Skip to Content

Is Memphis Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Memphis Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Memphis safe to visit?

No, Memphis is not considered safe, primarily due to its high crime rate, including theft, vehicle break-ins, and violence. Socio-economic issues like poverty, unemployment, and high gun ownership contribute to the city’s safety challenges, although tourist areas are somewhat safer due to increased police presence.

Memphis, Tennessee, is a popular travel destination for people interested in Southern culture, especially music history. One of the main things to do in Memphis is to visit Graceland, Elvis’s mansion, a must-visit destination for music lovers, as well as many other museums dedicated to music.

Memphis has other important historical monuments, such as the National Civil Rights Museum. Visitors should also check out Memphis’s BBQ and other Southern specials, typical for this gateway to the region.

From live music to great food, there’s something for everyone in Memphis. However, it’s a good idea to also read up on more practical concerns, such as safety. Keep reading for more information on how to stay safe on your visit.

Is Memphis Safe to Visit?

To show whether or not Memphis is safe to visit, a bunch of clubs pictured with a blocked off street at dawn

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 25, 2017: Blues Clubs on Beale Street at dawn/Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Yes. It’s possible to visit Memphis safely because most tourist areas are reasonably well-protected by police.

However, Memphis the city has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, and you’ll definitely want to be careful when you go exploring. Memphis frequently tops lists of the most dangerous big cities in the United States.

For example, the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the 25 most dangerous places to live in the United States puts Memphis at the very top of the list. When calculating the crime rate per resident, Memphis has one of the highest crime rates in the United States.

Common crimes include:

  • Theft
  • Vehicle break-ins
  • Grand theft auto
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Gun violence

Although most crimes, especially violent crimes, occur in residential neighborhoods where tourists don’t tend to venture, even downtown has its problems with crime.

A recent local news survey of visitors to Memphis showed that many tourists had been warned of crime in the downtown area, including on Beale Street, or witnessed a dangerous incident.

There are a few reasons why Memphis has such a high crime rate, and analysts and journalists from all over the country have tried to figure out why and offer solutions. The high poverty rate, high unemployment rate, and income inequality play a part in pushing many people towards crime.

The city also has high rates of gun ownership, meaning that even small disputes quickly escalate into violent crimes. Some residents also blame the ineffective police force, which often doesn’t follow up on crimes.

In 2022, the Memphis police chief became a city-wide joke when her own firearm was stolen. All of these reasons do not excuse the high crime rate, but to give you an explanation for why the city is the way it is.

These factors also show that it’s not in the interest of criminals to target hapless tourists, but that there is something deeper afoot.

In terms of other potential dangers besides crime, it’s important to note that Memphis is occasionally affected by strong storms, including some tornadoes in the spring. These storms are rare and announced well in advance on the forecast. If there is a strong storm, make sure you take shelter.

Crime in Memphis

Yellow electric trolley making its way down the street in Memphis during the summer

Bo Shen/Shutterstock

Many articles mention crime as a common problem in Memphis but looking at crime statistics is the best way to get an accurate picture of what happens in the city.

One of the biggest concerns about crime in Memphis is the high violent crime rate. According to 2022 statistics, the city had a violent crime rate of 2,420.86 incidents per 100,000 residents, the highest violent crime rate among cities in the United States.

Violent crime also makes up a high proportion of the crimes committed in the city. According to FBI data from 2019, violent crime makes up a whopping 23.6% of total crimes committed in the city. The most common violent crime is assault, which makes up 75% of total violent crimes committed.

The high homicide rate is another cause for concern in Memphis. There were 190 cases of homicide in 2019, a high number for a city with about 650,000 residents.

Homicides are rising in Memphis despite a decline nationwide—in 2023, murders rose by 43%. Property crime is also a significant problem in Memphis, making up 76.4% of total crimes committed in the city.

Following nationwide crime trends, larceny-theft is the most common large category of crime, making up 53.5% of total crimes in the city. Vehicle theft is one of the largest categories of thefts and one of the highest-increasing crimes.

Vehicle Theft

As mentioned above, theft is one of the largest categories of crime in Memphis. While this includes theft from businesses as well as other types of theft that may affect you as a visitor, such as pickpocketing, the fastest-growing type of theft in Memphis is vehicle theft.

