We’ve all seen those wild “Florida man” headlines. And, sure, while the Sunshine State may be home to some interesting characters, that doesn’t mean it’s more dangerous than other heavily-populated states.
The crime rate in Florida is only slightly higher than the national average of about 47.70 per 100,000 people. With that being said, Florida still has its share of safety concerns.
So in this post, we’re answering the question: is Florida safe? We’ll cover everything from hurricanes and alligators to more severe crimes and provide tips on staying safe while visiting this tourist hotspot.
Is Florida Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes, Florida is generally considered safe to visit. However, there are some safety concerns that you should be aware of before your trip. Not every neighborhood in Florida is as safe as the others; some are downright deadly and best avoided.
We’ll talk about some of these in more detail further down. In terms of natural disasters, Florida is most susceptible to hurricanes. These storms can cause extensive damage and even lead to fatalities.
So if you’re traveling to Florida during hurricane season (June 1–November 30), keep up with the latest weather reports and consider having an evacuation plan while visiting.
Alligators and venomous snakes are another potential danger in Florida. These reptiles are found in many of the state’s waterways and underbrush and can be aggressive if they feel threatened.
If you’re planning on swimming in any Florida lakes or rivers, stay aware of your surroundings and avoid any areas that look like alligator habitats. Warning signs are often posted in these areas, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Sinkholes may seem like an odd safety concern, but they’re pretty standard and can occur anywhere in Florida.
These sudden, crater-like holes can form anywhere in the state but are most common in the “Sinkhole Alley” counties of Pasco, Hernando, and Hillsborough. Sinkholes typically occur after heavy rains or prolonged periods of drought and can severely threaten people and property.
Crime in Florida
As mentioned, the crime rate in Florida is slightly higher than the national average. However, the 2020 Annual Uniform Crime Report shows that the total crime volume is down for the 50th consecutive year.
Of course, as with any large state, crime rates vary depending on the city or neighborhood. For example, Florida’s capital city of Tallahassee has a property crime rate significantly higher than the state and national average.
Meanwhile, other major metropolitan areas like Orlando have a violent crime rate that’s more than double the national median. The most common type of crime in Florida is property crime, which includes burglary, robbery, and motor vehicle theft.
In 2018, there were 485,270 reported property crime incidents in the state. This equates to a rate of about 2,382.4 per 100,000 people — moderately higher than the national average of 2,199.5.
Violent crime (murder, rape, and aggravated assault) is also a concern in Florida. In 2018, there were 81,896 reported incidents of violent crime — a rate of about 393 per 100,000 people. This is, again, slightly higher than the national average of 368.9.
Avoiding Crimes in Florida
Florida is a sizable state with a large, diverse population. Like any other place, safety is always a priority, especially when traveling to unfamiliar territory.
However, if you’re cautious and take the necessary precautions, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip without incident. Remember to stay alert and trust your gut — if something feels off, pay attention.
If you’re concerned about crime while visiting Florida, doing your research can help put your mind at ease. Stay away from any areas known to be unsafe and consider staying in a hotel or rental property in a more affluent neighborhood.
Keep your eyes up and stay alert to your surroundings when out and about. The nightlife scene in Florida can be a great way to have fun, but it’s important to be safe while enjoying it. Only go to bars and clubs you feel comfortable with and travel in groups if possible.
Keep your drink with you always, and never leave it unattended. If you’re feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to call for help. Generally, it’s always a good idea to travel with a friend or family member.
This way, you’ll have someone to watch your back and help you stay safe if something does happen. When traveling solo, let people know where you’re going and when you expect to return home. Check in regularly and listen to your intuition.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
You’ll find bad apples in every city; unfortunately, Florida is no exception. There are neighborhoods within the bigger cities that are downright sketchy. Sadly, most of these places have high levels of poverty and are, therefore, of little interest to visitors.
Still, being aware of them can help avoid potential danger. Florida City, for example, is the deadliest city in the state and one of the most dangerous in the country.
It’s located just south of Miami and has a crime rate of more than six times the national average. Your chance of becoming the victim of an aggressive crime in Florida City is 1 in 38.
If you find yourself in Florida City, keep your eyes open, exercise common sense, and take extreme caution. Opa-Locka is another city with a concerningly high crime rate.
This Miami neighborhood is known for its drug trade and has been the site of several violent crimes. There are a staggering 271 crimes committed per square mile in Opa-Locka, with the national median being only 26.9.
In addition, the violent crime rate is 405% higher than the national average. Daytona Beach is famous for its Spring Break party scene, and this influx of seasonal visitors can cause crime rates to get a bit out of hand.
Violent crimes in Daytona Beach are more than double the national median, and your chance of becoming a victim of property crime is 1 in 34. In addition, this beach town can be hazardous at night — many bars close at 2:00 AM, leading to many intoxicated people on the streets.
While Orlando is undoubtedly safer than other cities on this list, it’s still worth mentioning. There are several areas in Orlando that have notoriously high crime rates.
These include the neighborhoods of Mercy Drive, Malibu Groves, Roosevelt Park, and Johnson Village. If you’re visiting Orlando for theme parks or resorts, we recommend you avoid these dangerous neighborhoods.
