Maryland : Safety by City
- Ellicott City
- Germantown & Gaithersburg
- Ocean City
- Silver Spring
One of three things might come to mind when you think of Baltimore, Maryland – Charm, Crabcakes, or Crime.
All three play a role in the vibrant yet gritty city just an hour northeast of Washington, D.C.
The 1900s were not an easy century for Baltimore, starting in 1904 when a tossed cigarette, still lit, set off an inferno that lasted a day-and-a-half, burning down 80 blocks of the city.
The city was rebuilt, only to face protests triggered by racial injustices and growth practices that disenfranchised the growing African-American community.
Manufacturing and transportation ups and downs led to successes and rock bottom moments that made financial heads spin.
What is generally missed in the stories of Baltimore are the very things that led to the nickname “Charm City” in the late 1960s.
It was changing the dialogue of the city’s negative reputation into a promotional tour of hidden gems throughout the growing city and suburban areas.
Baltimore has easy access to the beach, water activities, major urban adventures, and some of the best crab cakes you’ll ever taste.
Harbor views abound, and the tenacity of this town to overcome its past and build its future is admirable.
The Downtown and Inner Harbor areas are where most tourists go or at least start, but there are various neighborhoods and cultures to explore here.
You can take tours on foot, by car, bus, or boat.
Whether you’re looking for luxury, laid-back, or Little Italy, you won’t run out of things to do.
Warnings & Dangers in Baltimore
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
There's a high overall risk with a trend of rising violent crime that just keeps going up into the 2022 monthly crime data. It's important to know the safer areas vs. the neighborhoods to avoid, and with a city losing population while increasing violent crime, those areas can quickly change. We're going to focus on the safest places to visit.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Baltimore has a bus, light rail, subway, and train system through the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find, and rental cars are available. There's a medium risk on public transportation, and the MTA police department has a number of safety tips that involve not using any mobile devices on platforms or on vehicles, along with ways to make your stolen property easier to recover or track. Car break-ins make up half of the thefts here, so getting a rental car could put you at a higher risk of theft but a lower risk of violent crime on public transportation. However you travel, use an overabundance of caution.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, too, with hundreds of pickpockets happening each year. You should be especially alert in a crowd of people or when changing scenery, like walking out of a museum or off the light rail.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH
Baltimore gets a mixed bag of weather threats, but the biggest two are flooding and hurricanes. Severe thunderstorms and winter weather are common but not usually life-threatening. If a hurricane is headed toward the region, the risk is high, and you should avoid visiting the city.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
There's a high risk here, with one in 187 risk of being a robbery victim. Be sure you don't stand out wearing valuables or carrying expensive electronics. Avoid using public ATMs, and don't give money to panhandlers on the street.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Due to the proximity to Washington, D.C., the population size in this part of the country and Baltimore itself, and the military presence here, there's medium risk. Certain events or overseas activities could raise that risk to a high level, but Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and the military are all using extra protection and diversion tactics to keep this area safe.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
You just shouldn't trust anyone you meet in Baltimore. Even asking a seemingly nice person to take your photo could lead to your phone being stolen. A new scam involves someone borrowing your phone to text a family member, only they get into your bank app and send money to their own account. There's a medium risk, and it's smart to realize if scammers don't get what they want by manipulations, they might take it by force. Don't bring your visa, social security card, or any sensitive documents you don't need while walking around.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women should proceed with a medium risk during the day and a high risk at night. Much of the safety concern revolves around staying out of certain neighborhoods, but that doesn't mean you can't be a victim of a crime in the so-called "safer" neighborhoods. Again, an overabundance of caution, without paranoia, is the best way to enjoy a trip here. Don't travel alone around the city.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows all standards were met or exceeded. Flooding and hurricanes can always compromise the water quality, but the city will quickly warn residents and visitors on social media if that happens. For example, as of this publication date in September of 2022, there is a boil order for water in West Baltimore where E. coli and coliform have contaminated the water.
Safest Places to Visit in Baltimore
Staying in the neighborhoods where many of the 24 million tourists each year visit will give you a stronger police presence and a better sense of safety.
The Inner Harbor is a must-see location in the city.
This is where the National Aquarium, the U.S.S. Constellation, Maryland Science Center, and Port Discovery Children’s Museum are located.
On the water, you rent a dragon boat or take a ride on the Cruises of the Bay.
