for sharing your local experience, Devian. I hope you find the deal back in the city that you’re looking for.

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  4. It’s a shame white privilege runs so far and wide to places they know nothing about. No matter where you travel the world there are some places that are not safe if you are not safe. If you move about your life thinking that you know everything and everything is about you then you reap what you sow. Don’t believe everything you read or hear in the papers ignorance is far and wide. Am I safe coming to wherever you live? And what is your idea of safety? Do you believe that police presence makes you safe? To be a white man or woman in 2019! Speak some truth in your Articles talk to the people who live where you are visiting sometimes you need to leave your own observations behind. Did you ever think about what causes such a blithe in the city? It does not come from the people who live in the run down houses which happened to be rented by black folks and owned by a white man who does not care to take care of his property. It is not a renter’s job to Upkeep outside of someone else’s property if you want it beautiful then you should plant your flowers yourself. People who don’t have an high incomes do not have the luxury of planting flowers on the front lawn. Think people! Think. What does safe mean to you? People living in the city don’t feel safe themselves because they do not have the privileges that everyone else has. Schools for a quality education. Affordable healthcare for all. Affordable quality childcare. Affordable insurance rates. Before we think about Our vacation destinations we should start caring about people who live in those places that we are visiting. That includes Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Mexico, any place where they have those luxury resorts. The beautiful spots that you like to visit but you won’t leave the resort area. While we think about taking a vacation destination The majority of the population is thinking about how are they going to take care of their families. We should start caring about people who live in those places that we are visiting. That includes Puerto Rico, Jamaica. We need to start caring about people.
    Thank you,

    Reply
    • You don’t know me so I’m going to move past the white privilege slur and the various other offensive comments you’ve thrown at me which, incidentally, fly in the face of your last sentence – that we need to start caring about people. Anyway, I wrote this article from the perspective of a tourist. Of course tourists can never fully appreciate the complicated factors that make up local demographics as well as soci-economic and political conditions. However, visiting as a responsible tourist can provide a positive impact on the local economy if managed well by the tourists and the city’s tourism board. I’m not claiming I’m perfect or this article is but I’ve written it with good intent to encourage responsible visitors – it’s different to the myriad blog posts about the best Instagram spots to get selfies with abandoned buildings in Detroit. So, I hope local residents can read my article through that lens. I really enjoyed Detroit and hope the city continues to improve and thrive.

      Reply
  5. Hi Jo,

    I hadn’t been to Detroit in years. I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life. I’ve heard the horrors of infamous Detroit.

    As a teenager in the 80s I frequently visited Joe Louis Area and Cobo Hall to see many big hair bands. No problems, ever. But as I got older, so did Detroit and the closest I got was by reading all the negativity in the newspaper.

    I most recently took 30 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to Detroit on an overnight field trip. Had plenty of chaperones but we went on a riverboat cruise, ate at Pegasus in Greektown, rode the people mover, went to a Tigers game and the zoo! We had a fantastic time and can’t wait to go again!

    Reply
  6. Born, raised, honeowner who works in Detroit. I ***LOVE*** my City and have nothing but good things to day. When I leave, I cannot wait to return….there is a warmth here that is unpsralleled ANYWHERE else (maybe the South voukd slightly compare).

    I will say this to all visitors – Greektown is no longer safe. It is May 2019 and I have just informed my family that after dark, that part of town is off limits! Every neighborhood is different and yes you can read reviews like this with a grain of salt but in reality you need to check the local news, local radio, check online bloggers, newspapers, and make the decision for yourself.

    Neighborhoods change and honestly, no online comment section or Uber driver should be making serious security decisions for YOU.

    There is no such thing as “safe” – all it takes is ONE murder, shooting, stabbing, rape, or robbery and a place is no longer “safe”. This includes so-called safe spots….duh.

    I’ve had more problems outside of the City than in – I’m a local and I would not live anywhere else! It is friendly affordable and the weather is not too bad…there is no other place I’d rather be!

    Reply
    • I love that you love your city. You’re right about things changing and to check at the time you visit. You’re also right that it only takes one crime for a place to be unsafe but that is the same the whole world over. Thanks for sharing your inside info.

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    • What areas are safe to live in moving to here soon in a few months. Looking for family friendly area I have a 2 year old.

