New Hampshire : Safety by City
- Hampton Beach
- North Conway
- West Lebanon
Keene, New Hampshire, a charming town nestled in the heart of New England.
With its picturesque Main Street and vibrant community, Keene offers a little something for everyone—nature enthusiasts, history buffs, or foodies.
The natural beauty of Keene is simply breathtaking.
Surrounded by rolling hills, it’s a haven for outdoor activities.
Take a hike on Mount Monadnock, known for its stunning views.
Or explore the Ashuelot River Park, perfect for picnics and kayaking.
But it’s not just nature that makes Keene special.
The town is steeped in history, with its colonial-era buildings and the famous Keene State College.
One of the standout features of Keene is its vibrant arts scene.
The town is home to the Colonial Theatre, a historic venue that hosts a variety of performances, including concerts, plays, and film screenings.
There are also art galleries showcasing the works of local artists, with a walking mural tour that mixes art and history.
The annual Pumpkin Festival is known for breaking the world record of pumpkins and would be the single most trip-worthy thing to experience here if you’re visiting in the fall.
During any season, don’t miss a chance to taste the acclaimed pumpkin pie.
Keene is also a great basecamp for a trip to the mountains, ocean, or big cities of New England, with a two-hour driving getting you to any of the above.
You also get the benefit of sales tax-free shopping, which is a rarity in the United States.
Warnings & Dangers in Keene
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Keene has a low risk, with crime rates that have been going down for almost a decade. There are plenty of safe, family-friendly places to explore but can also be a great place for solo travelers and couples.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Keene officials are working on a public transportation plan, but the city isn't quite there yet. You'll need to rely on taxis or rideshares, but rental cars are the best option to explore. It's not the best walkable city visit.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Keene averages about one pickpocket or purse snatching per year, which is a low risk. About 20% of all thefts for the past five years have been related to car break-ins, so don't leave valuables in the car.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Keene can get the impacts of hurricanes, nor'easters, and major winter storms. Severe thunderstorms in the warm months can impact outdoor plans, but don't usually produce tornadoes. However, a tornado isn't unheard of so treat this area as a medium risk throughout the year.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Robberies are down almost 600% since 2013, with just four reported in 2021 and none of those was a mugging. There's a low risk, but always keep your guard up.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This is another low risk, with no hard targets nearby. It's still wise to check the terrorism bulletins from Homeland Security, as mass shootings and domestic terrorism can happen anywhere.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
A Cryptocurrency scam made headlines here in 2023, but there's nothing that should raise concern levels for a tourist. Always be wary of a deal that seems too good to be true.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
New Hampshire does seem to have a higher number of sexual assault cases than you'd expect from a "safe" state, but some research shows that victims are more likely to report the cases than in some other states. That said, Keene has consistently seen around 17 sexual assaults per year, which is higher than the national average. The risk is still lower, but it should prompt women to use extra safety steps in vulnerable situations, like getting a drink from a stranger at a bar or meeting someone in private.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance. More urgent issues, like hydrant flushing or water main breaks, would be posted on city websites and social media sites. Those won't show up in the annual report.
Safest Places to Visit in Keene
I’ve done enough travel safety writing in my career to know that is a city has a great tourism website, you’re more likely to enjoy your experience there.
There might be cities that just don’t have the funding for a tourism site, but Keene has a great one at ExploreKeene.org.
The Visit New Hampshire website also offers activities and places to see broken down into regions.
Keene is in the Monadnock Region, blue also close to the Merrimack Valley.
The Historical Society of Keene is near Keene State College, with three buildings to explore, including a tavern from 1762.
The Wall Dogs murals throughout downtown offer a glimpse into history through tremendous art work and guided tour.
You can see the murals on your own, but the tours help support the historical society.
Main Street in Keene is a designated historic district with unique shops and restaurants.
A Central Square gazebo adds to the charm.
Check the local schedule of events since many are held at this gazebo.
This region is filled with farm tours, from fresh produce to pork to dairy.
Archway Farm promises the “best bacon you’ve ever tasted,” and if that’s not enough to lure meat lovers, I’m not sure what will.
Otter Brooke Lake offers four seasons of adventures, from rafting to cross country skiing.
A public swimming beach is open in the summer, while winter brings ice anglers to the water.
Winter also means Granite Gorge Mountain Park is open for skiing and tubing.
It’s not the largest New Hampshire ski resort, but it does have some Black Diamond runs while offering ski lessons for neophytes.
About 30 minutes west, you can visit Pisgah State Park and nearby Madame Sherri Forest.
