How Safe Is California for Travel?

California, United States
Safety Index:
70

California: a state with a rich history, beautiful architecture and landscapes, fantastic weather, and everything from mountains to beaches.

Movie stars, celebrities, and millionaires make their homes here, as do over 38 million people.

In recent years, this state has been a prime location for travel – especially with the rise of social media – which means it’s never been easier to visit California.

Tourists from all over the world flock to see movie stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, visit Disneyland, hike popular trails like the Willis (formerly known as the Taft) Tower Trail in lovely Bakersfield, and explore famous landmarks like The Golden Gate Bridge.

On paper, this sounds like the perfect dream vacation for any tourist.

However, when traveling in California, there is more than just sunshine and palm trees that tourists need to be aware of.

Warnings & Dangers in California

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Over 38 million people live in California, which means if you are visiting this state, there is a good chance at some point during your stay you will be close to someone who is considered dangerous. There are many different places throughout California where tourists can feel at risk of being assaulted, mugged, or robbed. The state of California – and Los Angeles has a reputation for glamour among tourists. While there are millionaires and celebrities behind gated communities, there are also gangs, carjackings, and earthquakes. Lately, exclusive neighborhoods have also fallen to home invasions and robberies.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

California has a vast network of roads, rail, and airports. The state is constantly upgrading these modes of transport to make them safer for all passengers. However, California ranks high in vehicle-related accidents, especially when it comes to DUI (driving under the influence). There are many taxi services in California that are safe. However, like most taxi services, they can be expensive and not as readily available. While there is a vast network of bus and train routes throughout the state, these services can be unreliable if you are in an emergency situation.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

Because California is renowned for its beaches and warm weather, the majority of tourists who come here are not dressed for cooler climates. This can mean that they have a higher risk of being pickpocketed. When going to popular landmarks and tourist attractions, it is recommended that you use a money belt (pouch) to hold your cash and credit cards.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH

California has a high risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, and forest fires. These kinds of disasters can damage property and cost lives, so it is important to protect yourself from them before traveling here or during your visit.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

Your risk of mugging can depend on what time of day you visit a place where there are other people. In the morning and early evening, the risk is low. But later in the evening, after the sun has gone down, your risk can be higher. If you are wandering around LA's Skid Row, near the LA River, there is a higher risk of being mugged as this area is notorious for it.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

California is one of the most popular states to visit, which means it's also on the list of many terrorist organizations. However, the chances of being the victim of a terrorist attack are low for tourists. Be aware of what is going on in your surroundings, and seek out any credible information on any threats. If you are driving, avoid crowded places on the road, and stay vigilant at all times.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : HIGH

Scams are an unfortunate reality for many tourists who visit California. Some scams are done online, others in person. If you are staying at a hotel, it is recommended that you use a credit card instead of a debit card, as some hotels have been known to steal information from the chips on debit cards.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Similar to other cities and states, if you are going out at night it is recommended that you travel in a group of three or more people. Use caution and common sense to lower your risk.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : HIGH

Water in California has been linked to cancer. If you are in the state it is best to stick with bottled water.

Safest Places to Visit in California

San Diego

San Diego is the safest place to travel in California and also has some of the best weather in the whole state, so it’s a great destination for tourists looking to relax and enjoy beaches and sunny days.

Santa Cruz

This small city near San Francisco offers relaxing beach days where tourists can enjoy surfing and sunbathing.

The city is also near other attractions, like the Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Napa Valley

Tourists who want to avoid busy beaches and large cities will enjoy spending time in the relaxed wine country of Napa Valley.

It offers beautiful views, vineyards, and wonderful dining options.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of the safest places to visit in California, but it’s also a great place for tourists who want to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and camping during their stay.

It offers some of the most beautiful views in all of California as well as memorable experiences such as climbing Half-Dome.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is another small city near the ocean, but it is also one of the safest places to visit in California.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a beautiful lake for swimming, boating, and other water activities.

It is surrounded by forests and mountains, so there are plenty of new places to explore during each visit.

Placess to Avoid in California

Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles

This part of the city is extremely dangerous and tourists should avoid it at all costs.

It has the longest skid row in the United States and gets its name from earlier times when people would “skid” logs down a steep hill there.

Death Valley National Park

This desert park has one of the most extreme climates in all of California with average daily highs above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and average daily lows below freezing in winter.

If you are not prepared for these temperatures, it is best to avoid the park.

Rural Areas of Central California

The city of Visalia was recently named one of America’s most dangerous cities by Forbes Magazine because of high crime rates, so tourists should just avoid these areas in general.

