United States : Safety by State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The United States of America, also known as America, the U.S., or USA, is a vast region with 50 states to explore.
48 of the states are known as the “contiguous U.S.”
Alaska and Hawaii are both states but not directly connected by land to the main portion of the country.
There is also a group of locations known as U.S. Territories but aren’t technically states.
- American Samoa
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- The Virgin Islands
Throughout the U.S., there are different regions to explore, each bringing its own unique qualities and safety risks.
The country has four time zones on the mainland, starting with the Pacific Time Zone on the West Coast and adding up to three hours until you reach the Eastern Seaboard.
Hawaii has its own time zone, which is three hours behind the Pacific Time Zone.
Part of Alaska is on the Hawaii/Aleutian Time Zone boundary, and the other part is known as the Alaska Time Zone.
The different regions of America might have some slippery boundaries in the title alone.
For example, the exact boundaries of the South have long been debated.
Texas likes to be its own location, not wanting to be considered the South or desert Southwest.
In general, the regions are, starting from the west and going east:
- Pacific Northwest: Washington & Oregon. Mountainous and rainy climates with some higher desert areas with less moisture.
- West Coast: Mainly California, both north and south. There have been discussions about dissecting California into two states, Northern & Southern, since the two halves of the state have very different climates regarding weather, politics, and lifestyle.
- Desert Southwest: Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada. Hot, dry climates with many outdoor parks and attractions.
- Texas: Texas has different climates from one side to the other but is known for American pride, a love of legally owned guns, and a tough and resilient class of diverse people.
- Mountain States: The Rocky Mountains and related natural wonders spread across Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas.
- Midwest: Central states ranging from the plains to the rolling hills of the Ozarks to the colder weather of places like Minnesota and Michigan.
- South: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and – depending on who you ask – Virginia.
- Florida: Technically in the South, but no Floridian will agree with that. Florida is sort of its own separate place with many beaches and tropical weather.
- Mid-Atlantic: Moving up the seaboard, you’ll find Virginia (again, arguably), West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Rhode Island.
- Northeast: Aka “East Coast” with major cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
The United States has seen a surge in violent crimes and homicides over the past few years, with gun sales increasing and an opioid epidemic growing with fentanyl-laced drugs on the streets.
If you are considering visiting from another country, the reports of mass shootings and violent crime might scare you, but there are no crime trends showing tourists are at a greater risk.
Crime risks aren’t just in big cities, as even some Midwestern towns face challenges.
There’s also an overall challenge of finding enough law enforcement officers to hold people accountable while giving criminals the due process they are constitutionally guaranteed.
Warnings & Dangers in United States
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk, but that risk can change quickly depending on which city or state you visit. Homeland Security oversees terroristic threats on a global scale, the FBI investigates crime on a federal level, and communities are either served by law enforcement locally or county-wide.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
In most cities larger than 20,000 people are going to have public transportation in the form of buses, light rail systems, or trains. There's a strong network of highways across the country. Some highways have tolls, but the majority are toll-free. Rideshares are very popular, with Uber and Lyft dominating the business, while taxis are still available too. Many people find rideshares to be less expensive. Rental cars are widely available. For non-US residents, you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you leave your home country. You cannot get an IDP in the U.S. if you are a citizen of another country.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Any larger city or high tourist traffic area will have a higher pickpocket rate. Places like Disney World, beaches, and New York City should be approached with medium risk. The truth is, pickpocketing or purse snatching can happen anywhere. Always carry as little as necessary with you and use concealed pockets for important items like cash, passports, and hotel keys.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Each section of the country has its own risks. All cities or counties also have an Emergency Management Department that lists local risks and safety plans. Tornado season heats up in the Midwest and South in the spring. Hurricane season runs along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines from June through October. Wildfire season out West happens in the summer, but wildfires have been growing in intensity and can last well into the fall. Winter brings heavy snow to the northern and northeastern states, but there's not always going to be snow on the ground.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The risk of being mugged is city-dependent, so review our local reports of cities before you visit. You should know that police in every city will tell you never to fight back against a robber, as it's not worth risking your life over a mobile device, wallet, or personal item.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Homeland Security and state-wide investigation bureaus protect each state, but some places are at a higher risk. Any large population area is going to get a higher risk. Nearby military bases increase risk as well. Remote areas are at a smaller risk but could also be a hiding place for what's known as "homegrown terrorists." The "See Something, Say Something" motto spans across the country. It encourages people to report any suspicious activity - even something as simple as an abandoned piece of luggage.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The Better Business Bureau is a great resource to find local scams happening in the region or city you plan to visit. Rental scams are a big challenge in tourist areas. In these cases, scammers will steal photos of legitimate properties but falsely advertise that they are for rent. Potential tenants are asked to wire money ahead of time to secure the property. When travelers arrive, there is no rental home available and no way to recoup that lost money. You should also be wary of any deal that seems too good to be true or where you are pressured to make a decision.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should always proceed with caution when visiting a new location. As exciting as going on holiday is, don't bring high-value items like designer bags or expensive jewelry. It just risks making you a target for a would-be thief. A new trend in nightlife safety involves a woman who feels uncomfortable with the way another patron is treating her to go to the bar and order an "Angel Shot." It's a simple way to tell the bartender you are in a tough situation and need help without alerting the person bothering you.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Each water utility is required to provide a Consumer Confidence Water Quality Report yearly. Those reports are required to be on the utility website for review. You can also call the Safe Water Hotline 24/7 at 800-426-4791 if you have specific questions about any location's water quality.
