Maryland : Safety by City
- Ellicott City
- Germantown & Gaithersburg
- Ocean City
- Silver Spring
Hagerstown, Maryland, is largely known for its Civil War sites and the beauty of the nearby Appalachian Mountains.
The city is just south of the Mason-Dixon Line, which separated the Union from the Confederacy during the Civil War, but there are historical sites dating back to the 1700s.
Reenactments are held in the city and throughout Washington County.
This region is referred to as “where hip meets history” by the tourism bureaus and offers something for everyone, whether it’s a historical tour, a weekend in the mountains, or a night out on the town.
The beauty of this natural area can be enjoyed through many scenic drives, and the fall foliage is breathtaking.
Washington County has five national parks and eight state parks, with small towns scattered across the countryside to explore.
Wineries and breweries celebrate the region’s agricultural economy.
Hagerstown is the largest city in this region, with 43,000 residents.
It’s a little bit country, a little bit cultural, and a lot of fun.
Warnings & Dangers in Hagerstown
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Hagerstown has a low risk, especially compared to some other cities in Maryland, like Baltimore. While the violent crime rate is above the national average, it's also not surging, as seen in many other cities across America. Plus, there's a lot to do in this area which will keep you busy and safe.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There isn't a public transportation system here, but taxis and rideshares are available. We strongly recommend having your own rental car to explore the entire region on your own schedule. Charter shuttles and buses are available to rent.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
27 pickpockets or purse snatchings were reported in 2021, which is a little more than we usually see in a city this size but certainly not an overwhelming risk. Use basic safety precautions and avoid putting your wallet in your back pants/jeans pocket. Use the front pocket or an inside jacket pocket. Don't carry a large purse here and bring only what you need.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The Washington County Emergency Management Department says you should be prepared for floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter weather, and extreme heat/cold. There's a full planning page to help you be prepared, and you can even take an emergency prep quiz to see how much you know and where you need more education.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Hagerstown saw 90 robberies in 2021, and half of those were on public streets or sidewalks, so use extra caution, especially when out at night. Several reports of senior citizen robberies should prompt elderly travelers to study personal safety standards.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here as it's a smaller city surrounded by mountains and even smaller cities. The only potential target would be the presidential retreat of Camp David on Catoctin Mountain, about 30 miles east.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The most recent scams involve scammers using the real names of police officers and calling people demanding money or risk arrest. While there aren't tourist-focused scams, you should always be on guard and report any suspicious activity to the local police. You can review the Scams & Fraud section of the city website to learn about more common scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Statistically, women are slightly less likely to be the victim of a violent crime. While the sexual assault rate is 40% higher than the national average, just 20% of violent crimes happen against strangers. You still need to use smart personal safety steps against potential thieves or attackers and never walk around an unknown city at night.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality report shows no violations and full compliance with all requirements. If you have questions about water quality closer to your visit, call the water division at (301)739-8577 Ext.680.
Safest Places to Visit in Hagerstown
VisitHagerstown.com and VisitMaryland.com are two official tourism websites for this city, county, and state.
Since many people come to Hagerstown to explore the nearby community, it’s a good idea to research both websites and plot your course.
Visit the virtual visitor’s center on the Hagerstown tourism website for post-pandemic answers to the most frequently asked questions.
African American Heritage can be explored throughout Washington County with 18 stops along the way, including the place where Willie Mays first played professional baseball.
Start at the Doleman Black Heritage Museum for an overview of the history and a map of all the locations.
The Antietam National Battlefield brings history buffs out in droves to see the “Bloodiest One Day Battle in American History” site.
This battle led to the Emancipation Proclamation from President Lincoln.
Download the National Park Service app to learn all the basic visitor information and connect with other national parks in this region.
Even if you can’t.
The City Park Train Hub in Hagerstown celebrates the rich history of the railroad industry.
Hundreds of artifacts and several trains showcase the advent of the railroad business and innovative advances that happened throughout the years.
The museum is closed for part of the winter, but you can schedule a private tour with enough advance notice.
The Jonathan Hager House Museum is a tour back in time to the city’s founding father.
This 1739 house was built over two springs, making it an even more unique treat for tourists.
It’s open to the public from April through October, but private tours can be scheduled in the off-season.
First Hagerstown Hose Company is a museum dedicated to the craft of firefighting dating back to the early 19th century.
Firetrucks from 1923 are on display, and you can learn about how fires were fought before hydrants were installed.
If you’re up for a road trip, check out one of the scenic drives:
- The Antietam Campaign Scenic Byway
- The C&O Canal Scenic Byway
- The Maryland Historic National Road Scenic Byway
Nearby small towns worth exploring include:
- Boonsboro: Hometown of famous author Nora Roberts and abundant things to see and do.
- Funkstown: Antique lovers dream and host of Olde Tyme Christmas during the holidays.
- Smithburg: Fruity farms with U-Pick-Em days and Red Heifer Winery are popular places in this agricultural area.
Places to Avoid in Hagerstown
There aren’t dangerous or sketchy parts of the city, but it’s also a working-class town with a nearly 26% poverty rate.
While you can take scenic views and visit historic homes, this isn’t a city where driving around the neighborhoods (Am I the only one who likes to do that?) will give you a glimpse at history.
It might even bum you out.
Hagerstown has a skate park in Fairgrounds Park, a Tony Hawk-endorsed layout.
This is a popular place for the local youth but has also seen notable disturbances in 2022.
