New Hampshire : Safety by City
- Hampton Beach
- North Conway
- West Lebanon
Hanover, New Hampshire, borders Vermont and is home to the Ivy League Dartmouth College.
If you measure it just right, you can also be standing in two states on the Appalachian Trail (more commonly referred to as A.T.).
Hanover is one of a handful of cities where the trail meets Main Street, and this is about as welcoming of a community as a hiker can find.
Hanover is just north of Lebanon.
While they are two separate cities, they have a lot of shared experiences in a region known as the Upper Valley.
The town of Hanover itself is picturesque, with a charming main street lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Visitors can take a stroll along the riverfront or explore the historic buildings and landmarks scattered throughout the town.
Outdoor lovers just need to take a few steps to be at some amazing hiking trails, on the ski slopes, or walking the water’s edge.
The affluence of Dartmouth brings some amazing cultural experiences and performances, while the rugged outdoor opportunities keep it from becoming too pretentious.
Warnings & Dangers in Hanover
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here, with safe communities surrounding Hanover and plenty of family-friendly activities.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Advance Transit and the MOOver! are two free public transportation systems throughout the Upper Valley. Advance Transit gets you around the cities surrounding Hanover and the MOOver! will take you throughout southern Vermont.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Just four purse snatchings were reported over the past five years, making another low risk. In nearby Lebanon, four pickpockets and two purse snatchings were reported in the same time frame.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Hanover can get the remnants of a hurricane moving inland and nor'easters. Severe storms are possible during warmer months, but this isn't a place known for tornadoes. Those storms can still bring dangerous lightning for anyone outside, especially on the Appalachian Trail, where finding shelter isn't always easy. Winter brings the biggest risks, with some storms dropping snow by the foot instead of inches. Treat it as a medium risk and always stay weather aware.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
With an average of two or fewer robberies a year in both Lebanon and Hanover since 2018, the risk is low.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
International terrorism isn't a concern here. In 2022, there was a report of a mentally ill man who said he was going to "shoot up" a restaurant. Someone reported the suspicious activity, and the man was arrested with a ghost gun in his backpack. This is another great reminder to report anything that seems a little off to the police.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The Hanover Police Department has a website section called "Common Scams." Review this to learn the warning signs of scammers. Most scams here target residents, giving tourists a low risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This is another low risk, with nothing in the crime data or headline that suggests women are at more risk than men. You should still use standard safety precautions, especially if you'll be enjoying the nightlife of this college town. Stay with friends. Don't take drinks from strangers. Always stay in public places with people you've just met.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance. For more time-sensitive water issues, check the Water Department section of the city's website.
Safest Places to Visit in Hanover
The city websites for Hanover and Lebanon have visitors sections to review.
The Upper Valley Business Alliance includes more options, plus a robust list of annual events.
On the VisitNH.gov website, look for the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region.
More information on the AT can be found at Appalachiantrail.org.
Hanover has a system of “Trail Angels” and updated downtown designs meant to accommodate and assist hikers.
Some of the angels will offer free room and board while you rest up for the next leg.
Here’s a little secret if you aren’t looking for an Ivy League university to attend.
The admissions page for Dartmouth has information about self-guided tours using Google Maps or a downloadable tour guide.
The Hood Museum of Art was established in 1772 and is one of the oldest museums in the country.
An expansion in 2015 makes room for more than 65,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary, from cultures around the world.
Be sure to check the rules before you enter.
For example, you can wear a coat but can’t take it off and carry it around.
It must stay on your body to “protect the art.”
Downtown Hanover is built around Dartmouth, but this is far from your typical college party town.
The Connecticut River lines the eastern edge of the city.
Main Street, south of Wheelock Street, is where you’ll find the heart of the town.
Wheelock Street is also the part of the AT that goes through Hanover, as this is one of the few AT communities that includes major roads as part of the path.
If you aren’t up for jumping on a 2,200-mile-long challenging trail, consider the Hanover River Trail, which takes you to swimming holes and shoreline views.
You’ll see the Montshire Museum of Science across the river in Vermont, and it’s a wonderful indoor/outdoor experience with mind-boggling hands-on science exhibits and miles of trails to explore.
Storrs Pond Recreation Area is just a few miles northeast of Dartmouth, with a cross-country ski area in the winter.
This is not to be confused with the Storrs Hill Ski Area in Lebanon.
More skiing can be found at the Dartmouth Skiway, which is open to the public.
Lebanon has several historic sites, and you can take a ride on the Enfield Shaker Village Scenic Byway.
Be sure to visit the Packard Hill Covered Bridge in Lebanon for a great Instagram moment.
Places to Avoid in Hanover
There aren’t any bad parts of town or dangerous neighborhoods here, though you should still use caution whenever you’re walking around at night alone.
Stay in well-lit areas.
Hikers should review the list of amenities available because Hanover really accommodates your every need.
Avoid trying to find housing on campus, as that’s now allowed.