Safest Places to Visit in United States
Disney World or Disneyland, located in Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, are safe places to visit, with cities built around them to accommodate larger tourist crowds.
There will be a greater risk of petty thefts and a greater security presence on all levels – from business security guards to law enforcement to Homeland Security offices.
The Grand Canyon is one of the eight wonders of the world and brings in a lot of tourists throughout the year.
Visitors can also parlay a trip here to see Phoenix or Sedona, Arizona.
Parks throughout the U.S. are listed at a national, state, or local level.
For example, Yellowstone is a National Park, while Cumberland Falls in Kentuck is a state park.
What’s the difference?
Entrance fees and laws might slightly differ, but there are no identification requirements that make one preferable over another.
Las Vegas is one of the top tourist attractions in the world, with a 24/7 lifestyle with budget-friendly options all the way to the lap of luxury.
Local casinos also dot the landscape of the famed “Las Vegas Strip,” and there are natural attractions nearby like Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon.
Big cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas/Ft Worth, and Seattle bring in large crowds, and each has very different safety advice.
We’ve broken down the reports on this website into the individual cities and suburbs of these regions, so you have the best possible information.
The beaches of Florida, North & South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas (not an exhaustive list) are popular as well, but crowds will build up during Spring Break and winter when the heat and humidity aren’t as intense, and there isn’t a hurricane possible.
A trip to Hawaii or Alaska might feel like you’re going to a different country, but it’s still subject to the federal laws of the United States.
Each state has its own rules too.
For example, Hawaii is very particular about pets coming in due to it being a “rabies-free” environment.
Alaska will have days with more than 20 hours of sunshine or darkness since it’s so far north.
Places to Avoid in United States
There isn’t any place you need to avoid when visiting the United States, but you should research the climate before you go.
If you want a beach getaway, there’s a difference between the crowds of Miami and the laid-back nature of Sarasota.
If you don’t like humidity, you might enjoy the desert southwest, with an arid climate but temperatures that get into the triple digits half the year.
If you want big crowds, going to Wyoming isn’t going to be a good idea, but if you want open country, beautiful scenery, and mountain peaks, you’ll love it.
You should be familiar with the common U.S. holidays, as most government agencies will close down on those days.
As of 2022, these are the federal holidays:
- New Year’s Day: January 1
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: The third Monday of January
- President’s Day: The third Monday of February
- Memorial Day: The last Monday in May
- Juneteenth: June 19
- Independence Day: July 4
- Labor Day: The first Monday in September
- Indigenous Peoples’ Day: second Monday in October
- Veterans Day: November 11
- Thanksgiving Day: The fourth Thursday in November
- Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving. It’s not a federal holiday, but many state offices choose to close on this day.
- Christmas Eve: Not a federal holiday, but many state and local offices either close or work half-days.
- Christmas Day: December 25
Each state might have its own holidays as well.
For example, Nevada Day is celebrated in the Silver State on the last Friday of October.
All city and state offices are usually closed, and school is out statewide.
The places to avoid have “the devil is in the details.”
For example, there are many reasons to visit Chicago – there are also some really dangerous areas.
Iowa is generally considered a nice Midwestern state, but there are some communities battling major drug and crime issues you might not expect.
Safety Tips for Traveling to United States
- As part of “See Something, Say Something,” you don’t call Homeland Security to report an issue. The local law enforcement takes the complaint and then decides how far to escalate the concern. For example, an unattended bag at a carnival might get the local police there, who then call the bomb squad, who might then call the FBI. 911 is the universal call for emergency help in the United States and will connect you to any local emergency center.
- The U.S. Department of State, or State Department as it’s casually referred to, is the best source for information about visiting this country. There is detailed information about the Visa process and great warnings about Visa scams. Please review this site in detail before you start your Visa application.
- If you are visiting from Mexico, Brazil, China, or India, look for the State Department’s “Straight Facts” section of the website. These documents break down common myths or rumors circulating and give you direct information about requirements and concerns.
- American English is the language of the land, and Americans are as bilingual as some other countries. You can generally find people who speak Spanish, and there are bilingual people at hotels and tourism bureaus. If you don’t speak English and need help, Americans are very willing to help you find someone to communicate with you. Just avoid asking someone on the street. Approach a law enforcement officer or a hotel front desk worker.
