South Carolina : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country South Carolina - state review
Halfway between the major cities of Atlanta, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, sits the small town of Greenville, South Carolina.
Don’t confuse it with the eastern North Carolina city of the same name.
This one is in what’s known as the Upstate area of North Carolina.
Greenville is a big small town or a small big town, whichever way you’d like to see it.
The Reedy River runs alongside Main Street, where the road crosses over at a “stop in your track” view of the waterfall.
It was this river that once attracted a cotton mill businessman, which fueled a vibrant textile industry in Greenville.
Giving itself the title of “America’s Friendliest City,” Greenville is also great for family-friendly (and pet-friendly) adventures.
The food scene is really cooking and getting away from it all is a few steps away.
Getting around is easy with Main Street filled with attractions and longer than you’ll find in many cities.
While the city really sparkles in fall as the leaves change colors, there’s something exciting to do in any season here in this South Carolina community.
Warnings & Dangers in Greenville
OVERALL RISK : LOW
If you stay in tourist areas and parks, you'll have a low risk. There are some dangerous neighborhoods and crime trends that are concerning. Some who live in Greenville say they only see crime on the news, while others have experienced only petty crimes. There is a violent crime rate about 40% higher than the national average, but most of that happens in certain neighborhoods.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Greenlink is the public transportation in Greenville. There's a bus system and a trolley downtown. Take the trolley because it's free and goes to specific attractions. You can also get rideshares, taxis, and rental cars here. There's low risk with any option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Just two pickpockets were reported in 2020, which is a low risk. This city doesn't really get crowded enough to have an ongoing pickpocket risk, but you should still protect your valuables, carry a small purse or wallet, and only bring what you need.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Greenville gets a little bit of everything, but flooding is the top concern. This county has more flood-loss events than any other in the state. It can also get remnants of hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, snow storms, and ice storms. The emergency management website gceoc.com has all the information you need to stay safe during a disaster, but there's a medium risk throughout the year.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Greenville has a higher than average robbery risk, but the majority of those are robberies of businesses, not random people on the street. There's a low risk, again, assuming you are staying near Main Street and other busy areas.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Emergency Management for Greenville County states, "There are many critical and high-profile facilities, high concentrations of the population, and other potentially attractive venues for terrorist activity that make Greenville County vulnerable to a variety of terrorist methods." You can check the threat level, or OPCON level as they call it, on the emergency management website.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of a tourist-focused scam, but plenty of the traditional spoofing and phishing scams happen here. When doing research, be sure to look at VisitGreenvilleSC.com, as that's the official tourism website.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should feel safe visiting here with low risk, but the same basic safety standards apply - don't walk around at night, walk with confidence, and call the police if you notice any suspicious activity.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water is safe to drink, and the 2021 Water Quality Report backs up that statement. If flooding happens during your visit, be sure to check the city website for any water quality concerns. The Reedy River Water Quality can be a whole different story, so before you get in the water, check updates from the Reedy River Water Quality Group.
Safest Places to Visit in Greenville
A great place to start would be the Upstate History Museum to learn about the centuries of history here.
This isn’t one of those “boring” museums.
It’s full of interactive exhibits with the feel of walking through Greenville a century ago.
Exhibits change throughout the year, like a Haunted History tour during the fall.
Greenville is really great about keeping visitors in groups for safety and exploration.
There is an abundance of tour options, including:
- Brewery Tour
- Breakfast Tour
- Adventure Tours
- Lake Tours
- Historic District Tours
- BBQ Trail Tour
- Just Desserts Tour
The Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area is this unique natural wonder where the mountains abruptly make way for the foothills, creating a place where you can chase all the waterfalls you want TLC!
The area, known as the Escarpment, can be a relaxing experience with scenic views and waterfall sounds, or you can be active with hiking and horseback rides along the waterfalls.
If you don’t want to go that far for a waterfall, you can settle into Falls Park on the Reedy, right in the center of Greenville.
It feels like you are a world away from the hustle of city life, yet Main Street is literally RIGHT THERE.
A pedestrian bridge goes over the falls, so heads up for anyone with a fear of heights.
It’s not too tall, but as someone who is afraid of heights, it was worth noting.
Take the kids to Linky Stone Park:
The Children’s Garden for a fully immersive experience of all the senses.
(And parents can take a much-needed break.)
A must-see for all kids is the Hansel & Grettel cottage and the secret garden.
Places to Avoid in Greenville
The west side of the city overall has the highest crime rates.
Pockets of high crime areas are also in Nicholtown on the east side and East Gantt on the south side.
We’re going to do a deeper dive into this in a little bit, but there has been a rash of car break-ins and car thefts in 2022 – a 100% increase in cart thefts, in fact.
Be sure you are diligently locking car doors, rolling up windows, and keeping all personal belongings out of sight.
Even spare change or a child’s toy can be enough of a lure for a thief.
Avoid going into the Reedy River, especially if you haven’t checked the water quality report.