      Reply
  7. I just got back from the West Coast, and those cities are going down the tube. Seattle’s and Portland’s downtown homeless populations make a person feel more uncomfortable than downtown Detroit.

    But still, carjackings at Detroit gas stations are still happening, so I still tell out-of-town business associates to stay in Birmingham, Troy, etc. unless they really know Detroit.

    Reply
  8. Almost completely gentrified. You can feel safe anywhere. It’s nothing special. Casinos, sports, and quasi aithentic ethnic restaurants. So much more to the beautiful state of Michigan. Visit Grand Rapids or Traverse City. You’ll be glad you did. The soul has been ripped out of a once booming city. Don’t believe the hype. The natives are being kicked out and cast aside by greedy opportunists that see dollar signs only. Take it from someone who lives and works there. Many families gave it there all only to be pushed out by landlords who think it’s alright to raise the rent on the working class. Low wages, inflated rent, and drug culture is what you have. Enjoy. The DIA, Masonic Hall, and Fox Theatre are nice though.

    Reply
    • Hi Chef, this doesn’t surprise me – it’s the same with gentrification the world over. And not just with cities that have had a downturn – parts of London are the same. So sad. Thanks for the tips on other parts of Michigan to see. I’ll put them on the list!

      Reply
  9. Great article
    Moving back home some time this year after living 30 years in suburban Chicago. We’re on the retirement track. So happy to see my city come back to life. And be with friends and family ?

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  10. Great article! I am a Detroit native and you’ve detailed the city exactly the way I do….time and time again! Detroit is a great city with lots of authenticity and creativity, just wear some common sense on your shoulders and dnt go where your not supposed to(obvious abandoned neighborhoods etc.)Im so glad you were able to ACTUALLY visit the D and give a proper opinion. Happy u had some Coney Island as well, that’s the first thing I tell everyone to eat!

    Reply
    • And now I want another Coney Island. Not a very useful craving when I’m currently one Atlantic Ocean away!! Glad you liked my post. You live in an amazing city!

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  11. Hi,

    So inNovember 2015 I spent a week in Hammtramck. Accommodation which I found with Airbnb was rough, I slept just on matress in a semi-decayed house without internet. Roof was leaking, place smelled bad due to rotten food left in the fridge and pilling unpaid bills that lied around made me to believe I am one of the last tenants to ever stay there. Definitely not what you pick for honeymoon but it was almost for free.

    I guess Hammtramck and Detroit centre are safe in general. Many people in Hammtramck seem to be of European origin. I did not meet roaming black youths much either there. With presence of fancy shops and ethnic restaurants Hammtramck gives a feel of relaxed town for middle class.

    Detroit centre is a beautiful place with clean street, public events and well dressed people. Since urbex is my hobby I came to Detroit to also see ruins (United hospital, Packard, AMC, Greater hospital) I went there just on my own. For transportation I was using only bus ticket and my feet. My curiosity took me deep into cellars of dangerous places where if something bad happened my body would never to be found. My Adrenaline level was over the top.
    I remember walking down an abandoned street without public light only the moonlight that lightly iluminated mute ruins into apocalyptic scenery. Well I had to share that was the most eerie feeling I ever had. Yes, I risked and I did it voluntarily. Despite all sketchy places I walked into nothing harmful happened. But just because I had a good luck. City centre is just fine.

    Reply
    • Hi Tomas, as I’ve already mentioned in the post, I don’t recommend travelling into the dangerous areas of Detroit and I also think ogling over a city’s downfall is disrespectful. I’m glad you were safe in the end.

      Reply
      • Jo, I hear you, but I have mixed feelings about “oggling decay”. A huge chunk of the centre of Rome is a giant ruin of a dead empire. Should people not visit?

        Also, for some, these ruins represent potential, not facsimiles of death. They are inspired by their beauty.
        Some of these people come back and fix up the ruins, bringing them back to their original splendour, and everybody benefits. There are a few examples of exactly this happening in Brush Park.

        Reply
        • Hi Rob, I think there’s a world of difference between ancient ruins and dilapidated buildings in a community where the previous occupants/residents have direct memories of the place. But we’re each entitled to our views. Happy travels 🙂

          Reply
  12. Great Article. I grew up on the Candian side of the river and have been visiting Detroit all my life. I have never felt unsafe in the city centre. My friends and family would frequently visit for concerts and sporting events. We would enjoy cheap drinks in the pubs and would walk freely from the Greek town area back to the tunnel. One time a police officer pulled up to a friend and I and offered us a ride to prison then drove off laughing. Detroit is a great town and I’m always defending it to people who have never been.

