Massachusetts : Safety by City
- Cape Cod
- Fall River
- Martha’s Vineyard
- New Bedford
Framingham, Massachusetts, is a perfect location between the largest cities in the state – Boston, and Worcester.
It’s also home to one of New England’s largest shopping and entertainment districts known as the Golden Triangle.
The town is a little of everything – urban, suburban, and rural.
For a city of 72,000 people, there is a lot of open space for two state parks and a botanic garden set away from the turnpike or shopping district traffic.
While the city might feel a little too far away from Boston, excellent public transportation is available to get to the city and back.
Framingham is also considered part of Boston’s Metro West region.
Major highways run through the city, offering easy access east and west.
Framingham is technically a town, not a city, which leads to the nickname “The Biggest Town in America.”
While that doesn’t matter for a tourist, it has been a point of contention among locals for decades.
The city has been used in several popular movies, including Patriots Day, The Company Man, and Don’t Look Up.
While you shouldn’t expect to see Ben Affleck walking the streets, it’s just a nice vote of confidence when a city repeatedly gets film credits.
Warnings & Dangers in Framingham
OVERALL RISK : LOW
The risk is low, which is to say it's slightly lower than average and much safer than in some other Boston area cities and suburbs. If you don't like shopping or standard state parks, you might be a little bored here, as it is mostly a commuter city to Boston.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
MTBA is the public transportation system in the region, and "The T" does come through Framingham with routes as far west as Worcester. MetroWest Regional Transit (MWRTA) provides 12 routes through the Metro West region. Taxis, rideshares, and rental cars are available. If you're using the Massachusetts Turnpike, be advised that it is a toll road.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The overall theft risk is 35% lower than the national average, and 23 pickpockets or purse snatchings were reported in 2021. The potential risk increases in the Golden Triangle since it's a busy place with many bags being carried around.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
The Metro West region gets all the same risks as Boston proper, from treacherous winter storms to severe summer thunderstorms. Hurricane season from June through November brings the potential for heavy rain and damaging winds. The Framingham Emergency Management department has posted information on winter, summer, snow, and hurricane safety.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Just 11 robberies were reported in 2021, which is five times lower than the national average. 36% of those were in public spaces, so the risk is low.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Homeland Security provides regularly updated bulletins on the Terrorism Advisory System which should be reviewed before a visit. While Boston as a whole is always a potential target, there are more individual terrorism concerns that could happen in any city. It shouldn't be an overwhelming fear, but you should report anything suspicious you see to the local police.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Phishing scams and fake phone calls demanding bail for a relative have happened several times in recent years. One scam/theft happened in a Target parking lot when a man told a driver her car tire was having issues. When she got out to check, her purse was stolen by another man on the other side of the car. The suspects were long gone before the woman realized the purse was gone. You should really treat any stranger approach or unknown email/phone number with a medium risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Nothing in the crime data suggests women are more likely to be victims of crime but keep your situational awareness on high alert while shopping and dining, especially in the Golden Triangle, where thieves could be waiting for a crime of opportunity.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. The risk of lead in water is in every older community, but that risk comes from the local home or business, not the water company. Millions of dollars are supporting the effort to remove all lead pipes, but you can reduce the risk in your hotel by letting the water run for a minute if the faucet hasn't been used in a while.
Safest Places to Visit in Framingham
The MetroWest Visitors Bureau offers a tourist information website with a list of things to do in the 31 cities of the region, including Framingham.
Framingham’s city website also has a visitors section listing things to do and answering FAQs.
The busiest and most robust city section is at the border with Natick.
The Golden Triangle is bordered by Lake Cochituate on the east, Highway 9 on the south, and Old Connecticut Route (Highway 126) on the northwest.
You find many restaurants, big box stores, a movie theater, Natick Mall, and many hotels.
Cochituate State Park is on the lake and is open from sunrise to sunset.
People who aren’t from Massachusetts will pay $30 to park.
A park advisory system is available to get alerts when the parking lot is full, which means the park is full.
On the opposite side of the lake is Natick Beach, complete with sand and water rentals in the summer.
The beach is open year-round, but lifeguards and water quality reports are only supplied during warm months.
You can explore Callahan State Park’s 800 acres without paying any parking fee, but it won’t have a lake or beach.
This part is great for hiking, fishing, mountain biking, or cross-country skiing.
Garden in the Woods is a botanical garden open from April through October.
The garden path is a mile long, weaving through New England’s most prized plants and flowers.
Guided tours or audio tours are available.
Download the Garden in the Woods app to learn more about ticket prices or scheduled events.
The Framingham History Center is on Oak Street, with a gift shop and rotating exhibits celebrating the town’s history.
This city isn’t as robust with history as some other communities.
Hanson’s Farm is in far northern Framingham, with fresh fruit and vegetables available seasonally.
Pumpkin picking is popular in the fall, and sunflower fields are open to explore in late August.
If you see a bus painted in a cow pattern, that’s the Moo Bus from Hanson’s, offering large portions of seasonally flavored ice cream.
Places to Avoid in Framingham
You’ll want to stay north of Worcester Road (Highway 9) as there’s not much to see or do on that side of town, and that’s where the bulk of the crime happens in the community.
It’s not “too dangerous to go there,” but influxes in homelessness, drugs, and gun crimes can make certain areas riskier for someone who has no business being there.
