Maine : Safety by City
- Bar Harbor
- Carrabassett Valley
- Presque Isle/Caribou
- South Portland
Bangor, Maine, is an inland city on the Penobscot River about an hour northwest of the resort city of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Forest.
This is the third-largest population center in Maine, with nearly 32,000 people.
This is a transportation, shipping, and railroad crossroads in the Pine Tree State.
The city also serves as a gateway to Maine’s unique regions, from the highlands, DownEast, the coastline, and Aroostook County.
Famed author Stephen King is from Bangor, and one of his homes is still here.
While it’s an unofficial tourist attraction, it is part of the Stephen’s King trail to find locations and businesses mentioned in several of his books.
You could be visiting at a time when the literary master is coming up with his next bestseller.
You might be surprised to find out you can also get some Las Vegas-style gaming while visiting Bangor.
It has also been a long-time logging city, but a new wave of arts and entertainment is sweeping the city.
You also have a very good chance of seeing Moose in town during your visit.
Warnings & Dangers in Bangor
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk compared to mid-sized cities outside of Maine. However, Bangor has gone from one of the safest cities in Maine to one of the most dangerous in the state since the early 2000s. While its violent crime rate is well below the national average, the property crime rates are somewhat concerning. While it's laughable to compare Bangor to a city like Boston, for the good people of Maine, crime levels like this are rather shocking.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Bangor has its own fixed-tour public bus system, and Greyhound buses are available for regional travel. Rental cars are available in Bangor, Augusta, and Ellsworth, while rideshare services and taxis are also an option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
With 15 pickpockets reported in 2021, if there's any city where you face an elevated risk, it's Bangor. In the big picture, there's still a low risk. Many Maine cities haven't seen a pickpocket or purse snatching in years. That's not true in Bangor.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Bangor is in the Southern Interior Climate Zone of Maine, which comes with its own natural hazard concerns. Flooding can happen from excessive rainfall, ice jams, and snow melt. Periodic severe thunderstorms can happen in summer. Severe Winter storms are quite common. Wildfire risks outside the city are dependent on the drought status. Hurricanes, avalanches, and mudslides are other risks. You should read the Hazard Mitigation Plan from Penobscot County before your visit to get safety and preparation advice.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Most Maine cities have robberies that only impact businesses or people who know each other, so Bangor's 17% risk of a robbery in a public place is considered high for the state. Again, in the grand scheme of things, this is a very low risk, but it's also high by Maine's standards.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here with such a small popular, and rural region surrounding Bangor. If a terror group suddenly wanted to disrupt commerce in Maine or across the border into New Brunswick, Canada, that risk would be elevated, but that's also not likely.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Someone was going door-to-door in Bangor in 2022 demanding payments for made-up offenses, but were quite convincing. They bilked up to $30,000 out of people in just a few days. You can always check with the local police department about scams closer to your visit, but the hallmark signs of pressure to pay, a request to purchase gift cards, or an unnecessary sense of urgency should all be red flags.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
This is another low-risk category with the understanding that it's not quite as safe as some coastline communities. The wilderness areas can be mobile device dead zones, and you should know survival and communication skills to avoid being lost and stuck.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance with all required standards. Severe or winter weather can cause water quality issues, but the city is prepared to send community-wide alerts.
Safest Places to Visit in Bangor
VisitBangorMaine.com is the official site of the Convention and Tourism Bureau, so you can search it with the utmost cyber safety, and it offers great travel and transportation advice too.
You can read the tourism guidebook online and/or sign up for the newsletter to stay updated on events and new businesses.
Bangor is a four-season destination.
While some attractions could have reduced hours or be closed during winter, new activities – like dogsledding – come to life in the winter.
Nearby Hermon Mountain offers all the winter sports you can imagine.
Night skiing and tubing are available, in addition to traditional skiing and snowboarding.
Lessons are available on-site.
Since this was known as the Logging Capital of the World, a trip to the Maine Forest and Logging Museum will be a perfect place to learn about the industry.
