Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
The Best U.S. Cities for True Crime Tourism [2023 Data Study]
- Key Findings
- Spine-chilling Cities: The 20 Best Places for True Crime Tourism
- The Best U.S. Cities for True Crime Tourism by Category
- A True Crime Tourist’s City Guide
- Final Thoughts
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A new brand of tourism is on the rise, and it’s the most sinister one yet –– true crime tourism. True crime fanatics across the nation are traveling to the scene of the crime to get a glimpse of where notorious murders took place, from the Hollywood Hills Manson cult murders to the Milwaukee neighborhoods that were home to Jeffrey Dahmer’s heinous crimes.
To find out which destinations are best for this new mode of travel, we analyzed several true crime-related factors across 50 U.S. cities, including true crime tours, crime museums, FBI crime rates, serial killer victims, and cold cases, along with travel cost factors like average airfare and Airbnb prices. Read on to uncover the best U.S. cities for true crime tourism.
- New Orleans, Louisiana –– The voodoo capital is the best city for true crime tourism. It has 9 true crime tours (the average city has 4.5) and 7.33 serial killer victims per 100K residents (the average is 3.75). Meanwhile, some trip expenses for true crime tourists are comparably low in NOLA. The average cost to fly into New Orleans is $307.86, 21% cheaper than the national average.
- Chicago, Illinois –– Al Capone’s stomping ground ranks third on the list. Chicago has a sky-high violent crime rate, the highest percentage of cold cases (64%), and 12 true crime tours, including the Chicago True Crime and Mob Tour.
- Seattle, Washington –– Where the archetypal serial killer Ted Bundy got his start ranks fourth. Seattle has 4.95 serial killer victims per 100K, 8 true crime tours, and the average price of a true crime tour is only $35. To boot, the average Airbnb nightly price for true crime tourists is only $158, 12% cheaper than the national average.
- Los Angeles, California –– Notorious for the Manson murders and the Black Dahlia, LA ranks seventh. It has more true crime tours than any other city (15) and a true crime museum called The Museum of Death (1 of 2 locations).
Spine-chilling Cities: The 20 Best Places for True Crime Tourism
Nestled in the heart of the South, Savannah, Georgia, may seem like a small, picturesque town at first glance. However, underneath its veil of southern charm lies a dark history rich with true crime. Despite its small size, there’s no shortage of spine-tingling stories in this quaint southern city. Savannah is home to infamous cases such as the Samuel Little Murders and the subject of the novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil.” For a more immersive experience, check out the Bloody Murder Savannah Pub Crawl or one of the 9 crime tours available in the city, all at an average price of under $30.
On the West Coast, San Francisco, California, may be known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and windy Lombard Street, but it also has a more sinister side. Many true crime fanatics travel to San Francisco to retrace the Zodiac killer’s steps, attempting to get to the bottom of crimes that continue to captivate and perplex many armchair detectives to this day. Haunted SF’s Ghost Hunting, True Crime, and Mystery Tour gives travelers a chance to explore some of the city’s most haunted and eerie locations. Of course, no true crime tour of San Francisco would be complete without stopping by Alcatraz, once home to some of the most notorious criminals in American history.
Austin, Texas, is known for its vibrant music scene, delicious food, and natural beauty, but it also has a rich history of crime, with attractions like the infamous Driskill Hotel, known for its numerous hauntings, and the Moonlight Towers, which were built in the late 1800s to deter criminals from entering the city. Visitors looking for a more interactive experience should check out the Austin Ghost Tours, which explores some of Austin’s most haunted locations.
The enchanting historic architecture and scenic setting of Fall River, Massachusetts, on the banks of the Taunton River, make it the quintessential New England town, but it also happens to be the site of one of the most legendary crimes in American history — the Lizzie Borden murders. Explore the history and mystery of this case at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, where you can even spend the night in the room where the murders happened. For a more comprehensive look at Fall River’s true crime scene, check out the Fall River Historical Society, which has a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits related to the town’s darker past.
The Best U.S. Cities for True Crime Tourism by Category
True crime tourism is a fascinating way to explore the darker side of American history. Some cities stand out as the best destinations for certain aspects of true crime. Here are some of the best U.S. cities for true crime tourism by category.
Chicago, Illinois: Highest Percentage of Unsolved Murders
Chicago has a rich history of crime and corruption, so it’s no surprise that it has the highest rate of unsolved murder cases at a staggering 64%. For true crime enthusiasts, Chicago has its fair share of cold cases, many of which are broken down in the Chicago Police Department’s cold case video series, focusing on bringing renewed attention to some of the city’s longstanding unsolved crimes.
New Orleans, Louisiana: Highest Number of Serial Killer Victims
New Orleans has the highest number of serial killer victims per 100,000 residents, making it a must-visit destination for true crime tourists. NOLA also has a rich history of voodoo and the supernatural, which adds an eerie element to its true crime scene. Don’t miss the chance to visit the infamous LaLaurie Mansion, the site of one of the most gruesome crimes in New Orleans’ history.
Little Rock, Arkansas: Cheapest Accommodations for True Crime Tourists
Little Rock, Arkansas, may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of true crime tourism, but it has plenty to offer. From the Central High School National Historic Site to the Museum of Discovery, which explores the science behind crime-solving, Little Rock is a hidden gem for true crime enthusiasts. It also has an average Airbnb price of just $101 per night, making it the most cost-efficient true crime city for tourists to stay in.
Las Vegas, Nevada: Cheapest Airfare for True Crime Tourists
Las Vegas may be known for its bright lights and party scene, but it’s also a great destination for true crime enthusiasts. Vegas’ Mob Museum aims to further the public’s understanding of organized crime’s history and impact on American culture. Plus, with flights into Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) averaging just $255.73, it’s the cheapest true crime city for tourists to fly into.
A True Crime Tourist’s City Guide
Interested in diving deeper into the numbers for the top 20 cities, or wanting to see how your city stacks up if it’s not listed within the above charts?
We’ve compiled our full data study for all 50 U.S. cities analyzed into this interactive data table. Search for the city you call home or click on the heading of each column to sort by that category!
We chose 50 cities using lists from CBS News, Business Insider, Expedia, and Distractify about the most dangerous cities in the U.S., the top U.S. cities for true crime tourists, and the most notorious true crime in every state.
We assigned cities with a score of 0 to 10 for each factor, with a score of 10 representing the most ideal for true crime travelers. We determined each city’s total score from the total of its individual factor scores, which were weighted according to their impact on true crime tourists’ experience. Individual factor scores were then added together to give each city a final score from 0 to 50. Higher scores indicated cities are better for true crime tourism.
Ranking factors include:
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|Violent Crime Rate (Per 100K Residents)||FBI||1.00|
|Serial Killer Victims (Per 100K Residents)||FBI||1.50|
|Percentage of Unsolved Murder Cases||Project Cold Case||1.00|
|Number of True Crime Tours||Viator||2.00|
|Average Ticket Price of True Crime Tours||Viator||1.00|
|Average Airfare To Fly Into Destination||Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)||1.00|
|Average Airbnb Nightly Price||Airbnb||1.00|
|“True Crime” Search Volume (0 to 100)||Google Trends||0.50|
|Crime or Prison Museums||Individual Museum Websites||1.00|
True crime tourism is a growing trend that appeals to those curious about the darker side of human nature. Many U.S. cities offer unique opportunities to delve into the world of true crime, from exploring cold cases in Chicago to visiting the haunted streets of New Orleans. If you’re a true crime fanatic looking for your next adventure, consider adding one of these destinations to your travel bucket list.
Featured Image Credit: Upgraded Points
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