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  13. The article is written perfectly, as a native “Detroiter” I can say that stay in those areas and you’ll be fine. A few things were missed though. Belle Isle is a great place especially in summer and now is owned by the state and operated by the Michigan DNR. Meaning the police presence and cleanliness/upkeep of the island has vastly improved. That would be another spot that is a ** MUST SEE ** , bring your camera. Amazing views of downtown as well as the Detroit River, and including Windsor Ontario Canada. There are also a few small museums on the island as well as swimming. Note there is a small fee ( maybe 5 dollars for a day pass) to get on the island unless you buy a yearly pass which is roughly 12 bucks. The other area of Detroit that wasn’t discussed that also merits a mention is Mexican Town. I highly recommend trying the restaurants there for a great Mexican meal like MI Pueblo , Mexcian village and even the other the wall hole in the walls have great food! Its really not the best for walking around, but just go there for a lunch or dinner. Detroit is really a town where most people reside in the suburbs, and while there is lots going on downtown, its also worth checking out suburbs like Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Royal oak to name a few in the suburbs. Also bring your passport and check out Windsor Ontario. The exchange rate is somewhat favorable and makes things there reasonable ( Little Italy , Devonshire mall, and the first casino in the Area worth checking out ) Also responding to the post asking about the Airport. The airport is in Romulus, about 15-20 minutes west of Detroit. There is nothing special there nor is it a shopping area. There are a few resturants, bars, strip clubs in the area. The airport area is safe. The airport itself is top notch if you are in McNamara Terminal ( Delta Hub ) . The other terminal LC smith has all the other airlines and also was remodeled but does have less shopping/dining choices. If you want to do something near the Airport go check out Ann Arbor or the closest town worth checking out is Dearborn. Come check it out, you’ll have a great time! Yes most everyone is very friendly!

    Reply
  14. we travel to Detroit 3 or 4 times a year ( Tigers and Red wings fan) we always stay in one of the Downtown hotels we love the people and enjoy the different restaurants in the area. Greek town area is one of our favorites.

    Reply
    • Hi Greg, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s good to know that I didn’t just get lucky with my time in Detroit and that it’s good for repeat visits.

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  15. Hello Jo! Just read your article and found it very interesting, along with all the responses. We have been coming to Detroit for over 20 years and moved our business here over 6 years ago and moved our home here 5 years ago. Our business is downtown but my husband travels all over the city to see his patients. The people of Detroit make the city a very special place, as you were able to experience. The art community, business community and many others are very welcoming and hard working. The art, food and music are also second to none. We love the diversity and friendliness of the wonderful people here, which we appreciate when we visit other areas of the US and the world. If you would like a tour next time you are in Detroit, and I know you will come again as there are so many great things to do, we would be happy to give you a tour or refer you to one of our friends who are tour guides. Thanks for your article and take care!

    Reply
    • Hi Kim, thanks for such a lovely offer. I will take you up on that the next time I’m in the city. You’re proof that with an open mind and an open heart, you can truly enjoy the depths of a city, even one (especially one) that has had a hard time.

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  16. Thanks a lot for this article. It’s gorgeous. I had a discussion with my sister a couple of days ago about that city. She has been there plenty times (business reasons). We both explored and are still exploring the world. Since she used to live in places like Singapore or Mumbai, I ve been to cities like Bangkok or Antananarivo and so on (guess, around 30 the last 3-4 years). She uses TripAdvisor as a traveling-tool , I prefer couchsurfing (just to meet locals and figure out the place) or talking to people after I arrived. Well, even Madagascar was (and still is called) a dangerous place, which is not…
    I think I will head to Detroit next time I’ll visit the States. Anyway, Thanks a lot I really enjoyed your article.
    Stay safe, take care and save travels
    RoSa

    Reply
  17. Detroit may be a nice place to visit but for the average citizen it is not a nice place to live. Having tourists come for a couple of days will never fix the problems Detroit has. I lived there most of my life and I’m into my 50’s. Tourists have The luxury of staying in the safe spots. The rest of us don’t.