You can also get safety advice if you’re planning to travel outside the city, as logging roads pose a certain danger to drivers who end up on them.
Maine Discovery Center is a wonderful family-friendly attraction with three stories that explore ecosystems, hydropower, imagination, and a dinosaur dig.
There’s also a reptile room on site.
The museum is subject to closure during winter storms.
Downtown Bangor is alive with arts, restaurants, and shopping.
The nearby Bangor waterfront offers trails and seating to enjoy the river flowing by while enjoying the warm weather or watching the snowfall in the winter.
The Cole Land Transportation Museum is downtown, with more than 200 vehicles connected to transportation within Maine throughout history.
You can also explore life for the early settlers of Maine.
Art lovers can explore the UMaine Museum of Art, the Robert E. White Gallery, and the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine.
Hollywood Casino Bangor is a hotel and casino with a racetrack.
This is a popular stop for tour buses.
You do have to be 21 to gamble or even be on the casino floor, so it might not be the best place to stay for those traveling with kids.
Bangor City Forest is the great outdoors without leaving the city.
Nine miles of trails offer abundant wildlife viewing, scenic views, and stunning fall foliage.
Don’t miss the Orono Bog Walk through the wetlands with a safe wooded boardwalk extending a mile through nature.
Acadia National Park is an hour away, and you can read our article on Bar Harbor to learn more about the region’s amenities, attractions, and safety advice.
Places to Avoid in Bangor
Bangor’s only real crime risks come in the popular areas, like the growing downtown area.
It’s a fun part of the city with bars and nightlife that will lead to more crime in any location.
Using standard safety precautions, like locking your car doors and not walking around at night alone, will go a long way here.
Winters can be harsh in Maine, and you’ll be in extremely isolated regions if you venture outside.
Before you head out, plan a “worst-case” scenario and get all the tools you need to be stranded in the snow, dangerous cold, mud, the middle of nowhere, and no-amenity areas.
Driving up and down the coast is a great idea during the warmer months, but there will be times when travel is treacherous or impossible in winter.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Bangor
- Subscribe to email notifications through the city’s website. There are nearly two dozen options, but we recommend – at minimum – traffic alerts, bus services & cancelations, emergency alerts, and parking ban notifications.
- The Bangor Maine Police Department Facebook page is @bangormainepolice. You’ll find more updated information there than on the website. The police department did include a post of fake profiles or scammers trying to “friend” people on the page, so don’t accept a friend request from that page. Just use it for information.
- Feel free to stop by the police department when you get to town. There’s actually a viral photo moment inside. The “Duck of Justice” was the brainchild of a police lieutenant. The stuffed duck is now displayed in the lobby, where even Stephen King stopped by for a photo. This is a good time to ask about safety advice. The duck brings the sage safety advice: “Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.”
- Seeing a moose in Bangor isn’t uncommon, and your chances go up in the wilderness areas. Moose are not aggressive animals unless provoked or you get too close. The biggest danger of a moose is that it can easily trample a person causing injury or death. Don’t call the police if you see a moose in town. The Maine Game Warden handles those calls. The phone number is 1-800-432-7381.
- You might also see bears, especially in Bangor City Forest. Black bears are the variety in this region and won’t mess with you unless you mess with them. If you happen to see one, safely back away if it doesn’t notice you. If it stands on its hind legs, it’s likely just trying to get a better look at you. Saying, “Hey, Bear!” in a loud, but not panicked, voice will help. Don’t climb a tree to escape because they are better climbers than you. You might have heard to “play dead” if a bear approaches, but when bears are “black, flight back.”
- When you go hiking or camping, put any snacks or food in bear-proof containers, even if the product is already wrapped. You don’t want to attract any necessary attention and should never feed a wild animal on purpose or accidentally.
- If you have any crime information or get a crime tip, call the tipline at (207)947-7382 Ext. 6. You can remain anonymous. In the event of an emergency, you should always use 911.
