New Jersey : Safety by City
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- New Brunswick
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- Upper Township & Ocean City
- West Orange
Burlington, New Jersey, is both a city and a township in Burlington County.
So let’s clear up that confusion before we dive in.
In this part of the country, it’s not uncommon to have the same name of a location, with one being a town, township, or some other similar designation.
For Burlington, the city is surrounded by the township on three sides, with the Delaware River being the fourth.
We’ll talk about both Burlington locations in this article, but the easier way to remember it is that the city is the central point of the area.
The township is a more suburban area.
The county is the extended land that reaches from the river almost to the coast.
Burlington County is much larger than we can cover in this article.
Burlington (city) is smaller than the township in both population and size, but it also holds the most tourist attractions and historical spots.
Most hotels will be in the city, but it’s not a hotel-heavy place, either.
One thing that makes Burlington, New Jersey, unique is Burlington Island.
It is a natural area on the river between Burlington and Bristol, Pennsylvania.
That island was once home to Native Americans who started trading with English settlers in the 1670s.
As one of the oldest towns in the United States, its historical significance is well-preserved in architecture, aesthetics, and landmarks.
The meticulously maintained Burlington Historic District is one of the main draws to the city.
Burlington has aged well, with pristine upkeep and American flags waving above brick-paved sidewalks and colonial buildings. It’s charming without being cheesy.
You’ll also be an hour to the beach and 30 minutes from Philadelphia, making it a great day trip or weekend getaway to a larger vacation.
There is also a Burlington, Vermont, that will show up commonly in search results.
Always be sure you’re looking at the New Jersey location with an area code of 609.
Warnings & Dangers in Burlington
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in both Burlington locations, but to be fully transparent, we only have official crime data dating back to 2020. With significant historical and outdoor places to visit, there are plenty of safe spaces to explore.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Burlington has a local bus service that also connects to the greater NJ Transit system. Taxis and rideshares are available frequently. Rental cars are another great way to explore the county without having to pay for each ride or wait for a bus or train.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
I'd use extra caution in the city since it's more congested and draws bigger crowds. There is no firm pickpocket data dating back through the past decade, so I can only tell you that basic safety should go a long way here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
You get a mixed bag of bad weather throughout the year, which is a medium risk. Hurricanes, nor'easters, winter storms, and flooding are all potential problems here. Wildfires are a risk, too, in the county due to the expanse of wilderness areas.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
The township average 10 or fewer robberies a year, and the city is usually below 20. The risk is low, but it's still not a place to go walking around at night alone. Since I don't have more recent crime data, I'd treat it with a medium risk, just to make you more cautious.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's no reason for Burlington to be a target, but being that close to Philadelphia should come with elevated attention to suspicious activity. The Homeland Security Department issues Terrorism Advisory Bulletins several times a year to give an overall look at terrorism concerns. You can sign up for those emails online.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The police departments both have information about common scams, phone spoofing, and fraud, along with what to do if you are a victim. Most scams here will target residents, but watch out for panhandlers in the city and near public transportation stations.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Nothing in the limited crime data shows any reason a woman would be more at risk than anyone else, but the same rules of traveling in pairs or groups and not taking drinks from strangers apply here.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Annual Water Quality Reports are due each year by July 1, and I'll give Burlington a high-five for releasing theirs early. While the report shows mostly full compliance, there was one violation of PFOA. If you want to know more about that, you can read the report online through the Burlington Township Water Department.
Safest Places to Visit in Burlington
There isn’t a specific tourism website for Burlington, but you can use the Visit NJ website to search the Delaware River Region and find information about Burlington.
Maine Street Burlington (msbnj.org) is the organization that oversees downtown.
The city offers self-guided walking tours covering more than 44 historical sites, all within a half-mile walk.
You can call 609-386-0200 x114 or e-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to have them mailed to you or pick one up when you’re in town.
They are not offered online.
Among those historical sites is the “country’s oldest home” called Revell House, built in 1675.
Friends of Burlington Island is an organization that manages the trails and access to the island right off the banks of the river downtown.
Check with them before you make a trip to see what trails are open and what kinds of activities are allowed.
This island has a great history of being an amusement park that burned down (twice) before becoming a waste dump and is now a natural area undergoing restoration.
You will be limited to areas you can access on the island.
If you don’t want to paddle to an island, head seven miles to Amico Island Park, where you can explore trails through several different ecosystems.
Antique lovers shouldn’t miss the Historic Burlington Antiques Emporium, filled with hidden treasures and gems (literally and figuratively!) with plenty of history in between the aisles.
It is closed on Monday, but every other day more than 65 dealers fill the space.
My suggested itinerary for one night would be visiting one of the riverfront restaurants and then a walk on the river promenade to see the sun setting behind the Burlington Bristol Bridge.