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    • Hi Sue, I don’t want to be contrary but tourism has many significant and well documented benefits for a city from employment to increased local spending, encouraging investment in infrastructure, new businesses and opportunities and diversification of people to mention a few. Although this might not be felt directly in more troubled parts of the city, the benefits will trickle through eventually if tourism hold and increases.

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  18. My girlfriend and I visited today Ditroit… It’s an amazing city! Has some bad neighborhoods like any other big city but has many others that are great! My girlfriend didn’t want to go because all that scaring histories. Finally she love the Downtown and others renewed areas. Go there and remember to take a good camera to take amazing pictures! Thank you Jo

    Reply
  19. Really liked this post. I’ve lived in the Detroit area all my life and have nothing but good things to say about it. Sure, the neighborhoods are rough, but that goes with any big city. My dad grew up at 7 mile and Van Dyke and we still go to mass down in his old neighborhood. I work at a car dealership driving a shuttle and drop customers off in some of the “dangerous” areas of the city and have never felt concerned for my well being. Also, you don’t HAVE to stick to the freeway to get downtown. You can take Jefferson, Woodward, and even Gratiot without having issues. It really upsets me to see people that lived in the area say inaccurate things about the town. I was on the south side of Chicago last weekend and would travel any neighborhood of Detroit before going back there. And those of you planning on staying in the downtown/midtown area don’t need to worry about catching stray bullets or being mugged while you walk down the street because that is completely absurd.

    Reply
    • Same here Jay, I been here 50 years never had a problem I stay in the neighbor hood
      I go to the gas station at night no problem, I ride my bike no problem. The only time their is violent/ crimes is with young people who don’t know any better or someone selling drugs or if you around that type of behavior. Just wanted to set the record straight. I’m true Detroit I didn’t move to the suburb. Here I’am still living here no problem. Detroit has stupid people doing stupid things that all.

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  20. I am From Detroit and live in Detroit. Honestly, if you stick to the Greektown/Midtown/Downtown, you likely wont encounter any problems. Corktown is trying to revitalize itself but still has a ways to go. Corktown is cool, use common sense and, you will likely be fine.

    However, when you get out of the main “tourist” pockets of the city, that is when you are extremely likely to run into trouble. Drive 5 minutes out of downtown in any direction and you will see the difference. There is a trend of people taking photos of the abandoned buildings (ruins porn) and exploring the abandoned neighborhoods… Doing that is frowned on here and you run a high chance of getting mugged and having your camera gear stolen. Detroit also has a problem with packs of wild dogs attacking people specifically in the Petoskey/Otsego area.

    Every neighborhood of the city has a high crime rate, i’d say that the worst is probably the East side. That being said, if you want to visit a less touristy, more grungy part of the city that is relativity safe, I’d say to check out Hamtramck. I’ve lived in Detroit for 26 years (my whole life) i’ve been mugged twice, had my house broken into a few times, had my car stolen, witnessed a couple of murders and found a few dead bodies…. But none of those things happened in the touristy areas.

    Thanks for sharing a positive view about my city! I just don’t want people to think that they will be safe in the majority of this city. Be vigilant and you’ll be okay!

    P.S. You’re not missing anything by not seeing 8mile. Its just a long highway with strip malls on it. Most of the better parts of the city border 8 mile.

    Reply
  21. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for you your presence and you information you share. As an older Dutch woman I will come through Detroit to visit my relatives in Michigan in September. From my B&B in Windsor I have to find the railway station of Detroit to take the train to my relatives in Grand Rapids, and on the way back I have to go from the railway station in Detroit to find the airport of Detroit, to have a flight to Newark, NJ. I wonder if the railway station and the airport are located in safe areas. What would be you advice to me, that is, how could I best manage? Should I take buses or taxis, and in those cases, which ones and what measures should I take?
    Thank you in advance for your answer.
    A.J. V.

