Florida's 10 Most Dangerous Cities
Florida evokes two contradictory images: One of fine dining restaurants, pristine beaches and hammocks under coconut trees; and one of drug trafficking and crimes so absurd that only "Florida Man" could've thought them up.
Both of these images are absolutely real. Florida, like the famous poet Walt Whitman once wrote, truly does contain multitudes. For tourists, this means not skipping the possibility of vacationing in this wonderful state ... but also knowing where and when to be more aware of their surroundings.
To help you out, here are the most dangerous cities in Florida, based on violent crime rates.
Violent crime rate: 793.5 (Per 100,000 people)
Less than 90 minutes southeast of Orlando, Melbourne is a beach community that attracts retirees, families and spring breakers alike. It's not as crowded or as famous as other Florida beaches, but it's just as beautiful.
That said, the area's fast population growth have left it scrambling for resources, with many long-time residents affected by the rising cost of housing. There are also gangs in the area, which often profit from tourist's drug consumption habits. Overall, this isn't a city to avoid, but you should be aware of your belongings and conscious of which areas you visit.
*Ratings come from an Injured in Florida study. Both population and violent crime rates reflect averages from 2015 to 2019.
Violent crime rate: 811.5
Disney's magic brings jobs to Orlando, but it also brings crime rates. The city has a high inequality, bolstered by the salary disparity of hotel and park executives versus the measely earnings of salary workers. Tourism also makes property prices almost impossible for any regular person to afford.
The result? A high crime rate. Though residents suffer the brunt of the blow, tourists should know that highly concentrated areas are prone to having pickpockets looking for victims. Car theft and break-ins are not uncommon, so make sure you don't leave valuables in your car even when you're at the parks.
Violent crime rate: 830.3
Florida's capital attracts more in-state visitors than any other group. In fact, many people don't even know it's the capital and most foreigners have never heard of the city. Still, if you're in the area, Tallahassee is worth a stop.
That said, keep your guard up, especially at night. The city's large college population brings it interesting cultural activities and good vibes, but it also fuels petty crime and drug trade.
7. Pompano Beach
Violent crime rate: 832.2
Pompano Beach is about 30 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale. With a long pier, historic lighthouses and soft-sand beaches, it's surprising that it doesn't get more tourist attention.
If you don't want to deal with the crowds of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, come here. The vibes are nice and relaxed. That said, the beach is particularly prone to car break-ins, pickpocketing and theft. To avoid it, keep your belongings in sight while you're in the water, or take turns guarding everything.
Violent crime rate: 833.7
If you haven't heard of Lauderhill it's because there's nothing of particular interest in this mostly residential area. Part of Broward County north of Miami, it's near Fort Lauderdale, but you'll find little in this inland city besides houses, parks and strip malls.
Our advice? Don't bother coming — that way you don't have to worry about its crime rate.
5. West Palm Beach
Violent crime rate: 854.3
West Palm Beach is the more affordable sister of glitzy Palm Beach. It makes sense for crime to be high here. After all, this is where everyone who works in Palm Beach but can't afford its exorbitant prices has to live. Rent is so high that it'll make you want to cry and many people struggle to buy essentials.
Still, West Palm Beach is definitely a place worth visiting, with some of the state's best beaches and some great dining options.
4. Fort Myers
Violent crime rate: 893.5
Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, near Naples, Fort Myers as a whole isn't necessarily dangerous, but it does have certain neighborhoods that tourists probably want to avoid. Considering this, you should be fine as long as you stay in frequented areas.
Word to the wise, don't go to the beach late at night — though that's wisdom that applies to any big beach city.
3. Miami Beach
Violent crime rate: 980.5
It should surprise no one to see Miami Beach land within the top three most dangerous cities in Florida. Since the 1970s, the city has been a major drug trafficking hub, which has attracted gangs and organized crime groups to the area. It doesn't help that its infamous party culture is largely fueled by drug and alcohol abuse, two factors that usually lead to higher crime rates.
Besides, the city perfectly exemplifies inequality, with celebrities owning sumptuous mansions blocks away from streets where people without permanent homes are forced to camp out. Of course, none of this means that the city isn't worth visiting. In fact, we'd venture to say this is the best city in the state. But make sure that your spider sense is always on because theft, break-ins and muggings can happen almost anywhere, even in broad daylight.
Violent crime rate: 1,088.8
Located just south of Miami, many residents of the 305 are leaving in flocks to more affordable Homestead. In general, this lesser-known city is fairly calm. But because it's not yet as developed as its neighbor, there are many places that are isolated and poorly lit.
Many visitors come to see attractions like Zoo Miami and Biscayne National Park and end up in unsafe areas.
1. Daytona Beach
Violent crime rate: 1,229.9
Every Florida resident will react to seeing Daytona land the top spot with an "of course." If Miami is known for its party culture, Daytona is known for its drunk spring breakers. For years, the city was the setting for the absurdly mysogynistic "Girls Gone Wild" video series — that really exemplifies the kind of atmosphere it offers.
Which is not to say that it should be skipped. There are beautiful beaches here, after all. But if you do come, just know that you're likely to bump into college students who have not been sober in days.