Framingham has also dealt with aggressive panhandling as homeless people or those without affordable housing wait on busy streets, like Speen Street in downtown Framingham, to beg drivers for money.
A new ordinance passed in 2022 makes it illegal for panhandlers to be in the streets and/or within five feet of a vehicle.
You should also know that the parking meters in Framingham do not have a payment option through the use of a QR code.
Crooks have been placing fake QR codes on parking meters.
When people scan the code, they are directed to a site that is designed to steal their personal and financial information.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Framingham
- Framingham has its own police force with a daily list of police activity posted. You can also review the Annual Report from the previous year to see various crime categories, arrest rates, and officer use of force. Follow the department on Facebook @FraminghamPolice.
- Rave Alerts through Smart911 offers emergency notifications sent to your email or mobile device text messaging service. You do need to sign up, but you can unsubscribe anytime. While some weather apps provide emergency alerts about weather threats, this will include town-specific information such as road closures, water main breaks, or parking restrictions.
- Winter visitors should know that the roads can be treacherous during major storms. Public transportation buses and trains will keep running as long as it is safe for them to do so. Read the Winter Travel Guide on the MTBA website to learn how to sign up for route alerts. MWRTA will post service alerts on its website and social media pages while offering a live chat function on its app.
- During the hot spells of summer, you might see more homeless people in public places like the library. This service is provided by the city and is monitored by the police department. Unless the illegal activity is going on, there is no reason to be concerned.
- If you plan to do a lot of shopping in the Golden Triangle, it makes sense to get your hotel room there. This helps you avoid carrying many bags or risking thieves seeing you put valuables in your car or trunk.
- If you’re parking on the street in Framingham, you need to know which side of the street you can park on. Even years allow parking on the even side of the road – meaning places with addresses that end in 0, 2, 4, 6, 8. The odd side of the street parking is available in odd years. All street parking is banned in a snow emergency, so snow plows can safely clear the streets.
- Rental car drivers will likely need to use the Massachusetts Turnpike at some point, and that’s a toll road. The cashless system charges through license plates or toll devices on the windshield. Ask your rental car company if they cover the toll costs incurred. If not, you can set up your own account by entering the rental car’s license plate.
- If you want to fish anywhere in Massachusetts, you need a fishing license from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. This license can be purchased online. You must have the license and a legal ID with you at all times while fishing.
- Thieves will work their way through parking lots, especially in shopping centers and commuter lots, trying the door handles of each car to look for an unlocked door. They’ll also break windows to get to a value item, like a credit card or piece of technology. Don’t leave anything in your car when you park; confirm the doors are locked and all windows are rolled up.
- You can report a crime or suspicious activity anytime by calling the crime tip hotline at (508)532-5900. You can also text Tip411 to 847411. Don’t use social media sites to report crimes, and don’t use the crime tip hotline for emergencies. You can remain anonymous with any crime tip.
So... How Safe Is Framingham Really?
Framingham’s crime statistics shouldn’t scare you off, with lower-than-average numbers across the board.
With fewer than one robbery a month on average, you won’t find that in many towns with 72,000 people.
Even the theft rate being as low as it is in such a shopping and entertainment destination is surprising.
The town takes a critical verbal beating even from its own residents online.
Complaints about drugs, homeless, panhandling, and loud noise fills up social forums like Reddit.
The main complaint is infrastructure, undocumented immigrants, and perceived shady politics.
Framingham has tackled each concern head-on, creating a new noise ordinance during certain hours, starting a Welcoming Ordinance Commission for the influx of immigrants, being part of the MetroWest Drug Task Force, and working to improve community relationships through transparency in reporting.
The northern part of Framingham is more rural and affluent, while the downtown area and south side are prone to more crime and blight.
Nearly 50% of violent crimes happen in private homes, substantially lowering the risk for a tourist, and just 17% of violent crimes happen against strangers.
35% of all thefts were car burglaries, but if people just locked their cars, that number could also go down substantially.
Framingham is a great place if you want a central location away from the urban nature of Boston or want a great pivot point to Western Mass, Boston, or Providence.
How Does Framingham Compare?
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- Visas - The U.S. State Department requires all international visitors to apply for a visa or visa waiver to enter the country. The tourist visa system is backlogged, but several new steps have been implemented to speed up the process in 2023 and beyond. Check the department's website for the newest updates to help the process be more efficient.
- Currency - Exchanging currency before you arrive in a new country will get you the lowest fees since banks charge more to people without established accounts. The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only currency accepted here. Don't use public ATMs if you can avoid them because there are too many safety risks, especially at night.
- Weather - All four distinct seasons offer something to enjoy in Framingham, but you'll need to dress for the season. That means warm, insulated, and waterproof clothing and boots in winter, with summer bringing great shorts and t-shirt weather. Even warm months can bring a nighttime chill, so always have a jacket or hoodie. You will need bug spray and sunscreen from May through September.
- Airports - Visitors can get to and from Boston Logan International Airport in 45 minutes (without traffic). Logan Express is a public transportation system with express routes to the airport, and Framingham has several departure times each day. Tickets run as low as $10.
- Travel Insurance - Look for broad travel insurance policies that offer bundle coverage for weather delays, cancelations, emergencies, healthcare, and rental cars to get the best value.
Framingham Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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