Several times, the park was even closed down because of the disruption.
One report claimed that 10-year-olds were being offered marijuana.
The city council and law enforcement are addressing the issues, but you might want to avoid that area just in the name of safety.
You’ll want to avoid the scenic drives without ensuring you have emergency supplies and safety gear for the ride, which vary from season to season.
Check with Maryland 511 before you go on a road trip to look for road closures, construction projects, and traffic accidents.
Many places here are open seasonally, and the city can be pretty quiet from February through April.
Some attractions do allow tours that are scheduled in advance.
I’ve also noticed a trend across Maryland that some tourist attractions are closed for renovations.
It looks like the owners of many places used the closures during the pandemic to revitalize and restore properties, so always check to see if an attraction is open.
I’ve only listed open attractions above, but that can change.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hagerstown
- Look at the Crime Statistics section of the Hagerstown Police Department website to be connected to an interactive crime map. Here you can choose a date range and types of crime you wish to search for to get updated crime information. This is a great way to see crime trends closer to your visit, as official crime data is only released once per year and for the previous year.
- Hagerstown has speed cameras that could earn you a speeding ticket without being pulled over. Stick to the speed limit, especially around schools. Red light cameras are also at the most dangerous intersections, and tickets are also mailed up to 30 days after the violation. You won’t know your got a ticket until 15-30 days afterward, and yes, they can track down rental car drivers.
- If you have information or suspicion about a non-urgent crime, you can submit an anonymous tip to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. You can get yours online or at a local sporting goods store. Be sure to get the non-resident license and carry it with you at all times.
- For those going hiking or camping, bring a battery-powered weather radio with you and stop by the emergency management office to get it properly programmed. Mobile phone service is spotty in this region outside the cities. It’s also wise to put your phone in airplane mode while hiking, so you don’t drain the battery searching for a signal.
- If you are visiting a park and see any looting, vandalism, drug labs, poaching, call the National Park Service hotline at 1-866-677-6677.
- Stinging nettle plants are found throughout the wilderness areas in western Maryland. Study online to see what they look like, so you know how to avoid them. If your skin comes in contact with a stinging nettle, it can provoke a rash or hives. Severe reactions can lead to difficulty breathing or nausea. You will feel the sting when you touch it, followed by the itchy skin area. Stay on the designated trails, and you’ll greatly reduce your risk.
- Before heading to any of the parks, check the Alert Center on the park website to see if there are any closures or delays. Holiday weekends can also lead to parks filling up and entrances closing. Start your park adventure early in the morning to get a good parking spot and smaller crowds.
- If you need customized help planning your trip, the tourism bureau offers travel specialists to help you pick out the perfect activities. You can also ask safety questions and get guidance from a local. That number is (301)791-3246. If you prefer to watch videos instead of reading articles, the tourism bureau has a YouTube channel with some great insight into local restaurants and attractions.
- The scenic byways are designed with regular stops along the way or places to pull over for historical markers or scenic vistas. Use these to stop and take pictures or rest. Don’t try to pull over on the side of the road on your own or take a photo while driving. I am a huge fan of road trips, and one thing I share with my fellow travelers is to try to plan the day so you’re never driving into the sunrise or sunset. The bright sun can be distracting and dangerous.
So... How Safe Is Hagerstown Really?
The crime rates in Hagerstown were down year-to-year and over the past five years in 2021, but the violent crime average is still much higher than the national average.
While the police celebrated the decrease in crime during the State of the City 2022 address, it doesn’t mean there’s a low risk in this city.
It’s much safer than it was in 2014, but work is still needed.
The positive side for visitors is that only 20% of violent crimes happen against strangers, leaving most crimes to be domestic in nature or among people who know each other.
47% of all thefts were related to car break-ins, so don’t leave your car unlocked or keep any personal items inside.
One statistic that jumped out at me was that 1/3 of all violent crimes happen on public streets or sidewalks.
That means you might see a crime happen even if you aren’t the victim.
It’s imperative you call the local police when you see something, even if you don’t want to leave your name.
“We know crime was an issue here.
We all felt it.
We all saw the statistics.
We all saw the homicides that were happening, robberies, and things that were scary, right?
But we took it very, very seriously.
We will continue to take it very seriously,” Mayor Emily Keller said during the state of the city address.
How Does Hagerstown Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. State Department-issued visa or visa waiver to get into the country. You'll go through Customs at the airport, where Border Patrol and Homeland Security will ask you questions. Getting a visa can take several months, so you don't want to start the application process too late.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar currency here. You'll need some cash and coins for parking meters and a few businesses here. Exchange currency at the airport and don't use public ATMs, especially at night.
- Weather - You'll want comfortable outdoor clothing here that can get wet or dirty without doing any damage. This is a casual town with jeans-and-T-shirt vibes, but you'll need winter weather accessories from November through March. Summers will be humid, so bring a few extra pieces of clothing in case you sweat through your outfit. You'll need worn-in hiking boots, sunscreen, and bug spray with DEET, as mosquitos are common in warmer months.
- Airports - If you want to travel through Orlando, Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you can use the Hagerstown Regional Airport, served by Allegiant Air. You are just 90 minutes by car from the airports in Baltimore or Washington, D.C., which offer more direct flight options.
- Travel Insurance - Basic travel insurance should be part of your budget planning since it offers so much peace of mind and protection against delays and cancelations. If you're going hiking, camping, or RVing, you might also want to consider insurance for those activities.
Hagerstown Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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