Things to Consider
There’s a reason so many people visit Florida yearly — it’s a fantastic place. With its stunning beaches, exciting theme parks, and year-round sunshine, it’s no wonder that Florida is such a popular destination.
However, we advise that you keep a few things in mind before planning your trip to ensure it’s the unforgettable vacation you’re hoping for. First and foremost, Florida is a hurricane zone.
The state experiences more hurricanes and tropical or subtropical cyclones than any other U.S. state, with peak hurricane season occurring from June to November. So if you’re visiting Florida during this time, be mindful of the weather and have an emergency plan in place.
In addition, Florida is home to some potentially dangerous wildlife. For example, alligators can be found in nearly every body of water in the state, so remember that you’re likely sharing a space with them when swimming or hiking.
There are also several venomous snakes and spiders, so take extra care when hiking in tall grass or exploring caves. And who can forget the mosquitos?
Having a tropical climate, Florida is home to some potentially dangerous insects, including mosquitoes, which can spread diseases like Zika and the West Nile virus.
Wear insect repellent and cover up exposed skin outdoors to protect yourself from these pests. Finally, the temperatures in Florida can be pretty extreme.
The hot, humid season lasts from June to September, with an average daily high of 87 degrees. So, if you don’t do well in the heat, plan for indoor activities (don’t worry, there are tons!) or visit during the cooler months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we’ve gotten the safety concerns out of the way let’s talk about some frequently asked questions about visiting Florida.
What is the best month to visit Florida?
This depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. If you want to experience Florida’s famous theme parks, the best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons of March — April, and October –November. The weather is pleasant and tolerable, and there are fewer crowds.
However, if you’re hoping to enjoy the beaches and sunny weather, the best time to visit is throughout the summer, from June to September. Remember that hurricane season falls during this time, so keep an eye on the weather forecast.
What is the nicest part of Florida to vacation in?
Again, this depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. We recommend staying in the Orlando area to experience the best of Florida’s theme parks and attractions.
This region is home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and dozens of other smaller attractions. There’s also a massive selection of hotels and resorts to choose from, so you can find one that fits your budget and needs.
The Florida Keys or the Gulf Coast are likely better choices if you’re more interested in relaxing on the beach. These areas offer beautiful beaches and plenty of fishing, snorkeling, and kayaking opportunities.
Is Florida expensive to visit?
This depends on your budget and what you hope to do while you’re here. If you’re planning to stay in a resort and spend most of your time at theme parks, Florida can be expensive. However, there are still some ways to save money while you’re here.
For example, many attractions offer discounts if you purchase your tickets in advance, and there are many affordable hotels and motels throughout the state.
Florida can be affordable if you’re planning to visit the beaches or other outdoor areas. Many state parks and campgrounds charge daily or weekly rates that are pretty reasonable, and there are plenty of free outdoor activities.
What are the must-see attractions in Florida?
This depends on your interests. Florida’s most popular attractions include the Kennedy Space Center, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and the Everglades National Park. Of course, dozens of other smaller attractions are worth checking out, so keep your eyes peeled for hidden gems.
What is the best way to get around Florida?
Again, this depends on your plans. If you’re staying in one area, like Orlando, you may not need a car. This is because many attractions and hotels offer shuttle services, or you can always Uber it if you need to get somewhere.
Consider renting a car if you’re planning to drive a lot. Florida is a large state, so it’s not practical to try and see everything without your own set of wheels. Just brush up on your map skills before going — Florida’s highways can confuse first-time visitors.
I’m visiting Florida with my family. What are some kid-friendly activities?
Thanks to its fun and exciting theme parks and attractions, Florida is a great place to visit with kids. In addition to the obvious choices like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, you can also take them to see the manatees at Crystal River, visit Kennedy Space Center, or explore one of Florida’s many state parks.
Can you swim in Florida in December?
Surprisingly, yes. Florida’s climate is mild year-round, so the water is usually warm enough to swim in, even during winter. But, of course, you’ll want to check the weather forecast before heading to the beach, as it can sometimes be quite cool in December.
And if the water’s too chilly for you, some indoor pools and water parks are open year-round if you’re looking to swim.
What can I do in Florida if it’s raining?
If you find yourself stuck indoors because of the rain, there are still plenty of things to do in Florida. Many art galleries, museums, and science centers offer free or low-cost admission, or you can always visit one of the bustling shopping malls or outlet stores.
If you’re in Orlando, you can even check out one of the many indoor attractions, like Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Or, if you want a more laid-back experience, why not visit one of the many beach bars along the coast? They’re the perfect place to relax with a drink and wait for the rain to pass.
So, Is Florida Safe to Visit?
Overall, Florida is a unique and exhilarating place to visit, whether you’re looking for adventure or a relaxing vacation. You’ll find a variety of one-of-a-kind activities to keep you busy, and the mild climate means you can enjoy the outdoors year-round.
So whether you’re an amusement park junkie or a beach bum, Florida has something for everyone. And regarding safety, Florida is no different than any other destination.
Use common sense, remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings, and stay in well-lit, populated areas, and you’ll be just fine. But, of course, the same goes for any destination — use your best judgment, and you’ll have a great time wherever you go.
Oh, and don’t forget your sunscreen. Happy travels!