Connecticut : Safety by City
- East Hartford
- New Haven
- New London
- Old Saybrook
- West Hartford
- Windsor Locks
New Haven, Connecticut is very much a good news/bad news type of town.
There is so much to explore, so many amazing restaurants, several centuries of history, and among the top cities for higher education thanks to Yale being here.
There’s also so much crime, so many homeless people, and so much traffic.
This was the first planned community in the country and it was designed around an area still known as “The Green.”
It’s a bigger city with more than 134,000 people but still has a college town vibe with six universities around the area.
You can start the day here atop a rocky mountain looking out at scenic views and be at the beach by the afternoon in the shadow of a lighthouse and wrap the day up with a fine dining experience and dancing the night away downtown.
You have to try the pizza here as it’s the stuff of legends and you can get into yet another discussion if the hamburger was REALLY invented here at Louis’ Lunch Cafe, open since 1895.
There’s so much history wrapped up in this community, but it’s also a town that hasn’t really cleaned up after itself in some regions.
It was once rated one of the most dangerous cities in the country and it is taking steps to fix the crime problems, but progress is coming slowly.
Warnings & Dangers in New Haven
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here. The one thing about New Haven is that it's just so hit or miss. One minute you're admiring the colonial architecture and the next you're feeling uncomfortable at a stoplight in a blighted neighborhood. The essence of upper-class Yale University doesn't match the surrounding community where the average income is $44,000.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
This is a transportation hub, so you have many options for getting around the city, state, and region. The Metro-North line will also take you into New York City. Visit the city's website for the list of transportation options, as it's far too long to list here. You can get a taxi or rideshare, and some locals suggest it since parking and driving can be nightmares. If you're comfortable with public transportation, you'll have an easier time with it. It's a medium risk at the bus stops or train station if you aren't paying attention to people around you. Keep a sharp eye on those near you and make sure your belongings are secured.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk of being pickpocketed. 40 pickpockets were reported in 2020, but the unfortunate part is - based on crime numbers - there's a better chance some is going to rob you than try to sneak a wallet out of a pocket. You just have to be on your toes here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Hurricanes, snowstorms, and extreme cold are the main things to worry about. There's a low risk of getting trapped or injured since those come with plenty of warning before any extreme weather hits.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk and the majority of robberies are highway robberies, which means they take place in public. That doesn't mean they were all tourist-related, as it could also be drug robberies or gang issues, but there is a greater risk for tourists.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk since this is in a highly-populated area and close to New York City. New Haven probably wouldn't be a hard target, but it's close enough to other hard targets that it's worth noting.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
The New Haven Police have a slew of scams listed on its website, but they are all targeted at locals by phone or email. Some people even had door-to-door scammers. Elderly people were also more likely to be scammed. Since there are so many potential scams here, we're giving it a medium risk. Just remember to never trust anyone who's fast-talking and offering money quickly if you just "help" them.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women should proceed with caution as there's medium risk. Especially if you don't know the layout of the city, you shouldn't be wandering around any part of town you haven't researched. Do not walk around this city at night alone. Get rideshare if you are leaving a bar late at night. If you are visiting or staying at Yale, that is a safer part of town and there is less crime there.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water here is safe to drink and passes all required tests at the state and federal levels. There's low risk with using it and remember when it's below freezing outside to keep a drip in a faucet to keep the pipes from freezing.
Safest Places to Visit in New Haven
If you’re visiting during the warmer months, you must see Lighthouse Point Park.
It’s the most popular beach area in town and features a lighthouse you can tour nearby and a carnival setting with a carousel built-in 1905 that still offers rides.
On the other side of town, you should enjoy a hike at West Rock Ridge State Park.
On a clear day at the top of the ridge, you can see 200 miles around.
You can also fish and kayak here.
You have to visit “The Green” downtown as it’s the hub of the area and also a Historic District.
It’s a 16-acre park that was included in the original design of the city in the early 1600s.
This is a great spot to enjoy lunch, attend a festival, or just enjoy the people watching.
It’s also right across the street from Yale, which is worth walking around just to see the architecture.
Visting Long Wharf Pier is a great idea too, and seasonally you can take a boat ride on a replica of the boat “Amistad.”
It’s also a great place just to get some seascape views of the Long Island Sound.
Places to Avoid in New Haven
It’s hard to tell you places to avoid because crime maps show it’s very hit or miss and spread throughout the city, with 10 blocks being low crime areas and then three sides being high crime areas.
Within minutes, you can drive from a perfectly safe space to one where you shouldn’t even get out of your car.
The New Haven Police Department has a map of the different districts.
There are 10 of them.
The most dangerous ones, according to 2021 data, are:
- District 4
- District 7
- District 8
District 1, which is the downtown area, is one of the lower violent crime rate areas, but there are a good number of thefts happening there.
