How Safe Is Elizabeth City for Travel?

Updated On September 13, 2023
Elizabeth City, United States
Safety Index:
79
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Elizabeth City, North Carolina, beckons with a unique blend of history and innovation.

Established in 1794, this picturesque town is not just a stopover to the Outer Banks beaches; it’s a destination with a rich maritime heritage.

History echoes through the streets of Elizabeth City.

Established as a shipbuilding and trading hub, it boasts a deep connection to the maritime industry.

The iconic “Harbor of Hospitality” nickname reflects the warm welcome visitors receive, much like the sailors of old who found solace in its port.

One of the town’s unique attractions is the historic downtown waterfront.

Stroll along the boardwalk, admiring the Pasquotank River’s serene beauty and Victorian-era homes that line the streets.

Expect a quaint, unhurried atmosphere in Elizabeth City.

You won’t find bustling crowds, but you will find a vibrant arts scene, charming shops, and delightful dining options.

Don’t miss the “First Friday ArtWalk” for a taste of local creativity.

Elizabeth City also boasts a claim to aviation history.

Home to the “Elizabeth City Coast Guard Air Station,” it played a pivotal role in early aviation and continues its legacy today.

Whether you’re captivated by its maritime past, the unhurried pace, or the natural beauty that surrounds it, Elizabeth City offers a myriad of opportunities.

Warnings & Dangers in Elizabeth City

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low risk in Elizabeth City with a growing crime rate that is worth noting as we go through this article. With plenty of things to do in safe spaces, you shouldn't worry too much about the risk but use standard precautions.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

ICPTA is the Inter-County Public Transportation Authority in this region, but, in all honesty, you'll really want your own car here if you can swing it. There's just too much to explore to be stuck on a bus route. Taxis and rideshares can be found, but the costs will add up quickly.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

Just three purse snatchings have been reported in the past three years, giving this a low risk. However, I'd recommend you treat it as a medium risk since you're in a tourist destination.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

Just three purse snatchings have been reported in the past three years, giving this a low risk. However, I'd recommend you treat it as a medium risk since you're in a tourist destination.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Robberies are down 80% since 2016, giving this a low risk. With an influx in juvenile crime, you shouldn't let your guard down or feel safe around groups of children.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

This is another low risk, but you can always check the state or federal terrorism agency for more broad warnings and safety guidance.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

Rental scams are the main thing to watch out for here, but that will happen long before you arrive in town. The risk is low, but knowing the signs makes it lower. That includes someone who won't talk to you on the phone or insists you wire money to reserve a home. You can always check with the local chamber of commerce for the best rental agencies.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

This is another low-risk, but with all the standard safety advice you'd want for a tourism destination. It's especially important that you understand water and wildlife safety.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

While the water here meets or exceeds federal standards each year, things like flooding or a sudden freeze in the winter can cause problems. That's pretty common in any town. Just stay informed through the city's social media sites.

Safest Places to Visit in Elizabeth City

Visit Elizabeth City is the name of the tourism website.

If you go to the page for the visitor’s guide, scroll all the way down, and you’ll find a digital version.

That’s ideal, so you don’t have to give personal information.

I’m also on a mailing list for many Outer Banks (OBX) towns, and I think the OuterBanks.org website is the best for an overview of the region.

It’s worth noting that each town will also have its own tourism site once you narrow down your destination.

The term “Albemarle” is often used to describe the larger geographical and historical context of this region.

It includes the Albemarle Sound, a large estuary along the North Carolina coast, and the surrounding counties that were part of the original Albemarle County, established in the late 17th century.

Start your exploration at the Museum of the Albemarle, which houses an extensive collection of regional artifacts.

Then, you can dive into the city’s maritime history with a visit to the Port Discover Hands-On Science Center, where interactive exhibits engage visitors of all ages.

Download the self-guided tour of the Elizabeth City Aviation Trail.

This tells the personal side of the Wright Brothers’ story as they were destined for aviation fame.

Civil War buffs should walk the Elizabeth City Civil War Trails Tour, which is an easy six stops just a few minutes from downtown.

A downloadable map is available for that as well.

Downtown has two historic districts. One is for the business area, and the other is for the residential district.

More than 50 homes are on the guided tour, all on connecting streets.

Be sure to visit the shops downtown in the commercial district, as you’ll find unique locally-owned brands.

If you don’t mind waking up early, Waterfront Park is one of the best views of the sunrise in Elizabeth City.

You can also rent a paddleboat, SUP, or kayak for a sunrise paddle.

Look up the Albemarle Paddling Trails to get the safest routes.

Albemarle Fenwick-Hollowell Wetlands Trail has a boardwalk over the water and offers some of the best birding opportunities in the region.

Just be sure to put on bug spray.

While the name might not suggest it, the Dismal Swamp State Park is another great place to see wildlife and enjoy the water.

The Dismal Swamp Canal goes from Norfolk to Miami!

A great rainy day activity with the kids is Studio 511 Art & Soul, with art creations for all ages and skill levels.

Places to Avoid in Elizabeth City

Crime rates go down slightly east of N Road and S Road.

However, with a rash of juvenile crimes here (including violent crimes), you want to avoid any kind of large gathering that isn’t organized.

For the most part, you can freely travel throughout the city with no problem.

There just might be pockets of problems or gatherings at parks that make you feel uncomfortable.

Avoid trying to intervene even if it looks like kids just fighting.

Too many violent crimes have happened in the past few years involving those under 18, and it’s not worth the risk.