If you see a pirate ship, consider one of the family adventure cruises, or if you’ve got deep pockets, you can charter the boat just for your group.
There is also a water taxi to get around if you prefer to stay off the streets.
It will take you directly to dozens of attractions and neighborhoods in the region and save you a lot of drive time and parking fees.
This area also has great food options, ranging from casual to upscale.
Phillips Seafood will be recommended to you by just about everyone, and the Rusty Scupper has fresh-from-the-water seafood.
The rooftop of the Four Seasons has some of the best harbor views in town.
Federal Hill will tap your inner history fan with historic brick row houses lined up in front of dramatic harbor views.
Cross City Market has various dining options under one roof, so don’t get full in one spot.
This area is also home to the American Visionary Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, and Fort McHenry is next door.
This fort was the site of a key battle in the War of 1812.
Several places in Baltimore honor and remember the African American culture in Baltimore throughout its history.
These include the James E. Lewis Museum of Art, the Lillie Carrol Jackson Civil Rights Museum, the Maryland Center for History & Culture, and the National Great Black in Wax Museum.
The Maryland Zoo is located in Druid Hill Park and has been here since 1876.
With more than 1,500 animals from 200 species, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the zoo.
If you’ve ever wanted to help groom a goat, this is the place for you.
You can also play with a penguin or feed a giraffe.
The zoo is open even in the dead of winter.
Guided walking tours are available, and you have a lot of options to choose from, but one of the most popular is the Historic Fell’s Point Trail, where you’ll learn about the neighborhood on the edge of the deep-water port.
There is also a haunted tour through Fell’s Point to hear stories of sailors who passed away but still walk the watery streets.
In between those two options is the “Wicked History Tour,” where true yet macabre stories are told while on a pub crawl.
Places to Avoid in Baltimore
It’s almost easier to tell you the places not to avoid than the list of the places you should stay away from in Baltimore.
The police department recently re-districted to put more officers in higher crime areas and better layout community policing policies.
Definitely avoid West Baltimore and surrounding neighborhoods, and there are some dangerous parts of town east of I-83.
Just north of downtown, the area around McCulloh Street and West Preston Street is known for a lot of crime.
The city of Baltimore and the police department have a transparency hub where you can see all the crime locations from the past week, month, or year.
Please review this before your trip to see where crime trends are happening.
If you stick to the tourist attractions and don’t just drive around aimlessly, there’s a low risk you’ll end up in dangerous neighborhoods.
That does NOT mean you are safe in every other neighborhood, as criminals can easily go to a part of town where tourists are, and that’s why it’s incumbent upon you to make yourself a very unattractive target.
The mayor and police chief released a safety video you can watch on the city’s website that walks you through basic safety steps and what’s being done to keep tourists safe and also gives great advice for visiting any urban area.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Baltimore
- Baltimore 311 is a city-wide program to answer questions, report issues, and get in touch with city officials who can help with non-criminal emergencies.
- If you are involved in a fender bender here, don’t get out of the car. That’s a common tactic carjackers use to get control of your vehicle. Call 911 or drive to the closest police station.
- There is a repeated caution from law enforcement here to not have your mobile device out while visiting here. That doesn’t mean you can’t take pictures. Just don’t keep the phone glued to your hand in plain sight. Make sure you have a passcode or facial recognition set.
- If you are bringing any devices or electronics, be sure to take a photo of the numbers on the device and the contact information for all credit cards you have, just in case.
- You can reserve a parking spot around the Inner Harbor, so you’re guaranteed to have a place to park. Visit baltimoreparking.com to review the process.
- Much of the downtown area is walkable, and don’t forget to utilize the water taxi to get between the safer districts near the downtown area. If you park at the Inner Harbor, you can easily taxi to Little Italy or Federal Hill.
- BMORE Alert is the emergency notification system for the city. You can sign up through the CodeRED platform. You’ll get weather emergency information, road closures, and criminal activity that could impact your travels.
- The biggest threat from hurricanes is the storm surge, and with so much water around Baltimore, you don’t want to be anywhere near the city when a tropical system comes ashore. The season runs from June through October, with the tropics becoming most active starting in August. You should avoid Baltimore a week before a storm and for several weeks afterward.
- If you’re taking a cruise out of Baltimore, the ships don’t leave from the Inner Harbor. You’ll need to set your GPS to the Port of Baltimore, which is about three miles away. Don’t park at Inner Harbor. The cruise terminal has its own monitored parking garage.