There are plenty of places to get a restful night’s sleep or just take a shower in a safe place if you’d like.
If you’re looking for the Suicide Six Ski Area, it’s now called the Saskadena Six Ski Area.
“Our resort team embraces the increasing awareness surrounding mental health and shares the growing concerns about the insensitive nature of the historical name,” the resort said in a post on its website last month.
“The feelings that the word ‘suicide’ evokes can have a significant impact on many in our community.”
The new name pays tribute to the Indigenous People of the Western Abenaki tribe.
Saskadena means “standing mountain.”
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hanover
- Lebanon and Hanover each have their own police department. They can be found on Twitter @hanoverpolice and @LebPolice. Dartmouth has a Department of Safety & Security. To get alerts from the university, follow @dartmouth.
- In a step that makes absolutely no sense to this travel safety writer, Hanover uses CodeRED emergency alerts, while nearby Lebanon uses CivicReady for notifications. Sign up for both of them, and DartAlerts is the system used on campus.
- In New Hampshire, you can legally be charged the cost of a search and rescue if you get lost or injured. To mitigate that potential risk, buy a Hike Safe Card from the Department of Fish & Game. Spending $25 on a pass is a lot better than paying potentially thousands to find you somewhere in the wilderness.
- While you’re on that website, buy a fishing license if you plan to take part in that activity. There is a reciprocity agreement between residents of Vermont and New Hampshire on the Connecticut River. However, non-residents can only be on the New Hampshire side. (If I could use a “shrug” emoji here, I certainly would.)
- ConnecticutRiver.us is the website you should use before considering a swim in the river. Use the White River Partnership to check conditions on that body of water. Most results are updated weekly during the summer.
- Keep your eyes on the road here. Hikers, bicyclists, and drivers share a lot of roadways. With the AT going through the center of town, there is no barrier between traffic and the trail.
- If you’re looking for some good old-fashioned New England ghosts, stop by the Hanover Inn. From the ghostly groups of an ill-fated fraternity party to the spirit of Dr. Seuss roaming the halls, there’s a lot of potential to be spooked or see a hallucination of the Cat in the Hat.
- You could see a real-life moose or bear in and around Hanover. Do not approach them or feed them. If they are being a nuisance, don’t call the police. It’s the responsibility of the New Hampshire Department of Fish & Game. Call them at (603) 271-3361.
- Metered and lot parking is available in Hanover. Some businesses will validate parking. From November 15 through April 30, no overnight street parking is allowed as part of the snow plow routes.
- New England 511 is the website and app to use to check road conditions and navigate. There will be parts of the state where mobile service is limited, so a paper map is always a great backup plan on the roads or trails.
So... How Safe Is Hanover Really?
Both Hanover and Lebanon are safe cities for residents and tourists.
On top of that, it’s the second-safest state in the country and borders the fourth-safest state.
Since 2017, Hanover hasn’t had more than 10 violent crimes, with 2021 having just two.
Theft rates are down more than 300% since 2012.
Over the past five years, bicycles were more likely to be stolen than a car being broken into.
Car break-ins or accessory thefts made up just 12% of all thefts in that same timeframe in both Hanover and Lebanon.
In Lebanon, violent crime is down 250% since 2013, and no more than 20 were reported in a single year since 2018.
One of the main crime crackdowns in Lebanon has been reckless driving, driving under the influence, or flagrant violations of traffic laws.
“We’ve seen a significant rise in the past months in motor vehicle accidents and received a bunch of road rage complaints, especially speeding up and down in this area (Route 12A in West Lebanon and Route 120 in Lebanon), people blowing red lights … hand gestures, things like that,” Lt. Alan Lowe of the Lebanon Police Department said.
You’ll still need to use all safety precautions you would in any new area. No town is safe enough to let personal safety slide, and no place in America is immune to gun violence.
Just about every mass shooting has someone saying, “I never thought it would happen here.”
Stay vigilant, prepare for the worst of New England weather, and have a great time safely enjoying this unique bi-state area.
How Does Hanover Compare?
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- Visas - Whether you're crossing at the Canadian border or flying into the country, you'll need a passport and visa or visa waiver. If you plan to visit Canada while you're here, Canada Border Services Agency's website has all the information you need.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. Purchases made in New Hampshire do not have a sales tax, but Vermont does charge 6%. If you're going to exchange currency, the lowest fees and best value come from your home bank.
- Weather - Winter visitors need to pack all the accessories for a cold, snowy area. Spring and fall can fluctuate, so bring layers. Summers will be warm, hot at times even, and you'll want comfortable clothing and well-worn hiking boots for the trails. Don't forget bug spray and sunscreen.
- Airports - Lebanon Municipal Airport is just 10 minutes away. It only offers commercial flights through Cape Air. Boston Logan International Airport is about two and a half hours away.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance for your flight and car rental makes sense, but if you will be exploring the mountains, consider adventure insurance too. If you don't have health care coverage here, supplemental health insurance is a good idea too.
Hanover Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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