If you are staying in California for more than four days, then you should register at the state’s e-registry website to receive notifications if you become a victim of identity theft while there.

It will also allow you to access other important information about your stay in the state.

Safety Tips for Traveling to California

  1. Pack an emergency kit. The essentials include food rations, water, clothing, and first aid supplies. Make sure to check the kit every few months to make sure everything is still in good condition. If needed, replace supplies as soon as possible
  2. Avoid natural disaster-prone areas. While some regions of California seem relatively safe from natural disasters such as earthquakes and forest fires, it is much safer not to travel into these kinds of places at all.
  3. Identify evacuation routes. When an earthquake happens, it is important to know the safest route to take to get away from falling debris or any other dangerous objects.
  4. Prepare for aftershocks. These are smaller earthquakes that happen after the main one and can be even more powerful than the initial quake. If you feel a second earthquake, drop to the ground and protect your head from falling objects or debris.
  5. Prepare for tsunamis. If you are near a coastline, be aware of any evacuation routes that lead to higher ground in case a tsunami happens. You must follow instructions from local authorities as they know what areas are more at risk.
  6. Visit the California Emergency Management Agency website. This site will help you learn more about how to protect yourself if you are in an earthquake or other natural disaster. Protecting your property is important too, so make sure to look into earthquake insurance policies and fire protection systems for homes and offices before visiting California.
  7. Avoid gang areas. Most gang violence in California is related more to drug trafficking than border control. However, these gangs can still pose a danger to tourists if they visit their territories or fall victim to the crimes they commit.
  8. Pick your hotel wisely. Find a reputable hotel to use as your home base while in California, so you have a safe place to come back to at night, and never venture out alone.
  9. Be wary of the sun. The risk for skin cancer is significantly higher in California, which can be attributed to three main factors, such as the lack of ozone layer, abundant sunshine, and a less-than-protective lifestyle. Always wear sunscreen and make sure to cover up when you can.
  10. Never use ATMs alone. If you are withdrawing cash from an ATM at night, make sure to go with a friend. If there is no one nearby, call a friend and go with them. It is just too easy for thieves to steal from someone alone at an ATM.

So... How Safe Is California Really?

California is one of the most beautiful states in all of America, but it can also be dangerous if tourists are not careful.

That being said, you can avoid becoming a victim of a crime by following some simple safety tips like never using an ATM alone and never leaving your home without sunscreen.

If you want to enjoy nature during your stay, then you should focus on the safest places to travel to in California.

Be aware of locations prone to natural disasters, crime, and harsh weather.

Brush fires are common in summer in California.

Avoid places near rivers and hillsides in case of mudslides or landslides, especially after rainstorms.

They are common even in the summer months.

Smash and grab robberies have increased in stores and malls.

Keep items out of car windows and always keep doors locked.

How Does California Compare?

StateSafety Index
California70
Kansas81
Iowa82
Idaho85
Illinois77
Indiana61
Alaska65

Useful Information

  • Visas - If you are a non-US citizen, you are required to get a tourist visa to visit the United States. The length of your Visa will depend on what country you are from. You must apply at the US Consulate in your country.
  • Currency - The United States uses the u.s. dollar as currency. You can pay by cash, credit card, or debit card. Electronic payment such as Google pay and Apple pay is also more and more common at retailers in the country.
  • Weather - Overall, the weather in California is hot and sunny year-round. However, in Northern California, rain is very frequent.
  • Airports - San Diego International Airport (SAN) Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) ....and many others in different cities.
  • Travel Insurance - It is a good idea to have some type of travel insurance when you visit California. Of course, General Health travel insurance is important in case you get sick.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

California Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 9° C
Feb 12° C
Mar 14° C
Apr 17° C
May 20° C
Jun 24° C
Jul 26° C
Aug 25° C
Sep 24° C
Oct 19° C
Nov 13° C
Dec 9° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
131720232832353432261813
Low
°C
5781012151616151285
High
°F
556368738290959390796455
Low
°F
414546505459616159544641

Where to Next?

2 Reviews on California

  1. California is still a nice place to visit

    I had no idea that tap water from California has been linked to cancer! Why didn’t I know this! I’ve just visited California and had no idea. Not that I would drink tap water but still this should be known information. I feel so bad about the people living there. Visited San Diego which was very safe and I had lots of fun in, then LA which was nice and San Francisco. Honestly I was expecting LA to be my most liked city but it was San Diego.

  2. 👍

    this was really helpful thank you

Rated 4.5 / 5 based on 2 user reviews.

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