    Reply
    • Hi A.J., I understand your concern. I was pretty nervous turning up at. the train station but I had no problem at all. The station is near Corktown where I. stayed and, although it doesn’t look very pretty when you arrive, there are some pretty popular places around e.g. one of the city’s best barbecue spots. I’ve not been to an airport that wasn’t safe given the number of armed guards there. Also, if you take a taxi directly to the airport, you will be within the terminal very quickly. I’ve just googled it and I’d skip the boss – it takes 1 hour 20 minutes versus 20 minutes by car and can involve a change of bus. If you have a smart phone, I download either Uber or Lyft which both work within the city. They will come and collect you from the station and take you directly to the airport. I used Uber and it worked really well. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  22. I have business in Mt Clemens, a suburb, and am trying to determine if I should stay there or somewhere else close by. Any suggestions as to a hotel?

    Reply
    • Hi Jamie, I visited as a tourist so I have no idea about the suburbs of Detroit. I have a few hotel recommendations in the post above.

      Reply
  23. I really wanna go to Detroit because I’m really into the Detroit teams (like Red Wings and Pistons). Well, what you told about tour trip really teases me to go there. Anyway, I’m from São Paulo, Brazil, and here is basically the same rhing as Detroit. I mean, there’s a lot of crimes that the media keep showing, but is a safe place at all (obviously the neighbourhood that you are is an important thing to consider). My point is: did you consider come to Brazil one day to see a new perspective?

    If you read that, thanks! (keep going with that good work, I’m loving your blog!)

    Reply
    • I spent a few weeks in Brazil and absolutely loved it – I agree that if you don’t let the sensationalised news stories scare you, the world is a much more enjoyable place.

      Reply
  24. Greeting from London. I am from one of the so called rough areas in south of city which always talked own by some of central London snobs. During my next visit to the USA I will visit Detroit. Thank you for the excellent article.

    Reply
  25. Hey this is really helpful Thanks for making the search to see if this is a great place easier. I want to go with my friend for her birthday to the motown museum. I’ve been told that it’s really rough and unsafe to two women to tour there without getting raped or killed so there is some fear, but I still really want to go. We a very cautious women as to not bring attention to ourself. Do you think we will be safe?

    Reply
    • I went as a woman on my own and was neither raped nor killed and brought plenty of attention to myself by smiling and chatting to local people. I’m sure the city would be pleased to have you visit. Just stay to the tourist parts and take taxis ..if you’re unsure.

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  26. I was born and raised in Detroit. You are giving a false impression of the city to suggest it’s a nice place. Sure, certain parts have seen an influx of private money trying to capitalize on the idea that the only way to go from rock-bottom is up; but if you find yourself venturing out of these areas it WILL be a very bad day for you.

    Reply
    • Hi Kiru, as I mentioned in my post I visited as a tourist and stuck to the tourist areas. I had a wonderful experience in the city and I’m sad that you don’t feel proud of the place where you live. As with anything in life, a glass for example, one person will see it as half full and another will see it is half empty. That does not make my impression false. I do agree with you on one point – when you hit rock bottom, the only way is up which is the direction I saw Detroit travelling in.

      Reply
      • She never said she wasn’t proud of where she lived. Detroiters are THE MOST proud. Like you said, you went to the tourist spots, you have no idea what its like in Detroit so you should make it more clear in your post. The capitalist parts of Detroit are on the come up, not the core foundation. Nice post though lmao

        Reply
        • Make it more clear in my post? The whole thing is about visiting Detroit…first impressions….my experience as a visitor. Even a skim through the headings makes it clear. And it’s situated on my travel blog. I’m not paying extra to put the obvious in flashing red lights. Also, you don’t need to use the words ‘I’m not proud of my city’ for your words to say you’re not proud of your city. I agree that the people I met seemed very proud but there is always the exception to the rule. Glad you liked the post. 🙂

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  27. This site is kinda confusing as I was thinking this article was posted last month and not three years ago, but I guess “last updated” means recent comment. Nevertheless it did ease my mind a bit about Detroit, so thank you! I’m going there for a night next week and I’m not sure what to expect and I’m a little nervous, but the positive changes to the city are making me pretty excited for the trip. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Lysh, you should be excited for your trip – Detroit is a great city! PS: sorry you were confused. The last updated isn’t the date of comments, it’s the date I have personally updated the post. I make sure I regularly update my most popular posts to keep them accurate and relevant.

      Reply
    • I live in Detroit. The vibe is awesome and there are SO many great restaurants and always something going on in the community.

