Virginia : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Virginia - state review
Chesapeake, Virginia might have one of the best locations for people who want to escape, engage, and explore a variety of landscapes from one starting point.
The city is just south of Norfolk and 22 miles from the beach.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina can easily be a day trip, and the historical sites of the Virginia commonwealth are around every corner.
From the Great Bridge Battlefield to the Great Outdoors, everything is attainable in this comfortable suburb.
The Visit Chesapeak VA app is your starting point to explore all the options in this versatile community.
You’ll even realize there’s nothing dismal about the Great Dismal Swamp.
Whether you want to ride the Intracoastal waterway or ride the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, Coastal Virginia offers a lot of options for outdoor enthusiasts.
There’s also a rich agritourism industry here, with fresh grown foods and farm-to-table meals that will have you ordering seconds.
Each season brings a different vibe to the region, and you can explore haunted habitats or ride a horse-drawn carriage through a brilliant holiday light display.
Warnings & Dangers in Chesapeake
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Chesapeake is toeing the line between low and medium risk, with increasing violent crime rates, but still not high enough to put it in the "Top 25 Most Dangerous Lists." Meanwhile, other categories fall below national averages. It is a safer community, at least by crime data, than Norfolk to the north.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Hampton Roads Transit is the public bus and light rail system in the area that goes between Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. Taxis and rideshares are easy to find. Rental cars are available as well. Note that there are a lot of drawbridges and tunnels in the Chesapeake and Coastal Virginia area, so always plan extra time for delays. Any option is a low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
With just 10 pickpockets reported in 2020, there's a low risk. You should always use extra caution on public transportation or in crowded tourist areas. When visiting outdoor areas, lock your car and roll the windows up before parking. Avoid leaving any personal items inside.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The biggest concern in this region is hurricanes and associated flooding, storm surge, and wind damage. Severe thunderstorms are possible, too, with tornado potential, but those aren't as common as in the Midwest and South. Winter storms can also create travel problems. Since there's a year-round threat, there's a medium risk here.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The robbery rate is actually 40% lower than the national average here, and 30% of robberies happen in public places, which does lower the risk. Avoiding dark streets or alleys and limiting travel alone at night will help reduce the risk further.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
As a major port on the eastern seaboard with a strong military presence, and a large population in the metro region, there's a medium risk here. That risk also goes with an increased security presence, so there's nothing to be overly worried about as long as you report any suspicious activity you might see.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The risk is low here that tourists will be targeted for scams, but I do want to mention a new scam that is happening here - but could happen anywhere. It involves a stranger asking to use your mobile phone to make a call for some kind of emergency. Once you hand over the phone, the person gets into your CashApp account and makes a transfer of funds to another account - an account they control. You've been robbed without realizing it.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women will love the outdoor adventures, spas, and shopping areas of Chesapeake. There's no risk here that makes it more dangerous for women as long as they use all the basic safety smarts they know by heart.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows all standards of the EPA were met or exceeded during the previous year. You should follow the city's social media accounts if you are visiting during or after floods because that's one way water quality can be compromised.
Safest Places to Visit in Chesapeake
VisitChesapeake.com is the tourism website for this region which will also help you know you are in the right state, as several states have cities named Chesapeake.
The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Museum will give you a history lesson from the Revolutionary War with brilliant views of the water, a giant bridge, and nature.
December visitors shouldn’t miss the reenactment of the battle over a two-day event.
I’m going to give away a little secret about the Great Dismal Swamp, which is another popular tourist attraction rooted in history.
I’m sure the workers at the visitor’s center are tired of answering this question, though it is a good one!
Why is it named the Great Dismal Swamp?
Was it just a salty pioneer?
Someone who doesn’t like swamps?
Colonel William Byrd first called it “Dismal,” which simply means swamp or land covered in shallow water.
However, he DID go on to write, “the foul damps ascend without ceasing, corrupt the air, and render it unfit for respiration.”
A few years later, future president George Washington had a different perspective, calling it a “glorious paradise.”
Decide for yourself when you visit, but bring bug spray.
Lots of bug spray.
From the swamp, take the African American Heritage Driving Tour to learn about the influence and sacrifices throughout this region, including a community where black people could live a life of freedom.
There are six stops on the trail, and it’s a very educational and interesting excursion.
The Chesapeake Arboretum spans nearly 50 acres, with an 18th-century farmhouse near the entrance.
Explore the wooded trails, stop to smell the antique rose garden, or get your hands dirty with a gardening class.
While you have far too many parks to choose from than I can cover in this article, one of the largest in Chesapeake is the nearly 800-acre Northwest River Park and Campground.
Biking, hiking, birding, kayaking, fishing – all of these are options.
You can go for a hike on horseback or on foot.
Paddleboats are available for rent.
The park also has SkyWatch events to explore the galaxy through clear skies and no light pollution.
For those who would rather see the skies in a climate-controlled environment free of mosquitos, visit the Chesapeake Planetarium.
Bergey’s Breadbasket is a great place for eating homemade goodies while exploring a petting zoo.
(Ok, wash your hands between each activity.)
Ice cream is churned here, and you can also pick fresh-cut flowers.
It’s a farm experience without getting too dirty.
Mount Pleasant Farms is one of several regional options to enjoy “You-Pick-Em” style farming.
From strawberries to pumpkins, check with your preferred farm location to see what’s in season.
Pick up fresh eggs (VERY fresh) and other products or unique gift items.
The above list of items is specifically in Chesapeake, and I didn’t mention the great attractions in surrounding cities.
