The Worst Cities To Visit In The United States

By: Clarissa Vanner
Getty Images / ©2003 Jung-Pang Wu

America is home to some of the most beautiful places in the world. There are a plethora of historical landmarks, breathtaking landscapes, thrilling attractions, and exciting activities to partake in this wonderful country. That said, there are a few places across the country that get a bad rap. This is often due to high crime rates, poverty, and unemployment. While it is totally up to you if you want to explore these places we do recommend traveling with caution. If you are more concerned specifically with crime, check our list of the most dangerous cities in the US. Let’s discover the worst cities to visit in the United States. 


St. Louis, Missouri

Downtown St Louis at Dusk
Getty Images / © Jeremy Woodhouse

This Midwestern city has one of the highest homicide rates in America, with the risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime at approximately 1 in 53 and a property crime 1 in 10. The high crime rate is mostly blamed on the declining economy with many of the 318,069 long-time residents leaving the city for greener pastures. 

All of that aside, what’s often overlooked is the revitalization that’s occurring over the past decade. This is an effort to revive historic neighborhoods throughout St. Louis (particularly the gorgeous Old North area) and to attract new investment to this once metropolitan area and nearby famous wine country.


Detroit, Michigan

This aerial view, shot from low altitude in a small plane, shows most of downtown Detroit, Michigan. Included in the shot is Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, the Ambassador Bridge, and the Detroit skyline. The Detroit River bisects the image.
Getty Images / Mike Kline / Notkalvin Photography

Detroit probably has the worst reputation of any American city. It is one of the rudest cities in America and is known as the most dangerous city in America. Many tourists steer clear from the once formidable “Motor City” due to rumors of high crime rates (only surpassed by nearby Flint, Michigan) and abandoned downtown buildings. 

This once celebrated center of the American automobile industry did experience an influx of poverty and crime which caused many of the city’s residents to leave from 2008 to 2010. However, the Detroit of today is experiencing a million-dollar revitalization, with abandoned buildings undergoing commercial real estate developments, young couples, community gardens, and new businesses breathing new life into the area.


Reno, Nevada

Beautiful morning view of Reno Nevada USA
4kodiak / Getty Images

Reno, Nevada is known as the “biggest little city in the world” and suffers from some huge issues when it comes to violent crime and unemployment. Reno lures in travelers for its vibrant casinos but despite the luck, lights, and glamour promised to gamble tourists, Reno’s 250,000 residents have suffered drops in housing prices, drastic cuts in public services, and many layoffs. 

Despite the setbacks, Reno is attempting to reinvent itself with revitalization projects like The River Walk, a water and sculpture path built in the middle of this once seedy run-down city center. The River Walk now boasts bustling hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. 


Stockton, California

Stockton, California downtown skyline along the San Joaquin River. Stockton is a city in and the county seat of San Joaquin County, north−central California.
Getty Images / DenisTangneyJr

The Western U.S. city of Stockton, California suffers from jarring unemployment and violent crime rates. There are about 1400 incidents per 100,00 people making Stockton California’s most dangerous city and one of the top dangerous cities in America. 

The city also suffered immensely during the 2008 financial crisis and in 2012, Stockton became the largest city in US history to file for bankruptcy protection. Even though the city was able to exit bankruptcy in 2013, the job opportunities were still next to none. Now in 2020, the city still suffers from an 8.4% unemployment rate.


Memphis, Tennessee

Highways converge in downtown Memphis as they approach the Mississippi River.
Getty Images / (c) John Coletti

This Southern U.S. city ranks second highest among U.S. cities when it comes to violent crime, gang activity, widespread poverty, and corruption by city officials. But regardless of the tragedy, tourists still flock to the birthplace of the blues, home to Elvis’ Graceland, the East Coast Music Festival, and the clubs and shops of Beale Street. 

Other popular attractions include the National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, and the Memphis Zoo. Not to mention the lush banks of the Mississippi River offer a 5-mile stretch of parks and outdoor recreation.


New Haven, Connecticut

USA, Connecticut, New Haven, city skyline from East Rock Park, dusk
Getty Images / © Walter Bibikow 2016

New Haven is best known for being home to Yale University, one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. However, the surrounding area suffers from a dark reality, and one of the highest crime rates on the East Coast. The city’s crime rates are more than double the national average.

To make matters worse, the city also has a 6.6% unemployment rate which is higher than not only the state’s average but also the national average. Unfortunately, much of the city is impoverished and crime-ridden, leaving New Haven with the eighth highest rate of robbery and the fourth-highest rate of assault in all of America.


Oakland, California

The city skyline of Oakland CA with The Maze in the foreground. The Maze is one of the largest freeway interchanges in the world.
Steve Proehl / Getty Images

Unfortunately, Oakland is yet another California city that has gone downhill due to difficult economic times and high crime rates. The city did see a slight decline in its crime rates in 2018, however, it still sits nearly four times higher than the national average, with firearm-related crimes at the top of the list.

On the plus side, Oakland, California is the most ethnically diverse city in the United States and is recognized for being progressive as its home to many LGBTQ families. The city also has an amazing climate with an average of 260 sunny days per year and not to mention boasts stunning views of San Francisco Bay


Cleveland, Ohio

A view for entire of the city of Cleveland from Lake Erie
Getty Images / YUANSHUAI SI

This city was once ranked by Forbes as one of the most miserable cities in the U.S., earning it the name “Mistake by the Lake”. For starters, crime is a major issue in Cleveland, and not to mention the city sees some brutally frigid and unpredictable winters. But what makes things even worse is that over 70,000 residents fled the city due to its high crime and unemployment rates in a span of 5 years. 

Even though Cleveland is known as one of the poorest cities in the U.S. it’s also culturally diverse as a rap/hip hop capital, along with boasting some incredible cultural attractions. Some of these include the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra, Progressive Field, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!