Also, if you’re unsure about planning a trip during the hurricane season, I don’t blame you.

I lived in a Florida beach town, and I have a September birthday.

Two of the first five years I lived there, my birthday was spent in a hurricane shelter.

However, don’t let a lot of activity in the tropics scare you off, either.

Some storms can take days to mature and have a potential landfall path.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Elizabeth City

  1. Elizabeth City has its own police department. Follow them on Facebook @cityofec. It might be helpful to store the phone number in your device now. It’s (252) 335-4321.
  2. Hurricane Season runs from June through November, with a prime activity window from August through October. If you are visiting during this time, make sure you know if you get a refund when a storm approaches. Follow the National Hurricane Center for updates and safety information.
  3. Also, when considering a hurricane-prone area, you’ll see a lot of references to “Know Your Zone.” This means the evacuation zone in case of an incoming storm. This could help you choose your place to stay. Elizabeth City is spread between three zones, one of which is the first zone that would be evacuated.
  4. Follow @pasqcamEM on Facebook to get emergency information during your visit. That’s the page for Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management. Two other great tools are DriveNC and ReadyNC for road and weather safety information.
  5. Elizabeth City is prone to flooding, and a quick search of YouTube will back that up. Please know where the flood-prone areas are and avoid driving through standing water.
  6. It will help to know the tide schedules, as all waterways are tidal in Elizabeth City. This can impact kayak launch points, boating safety, and fishing spots. It can also impact flood risks.
  7. Anglers need a fishing license from the State of North Carolina. A full list of license costs and types is on the Go Outdoors North Carolina website. Be sure to know if you want a coastal or inland license (or both).
  8. While you’re there, review the boating and paddling laws for life jackets and floatation devices. Kids under a certain age will be required to wear them at all times. I am a pretty experienced kayaker, and I wouldn’t consider getting in the water here without a life vest on.
  9. If you’re heading to the beach, leave early. There aren’t many access points to the Outer Banks, and traffic can back up to Elizabeth City to get to Kitty Hawk.
  10. Do a full-body scan for ticks if you go into the wilderness. You want to remove them from people and pets as soon as possible, taking note to remove the embedded head. Clean the area afterward with disinfectant.

So... How Safe Is Elizabeth City Really?

Elizabeth City, like most American cities, is seeing a surge of crime.

The city and police department made an “Enough is Enough” presentation in mid-July 2023.

By that time, 10 kids and four adults had been shot in the city since the start of the year.

The surge in crime is largely due to an increase in juvenile crime, yet another nationwide trend.

“We’re giving the parents the resources that they may need before we put their juveniles in the juvenile system,” Mayor Kirk Rivers said when announcing the Elizabeth City Violence Prevention Program.

He even made a harsher statement, calling it “chaos in the city” and adding, “It’s a new day in the City of Elizabeth City.

And we will make sure that we send out (the message that) we’re not having it in our city.”

Since 2018, there has been a 62% decrease in thefts, which is good news since that’s one of the top crimes that impact tourists.

Even robberies are down more than 70%.

All the crime concerns still come in a town that has an average violent crime rate for the nation and a theft rate slightly below the national average.

It’s also important to note that over the past five years, just 5% of violent crimes have happened against strangers.

Visiting Elizabeth City?

You shouldn’t have worries beyond basic safety steps.

Moving there with a family could be a whole different article.

How Does Elizabeth City Compare?

CitySafety Index
Elizabeth City79
Orlando64
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Atlanta58
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37
La Paz (Bolivia)52

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International visitors will need a visa or visa waiver, and only people from certain countries can get the waiver. You can check your eligibility on the U.S. State Department website. Look for the "Visa Wizard." Also, a passport that isn't within six months of expiring will be necessary.

Currency

Currency

You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and take care of currency exchange before you reach these small coastal Carolina towns. Your home bank will offer the best value. While most places will take credit cards, some of the beach communities could have cash-only vendors. I'd recommend $60 a day.

Weather

Weather

Plan for four seasons, and you'll want a waterproof outer layer in any season. Sunscreen and bug spray are important, especially in the summer. You'll do a lot of walking, so bring comfortable shoes.

Airports

Airports

Norfolk International Airport (ORF) is approximately 50 miles north of Elizabeth City, making it the nearest commercial airport. If you're flying out of Raleigh-Durham, plan for a three-hour road trip.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

For vacations to places prone to weather-related travel issues, travel insurance is always a smart choice. Don't forget about medical coverage as well if your health plan is limited to the US. It's also wise to verify rental car insurance will protect you fully in case of any accidents.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Elizabeth City Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 6° C
Feb 7° C
Mar 11° C
Apr 16° C
May 20° C
Jun 25° C
Jul 26° C
Aug 26° C
Sep 23° C
Oct 17° C
Nov 12° C
Dec 8° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
111317222630313128231814
Low
°C
114914192121181162
High
°F
525563727986888882736457
Low
°F
343439485766707064524336

North Carolina - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Apex84
Asheville57
Boone82
Cary83
Chapel Hill81
Charlotte56
Cornelius75
Corolla81
Davidson82
Duck79
Durham84
Elizabeth City79
Gastonia61
Goldsboro46
Greensboro77
Hatteras82
Hickory68
High Point62
Hope Mills53
Kannapolis82
Kill Devil Hills77
Kitty Hawk79
Manteo75
Mooresville77
Morehead City78
New Bern77
Raleigh74
Rocky Mount52
Rodanthe85
Statesville78
Wilmington84
Winston-Salem47

Where to Next?

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