The city has the 4th highest rate of grand theft auto in the United States. Like nationwide, many thefts in Memphis target easy-to-steal cars such as Hyundai and Kia vehicles, which have a security flaw that thieves have figured out how to exploit.

However, no make of car is safe. The best thing to do is not to bring your car to Memphis at all if you are just coming for a short visit. The trolley and other public transportation cover some of the city, while you can hire a taxi to get around to other parts.

If you have to bring your car, make sure that you find a secure place to park. The best hotels in the downtown area have parking garages with security cameras and sometimes private security.


Robbery is the fastest-growing violent crime in Memphis and the one that is most likely to affect tourists. Authorities have responded by increasing security around popular areas such as Beale Street, but it’s also the responsibility of visitors to try and keep themselves safe.

Although robberies can occur anywhere, one precaution to take is to stick to safe areas (more on those later). Even in safer parts such as downtown, avoid walking down side streets with nobody else there or alleyways, where robberies tend to occur.

Do your best to minimize the target on your back. Don’t walk around alone at night, opt to take a taxi instead to get through unfamiliar areas. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or watches, especially in sketchier areas. Don’t use street ATMs or otherwise advertise that you are carrying lots of cash.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Downtown, one of the areas to avoid in Memphis, pictured with a police car outside of the tall buildings

Memphis, Tennessee – August 19, 2018: Police car of Memphis park on the road among the building in downtown, USA/Mont592/Shutterstock

While Beale Street, downtown Memphis, and other popular tourist areas are generally safe, the city has other neighborhoods that are quite dangerous. Some neighborhoods to avoid include:

  • Neighborhoods west of the airport
  • Hickory Hill
  • Shelby Forest-Frayser
  • Parkway Village-Oakhaven

Ask a local for advice, such as your hotel receptionist. They will tell you which areas to avoid. It’s also smart to avoid walking around except in the downtown areas you know since safety can change from street to street.

Things to Consider

Orpheum pictured outside under light blue sky for a piece titled Is Memphis TN Safe to Visit

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – APRIL 09, 2016: Memphis Downtown and Orpheum/Photosounds/Shutterstock

Here are some additional safety tips for visiting Memphis:

  • Be respectful to locals. While some may discuss their safety concerns with you, others will get offended if you keep bringing up stereotypes about their city. Memphis has a large homeless population, but they tend to keep to themselves.
  • Contact the Blue Suede Brigade if you’re in trouble. This brigade of helpers walks around Downtown Memphis to keep order and help out tourists. You can recognize them by their distinct blue uniforms.
  • Read bills carefully. Some businesses, such as restaurants, try to scam tourists, by tacking on random charges.
  • Drink the tap water. Memphis has some of the best water in the United States, so save money on bottled water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Exterior shot of Graceland, Elvis's home and a reason to visit Memphis TN

MEMPHIS, TN, USA – MARCH 22, 2019/Rolf_52/Shutterstock

Here are some of the most common questions people have asked about Memphis before:

Is it safe to travel to Memphis right now?

Memphis is safe to visit right now despite its elevated crime rate. Most incidents don’t affect tourists and the city has invested resources into keeping visitors safe.

Is it safe to walk at night in Memphis?

Most of Memphis is not very safe to walk at night. The exceptions are popular tourist areas such as Beale Street which tend to be full of people at all hours.

Is Memphis safer than Nashville?

According to most metrics, Memphis is less safe than Nashville as it has a higher crime rate. However, bad things can happen anywhere.

Is Memphis a good tourist destination?

Memphis is a good tourist destination because it has a lot to see. History lovers will see important sites in the Civil Rights Movement, while the live music and food scene are great for a weekend break.

Is Memphis safer than New York?

New York may be the bigger city, but Memphis is actually less safe. Per capita, Memphis has a higher crime rate and higher violent crime rate.

So, Is Memphis Safe to Visit?

Memphis can’t really be called a safe city because its crime rate is too high. However, it is safe to visit because locals are the ones that bear the brunt of the high crime rate, not visitors.

You should still take precautions such as not leaving valuables unattended or walking in unfamiliar areas at night. Be sure to stick to the tourist areas and you should have a great trip. Happy travels!