Pennsylvania : Safety by City
- Kennett Square
Allentown, Pennsylvania, might surprise you.
Don’t be fooled by its industrial past; beneath the surface lies a city thriving with arts, history, and unexpected vibrancy.
Founded in 1762 by William Allen, a wealthy Philadelphia mayor, Allentown’s story shifts gears from its early Pennsylvania Dutch roots to its industrial boom, weaving textiles and cranking out Mack Trucks.
But here’s the twist: Allentown embraces its past, repurposing old factories into art lofts and vibrant entertainment districts.
The city has come a long way since Billy Joel first crooned, “Well, we’re living here in Allentown.
And they’re closing all the factories down.
Out in Bethlehem, they’re killing time.
Filling out forms, standing in line.”
Take the West End Theatre District, where 19th-century playhouses now host everything from Broadway classics to edgy comedy acts.
Or step into the Allentown Art Museum, a stunning neo-Roman marvel housing a diverse collection, including a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed room.
Don’t miss the ArtsWalk, a vibrant green artery snaking through the city, connecting cultural gems like the museum to the revitalized downtown.
But Allentown’s heart beats beyond its center.
Dive into historic neighborhoods like Old Allentown, with its preserved Victorian and Queen Anne homes, or wander through the colorful murals splashed across revitalized streets.
Grab a picnic basket and head to the Lehigh River’s scenic banks, or catch a game at Coca-Cola Park, where the minor league IronPigs play.
Allentown might not be on everyone’s map, but it’s a city with stories to tell.
You might just find yourself humming Billy Joel’s iconic lines but with a newfound understanding of what makes “The A” tick.
Warnings & Dangers in Allentown
OVERALL RISK: LOW
The risk in Allentown is tucked somewhere between low and medium, based on your tolerance and familiarity with rugged urban neighborhoods. It's much safer than certain neighborhoods in Philadelphia but stick to the entertainment districts and public venues.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
LANTA is the public transportation for this region. Fixed routes cover most areas you'd want to visit. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find. You can also rent a car, but car break-ins are a problem here. If you choose to rent a car, use proper safety steps diligently.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
As we'll discuss a little later, I can't get crime data that is detailed enough, or I feel 100% comfortable communicating as fact. While the FBI crime data says just two pickpockets have happened in the past five years, that seems a little unusual for a town with a high theft rate. I'd treat this as a medium risk, paying special attention to car break-in safety.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
The risk here is low, but you can get a mix of challenges throughout the year. A tornado, snowstorm, drought, or flood is always possible, but it's not as common as in some other areas of the country.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
The robbery rate is at the national average, but what kicks this up to a medium risk is that nearly 40% of those robberies happen on streets, sidewalks or in parking areas. It's just a bit unusual to have so many focused on street robberies instead of private home robberies.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
The risk here is low, with New York and Philadelphia being much more likely. You can read the latest Terrorism Advisory Bulletin from the Homeland Security Department to see what the biggest concerns are before your visit.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
One in five people here lives in poverty, which means scams and fraud could be presented to you on the street. You can review the fraud safety advice from the police department online. Knowing the common signs of scams can lower your risk, but I will put a medium risk in this category.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women should be familiar with urban settings and confident to hold their own among crowds. Nothing stands out in the crime data or news stories that show women are at a greater risk than men, but it's not a place where you want to walk around at night.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act. If you're concerned about hard water vs. soft water, you should know the water here is hard.
Safest Places to Visit in Allentown
The Allentown city website has a section called “Play” that details some of the things to do.
You can also find local parks and recreation there.
Also, you can review the Discover Lehigh Valley website, which covers the cities in the region.
Since many people visit Allentown and Bethlehem on one trip, this is a great resource for you.
Normally I don’t like just to give a list of links, but Allentown has a lot of resources available that all focus on downtown areas.
- Experience Allentown (www.experienceallentown.com): “Your one-stop shop to experience everything downtown Allentown has to offer.”
- Downtown Allentown (downtownallentown.com): The Downtown Allentown Business Alliance website.
- City Center Allentown (www.citycenterallentown.com): A particular district in downtown Allentown.
A great way to get familiar with Allentown is by downloading the Allentown City Walking Tour from the city’s website.
I’d recommend taking this walk during daylight hours, but you’ll get to see some of the most historic and notable spots in town on your own schedule.
The Downtown Allentown Market is a food hall with epic options of all cuisine varieties.
The website’s name is “Downtown Allentown Food Market.”
Dorney Park blends an amusement park and a water park available during the warmer months across 200 acres and is home to more than 100 rides.
You also get seven rollercoasters, from tame to terror-filled adrenaline.
Explore museums in Allentown, including the free Allentown Art Museum and Museum of Indian Culture.
Car lovers of all models and eras should stop by the America On Wheel museum.