The forest holds history, including the ruins of Madam Sherri’s home, an eccentric woman who built a castle here and threw legendary parties in the 1920s.
Near the airport, you’ll find a Meditation Labyrinth designed by a local artist.
It’s a great place to just relax and take a moment to savor the moment.
Places to Avoid in Keene
You don’t have parts of town here that are too dangerous to visit, but it’s always wise to stay on the main roads instead of cutting through neighborhoods.
The location of hotels will limit your options with many near downtown and more on the southwest side of town near a suburban shopping area.
If you’re from a place where ice fishing isn’t possible, you should know ice safety before you ever step on the ice.
Warning signs should be posted if the ice is compromised, but the New Hampshire Department of Fish & Game website can tell you how to measure ice on your own and where the weight limits are per inch of ice.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Keene
- Keene does have its own police department. You can find them on Facebook under “Keene NH Police Department.” Specific questions can be emailed to KPDSocialMedia@keenenh.gov.
- Look for safety updates on Twitter @notifyKeene to get weather, flooding, water main, and other important information.
- The rivers in this area are prone to flooding during heavy rainfall, snow melt, and during ice jams. Never drive through a flooded road and always check weather forecasts before you go anywhere near the water.
- The city has a video tour of Keene, which some might find more helpful that reading travel guides. You’ll get a better sense of the community instead of a list of attractions.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the New Hampshire Department of Fish & Game. Be sure to get the non-resident option for freshwater, as there are no saltwater locations in Keene.
- New Hampshire sells a Hike Safe Card. For $50, you can purchase the card and get the benefit of not having to pay anything if you require being rescued. Otherwise, even a twisted ankle that requires rescue help could end up with you paying for the expenses. It does not cover egregious risks to safety.
- Always check park websites for updates and alerts. For example, the Madame Sherri Forest had part of the stairs collapse in 2021, and now the area is closed off. Don’t ever go past boundaries or warning signs.
- If you visit any Forest Society properties in the state, use the mobile app to get custom guides through the trail systems. You should always bring a paper map with you in case mobile service is limited.
- Use the Park Mobile app to find parking in downtown Keene. Several parking areas have different rates and time limits. If you’re visiting during the winter, check the city’s website for parking bans, which go into effect from November 1 through April 30 each year. That includes even when it’s not snowing.
- Use New England 511 to get updated travel information throughout New Hampshire (and any other New England states you plan to visit). You’ll get live traffic maps, construction zone information, winter weather conditions, and live traffic cameras.
So... How Safe Is Keene Really?
Keene usually ranks in the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in New Hampshire.
Don’t let that dissuade you.
New Hampshire is also the third safety state in the country.
Violent crime rates are less than half the national average.
All the crime trends in Keene are going in the right direction.
Violent crime is down 250% since 2013.
Between 2013 and 2021, robbery numbers were cut in half.
Theft rates are just a third of what they were in 2013, but still come in slightly above the national average.
Keene has seen some insane headlines, like a husband who allegedly forced his own wife to behead another man she was sending flirty text messages with.
Please keep in mind these issues are very rare and just get reported more because of the brutal nature of the crime.
The biggest issue here for tourists is just being aware that there’s more crime than the typical New Hampshire town, but it’s still nothing that common sense and situational awareness can’t overcome.
Winter weather can be brutal here, and you don’t want to get caught off guard.
Even in a worst case scenario, warning center open up during winter storms.
There’s always a safe place to go.
How Does Keene Compare?
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International visitors need to have a passport and a visa or visa waiver. The country of origin will determine if you are eligible for the visa waiver. You can start the process on the U.S. State Department website. Use the Visa Wizard module so you're getting started on the right path.
The U.S. Dollar is the only accepted currency here. Your home bank will offer the best value and lowest fees. If you wait until you get to the United States, try to find the currency exchange at the airport.
Bring a hoodie or jacket throughout the even, even in the summer. Temperatures can still dip into what most would consider "cold." Winter will require all the accessories you can pack. Wear comfortable clothing with shoes that are worn in. If you'll be hiking, you will definitely need hiking boots with ankle support and bug spray.
Keene has a public airport, but there aren't any commercial flights. Manchester's airport (MHT) is 40 miles away. Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston, Massachusetts, each a major airport 75 miles away. Albany, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island, are each at least 80 miles away.
Comprehensive travel insurance will protect everything from flight cancelations to additional hotel rooms in case of severe weather delays. Be sure you get a health insurance policy with that, as there's no free healthcare in America.
Keene Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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New Hampshire - Safety by City