- Snow chains are required on all vehicles when a snow emergency has been declared. Snow tires and all-weather radials are also allowed. If you don’t have one of those three on your vehicle, you can be cited and fined. Confirm with your rental car company that they are providing one of these options if you are visiting in winter.
So... How Safe Is Baltimore Really?
I could go through all the specifics of the crime data from 2020 and 2021, but this is one city where it’s safe to say all the rates are high.
BUT, that doesn’t mean every part of the city is not safe.
It’s careful research that will help you be better informed to travel as safely as possible through Charm City.
In August of 2022, during the lunch hour just two miles north of the zoo, someone opened fire on a group of bystanders and left seven hurt while one died from injuries.
These mass shootings aren’t exclusive to Baltimore, but it’s just another example of gun violence that police are struggling to control.
The homicide rate is so high the department has a hotline dedicated to tips about murders in the community.
June of 2022 broke the single-month homicide record in Baltimore.
City leaders released a five-year plan meant to reduce crime, improve community relations, and keep criminals from being released back to the streets.
There is also a plan to help engage young people so they can avoid falling into a life of crime, gangs, and drugs.
Funding is being added to help fight crimes, and law enforcement leaders have said they will catch criminals by “any means necessary,” even if it means arresting them for lesser crimes just to get them off the street.
“It’s not just what the Police Department can do, it’s how we change how people think,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said.
“We have to change culture, and that’s a hard thing to do.
That takes longer.”
All that said, it’s rather challenging to find the perfect balance here of pointing out the risks while also telling you it’s a great place to visit.
There are people who have lived here for decades and have only had a vehicle broken into.
There are people who are scared to walk outside their homes.
Your perspective, preparation, and personal safety skills should be on point here.
The police department encourages anyone with questions to call and ask to speak with a safety officer.
There’s too much great stuff to see in Baltimore to miss the trip, but you also don’t want to let your guard down.
How Does Baltimore Compare?
|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
|Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)||43|
- Visas - Take a good three to six months to prepare for the U.S. Visa process because some of the embassies are backed up with interviews - which is a required part of the process. Put your visa somewhere safe once you get through Customs at the airport, as you don't want to risk it being stolen or getting lost while you're visiting.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar, and even the police say don't use an ATM here at night. I would recommend always going to the bank if you need cash, but I strongly advise you not to carry cash. Pay for as much as you can ahead of time or through mobile apps, and step into a private place like a bathroom stall or hallway if you need to pay for something on the go.
- Weather - The typical seasons happen in Baltimore, so pack accordingly. Every pair of shoes you bring should be comfortable to walk long distances in because there's a lot of walking to do. Don't bring your flashy jewelry or name-brand purses. Keep your clothing comfortable without drawing attention to yourself.
- Airports - Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is about 30 minutes from downtown B'more, but plan for an hour if you're traveling during the rush hours.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want to get the standard insurance for travelers to protect your health and belongings, but also make sure your electronics have a warranty or insurance to protect them in case of theft.
Baltimore Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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22 Reviews on Baltimore
This was our first year at Artscape and we loved it, it was insanely creative and entertaining! I might seem pompous but I always do my best to avoid public transportation when travelling, you never know what you might bump into. Go for taxi or Uber.
Will come back for sure
I’m a huge seafood fan and yes, their food was amazing. We didn’t have time to fully explore Baltimore then but we loved the people and the city’s vibe, I might have to plan another trip in the near future.
Eh better places to visit
I’ve lived here all my life and it’s a disaster. It’s not being negative, however if I was telling you it’s a-ok here? I’d be lying. It’s not a war zone but yea crime is pretty bad. You walk into wrong area and not there for illegal activity, you’ll have some issues if you make a scene. Problem is it’s a small city so people will know your “lost”.
I lived and worked here many years. Do NOT walk around Fells Point or the Inner Harbor alone at night. The National Aquarium and The Science Center are great places to take the kids. Also, I loved visiting Fort McHenry as a child.
I stayed in Baltimore many years ago in the projects were the drugs dealers openly sat on a couch in the yard selling drugs and, there was a area called hamsterdam where drugs dealing and taking was practically legal and supported by the POlice. Locals spoke about the legend known as Omar who robbin drug dealers and giving to the poor
STD capital of the USA!
Sounds like you have first hand experience.
Don't Beliver what you read about Baltimore.