      Reply
  28. i live in toronto and i am planning a three-day trip to Detroit this good friday weekend.
    it’s my first time visiting the city and i am going alone.
    Detroit is known as a tough city, much tougher than toronto I guess.
    so safety is my concern. I’m a harmless looking petite Asian guy in my 40’s with broken English,
    don’t have any protection to carry and no martial arts or military background.
    All I got is my self-trust and optimism. Am I going to be okay?
    i want to see areas like downtown and greek town area by foot and people mover.
    Ride Q-line to DIA in midtown and Maybe drive my new mercedes coupe to Bell Isle as well.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff, just be careful – stick to the tourist spots. I have to say that driving an expensive car in any city with crime levels will likely increase your risk of becoming a target so I’d be extra cautious. Hope you have a great trip.

      Reply
  29. I nervously stayed in downtown Detroit at the Book Cadillac Hotel. I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Detroit because the city looked better than I expected.

    There was a lot of development going on. My wife and I took Uber over to a cool little Jazz Bar called Cliff Bells. Great food and great music. In the morning, we “walked” over to a place called Campus Martious Park and ate breakfast at one of the trendy new restaurants.

    We saw women with small children walking around downtown by themselves — which was surprising to me. People were very friendly; more than once I had to ask for directions.

    Thanks for the great article. All in all I was totally surprised by Detroit. I was expecting the worst; instead, we had a fabulous time.

    Reply
  30. I am getting ready to leave my first visit to Detroit, and I have to say I am impressed, yes, there is destruction, and a high crime rate, but the downtown part was absolutely amazing, it’s like you are in another country, the old magnificent architecture on the buildings, I never felt in any danger, sure there are parts that would be dangerous, but the downtown part is just fine, everyone is so nice, I do, God willing, plan to go back again.

    Reply
  31. Hi as a native Detroiter.. I really enjoyed your article. I’ve lived in the city for over 25 years before moving away for a job. My entire family is still there and happy to reside there. As I’ve traveled across the country to different cities and even abroad, I’ve noticed that every major metropolis has its Issues and Detroit is no different. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and opened mind to the city. People of the suburbs look at Detroit as a dump. Yes we have our issues and yes we are working to fix those issues. But it sucks When people from your own backyard talks down on the city to visitors. My question to them would be what are you trying to do to help? If you’re not apart of the solution, you’re apart of the problem. I encourage everyone to try to the city out for yourself before you judge! There are other safe neighborhoods outside of midtown and downtown with great local bars, local shopping, and restaurants. No we’re not Chicago or New York but we’re Detroit and that’s all that matter. Come back and visit and the city is making strides to better itself. It wont Happen overnight. But it will Happen.

    Reply
    • Hi Castor, what a lovely comment you’ve left and I agree with you. My own city (Liverpool) has had its own share of turbulence, especially in the 80s and I agree that it’s horrible to hear people talk badly about where you know, especially the locals! I had an amazing time in Detroit and I will definitely return!

      Reply
    • It is not true that everyone in the suburbs thinks Detroit is a dump. Most of us do not think so; we enjoy the city and are excited and happy about everything going on.

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  32. Downtown Detroit is relatively safe, and has been all along… even during the 1970s when Detroit started going downhill. But even now, even in the so-called good areas including downtown, walk with at least a couple of other people after nightfall, and keep a good lookout in all directions. I have friends who were accosted near the Fox Theatre downtown shortly after a performance one evening last summer (fortunately, they were not injured).

    The Woodward Avenue corridor is also pretty safe, and that’s where visitors go to see the Art Museum. But remember that 80% of the city itself is still considered what I would call threatening. Locals know the good and bad areas, but if you are visiting Detroit, don’t take chances. You don’t want to get lost or exit at the wrong freeway exit, particularly at night.

    And keep the car doors locked with windows up when driving, and don’t get “boxed-in” when stopped in traffic, as the number of carjackings in Detroit keeps increasing.

    As a longtime Detroit area resident, I can say the downtown core area is better than a couple of decades ago, but the city will never be as nice as it was when I was growing up in the 1950s and early 196s.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for these local tips Jill – I’m sure they’ll be really helpful to other people visiting!

