California : Safety by City
- Chino Hills
- Chula Vista
- Costa Mesa
- Daly City
- El Cajon
- El Monte
- Garden Grove
- Huntington Beach
- Lake Forest
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Mission Viejo
- Moreno Valley
- Mountain View
- Newport Beach
- Palm Springs
- Rancho Cucamonga
- Redondo Beach
- Redwood City
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- San Leandro
- San Luis Obispo
- San Mateo
- Santa Ana
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Clara
- Santa Clarita
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Monica
- Santa Rosa
- Simi Valley
- South Gate
- Thousand Oaks
- Union City
- West Covina
Fresno, California, holds a lot of great attractions above and below ground in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley.
While it might not have the beaches many associate Southern California with, it does have a unique place in this versatile state.
The city is known as the Raisin Capital of the World, and the shriveled fruit is so abundant that the baseball team was once named the Fresno Raisin Eaters.
Fresno is known for its foggy climate as the “tule fog” settles over the San Joaquin Valley.
This, on top of the scorching hot summers, means the weather here is something that comes with safety concerns of its own.
If you’re lucky enough to visit here between February and March, you’ll be able to see the Great Blossom Trail as spring brings beautiful flowers to life.
The blowing petals make it feel as close to a blizzard as Fresno will ever get.
You are also within a day trip of several national parks, including the always popular Yosemite National Park.
If you’re looking for an urban adventure, head to L.A. or San Francisco.
Fresno is all about the great outdoors and incredible Mexican food.
Warnings & Dangers in Fresno
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
By looking at the numbers, it's medium risk. There's really no way around that. However, this is a city plagued by gang crime. While gang crimes are generally among people who know each other, there is a potential risk of being an innocent bystander. How you behave while you're in Fresno will greatly define your risk.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The Fresno Area Express (FAX) is the public transportation system here. You can also find an abundance of tour buses and shuttles to tourist attractions and national parks. Taxis and rideshares are available, but if you want to be able to explore at your own pace, a rental car is your best and safest option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
The theft rate is more than twice the national average. You should treat this as a medium risk. Robbery rates are high as well, so avoid carrying any kind of valuables around with you. Store wallets in hidden pockets if you can.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: HIGH
Wildfire and flooding dangers are the biggest risks, along with extreme heat. An average day is going to be low risk, but when the weather kicks up, treat it with a high risk. Never try to drive through an area where a wildfire is burning.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
While most violent crime is between people who know each other, the gang culture here should convince you not to carry expensive purses or wear a lot of jewelry. You don't want to make yourself a target for a would-be robber. With a robbery rate twice the national average and growing, treat this with medium risk.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This isn't one of the cities terrorists are likely to target in California. Los Angeles and San Francisco would be much bigger targets. There's a low risk here, but the gangs here are terrorists in their own right.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
The cities in California with high Hispanic/Latino populations have seen an increase in lottery scams. This is where a person approaches you saying they've won the lottery. They tell you how they aren't in the country legally, but if you give them a portion of the winnings, you can have the lottery ticket. It turns out the ticket is fake, and you lose money. Don't fall for this.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
Women should use an abundance of caution here, especially after dark. Don't drink beyond your ability to make safe and smart decisions. The same medium risk exists. Avoid going to any house parties or crowded nightclubs where fights could break out.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. The city hasn't seen a water violation since 2016. This doesn't always hold true for other cities in the San Joaquin Valley, so research other cities before you travel.
Safest Places to Visit in Fresno
The official tourism website is visitfresnocounty.org, and you can download the similarly named app to have all the tourism information in the palm of your hand.
Simonian Farms Old Town is a mix of everything that makes Fresno unique.
It has an Old West saloon look with candy, soda, and games for all ages.
You’ll find historical tools from farming through the ages in the San Joaquin Valley and an abundance of fruits and nuts from nearby farms.
The best part?
It’s free to visit!
Forestiere Underground Gardens takes you to the beautiful underbelly of the community and is a one-of-a-kind adventure.
This labyrinth of agriculture was the brainchild of a Sicilian immigrant who designed the structures using nothing but the blueprint in his head.
Take a guided tour through the gardens as you can’t explore at your own risk (you might get lost).
The Fresno Chaffee Zoo includes animals that live on land, underground, and in water.
You can feed a giraffe, pet a stingray, and face the fish in the aquarium.
You can also pay extra for behind-the-scenes tours and experiences.
Cool off in the Wilderness Falls waterfall or visit Zoorasic Park for a pre-historical adventure.
Since Fresno gets so hot in the summer, it makes sense there are three water parks to choose from – Blackbeards, Island Water Park, and Wild Water Adventure Park (which is technically in Clovis).
These parks also offer miniature golf, go-karts, snack bars, and tubing opportunities.
Download the Fresno County Fruit Trail Map to find some of the best places to hunt down your favorite sweet treat.
There are several strawberry farms on the route.
There are 30 stops along the way, and the trip will take you as far as Orange Cove to the east.
Hidden Homes Nature Trail is a really cool and easy hike.
You will pass by the “homes” of animals with things like a giant bird’s nest or massive tree, where you enter the home of the owl.
Cool off in the nearby San Joaquin River at one of many stops along the way, or head to Millerton Lake State Recreational Area just 20 minutes north of Fresno.
Places to Avoid in Fresno
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen repeatedly from local blogs and media outlets is to avoid being out at night.
Especially downtown, in Edison, and in Fresno-High.
Gang activity and other crimes heat up when the sun goes down.
It’s also harder to be aware of your surroundings in the dark as you navigate a new city.
If you’re looking for nightlife, you wouldn’t find much of it in Fresno anyway.
