Connecticut : Safety by City
- East Hartford
- New Haven
- New London
- Old Saybrook
- West Hartford
- Windsor Locks
New London, Connecticut is everything to love about the state without the higher prices of more touristy communities.
This former whaling community is home to one of the deepest ports in New England.
This is the headquarters for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and several museums are celebrating the sea business and military protection valued in this seaport town.
You can also soak in the sun seaside at Ocean Beach or cool off at the waterslide or by taking a dip in the Long Island Sound.
The Thames River lines the east side of the city and you can see Groton across the water.
Take a ferry tour to a lighthouse, Long Island, and lots of other possibilities that await.
You’ve got a lot of history to see here too.
This town was built from the riches of the whaling business, so the architecture is exquisite.
When you walk down Broad Street, you’re on the same path Benedict Arnold took as he led forces to burn down New London (what a jerk, eh?).
As much as there’s a walk back in time, you can also look to the future here as General Dynamics Electric Boat company is headquartered here and continues to build the most high-tech submarines in the world.
If that whets your appetite for more, the Naval Submarine Base New London is just across the water in Groton (No, I don’t know why.)
While New London isn’t the most decadent seaside city in Connecticut, it sure checks all the boxes of cool things to do in a more affordable range.
Warnings & Dangers in New London
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, but you'll find articles stating this city is among the top 60 Most Dangerous Cities. Let me explain why. The city is small, with just 27,000 people. That's going to allow any crime category to be skewed closer to safety or danger depending on which way the crime numbers work out. Is it more dangerous than the average Connecticut city? Yes. Should you avoid going there? No.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You have options by land and sea here. Busses from the Southeast Area Transit (SEAT) and the Estuary Transit District are available. Railway travel is provided by Amtrack and regional company Acela Express. There are also Shoreline Express trains. You can also get a ferry ride to Long Island or Block Island. Taxis and rideshares are options as well. All are low risks.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were just three pickpockets in 2020. One of those was actually a purse snatching and the thief got away with $1100. We can't say it enough - don't bring that much money or keep valuables in a purse. Leave the name-brand bag at home and use a less expensive one for your vacation. There's a low risk, but there's still a chance.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
You've got to worry about hurricanes here, but it's not as big of a risk as the southern states have and you'd get plenty of notice. Winters are cold and snowy, but that's just part of life in Connecticut. There's low risk because almost every weather event comes with plenty of notice to get out or stay away.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Almost half of the robbery crimes were highway robberies. That means they happened in a public place. While there are just 10 public robberies, it's still a little too high of a percentage to give it anything but a medium risk. You do have to be on guard here.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here as a lot of military installations are nearby. Taking out submarines and ships and hitting a deep port could be a terrorist's dream come true. New London is also close to larger cities like New York. As with any elevated risk, you can bet Homeland Security is watching this area like a hawk.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
You need to worry about rental scams here since it's such a popular place in the summer. Three warning signs are; the deal is incredibly discounted, the landlord can't show proof of a leasing license, and they ask you to wire money to "secure" your rental. The safest way to book here is to contact a local rental company and have them find the perfect home for your trip. Other than that, there's a low risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Walking around during the day should be safe enough, but I wouldn't walk around here at night alone or with a friend. There are some dangerous neighborhoods too, so make sure you know exactly where you are going and stay on the main roads to get there at night. It's a low risk but proceed with caution.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
After reviewing the 2020 Annual Water Report, I can tell you there were no reported violations and New London Utilities is proud to tell you the water meets or exceeds all required standards.
Safest Places to Visit in New London
Fort Trumbull State Park is a great place to start and, in breaking with Connecticut parks traditions, the cost to get in is the same for locals and non-residents.
This is the sight of many battles, including part of the day in 1781 when Americans lost the battle and New London was burned to the ground.
Stop by the Old Town Mill next (aka Winthrop Mill) and see the re-creation of a mill house that was also burned down that fateful day.
There’s a harvest festival here each year and tours are offered on various days throughout the year, but check before you come as the hours are still getting figured out due to the pandemic.
The Thames River Heritage Park is right on the river and you can choose from tours that last half a day to ones that go all weekend long.
There are water tours on massive sailboats or just walking tours if you don’t have your sea legs just yet.
There is a lot to do at Heritage Park, so research in advance so you aren’t arguing at the ticket counter about which tour you want to do.
During the summer, a trip to Ocean Beach is a must.
It’s touted as having “New England’s Finest Sugar Sand” and there’s also a boardwalk with amusement park rides, mini-golf, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
(I really wish I could use the “shrug” emoji on that one because I don’t know why you need a pool next to the sea, especially when it costs $10 extra dollars to swim in the pool.)
I’m told you should try the clam fritters at the Boardwalk Galley but I need a “yuck” emoji for that one.
Let me know if you liked them.
The New London Harbor Lighthouse is a treasure on the coast.
It’s open to public tours by appointment only, as of most recently.
It’s said that at the top of this lighthouse you can see more lighthouses than any other lighthouse nest in the world.
You can also go on a tour of the Ledge Lighthouse, which is in the middle of the sound.
It looks like a miniature stately home in the water.
Legend has it, some of the more uppity influencers in town didn’t want the boring old lighthouse look that was tall and lean.
So they came up with this architecture.