Stay out of Baltimore if you value your life!
Don’t believe information sponsored by the tourist industry. NO PLACE is safe now that the current city mayor and Baltimore state’s attorney no longer protect anyone through law enforcement. Search on you tube for Baltimore violence and you’ll see some eye opening things, that is assuming Facebook hasn’t banned all the videos.
The violence against whites in particular is shrugged off while the blacks murder each other with impunity.
The City That Bleeds
I absolutely agree with you. Baltimore is one of the most dangerous places to be white. The racism is extremely violent and directed almost entirely at white people. The leftist government that runs the city does not value white lives or white people’s safety at all. I’ve lived in or near Baltimore city for most of my life and I’ve seen it go from a decent place to live to a drug infested hellhole. Areas like Fells Point and the Inner Harbor that used to be perfect spots for a date or family outing have now become hunting grounds for young black thugs to victimize white people. Violence including rape and murder is common and almost always the victims are white and the perpetrators are black. This is a sign of the times we live in and as long as the bleeding heart extreme left continue to make excuses for these savages this is only going to get worse. It is not safe to be white in Baltimore city period. Please white people plan your vacation elsewhere if you are even considering coming to Baltimore. The museums, historic sites and tourist attractions are all targeted by these black criminals and they will attack aggressively without remorse and without a second thought. They are heartless, savage animals and we white people are prey.
Boy that’s a reach
Agree… I felt it… not safe at all! Alabama is way better!
Does Jack have unconscious or conscious ‘ism?
Your review is a lie and beyond bias. I’m black and a white woman tried to snatch my purse. She tried for minutes to get my purse but I wouldn’t let go. From what I see on the news, many black people are victimized compared to a much lower number of white people in Baltimore City. But, the moral of the story is that it doesn’t matter what a human’s race is. The police should protect and serve everyone and the judicial system should adequately punish the criminals and stop putting them back on the streets.
Been in Baltimore for 12 years. I take it you’ve never been here. You’re not immediately mugged and murdered when entering the city.
The Inner Harbor of Baltimore is now gang infested and no longer safe for tourists
You are absolutely right! After not visiting the Inner Harbor in perhaps ar least ten years, I was saved from being attacked by a gang of black youths for no reason at all other than ignoring them when they shouted ar me as I walked past them, by people who just so happened to be passing by. I came up from Northern Virginia in the Washington, D.C. area to see the Chicago Cubs play the Baltimore Orioles, and after the game decided to head over to Hooters ar the Inner Harbor. A couple of the males passing by tried to prevent the gang thugs from starting anything while a female in the group called 911 for help. I don’t know what would have happened to me if nobody was nearby to help because there wasn’t any police or security presence anywhere in sight.
The police officers need to do better
I work near the Baltimore Harbor. I’m black and a white girl tried to snatch my purse at 6:30 am while I was entering the office building. I called 911 to request help and they took my number then an officer called back and asked me to meet them a block away in the dark. About eight people from my office, black and white, helped negotiate with the officer to get him to meet me in front of the the office. Five or more officers showed up so I have no idea why they wanted one victimized woman to walk down a block to a dark street in the Winter. One officer said they would review the cameras and call me to give an update. He never called. I called him three times and left messages. He never returned my calls.
I also know of a few white coworkers that fought off thieves trying to snatch their cell phones. In other words, the Baltimore City Police does not care about race. They just aren’t interested in doing a good job and making an effort to stop criminal activities.
It’s where you go and who you know
I’ve a Baltimore native, it’s can be a little on the rough side in some area’s. Go to Hampden, Fells point, Roland park, Boston St and Townson and you’ll be fine. Avoid Lexington Market, Park Heights, Irvington, Edmondson Ave, Whitelock and Garrison Blvd.
Don't let the news trick you
I lived a while in Baltimore and have never been afraid or experienced any violence or criminal activity. However, there are sketchy neighborhoods you shouldn’t go to. Those are the dangerous areas that the locals will tell you about. I walked through the city at night alone many times and never felt unsafe. But be aware, because in every city, also in Baltimore, you might meet bad people.
