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As any major city, Houston has its depressed and crime-ridden areas. Generally, they hold few if any attractions, and are of no interest to a tourist, unless you have friends or family to visit. Generally, areas south of I-10, east and north of downtown, some areas of northwest. Houston is definitely though one of the safer large cities in the US. The city does have a carjacking and car theft problem.
Panhandlers and solicitors
Lots of homeless in Houston and you will see panhandling a lot, avoid eye contact and they, for the most part, leave you alone. You may also find yourself being approached at a gas station by someone asking for assistance (a dollar for fuel or phone or trying to sell soemthing it is a scam to see if you have cash to rob). Again try to avoid contact and if you do speak just be polite and excuse yourself from the situation.
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More panhandlers than you can shake a can at!
I have never been accosted by more panhandlers in my entire life than the 2 days I spent in and around the Galleria in Houston. I felt sorry for most of them, but some were outright scumbags just looking for an easy ride. From my Motel 6 room, I watched this young man walk around outside a gas station panhandling for money. Each time getting at least 1 dollar I counted well over 30 people giving him money in a span of 4 hours, that's $7.50 an hour. He was there each day, nearly all day long, even asked me three times as I was going in and out of my hotel room. Finally on the last day, as I was leaving, I stopped and said, "you must do really good for yourself out here." He said, "yup, beats McDonalds."
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more bad areas...
Don't forget most of the east and northeast sides of town inside the beltway are pretty rough from I-10E to US-59N over to Hardy Road areas, but the rest of Houston is pretty much a chessboard of good parts to bad parts of town, so you may sometimes think you are in a good part of town and be in a bad part, and vice versa...outside the belt, it's a mish-mash of good and bad, hoods are less than 2 miles from millionaires' places, even more entertwined than the innerbelt...but if you want to see Houston in it's best Glory from the past, check out the Heights about 3-5 miles west of downtown inside the loop, great old places to eat and shop that are still around...
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Houston is actually a safe city
For some reason many people have this impression that Houston is crime-infested... perhaps from an era gone by.
The fact is that many other large cities, including Dallas and Atlanta, have much higher crime rates than present-day Houston. In a recent list of the top 25 most dangerous cities, Houston didn't make it -- being beat out by places like Dallas, Tampa, Memphis and Orlando, as well as all the obvious like Detroit, New Orleans and Miami.
In fact, Houston recently tied with San Francisco, Honolulu, and Winston-Salem on a recent list of cities for best personal safety. This even while Houston is a very large city, in fact the country's fourth largest. So for a city of its size, Houston's crime rate is actually below average compared to the rest of the country.
However, this hardly means that Houston is immune to crime -- some areas are quite bad. Avoid the areas immediately east of I-45 in the Houston city limits, and around I-45 and the 610 Loop on the southeast side. The area surrounding Hobby Airport is also not very good. There are several other pockets of unsafe areas, but most of these are not near any areas of interest to tourists anyway. Finally, keep in mind that if the area looks bad, it probably is.
Houston has more than its fair...
Houston has more than its fair share of crime. You should be cautious about wandering around Houston (particularly the downtown area) at night. It should be okay if you are at one of the many university campuses outside of the downtown area.
In Texas everybody may have a weapon but it is forbiden to bring it in a lot of places.
This sign was shot at the entrance of a mall. But nobody checks if the banning is enforced.
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Houston Travel Guide
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