Places to Avoid in New London
The place where Benedict Arnold attacked is among the most dangerous parts of town to this day.
Seriously though, the central part of the city downtown until it meets on the west side with Williams Street is the highest crime area.
The more on the outskirts of the city you are, the safer it gets.
Even the beach area is among the lower crime areas than downtown.
You want to avoid getting into any verbal argument with anyone here.
There are a lot of triggers in the world today, from war to politics to gas prices.
This isn’t the place to stand your ground.
Of the 67 violent crimes in 2020, 47 of them were against strangers.
Just mind your own business, be polite, and enjoy yourself.
While there is some nightlife here, it’s best to stay off the streets at night if you don’t know exactly where you are going.
Safety Tips for Traveling to New London
- There are a lot of ways to get a ticket when parking in New London. There is some street parking, but there’s a list of things you’d have to remember not to do – like avoid parking within 10 feet of a corner. It’s easier to just park in the parking garage, pay $2 an hour, and call it a day. (There is a $15 maximum per day)
- There is a problem with dirt bikers and ATV drivers going on the city streets and causing problems. The New London Police are asking for help catching people in the act. If you can safely do so, record a video or get a picture. You can submit crime tips by texting NLPSTip and attaching the video/picture to 847411.
- To get updates on the weather in New London, the information will come through the National Weather Center office in New York City. From there you can search for the hyper-local New London forecast. It’s important to always keep track of winter storms or tropical weather. You will also need to know the tide schedules if you’re going to be kayaking or boating.
- When spending time at the beach, look for water quality warning signs. Heavy rains or unusual weather patterns can lead to excess bacteria in the water. Keep in mind that this water is an estuary, which means it’s a mix of the rivers from Connecticut meeting with the saltwater of the ocean. There’s a lot of room for bacterial issues. The water gets sampled daily and signs will be posted if there’s a concern in the water. (Maybe that’s why you need a pool by the beach?)
- Unless you are really good with a GPS, don’t go kayaking on the water in fog. It’s easy to get turned around and be lost or exhausted. Heck, I’ve gotten lost in a kayak on a clear day (but cut me some slack, I was in the mangroves).
- New London Police just got a whole new fleet of vehicles. They are slick, but they’re also pitch black with reflective lettering that only shows up when the sun hits it just right. Why am I telling you this? If you are speeding or running a red light/stop sign (a lot of people do it in CT). The officers on patrol are now going to be harder to spot, so stick to the speed limit and do a FULL stop at stop signs, even if other people laugh at you.
- For fishing in New London, you’re going to need a license. Be sure to get a non-resident “all waters” license from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It’s really easy to fill out the form online and pay for it all there.
- There’s an opioid problem in New London, and with many communities struggling right now, the police are trying to help in any way they can, knowing they can’t arrest their way to a drug-free community. People who do drugs might be more likely to be violent or act very unpredictably. If you encounter someone like this, move on and call 911 to get them help. The health district offers Narcan and Fentanyl test strips to keep people from dying of an overdose.
- If there is a winter storm or a hurricane approaching before your visit, consider rescheduling. These storms can lead to the city being shut down, power going out for days or weeks at a time, and emergency shelters needing to open. You don’t want to put yourself in a place while others are trying to escape. Even though locals like to “tough it out” sometimes, it’s not worth being miserable or in danger on your vacation.
- There’s another contender in the pizza wars in New London. It’s conveniently called “New London Style Pizza.” This is made with a very thick crust, a much different counterpart to New Haven pizza, which is a thin-crusted pie cooked over hot coals and goes by the nickname Apizza (Ah-PEE-zuh). Try it out to see what you think.
So... How Safe Is New London Really?
You’re going to read a lot of stuff telling you to avoid New London and there are “better” places to go.
You do have Groton over the river and then the amazing Mystic just on the other side of Groton, so you’re actually in a perfect location.
New London has some classic charm but a little more dirt on its boots.
Crime isn’t the best or the worst.
It fits nicely in the middle.
Here are the risks of top crimes:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 408
- Theft: 1 in 82
- Robbery: 1 in 1140
The main thing to be worried about is the crime that happens against strangers here.
Most communities have an abundance of crime that is domestic.
Robbery and violent crimes here are almost split down the middle.
You will still need to lock the car doors and roll the windows up.
You should not walk around with a large, expensive purse or put out a wallet brimming with cash.
There’s a crime in this small town.
There’s a little grit too.
There’s also a lot to explore and enjoy with plenty of “tourist traps” nearby.
How Does New London Compare?
- Visas - You will need an ID for boating activities and to drink alcohol, but there's no proof of your home country needed while you're in New London.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here, and if you need to exchange it you should do so at the airport. This is a smaller town and might not have a lot of options.
- Weather - Colder than the coldest cold you can think of in the winter. Bring lots of layers and don't forget waterproof boots. You will need those boots in the springs too, as the mud can be a mess as snow melts and temperatures warm up. Some people call early spring "mud season." Summers are going to have warm days, but you'll still want a jacket or sweatshirt at night.
- Airports - The New Haven airport is about 45 minutes west. You can get to the Providence, Rhode Island, airport in under an hour. Bradley International Airport north of Hartford is just a little over an hour away.
- Travel Insurance - So many weather risks that could delay a vacation mean travel insurance is the best way to protect your trip.
New London Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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