While boating and kayaking are safe enough, swimming is generally frowned upon because of contaminants.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Greenville
- Sign up for CodeRED alerts through the Greenville County website. You’ll get instant notification about any severe weather event or any emergency situation.
- If you have any information about a non-urgent crime, call Crime Stoppers at (864)232-7463 (23-CRIME). The website for the program currently isn’t working, but I check to make sure the number is still valid. You can remain anonymous and also be eligible for a reward.
- Greenville Police Department officers can be found driving cars, riding bicycles, golf carts, and ATVs. Don’t worry if someone approaches you on one of those vehicles – it isn’t a fraudster. There are just a lot of places to patrol in the city that require unique rides.
- Be careful when you’re driving, especially on main roads, because people in Greenville have a habit of running yellow or even red lights. You should stop behind the white lines on the roadway when you are at an intersection so other drivers and trucks can safely get through. Never assume because you have the right of way or a green light that others will stop. Be aware of the traffic coming from the opposite direction before you go on green.
- When driving down Main Street, you might hear loud noises like revving engines or loud music. This noise ordinance violation has been happening for quite some time. People who violate the noise ordinance face a fine of more than $1000.
- When riding the free downtown trolley, you will need to pull the yellow cord above you to indicate you want to get off the trolley. You will only be allowed to exit at the next stop. The trolley won’t drop you off anywhere but at a designated stop. Passengers can’t just ride the trolley indefinitely. They are limited to one loop of the city per ride.
- Download the FindGreenLink app to track the trolley or buses throughout the city. You can also read announcements and alerts through the app, which could be route changes or time changes for trolley services.
- Review the different policing zones on the department’s website. You can see the boundaries of each zone and the certain policing challenges involved. One zone might have more car break-ins, while another could have gang activity. It’s just a great way to get information without having to deep-dive into data.
- Anglers over the age of 16 need a fishing license from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and that license must be in the anglers’ possession at all times.
- When visiting Falls Park downtown, don’t try to climb on the falls. The rocks are very slippery and you could get seriously hurt. You are also not allowed to feed the ducks or geese there. Also, don’t pick any of the flowers in the gardens.
So... How Safe Is Greenville Really?
Greenville has a growing violent crime rate, but it’s definitely not an “in your face” issue.
In fact, you might leave Greenville wondering what the heck I was talking about with the high crime rates.
The thing that makes this city a little unique in the U.S. is that crime rates are dropping.
“As we know nationwide, even statewide, violent crimes are up.
Luckily, here in the City of Greenville, we’ve had a downturn,” Greenville Police Chief Howie Thompson told WSPA.
“We have an 18 percent decrease over last year, that our violent crimes are down, and also our property crimes are down, and so the officers are out in the communities working hard with the communities.”
The police department is backing that statement with Project Safe Neighborhood, a community-policing safety initiative.
Remember how I mentioned Nicholtown above in the “Places to Avoid”?
The city did a deep dive into the crime problems there and found it’s a strong-knit community with one street and a certain group of people causing a disproportionate number of crimes.
The neighborhood isn’t rotten, but certain people there need to be held accountable.
A problem tourists should know about is the increase in car thefts and car break-ins.
These are happening near a lot of apartments, in parking lots, and near shopping centers.
Here are the spots where you should use extra caution when parking:
- Apartment complexes, especially around Haywood Mall
- Cleveland Park area
- Green Avenue area, which is west of Anderson Street near Greenville High School, south of Fluor Field.
If you can, avoid these areas, as this is where a lot of car thefts have been happening:
- Apartment complexes on Haywood Road
- Apartment complexes on Century Drive
- Century Circle
- Villa Road
- Verdae Boulevard
I wouldn’t be a good reporter on this topic if I didn’t tell you that the vast majority of the break-ins and thefts were due to people leaving cars unlocked.
Some even go as far as to leave the car unlocked with the keys inside.
I’m one of those people who lock my car while it’s in my garage so that I form the muscle memory of always locking my car.
Your risk of being a car theft or break-in victim is drastically lowered by simply locking it and taking your personal stuff out of it.
How Does Greenville Compare?
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- Visas - Those visiting from outside the U.S. will need a Visa or Visa Waiver. This process can take up to four months and requires an in-person interview which you should schedule as soon as possible. You'll need a passport and visa or waiver to get through Customs at your final destination airport.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar is used here, and it's best to exchange your currency before you leave home. You can also exchange at the airport or at a local bank.
- Weather - You'll want a variety of layers throughout the year as temperatures can fluctuate. Since there are a lot of outdoor spaces, bring comfortable walking shoes and don't forget the bug spray. The city averages about five inches of snow a year, so there's a small chance you'll get some winter-coat weather, but it's not a brisk winter here at all.
- Airports - Greenville-Spartanburg Regional Airport is 115 minutes from downtown Greenville. If you want to fly out of Atlanta or Charlotte, you'll spend about two hours driving to either one. Charlotte is a little bit faster to get to than ATL.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is going to protect every important aspect of your trip, so don't travel without it. The smaller airports like the one in Greenville can also deal with more delays to make way for larger flights in the bigger nearby cities.
Greenville Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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