      Reply
  33. I’ve lived in Detroit for 4 years and Chicago for 3.
    Detroit is definitely one of those cities where you have where you’re going. If you stick around midtown or Comerica area, it’s fine. SW Detroit is getting nicer but you don’t just want to wander around all over downtown. I have a friend who went to the June fireworks down there and decided to park his car on some shady street 8 blocks from where the event was- anyway, he got jumped on the walk back to his car. Had a black eye and bruised all over.
    The city is making a comeback, but it’s not even close to where it needs to be. There’s still so many pockets of abandoned buildings and crime ridden blocks that cops don’t bother with.
    Even Chicago is not all that safe. Mostly gentrified, but you never know what you’ll run into on any given day.

    Reply
  34. Stumbled upon this article because I’m thinking of planning a solo trip this summer to Detroit. I have been previously as a group and while we did run into some trouble one night, we all came out fine.
    I would suggest that anyone who is into biking should look up the Slow Roll bike ride! We got to bike through Detroit with over 1,000 local residents and it was the highlight of the trip. It does take you through good & bad parts of the town but it just showed us even more the resiliencey of Detroit residents and how proud they are of their city.

    Reply
  35. Hi Jo,
    I am from Germany, so please excuse if there are some mistakes within my posting 😉
    I am interested in visting the USA in general and I was in New York City in 2003, but Detroit catches my special interest a couple of years ago. All of my friends prefer to travel to NYC, to Vegas, to California or to New England, but I would love to visit Detroit. My favorite sitcom “Home Improvement” takes place there, there a lot a music bands from Detroit I like to listen to, I like American cars a lot (and own one, too!), so I began to read a lot about Detroit in the past years, see many videos on YouTube, bought me some books about Detroit, its history and its change since 2013.
    So now I am planning to visit Detroit with a friend this spring and we will stay in a little house in Corktown.
    It was great to read this article, it’s so positive and I would like to thank for writing it.
    Can’t wait to visit this City!
    Best regards from Northern Germany,
    Boris

    Reply
  36. I enjoyed your article. I visited Detroit last summer and had a blast. I stayed in Greek town and walked back and forth to Comercial park. Met the same couple of reality-challenged street folks that I have met in every other city I have visited, but they were perfectly nice. Maybe because my buddy had a cigarette to give them. I stayed at the Atheneum which was nice enough. Big rooms even with the puzzling fake Greek column in the sitting room. Attached to a good eatery that handles the room service.

    Reply
    • Hi Eric, so happy to hear that you had a great experience in Detroit. I’ll check out that hotel next time in the city! Thanks for the tip.

      Reply
  37. Hello! I live outside of Detroit in a suburb and read this article, and honestly to tell you a fact, whenever you go to Detroit, always take the highway as its the fastest, direct, safest way, but when your in Downtown, Corktown, even Hamtramck in some areas everyone is so nice! I even experienced a stoplight conversation with someone, where we both rolled down our windows, both from out of town, and both heading to Eastern Market. We later became friends and travel to Detroit a lot now! It is very safe for tourists, but its even safe to live in those areas above shops, and in newly renovated areas around. I do not recommend living in the western parts however as its farther out, and therefore has less police-protection, so more chance of crime etc. The eastern side is not perfect either, but much more safe. Ever since Detroit’s comeback, we have seen land prices rise, suburbs flourish, and Detroit flourish, and I assure you Detroit is safer than half of the other cities in America. The high crime rate is due to the horrible residential districts. The places tourists would go is very safe and locked-down tight, this is from a personal experience. If you do happen to get stuck in the hood, just look straight ahead and mind your own business and 9 out of 10 times, nothing will happen, they dont want you there, and you dont want to be there. But overall yes, Detroit is very safe.

    Reply
    • Hi Danielle, thank you so much for stopping by to give an insider’s view and tips for visiting Detroit. It’s also reassuring to know that you also share my view that overall Detroit is very safe.

      Reply
  38. This article is misleading. There is more to Detroit than cutesy little hipster sub neighborhoods. The OP did mention actually going to the “urban” parts of Detroit, which is the vast majority. She should have stayed on the East side of Detroit or even West 8 mile, hell even outside of Mid-town and she would e singing a different tune.

    Detroit needs more than a small patch of downtown to be revamped. Of course there aren’t gangs in Corktown, but they are laden everywhere else. Just like Chicago is shiny without mention of the south side, the same Goes for Motown.