Places to Avoid in Burlington
You’ll want to avoid the area around the intersection of York Street & Federal Street.
That’s a part of town where several major drug and gun arrests have happened.
It’s not near any of the tourist attractions, so it shouldn’t be an issue.
Before you swim in any lake or river, you should check the health dashboard by the Burlington County Health Department.
“Swimming is a fun activity for all ages, and Burlington County is home to dozens of outstanding recreational swimming beaches.
We want residents to enjoy these lakes to the fullest extent, but we also want to make sure these water bodies remain safe and that there’s little risk for bacteria-borne illnesses,” Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the Burlington County Health Department, said.
Other than that, you can safely travel throughout Burlington without being in a neighborhood that’s too dangerous.
If you’re visiting Philadelphia, the risks go up.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Burlington
- Burlington City and the township have their own police departments, and the surrounding county has the sheriff’s department. The police are on Facebook with the handle @Burlingtoncitypdnj and burlingtontownshippd, and the sheriff is @Burcosheriffnj.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through Civic Ready. There’s a link on the city’s website under “Emergency Notification Systems.” You’ll get information about severe weather, major road incidents, and other safety alerts.
- I love when I see that a city has Nixle alerts too. I worked in local news for many years, and this was how we got updates from police about emergency situations. You can get that same update with the local media just by signing up.
- Did you know Burlington County has a wildfire season? If you look at the layout, Burlington is just one small city in a very large county that spans across a wilderness area almost to the beach. Wildfire season runs from March 15 to May 15 and again from October 15 through November 15.
- Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. You can follow the National Hurricane Center and the local National Weather Service agencies to get updated information on the tropics. A hurricane or tropical storm won’t catch you off guard. Thunderstorms might if you aren’t checking the weather daily.
- You can leave an anonymous tip about any suspected criminal activity by leaving a message at 609-386-0262 Ext. 211. You don’t have to leave your name. There’s also an online form you can fill out on the police department’s website.
- The police encourage people to download the Neighbors App by texting “staysafe” to 555888. The program is through Ring, but you don’t need a Ring camera to participate, and you can see videos uploaded by residents.
- You can take a video tour of Burlington by clicking on the link right on the front page of the city’s website. This will help you get a better feel for the city before you visit.
- Freshwater fishing requires a license from the New Jersey Department of Fish & Wildlife. Non-residents over the age of 15 must have a license to fish. There’s a special stamp for trout at an additional cost.
- Burlington is prone to flooding. You should never drive through a flooded roadway, even if it doesn’t look too deep.
So... How Safe Is Burlington Really?
Several New Jersey cities give that gritty, rugged feel that comes with age and lack of upkeep.
Burlington is not one of them, and neither are its crime rates.
We have to take Burlington’s crime data with a grain of salt because:
- Official crime data hasn’t been updated since 2020, a pandemic year.
- With a population of fewer than 10,000, the margin of error is skewed when figuring it out per 100,000.
In 2020, the violent crime rate was 20% lower than the national average.
In 2019, it was 32% higher.
That change was due to 19 more violent crimes in 2019.
See how that can appear skewed from the actual data to the percentage per 100,000?
You also have to take into account the number of people who travel through Burlington on a given day, which would lower that rate if we could get an exact count (we can’t).
All crime rates are lower in the township than in the city, with the 2020 violent crime rate being less than half the national average.
Theft rates were 30% lower than the national average in 2020.
New Jersey has seen a surge of car thefts in the past few years, but that’s nothing that locking your car doors, using a wheel lock, and taking valuables out of your car can’t fix.
The local police department doesn’t post much day-to-day crime or wanted criminals on its social media sites.
Whether that’s a direct reflection of a lack of crime or transparency is still to be determined.
Use common sense and situational awareness matched with big-city safety steps, and you’ll enjoy the unique atmosphere in Burlington, New Jersey.
How Does Burlington Compare?
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Those traveling internationally will need a visa or visa waiver to get through Customs and Border Patrol at the airport or port of entry. Travel visas take the longest, so start planning early.
The U.S. Dollar will be the only currency you can use here, and credit cards are widely accepted and the preferred way to purchase items due to the fraud protection. Currency exchange is available throughout the region, but the best value comes from your home bank. The major airports will have currency exchange locations too.
Burlington has four robust seasons, so plan accordingly. You'll want winter clothing and accessories from November through March. Summers will be hot and humid. You'll need to bring bug spray and comfortable walking shoes.
Philadelphia International Airport is the closest major airport, about 35 miles away. Trenton's airport is just 20 miles away, but it only has flights through Frontier.
Travel insurance is important when visiting a place with so many weather risks. Car insurance and comprehensive coverage are important, too, due to the aggressive driving habits of people in the region.
Burlington Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month