Safety Tips for Traveling to New Haven
- Get familiar with those districts mentioned above on the police department website and also look at the “CompStat” reports that come out monthly. You’ll get a better idea of crime in the area where you’ll be staying closer to the time of your visit.
- You can get New Haven alerts by signing up through the city of New Haven’s website. You will need an address, but just use the place where you’re staying at the local address. You can get weather and criminal emergency information during your visit.
- Parking can be an absolute nightmare in New Haven. There is a website, parknewhaven.com, that lists all the available parking places, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be getting a space in any of the garages or lots due to the traffic. It might be more efficient to take a rideshare to your destination.
- There are an estimated 5000 homeless people in New Haven and they are spread throughout the city. Despite efforts to get people back on their feet, it’s not enough to help the ones that are out there and some don’t want help as they might be suffering from an addiction of some sort. Do not give homeless people money and avoid any groups of homeless people you come across.
- The Lighthouse Point Beach is open from April 1 through November 1 and parking for non-residents is $30. The carousel is just 50 cents to ride, so at least something here doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
- For those who want to fish while visiting New Haven, you’ll need a fishing license through the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Be sure to get a non-resident license, as they do verify residency for the less expensive one, and you’ll also most likely want the “all waters” pass so you can fish in fresh or saltwater.
- One bonus of West Rock Ridge State Park is that there is no parking charge for anyone. Generally, parks in the state are free for locals, while tourists have to pay a fee. This is another safe and cheap attraction.
- There is rock climbing available in some parts of West Rock Ridge State Park, but check with the ranger when you get there. A falcon nesting season can make the birds aggressive to rock climbers and even people watching from below should wear helmets because of the crumbling rocks of this vertical climb 300 feet up. Nobody wants to be the person who got a concussion just WATCHING others rock climb, right?
- Since New Haven is so hit or miss, you want to make sure you keep the windows rolled up when driving around. I’ve read reports of homeless people screaming at cars stopped at a stoplight, or suspicious people in cars next to people at the light taking drugs or brandishing weapons. Have a good GPS, because if you look at the layout of the city you can’t just “take the next right” if you miss your turn. The next right might actually head northeast instead of east.
- There are some restaurants and food trucks in New Haven that are “cash only.” That struck me as odd, but I called to confirm. One place that is very popular for breakfast called “The Pantry” is cash only. The smaller a restaurant and the older it is, the more likely it’s cash only. You should ask the concierge at your hotel and only bring as much cash as you’ll need for the meal. This is definitely not a place to walk around with a wallet full of cash.
So... How Safe Is New Haven Really?
It’s a medium-sized town with big city problems.
The crime once ranked New Haven as one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
That was about a decade ago, but the crime is still there.
So many assumptions about Connecticut are shattered in New Haven.
You think it’s rich?
The average person here makes $44,000 a year and 25% of people live in poverty.
Do you think because Yale is here, the city is prestigious?
Only the part around Yale is.
There are some amazing places to see here, great nightlife, and fun activities with a young, hip crowd.
There is also an underbelly of violent crimes, drug problems, homelessness, and gang activity.
It’s really worth it to find those CompStat reports on the police department website that details district by district.
The city is one of few that I’ve seen that released the 2021 crime statistics already.
Here’s how the major categories break down:
- Violent Crime: 769 (1 in 74 chances of being a victim)
- Homicides: 25
- Theft: 2951 (1 in 45 chances)
- Robbery: 242 (1 in 553 chances)
The police department is taking steps to get a handle on crime by installing crime security cameras all over town, but it’s a project that will take a couple of years to happen.
There are some cameras already installed.
You are not in imminent danger here.
You should not avoid visiting here.
You just need to study the area using the easy-to-find information about the crime to make the best hotel choices possible and be aware that big city crime happens here and the good parts of town and bad parts of town can just be a few blocks away from each other.
How Does New Haven Compare?
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- Visas - You will get your Visa approved at customs when you arrive at the airport or port of entry. You don't need more processing in New Haven.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. You should avoid carrying large amounts of cash and, if you can, make all purchases through your mobile phone, then secure the phone in a pocket when walking around.
- Weather - You'll be dealing with a lot of snow, wind, and bitterly cold temperatures in the winter. Waterproof boots are a must and bring as many layers as you can of warm clothing. Summer is warm during the day and the sun is strong enough to give you a sunburn, but you'll likely need a jacket and jeans at night in the cooler temperatures.
- Airports - Tweed-New Haven Airport is just five miles southeast of the center of town, right on the water, making for a beautiful take-off and landing. If you need to fly out of the New York metro area, plan at least 2-3 hours for the train ride and another 1-2 hours for getting to the airport and checking in.
- Travel Insurance - You will want travel insurance for your airfare and rental car here since the weather can cause delays and drivers are unpredictable here. I-95 is the main way to get into New Haven and it's one of the most dreaded commutes in the nation due to aggressive drivers.
New Haven Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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