- Don’t park on any Bangor street or public parking lot overnight, especially in winter. The winter parking bans are in place to help snowplows clear the streets for all drivers. If you are in the way, your car will be towed at your own expense. Parkbangor.com has all the parking rules and an interactive map of locations.
- You need to know about the Browntail Moth, as it has led to a health emergency alert in many Maine counties, including Bangor. During the caterpillar stage of growth, the critter has toxic hairs. Touching the hairs can lead to painful rashes and sores, but the hairs can also become airborne. You might inhale the hairs without realizing it until you’re having an allergic reaction. Look for the “Knock Out Browntail” website and see an interactive map of where this invasive species has been located. As of this publication, the moths are found in all areas of Bangor, with a stronger concentration west of Union Street.
- MEMA is the Maine Emergency Management Agency, and you can sign up for emergency alerts on its website. You can also choose to get daily or weekly email updates on the most common safety concerns for that time period.
So... How Safe Is Bangor Really?
Across Maine, cities are experiencing a new wave of homelessness as affordable housing becomes almost unattainable for those who make working-class wages.
While smaller cities have seen a slight uptick in crime, bigger cities like Bangor feel the brunt of it.
Property crimes went up 20% between 2019 and 2021 and continue to trend up in 2022.
20% of thefts are related to car break-ins.
While the homicide rate statewide is reaching the highest level in one decade, the vast majority of violent crime is among people who know each other.
In Bangor, just 13% of violent crimes happened against strangers.
For the good people of Bangor, seeing a moose or a bear isn’t that big of a deal.
The concept might freak out a visitor who isn’t used to such things.
You’ll also need to use extra caution on the roadways because you’ll likely suffer worse injuries than a moose if you hit one with your car.
Winters can be brutally cold here with a lot of snowfall, but that’s one of the benefits for some winter visitors looking to enjoy the snowfall.
You should really study just how volatile winter weather is here because it will impact everything you do – road closures, treacherous conditions, business closures, busted water pipes, car batteries sucked of energy in the cold, etc.
March through mid-April brings “Mud Season,” and you’ll find plenty of lower hotel discounts.
Some of the dirt roads become mud pits, and hiking trails can be several feet deep in mud – strong enough to suck the shoes or boots right off your feet.
Summer is beautiful, but you’ll be one of many in the large crowds.
Be patient and use extra caution with your personal belongings.
Don’t let the social media rhetoric fool you that Bangor isn’t a safe place to visit.
There are internal battles in Maine, even going as far as to say the state should be split into two states – North Maine and South Maine.
There’s a no-always-friendly rivalry between Portland and Bangor, so take any non-official advice with a grain of salt.
Bangor is a great city in its own right, but it’s also a gateway to many different state regions.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you start your planning on a safe note.
How Does Bangor Compare?
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Travel visa and passport requirements differ between Canada and Maine, so determine which country you'll be flying into before you get to Bangor. In the U.S., you'll need a passport from your home country and a visa from the U.S. State Department. If you plan to cross into Canada while you're here, check with Border Patrol to see the restrictions and requirements.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar, and there aren't many, if any, locations that take the Canadian dollar. You can exchange currency in Bangor, but you'll find lower fees if you get USD before you leave home.
You get the best and worst of all seasons here, but bring layers of clothing since it's rarely so hot you won't need a jacket in summer. Winter requires packing for extreme temperatures and covering all extremities with insulated items. You'll want waterproof coats, boots, and hats too. Bring snow boots and hiking boots, but carry sneakers with you because some businesses will ask you to change shoes upon entry.
Bangor International Airport is the best option and is right on the city's northwest side. You can also fly into Portland, which will be a two-hour drive to Bangor. We recommend avoiding that option in the winter when roads can be dangerous.
In a rugged place like Maine, it's important to get travel insurance covering your flights and wilderness adventures. You should get extra auto insurance for the roadside hazards that exist.
Bangor Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Maine - Safety by City