You also get performance venues, from intimate, historic theaters to large gatherings in Miller Symphony Hall or the PPL Center.
Places to Avoid in Allentown
The highest crime rates are between the Lehigh River on the east and 126th Street on the west.
The northern boundary is where Fullerton city limits start.
The southern edge is Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
This is also the central part of the city, which means it would have more crime anyway since more people live and visit there.
However, another crime mapping program shows that the South Side has one of the highest crime rates in the region.
This inconsistency is one of the problems with Allentown for visitors, as we’ll discuss it a little later on.
What I can tell you is that aside from a handful of hotels, the majority of overnight options are in the safer parts of the community or downtown with plenty of security.
In addition, Allentown can also be a “hit or miss” community, meaning one street is safe, and the next block is more crime-ridden.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Allentown
- Allentown has its own police department. They are quite active on Facebook with updates. You can follow them @allentownpolice. You can also check out their YouTube channel @apdonntheroad for some helpful videos.
- Sign up for CodeRED emergency alerts through the Emergency Management website section. This will keep you informed of public safety threats, incoming severe weather, the aftermath of storm hazards, and infrastructure issues, like a water main break.
- Allentown police make it easy to submit a crime tip. Use the tip411 program or text TIPAPD to 847411. You can remain anonymous.
- From the city’s website, look at the Neighborhoods and Communities section. You’ll find a helpful list of crime prevention tactics focusing on the biggest concerns in Allentown.
- Allentown has a problem with theft. That includes bicycles. If you’re riding a bike during your visit, be sure to lock it every time. If you’re renting one, confirm with the vendor that the bike is registered with the police department.
- Before you drive anywhere, check the City Street Closures on the city website. You’ll see the ongoing projects or new projects about to start.
- If you’re visiting during winter, store this number on your phone – 610-437-7669. That’s the number for the street crews, and you’ll get updated information about snow plow routes. Follow all parking restrictions when there is snow. Parking on the street could get your car towed or buried under plowed snow.
- Allentown has an aggressive plan to fix potholes, which are more likely to form in spring after the freeze/thaw cycles of winter. You can report a pothole to 610-437-8775. It should be fixed within 48 hours. Nearly 8,000 potholes are fixed each year.
- Don’t waste time looking for parking information on the city’s website. The information is on the AllentownParking.com website. I strongly recommend using the ParkMobile app to find parking spots and pay for it through your mobile device. You don’t want to pull out cash in Allentown if you don’t have it.
- The public transportation system here has an app. Look for the Lanta Transit App. You can purchase tickets there and look for bundled options like the 10-day ride ticket for a discounted price.
So... How Safe Is Allentown Really?
One of the most challenging parts of answering this question is the lack of transparency or even accuracy when it comes to the places where raw crime data is displayed.
If you just want the answer to the question, Allentown has an urban landscape that is best visited by people with street smarts and/or those who are used to being in sketchy neighborhoods mixed in with decent neighborhoods.
Use the Pennsylvania Crime Reporting System website over the FBI data website, as the data is more updated and seemingly more parallel with news reports.
When I crunched 2022 FBI data for you, Allentown appeared (on paper) extremely safe, with a few concerns about car break-ins.
Then I checked the PA CRS, and the numbers were higher, but they also included updated 2023 numbers.
At the same time, very few aspects of raw crime data play into the narrative of some other research articles claiming it was one of the most dangerous towns in the state with the highest homicide rate in the country.
Then again, 2024 in Allentown started with three separate shootings.
A woman and child were killed, with eight others hurt.
Unfortunately, Allentown Police don’t provide a breakdown of data like how many crimes were against strangers vs. domestic issues.
Here’s what I can tell you – cars get stolen and broken into A LOT here.
Don’t park on the street.
Find a garage, lock your car, put an anti-theft device on the steering wheel, and remove all personal items. Don’t bring a nice car here.
Common sense and urban safety practices go a long way to enjoying your visit to Allentown.
How Does Allentown Compare?
|New York City
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
All international visitors are required to show proof of a visa or visa waiver and a passport when they enter the country. Start on the U.S. State Department website to get that process going.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and Allentown isn't a place where you want to carry a lot of cash. Use credit cards as much as possible.
This is a four-season region, so pact what you need for the specific time of year. Summers can be humid but usually aren't excessively hot. This isn't a particularly snowy region, either. Winters might be cold, but major snowstorms are rare.
Lehigh Valley International Airport is in Allentown. Allegiant, American, Delta and United Airlines serve this airport. You can also get to the Philadelphia airport or the New York City region airports within two hours but plan extra time for traffic.
International travel insurance with supplemental health insurance is the best peace of mind in case of major delays or an accident. It's worth the money to protect the trip every step of the way.
Allentown Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Pennsylvania - Safety by City