Is Jonesborough Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On May 10, 2024
Jonesborough, United States
Safety Index:
78
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Tennessee’s oldest town is found in the Tri-Cities region in Jonesborough.

Just outside Johnson City, this charming community is like stepping back to the past.

Originally founded as a stop on the Great Indian Warpath, Jonesborough quickly flourished into a bustling frontier town, serving as the capital of the short-lived State of Franklin in the late 18th century.

Its significance in American history is further underscored by its role as a pivotal site during the Civil War, witnessing both Union and Confederate occupations.

TIP: When visiting eastern Tennessee, it will help to know the history of the State of Franklin and its short-lived status.

Today, Jonesborough wears its history with pride, evident in its quaint downtown area lined with historic buildings housing shops, galleries, and eateries.

The town’s Main Street, adorned with brick sidewalks and vintage lampposts, invites leisurely strolls, offering glimpses into its storied past at every turn.

Jonesborough is known as the “Storytelling Capital of the World” primarily due to its long-standing tradition of hosting the National Storytelling Festival.

This annual event, which began in 1973, has played a significant role in solidifying Jonesborough’s reputation as a center for sensational stories.

It’s a small town, but it seems the secret is out.

The population has grown 16% in the past decades and took another 5% growth between 2020 and 2022.

You’ll also be pleasantly surprised to find out how safe it is to visit while still offering numerous things to do.

Nearby, explore the Tri-Cities of Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol or head from the foothills to the Appalachian Mountains.

Warnings & Dangers in Jonesborough

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low risk in Jonesborough. There is a lot to do in this small town. You could definitely spend a long weekend exploring this area, but a day trip would suffice, too.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Nearby Johnson City does have a transit system, but I can't find a route that takes you to Jonesborough. A taxi or rideshare wouldn't cost too much, since the two are just eight miles apart. However, a rental car offers the most flexibility. All options are at a low risk.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

Going back through a decade of crime data, only three pickpockets have been reported. In addition, none of those has happened in the past five years. The risk is low, but use standard precautions in any tourist town.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

You get a mix of weather risks throughout the year, from severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes to flash flooding to excessive heat or cold. All the potential issues come with plenty of advance notice if you're keeping an eye on the weather.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Only one robbery has been reported each year for at least the past five years. That's a low risk.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

Here's another low-risk. Jonesborough is a small town in a more rural part of Tennessee. However, we always ask visitors to report any suspicious activity. Even if something just feels off, it's better to report it and be wrong than not report it and be right.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

Phone scams are the biggest problem here, mostly running the gamut of traditional intimidation tactics. These scams usually impact locals, but it's another reason to avoid giving any website during your research access to your phone number. The risk is low, but keep it that way by being informed of the trending scams.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women face a low risk, and this is a great place for women of all ages and even solo travelers. Mothers will love the number of things to do to wear the kids out, and grandparents will enjoy the easy walking nature of this city.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2022 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance with all requirements of the Safe Water Drinking Act. If there is an issue, like a water main break, the city will post that information online, and your hotel will issue notices.

Safest Places to Visit in Jonesborough

The tourism website for this city is easy enough – jonesborough.com.

Don’t use “Jonesboro,” as you’ll likely end up researching Arkansas.

A free travel guide is available to download without requiring personal information like an email address or phone number – always a plus in my book!

Given that it’s the first city in Tennessee, there’s a lot of history to explore.

The Storytelling Festival happens the first Friday of October each year, but there’s still a lot to see outside that event.

Plus, the local Storytelling Guild hosts events on Tuesdays.

Live music fills the town square on Fridays from May through September.

Start your exploration with a stroll through the charming streets of the Jonesborough Historic District.

This area is filled with beautifully preserved buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, offering a glimpse into the town’s past.

Dive deeper into the topic at the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum.

It features artifacts, photographs, and documents from the town’s early settlers, Civil War involvement, and cultural heritage.

Step inside the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum, a hotel that has been welcoming guests since 1797.

Now converted into a museum, it showcases exhibits detailing the inn’s history and its significance in Jonesborough’s development.

If you’d like to stay in a historic inn, check out the Eureka Inn, which dates back to 1797.

Several other bed and breakfast locations offer more unique experiences than traditional chain hotels.

Kids might enjoy the Oak Hill School, built in 1886 and preserved to look exactly the same as it did then.

See if you can schedule an Oak Hill School Heritage Education Program during your visit for an expanded experience.

Pay your respects to Jonesborough’s early residents at the Old Jonesborough Cemetery, where gravestones dating back to the 1700s mark the final resting place of pioneers, soldiers, and prominent citizens.

Guided tours are available.

Places to Avoid in Jonesborough

Jonesborough is one of those cities where it’s not big enough to have a bad part of town.

Lucky for you, there isn’t a bad part of town here.

It’s a small town with friendly people.

Of course, you still want to respect private property and stay on main roads and highways when driving around.

I don’t want to tell you to avoid the mountains but avoid being naive about them.

Rain in the foothills could mean snowy conditions up top, and roads can go from easy to navigate to treacherous quickly.

Storms can also quickly develop in the mountains.

Don’t hike further than you can safely get back if a forecasted storm approaches.

Finally, Appalachian is a word that is often mispronounced, even though there are two ways to say it.

In this part of the country (the South), it’s “App-uh-LATCH-in,” not “App-uh-LAY-shin.”

Saying it wrong makes you stand out as a tourist.