You can review the list of other locations on our website to get hyperlocal information.
For research purposes, Great Bridge, Greenbrier, Western Branch, Deep Creek, and Hickory are all neighborhoods in the city of Chesapeake.
Places to Avoid in Chesapeake
The closer you get to Norfolk, the higher the crime rates will go.
However, that’s primarily an industrial area and not a place where tourists are likely to be wandering around anyway.
The truth about Chesapeake is it’s the epitome of suburban sprawl.
There are a lot of outdoor activities, but should a rainy day pop up, you’re limited to a handful of museums and the mall.
Even the tourism bureau lists places like Macy’s department store as a “Rainy Day Activity.”
If you don’t like driving over bridges, you’re not going to like this region.
There are a lot of bridges and delays that come from drawbridges being raised to make way for water traffic.
Fentress Airfield is in the southeast section of the city and can produce a lot of jet noise.
While no section of this area is safe from the ongoing air travel, staying close to Fentress will mean more noise.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Chesapeake
- Chesapeake Police has a crime mapping system, but it is not working as of September 2022. There is no estimation of when this will be fixed, but you can call the crime analyst on staff at (757)382-8221. You can also email CPDCrimePrev@cityofchesapeake.net to get information about the best crime prevention tips closer to your visit.
- There is a working section on the website where you can submit a crime tip. This isn’t for emergencies, but if you notice a car break-in, graffiti, or drug activity, for example, fill out a report and upload any photos you have.
- Chesapeake doesn’t just have red light cameras to catch people running red lights, there are also cameras to catch people speeding. Even in a rental car, you’ll be sent a fine for the violation. Stick to the speed limit and stop on yellow to avoid getting a ticket 30 days after your trip.
- If you are riding a bicycle in Chesapeake, it’s illegal to have earphones, earbuds, or headphones over both ears while in motion. Keep one ear open so you can hear the traffic and other people around you.
- Review the Emergency Management section of the Chesapeake city website. There is a list of common threats and concerns that happen throughout the year. While you’re there, sign up for Chesapeake Alerts for emergency notifications.
- Chesapeake Television is a linear channel with a variety of programming about visiting and enjoying the city, along with safety and weather hazard information.
- Hurricane season runs from June through October, with August being the month the tropics really start getting active. If a hurricane is heading toward coastal Virginia before your trip, strongly consider rescheduling. Evacuations can happen up to a week before a storm, and highways can be congested with traffic. Gas stations can even run out of gas.
- Anglers need to review the fishing regulations of the Virginia Department of Natural Resources. The rules are different if you want to fish in freshwater vs. saltwater. Also, note where the boundaries are between freshwater and saltwater bodies of water.
- It’s not as simple as renting a kayak in Virginia. There is a slew of rules you should review before you go. These include requiring a certain kind of light to avoid a collision, having a safety vest on board, and having a specific whistle to alert other watercraft users to your presence. It’s also illegal to operate a kayak under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Good news: There are no alligators in the Great Dismal Swamp. Bad News: There are snakes and so many bugs I can’t even tell you enough times that you must bring bug spray. Do not take any plants or flowers from the swamp and never feed or interact with the animals. Black bears are in this area, so bringing bear spray might be a good idea.
So... How Safe Is Chesapeake Really?
Chesapeake is one of many cities in America seeing an increase in homicides.
While it’s not shattering any records, it is seeing a higher than average growth rate of homicides.
On the flip side, more than half of the homicides were either justifiable or domestic in nature.
“This is the bulk of the increase of homicides that we have experienced,” Police spokesperson Leo Kosinski stated.
“We plan to continue to partner with members of the community to bring awareness to the dangers of domestic violence, and develop solutions.”
Aside from that, the violent and property crime rates are just slightly above state and national averages.
The risks of being a victim of crime break down like this:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 245
- Robbery: 1 in 2,227
- Theft: 1 in 67
45% of all thefts were car break-ins.
This is another great reminder to not leave personal items in the car and always lock up when you park.
30% of robberies were in public places.
Half of the violent crimes happened against strangers, and half happen in private homes.
While this is a highly suburban area, there are still shootings that can and do happen outside of the community center or even shooting at a hotel thought to be self-defense.
However, this isn’t as risky as a city such as Chicago, Atlanta, or New York.
Using basic safety steps will go a long way here.
You just might find yourself heading to Norfolk or Virginia Beach to find more activities to do, and you should research those cities before you go.
How Does Chesapeake Compare?
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- Visas - A U.S. Travel or Work Visa, plus a valid passport, will be required to enter the U.S. for non-citizens. You'll need to plan ahead for that, as you can't just get a visa quickly. You can travel between the cities and states in America without showing a visa at the border, but you will need it for your return flight home.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar will be the only currency you can use here, and it's advised to exchange currency before you go. If you choose not to, there are still banks that can help in Chesapeake.
- Weather - You'll get all four seasons here, so dress accordingly. Spring and fall can have temperatures that greatly fluctuate throughout the day, so packing various layers will be helpful. Bring comfortable walking shoes, especially for the outdoor areas. You don't want to explore the swamp in flip-flops or sandals. Did I mention how much you'll need bug spray? Bring sunscreen too.
- Airports - Norfolk International Airport is 15 miles from Chesapeake, and that's going to take anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes on the highway, depending on traffic.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a wise investment, especially in a place so prone to hurricanes. Even a tropical storm north or south of this region can lead to long air delays.
Chesapeake Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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