    Reply
    • Hi Casey, I disagree. This is a travel blog and in the same way I wouldn’t advise people to go to the urban and more shifty parts of my own city, I’m not recommending they do so in Detroit. You’d be hard pushed to find any major city that didn’t have a less safe area. Having visited Detroit as a tourist, which included visiting the touristy areas, I stand by what I have written in this article.

      Reply
    • As one planning to go to Detroit as a visitor, this is exactly the type of article I was looking for. If I was moving to Detroit, it might not be so helpful.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the feedback Judy. It’s a good point and one I’ll work into the front of the article (when I’m back on more solid wifi – currently whizzing through the Italian countryside).

        Reply
  39. Thanks for the article, and you somewhat allayed my fears. I plan to visit Detroit in the near future, mostly because of Eminem, and also because of an article i needed to write. I will keep all you said in mind, and will surely visit Detroit.

    Reply
    • Hi Sophia, happy to help. Do be careful if you’re heading out to 8-mile – consider taking a local guide. And do come back and let me know how you get on. Have a great trip.

      Reply
  40. Sorry. The city of Detroit is not safe, unless one listens to the Chamber of Commerce.

    I lived in Detroit for one year. I had a brick thrown hitting my car from an overpass on the Ford Freeway. And I had my car broken into, during the middle of the day in a halfway decent area.

    And it’s a city where even the police chief said he wouldn’t stop at a gas station to refuel after sundown.

    Detroit has some beautiful suburbs, such as the Grosse Pointes and Bloomfield Hills.. But suburban residents will not go into Detroit proper, unless it is “in and out” to a Tigers or Red Wing game.

    Reply
    • Hi, I’m sorry to hear you haven’t had a great experience in Detroit and I appreciate you coming by to share your story. However, I do think there is a difference between visiting and living in a city. I haven’t recommended people go to the halfway decent places – I’ve largely recommended sticking to downtown. Also, in my personal experience, suburbanites are that bit more nervous of big cities generally ;p

      Reply
  41. Hi Indiana Jo. I have a blog on tumblr.com called 30 Plus Teams 30 Plus Dreams and Detroit was one of the cities that I talked about . I went to a Detroit Red Wings hockey game by myself and I actually felt safe in Detroit . As long as you don’t do that 8 Mile tour of Detroit and stay in the tourist areas , you’ll be fine . Detroit was actually a nice city. I was surprised . I would go back to Detroit .

    Reply
    • Hi Jo Ann (cool name, by the way – mine is spelt very similar: Jo-Ann), I’m so glad you liked Detroit too – amazing city, isn’t it. I’ll check out your post. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
      • Hi i m from india. can any one suggest safest place to live with family over there. As i m gonna live there with my family very soon and after googling got to know that this place is not safe 🙁

        Reply
        • Hi Bini, congratulations on the big life change! I’m not sure I’m best qualified to answer because I only ever visit the USA – I’ve never lived there. If it helps, I know lots of young people were moving to Detroit and it’s definitely on the ‘up’. I spent a lot of time in San Diego and that seemed to have a great family vibe and seemed incredibly safe but it will be more expensive than Detroit. Good luck with the move.

          Reply
  42. Thank you for the very refreshing view on Detroit ! I’m planing a roadtrip with 3 other friends and we really wanted to add Detroit on our trip list.

    I totally agree with you, people do the differences when travelling. I went to Camden, NJ last summer to attend a rock music festival and everyone was against it, saying Camden was dangerous, high crime statistic, very poor etc. etc. My friend and I went anyway, were very prudent, we did our research and you know what ? We met wonderful people, man who help us with the bus station, police men who smiled at us just because, an Hispanic family that ask about us and tried to speak french with us, an old man in the bus who sign us to come sit with him and finaly the host where we slept who was so wonderful. I’m very happy we decided to go and your article just confirm me I also want to go to Detroit !

    Reply
    • People so commonly confuse poverty and criminality – the two are not the same and one does not automatically lead to the other. Well done for following your instinct and having a great trip to Camden. I hope Detroit is everything you hope it is. I had such a wonderful time and would go back without hesitation! Happy travels.

      Reply
  43. A nice breath of fresh air where there are too many fearful views of the city. I believe in people and this seems like a powerful place to be.

    Reply
    • Thanks ne mo. I wasn’t sure what story I was going to write before I arrived but before my first day was done I knew it was going to be something positive – the people more than deserved to have someone show their wonderful side.

      Reply

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