Avoid assuming California is a mild weathered state with a great sea breeze.
The places that have that are nowhere near Fresno.
From June through September, the average temperature here is in the 90s.
July nears 100°(F) for the AVERAGE temperature.
You will need a lot of sunscreen, water, electrolytes, and comfortable clothing to avoid heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Take your time.
Buy a sun visor to put under your windshield when you park.
I lived in a desert, and the ONE TIME I didn’t put the visor up, I mistakenly sat down, grabbed the steering wheel, and got second-degree burns on my hands.
If a wildfire is burning anywhere in this region, you might want to reconsider your trip.
The western wildfires get more intense each year, and the wicked winds can move a fire that is far away to a closer location in less than a few hours.
That’s not to mention the air quality issues that you face.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Fresno
- One of the most important things you can do is sign up for CodeRED notifications. This will get you weather and wildfire information or major accidents and road closures.
- The FresGO app also puts you in contact with the city. You can report safety issues or ask questions. If there are water restrictions in place, you’ll see that too. There’s a great wealth of information about the city during your visit.
- Fog is the leading cause of accidents due to the weather in this region. The Tule fog here happens anytime between December 1 and March 31. If you don’t know how to drive in fog, do some research. You’ll need to slow down, use low beams, and pull over if you ever don’t feel like you can see enough of the road to drive. Do NOT use your high beams, as this can make visibility worse for other cars on the road (and it only makes it tougher for you to see, too!).
- The Mexican food in Fresno is very spicy. I mean EXTREMELY spicy, just as it is served and without having to ask for it hot. If you don’t like spicy foods, you should ask them to tone down the spice or ask if you can sample the dish before committing to the purchase. I bring this up because I am so sensitive to spicy food, and I’ve missed many good meals because I didn’t ask, “just how spicy is it??”
- If you buy fruit from a farm or local stand, just be sure to wash it off before you eat it. Some of the stands will have washing wells, so you don’t have to search for clean water.
- Use IQair.com to check the air quality each day. Pollution from the larger cities, the agricultural industry, the aforementioned wildfires, and other pollutants can make the air unhealthy on even a seemingly nice day. I use this app daily because I have certain allergens that I need to avoid (Darn you, Cottonwood!).
- If you are heading to Yosemite in the summer, fill up before you leave Fresno and again before you get within five miles of the park’s entrance. The traffic lines can be miles long on mountain roads, and it can quickly drain a gas tank, especially if the air conditioning is on.
- Fresno has an average of nine cars stolen each day. There has been a rash of Kias and Hyundais stolen nationwide after a social media trend showed how easy they are to hack. Try to avoid getting one of those brands of rental cars. Always lock your doors and never leave the windows cracked when you park. Take your rental car paperwork inside the hotel with you.
- Treat any sound of gunshots as a “shelter in place” situation. Do not go looking for the source of the gunshots. In 2021, there was an average of nearly two shootings per day, with 74 homicides. 60% of those shootings were gang-related. Just call 911 if you hear gunshots and stay where you are until you know it’s safe to go outside, especially at night.
- The Fresno Police 2021 Annual Report gives a lot of detailed information about the challenges and successes of crime and safety that year. You can see how many drugs were confiscated, how many crimes were solved and learn about efforts in each district to keep people safe. It’s a great overview of the city’s crime prevention efforts.
So... How Safe Is Fresno Really?
Fresno is a cultural melting pot with an important agricultural influence on the region.
There are a lot of hard-working, nice people who will make your stay amazing.
Unfortunately, there is also an ongoing element of the crime.
60% of the homicides here are gang-related.
With an average of eight violent crimes per day, you want to stay in tourist areas and keep your adventure to daylight hours.
After dark is when the majority of crimes happen.
The police department is also habitually short-staffed, so you don’t get a response as quickly as anyone would like.
When you’re driving, don’t get baited into road rage.
Even something as simple as honking at someone can trigger a reaction.
The same reservations should be held when you’re in public places and don’t get into verbal arguments with people.
There are just too many illegal guns and criminals who potentially could get upset.
Fresno is one of those cities where a small part of the population is responsible for a large amount of crime, and police are focused on finding gang members and holding them accountable.
Per the 2021 Annual Report, “From just a single gang operation, our personnel took over 300 guns off the street, made over 600 felony arrests, and served over 150 search warrants.”
If you are really worried about safety, stay in Clovis.
It’s less than 10 miles away and a safer community.
This will allow you to sleep in a safer place while still being close enough to enjoy all the cool parts of Fresno during the day.
How Does Fresno Compare?
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Whether you are flying into the country or crossing the border, you'll need a passport and U.S Visa or Visa Waiver. The Visa process can take up to four months, so start planning well ahead of time. While you're in Fresno, you can travel the region without needing your Visa. Just keep it close. Immigration does a lot of spot checks here, and you might need to show proof of your citizenship.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. Avoid carrying any large amounts of cash, and never use an ATM in a public space. Go inside a bank instead. Be sure to get increments of smaller bills for when you stop at the fruit stands, as they might not always have the change to break larger bills.
You can leave the winter coats and boots at home, but bring a sweatshirt and jeans for the winter if it gets chilly. Overall, you can wear jeans and a t-shirt or even shorts throughout the year. Bring comfortable walking shoes.
Fresno Yosemite International Airport is just six miles from the city center. There are plenty of flights on the West Coast, but direct flights only go as far east as Dallas and Chicago.
You should definitely have travel insurance here on your flights, car, and belongings. Make sure you know how a wildfire will impact your travels and if you will get reimbursed for that.
Fresno Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month