However, if you’re traveling to New England, it’s the other way around.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Jonesborough

  1. Jonesborough has a local police department. You can follow them on Facebook @jonesboroughdps. Feel free to email police@jonesboroughtn.org or call (423) 753-1053 if you want to ask specific safety questions.
  2. I’m always surprised when a city in a severe weather destination doesn’t have an emergency alert system. Luckily, Washington County does. Sign up for emergency alerts through the Civic Ready program. You can find a link on the county’s website. Since Washington County is a common name in the U.S., that website is washingtoncountytn.org.
  3. I’m in a mood today, trying to find the best information. I never understand why the police will detail how to pay for a parking ticket, but yet don’t provide the proper parking information to avoid getting a ticket. Luckily, I dug through the city’s website to find the “Parking Lots” section that shows free parking locations. Be sure you adhere to any time limits in a parking area. Usually, lots will have longer allotments than street parking.
  4. Anglers need a fishing license from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. One of the easiest ways to do that is by visiting the Go Outdoors TN website or app. You can buy a license there and learn about the rules and requirements for other activities, like hunting and boating.
  5. Download the Tennessee State Parks apps so that you can find the ones closest to you, download maps, or reserve campsites. Entrance is free to all parks, but additional activities like camping or reserving a picnic area will have a cost.
  6. Use the 511 TN website or app to track road conditions before you head out anywhere. You can see live cameras, real-time traffic, and construction zones along the way. If you create an account, the app allows you to set preferred routes and get alerts about problems along the way.
  7. Jonesborough is in the Eastern Time Zone, but not all of Tennessee is. The time zone boundary is just west of Knoxville, near I-40 and Rockwood Airport Road. That means Jonesborough is one hour ahead of middle and western TN. Knoxville and Chattanooga are in Eastern Time. Nashville is Central Time.
  8. For first-time visitors, it can be challenging to find the right Tri-Cities location to stay in or visit. However, each location has its own personality. There’s an active subreddit filled with great advice from locals. (FWIW – Jonesborough gets the “laid back and historic” label, a place “your grandparents would love to take you.”)
  9. If your trip includes visiting national parks and national forests in this region, consider purchasing the interagency pass for $80. That covers entrance to more than 2,000 public lands for a full year and can easily pay for itself if you’re visiting several places.
  10. This one made me laugh – if you were thinking of bringing a rooster to Jonesborough – don’t. Hens are allowed, but not roosters. I guess it was enough of a problem they needed to create a law about it!

So... How Safe Is Jonesborough Really?

Violent crime has been down 75% since 2020.

However, in a small town like this, that means the number of violent crimes went from 20 to five.

The rate is 87% lower than the state average and 80% lower than the national average.

Let me give an example of how skewed numbers can be when dealing with a small town vs the number of crimes that have to be figured out as “per 100,000.”

In 2020, the city saw 20 violent crimes, marking the highest number of the past decade.

The rate then was just 13% lower than the national average.

In any event, the city has been and still is a safe place when it comes to violence.

The only thing I don’t like about that crime rate is that over the past five years, 32% of violent crimes were against strangers.

Most small towns have that number at 15% or below.

Keep in mind, a stranger doesn’t necessarily mean a tourist – it could be the result of charges stemming from a drug deal that turned violent.

Car thefts have spiked over the past decade, going from one or two a year to 13 in 2022.

Still, that waters down to a little more than one a month.

Overall, theft is 19% lower than the national average.

The raw data rounds out to about six thefts a month.

Less than one a month is related to a car break-in.

Most thefts fall into the “other” category, which could mean stolen items from a farm or yard.

While Jonesborough doesn’t see a lot of crime, the crimes that do happen can be outrageous.

For example, a simple news search shows a woman accused of padlocking a child inside a home, a man who assaulted an elderly man, and enough reports of child sex abuse that I stopped counting.

You can feel safe visiting Jonesborough and likely won’t even notice the crime that does happen, but you never want to let your guard down.

Common sense and situational awareness go a long way in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

How Does Jonesborough Compare?

CitySafety Index
Jonesborough78
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Boston67
Washington DC56
New York City67
Detroit56
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37
La Paz (Bolivia)52

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International visitors need a visa or a visa waiver to enter the country. The visa waiver has specific guidelines and requirements, but if you meet all those, it's a far easier process than the visa route. Make sure your passport doesn't expire for at least six months from the last day of your trip.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only accepted currency here. Those using an international airport will likely have access to foreign currency exchange, but not at regional airports. You'd be surprised to find how much lower the rates and fees are using your home bank.

Weather

Weather

Nothing stands out as an important marker of the weather here, as temperatures follow the seasons. Winter lows will drop below freezing, but days can be pretty nice in the 50s (F). Plan for colder weather if you're heading into the mountains. Bring bug spray, hiking boots, comfortable walking shoes, and clothing that can handle excessive sweating - it's humid here!

Airports

Airports

The Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) is just 17 miles away, but that's a small airport. You might want to consider driving to Knoxville (2 hours) or Asheville (1.5 hours). In fact, read our article about Asheville - you might want to add that to your trip. It's an up-and-coming city.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance is a smart investment to protect against theft, weather delays, or cancelations. Be sure you have coverage for healthcare in the event of an emergency.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Jonesborough Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 2° C
Feb 5° C
Mar 8° C
Apr 13° C
May 18° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 14° C
Nov 8° C
Dec 4° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
81115202429303027211510
Low
°C
-4-216111517171471-2
High
°F
465259687584868681705950
Low
°F
252834435259636357453428

Tennessee - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Bell Buckle79
Chattanooga69
Clarksville72
Cordova62
Dyersburg62
Franklin75
Gatlinburg82
Germantown70
Hendersonville79
Johnson City68
Jonesborough78
Kingsport52
Knoxville57
Lawrenceburg77
Memphis54
Murfreesboro78
Nashville58
Pigeon Forge78
Pulaski79
Rogersville76
Sevierville73
Wears Valley78

Where to Next?

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