- The U.S. measures distances in miles and temperatures in Farenheight. One mile is 1609 meters. To convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 32 and multiply by 5556.
- Different regions of the country have different access or slang terms, just like any other country. The people in the South tend to speak a little slower with a thick accent, while people in the northeast are going to speak faster with a wide variety of accents.
- Since America is a country full of immigrant populations, you might find pockets of different nationalities in surprising locations. For example, Pella, Iowa, has a rich Dutch culture. Wilbur, Nebraska, has a large Czech population.
- Each city or country usually has its own tourism bureau with a website separate from city and county government websites. These websites and apps are great tools for finding the best and safest tourist attractions in a location.
- Bring a universal adapter so your electronics will be able to use the American Type A and Type B sockets. Many stores like Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and Best Buy have adapters available if you forget one.
- Much of America has age limits for buying alcohol, usually 21. Gambling is generally 21 years old, but some places might allow 18-year-olds. Smoking is generally frowned upon in American communities, with some places not even allowing smoking outside businesses. Check locally before you visit so you know the law.
So... How Safe Is United States Really?
Illegal guns, legally carried guns, violent crimes, murders, drug crimes, and thefts are all on the rise in the United States.
Over the past few years, mass shootings have become more common, and an opioid epidemic has rattled communities from coast to coast.
You should never take a prescription drug unless it’s from a licensed pharmacy like Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid.
Drugs are being shipped to the U.S. with potentially deadly doses of Fentanyl inside.
A drug user wouldn’t know the difference when looking at or tasting a drug.
The majority of the crimes are among people who know each other, like gangs or domestic issues between couples or families.
You should avoid any situation where tension is mounting, people are arguing, or where it just doesn’t feel safe.
Trust your gut.
Don’t walk down dark alleys at night.
From abroad, it might seem like America is a violent place with gunshots at every corner.
It’s not as safe as it has been in the past, but it’s also not a place where you need a bullet-proof vest.
Unfortunately, you can’t trust people on the street in America, since there are too many scams that prey on the kindness of strangers.
That doesn’t mean people in America aren’t friendly – it’s just too risky.
Trust the people who are paid to help you stay safe, like the concierge at a hotel or a police officer.
Avoid buying anything from the trunk of a car or from someone wandering the street, as gold scams are growing in popularity.
There’s an 11% poverty rate in America, with some cities having as high as 30% of people living in poverty.
You’ll likely see homeless people and panhandlers in any city you visit.
You should not give these people money, no matter how sympathetic you are.
Instead, donate to a local homeless shelter if you are so inclined.
With so many great places to visit in the U.S., there’s no reason to avoid it.
It’s hard to explain the country in one broad stroke, which is why we’ve diligently detailed each state, metro area, and city to help you determine your best path.
How Does United States Compare?
- Visas - The U.S. State Department has a great "Visa Wizard" that takes you through a series of questions to get you the exact Visa you need for your trip. This can help eliminate guesswork and possibly save you time and money during the process. Some people will qualify for the "Electronic System for Travel Authorization" (ESTA), which is a Visa waiver program.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar nationwide, and there aren't places that will accept other currency in 99.9% of the cases. Credit cards are widely accepted and encouraged, as they provide the best theft and fraud protection. ATMs will be found everywhere but come with different fees. Whenever possible, go into a bank to make a transaction and avoid using ATMs at night or in remote areas.
- Weather - Each area of the country has different weather patterns. Winters in the South will be milder than winters in Minnesota. When you review each city on our website, you'll see a chart with average temperatures for each time of the year. West of the Rockies, you'll find drier air, which means less humidity but also more risk for dehydration. East of the Rockies, it's going to be more humid and have more potential for severe weather like tornadoes. Always bring plenty of layers, from t-shirts to hoodies, and shoes, from sandals to hiking boots. Some tourist attractions, like caves, will require closed-toed shoes. Bring bug spray and sunscreen for any time of year.
- Airports - America has more than 5,500 public airports. International Airports are those that have flights outside of the country, but be wary - just having a few flights to Mexico can make an airport "International." The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) oversees airport safety and can break open locks on luggage if there are suspicions about what is inside. Before a non-US resident leaves the airport, they'll have to go through Customs and Border Patrol. Be very serious when you go through this process, and don't make any jokes or try to start random conversations. Just do as you are told and answer questions directly. Each airport should have a place to exchange currency.
- Travel Insurance - All hospitals and medical centers in the country will require payment, so if you don't have health insurance with U.S. coverage, please buy travel health insurance. It's not worth a $5,000 emergency room bill for stitches from a fall or crutches for a sprained ankle. Severe weather of any kind can not only cause local delays or cancelations but can also have ripple effects across the country. A snowstorm in Denver, for example, can impact flights in all directions since it's such a large hub.
United States Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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