In the 3 years doing construction in Baltimore from harbor east to Baltimore street, mind you not really the bad neighbor hoods their has been 3 shootings where people got killed and we found 3 dead bodies in our job site. Squeegee boys that clean your car windows without asking and if you don’t pay them most of the time they damage your vehicle. Junkies walking around all day long. I get asked for money at least once a day. People drive reckless. Just the other day they robbed a priest and then pistol whipped him. One of the shootings was someone stole a bus drivers bag shot him when the driver chased him to retrieve his bag and while the drive was on the ground walked up and finished him off. So vacation at Baltimore sure if you like drugs and bullets.
While I really hate to agree, it is somewhat true. I’m a native Baltimorean, born here, educated here, & I’m a young 65 years old. I’m totally disappointed in the “so called” Leadership. The Police Commissioner, The Mayor, and most of all, the City’s State’s Attorney & her Spouse. They are all Liars, they make a ton of Money, and they deliver below average results. I’ve never seen anything like it, it appears they’re being compensated for doing poor work. I love where the State of Maryland is located on the Map. It is so easy to navigate from State to State, and still get home at a decent hour.
I’ve been to many many places, and Baltimore is no where close to congestion as some of the other places. I don’t think the wrong doers realize what they have. The Best Hospital (Johns Hopkins) in the Country, plenty of Schools. Lots of Food Stores, and the list goes on with convenience. The Cost of Living is High, because of the Taxes. Lastly, we have 2 Major Sports Teams, the Ravens & the Orioles. I think it is sad to only focus on the Negative, but the Crime simply cannot be ignored. It would be nice if the Governor took over the City.
Rid city of top officials
I agree!! Lived in Baltimore from birth until 2017 moved to county. Baltimore back in
the day was nothing like it is now. Of course there was crime but not to this extreme. When Schaffer & Delasandro ran the city it was a pleasant place to live.
You need to start at the top get rid of your States attorney,Mayor and the do nothing city council.And,please do not forget the police commissioner.
Stick to touristy areas, there's plenty to see and do
As with any other big city, there are some neighborhoods that even locals avoid. If you’ve watched ‘The Wire’ you probably expect to see drug dealers running amok and people pulling a gun on you just because they don’t like your face. The hiking scene is very diverse and you might expect to hit it off with other nature lovers.
With a very colorful and exciting nightlife you can easily get carried away, especially if you travel by yourself. I went on a microbrewery tour – a must do if you’re into it – but I stopped drinking before I lost control over my actions. Got an uber and went straight to the hotel. I find this is where people tend to mess it up. If you’re visiting a new city, why on Earth would you roam the streets smashed?!
At night I wouldn’t recommend going at it alone, you might end up being mugged, to say the least.
Inner Harbor and Harbor East are the two neighborhoods I explored most. The first one is the place where most tourists head up to the second they hit Baltimore. It’s safe, fun, there you will find the science center and their well-known aquarium. If you’re into simple, budget-friendly restaurants, thesis is the place to start with. Harbor East is a bit more trendy and I loved it!
Did my homework before on what the locals recommend to avoid and came up with this: south-west Baltimore, west Baltimore and west of Patterson Park. I never touched any of these areas and tbh, I don’t think a lot of tourists end up there unless they’re looking for trouble.
Don’t know if you ended up in a sketchy neighborhood? Usually vacant places and boarded up buildings/shops are a big sign that you should turn around asap.
Guys, there are plenty of reasons to book a trip to Baltimore, being it for its food scene, for the beer or fun museums. The redeveloped neighborhoods are not what they once were so don’t skip on it.
Baltimore Use to be a Great Place
I grew up in Baltimore, and while most of the negative reviews are true, it really boils down to the poor over paid Leadership. By that I mean the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, the State’s Attorney & her no good lying Spouse. Don’t leave out the City School Superintendent. She makes a whooping $350,000 per year, and from what I’ve heard, t he Schools are in terrible shape. Take it from me, I’m a young 65 years old, and I was born and Raised here. This use to be a nice place. I remember the exact day the Inner Harbor opened, it was absolutely beautiful. When I was a teenager, I was not afraid to ride public transportation, and neither were my late Parents, who are no longer here. Over the years, the people changed, and the values changed for the worse. Maryland is one of the better place around the Country, to easily navigate around, compared to places like Colorado & Illinois. You can travel as far South to Virginia, or North to NY, and still get back home for Dinner. In short, I think the Governor should take over the City, and we would see a drastic change. Insofar as the Crime, it is sad, very very sad. There are quite a few areas I simply avoid, because I’m very fearful of the Crime. In short, I pray things will get better, and it will be a better place when the current Administration is replaced.