Virginia : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Virginia - state review
Newport News, Virginia, is a place where you can see, hear, and smell the culture of the south with a maritime twist.
Of all the things we can tell you about Newport News, there’s one thing we can’t—and that’s how the city got its name.
Even locals don’t know for sure.
The tourism agency in Newport News explains it like this:
“The most widely accepted folktale is that our city is the namesake of Captain Christopher Newport, commander of the Susan Constant, which was the flagship of the three-ship English fleet that landed on Jamestown Island in 1607.
He made several voyages to Newport News in the early days of the Jamestown Colony, bringing “good news” of supplies and settlers.”
Now back to what we do know.
The shipyards dominate the skyline while history is nestled into every street of this charming community.
The community speaks with its accent and has its oddities.
For example, Newport News sits on roughly 23 miles of shoreline, yet there’s not a hotel on the water.
That speaks to the dominance of local homes, shipbuilding, and military priorities in this working town.
The city sits on a peninsula northwest of the bigger Norfolk.
It’s a walk through history and the future, all in one 3-mile-wide city.
Warnings & Dangers in Newport News
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk in Newport News, Virginia. The city has a crime rate higher than the national average. Violent crime is 595 per 100,000 people, while theft is more than three times higher. Severe weather of all kinds happens here.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. Taxi drivers here need to get a permit and there's an FBI fingerprinting process as part of the application. Vehicles get inspected once a year.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Theft is a little on the high side but is trending down, according to the Newport News Police Crime Report for 2020. We're going to give this a medium risk as the crime rate is 2053 in 100,000.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
It looks daunting when you research this topic as extreme heat, flooding/flash flooding, hurricanes/tropical storms, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and winter storms all impact this city nestled on a peninsula. That's going to give it a medium risk. It's a good idea to have your favorite weather app handy when you visit Newport News, Virginia.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The robbery crime rate is just 92 in 100,000, so there's a low risk. Still, don't let your guard down when visiting, and keep your purse and wallet close to your body.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a military presence in this area with Joint Base Langley-Eustis, which could be a terrorist target. The massive shipbuilding presence here could also be a target. Due to that, we're giving this a medium risk.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of scams here. It's not a place where scam artists are reported often, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. Avoid giving personal information or any stranger with a deal that seems too good to be true.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women travelers have a low risk here provided they stay in safe, touristy areas and keep their wits about them. There is a strong military presence and an active police force, making sure the historical sites are protected and tourists are kept safe.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There are no concerns or a history of problems in the tap water of Newport News, so there's a low risk. It meets all state and federal requirements. If a flood or storm causes water quality concerns, the city will send an alert out.
Safest Places to Visit in Newport News
Where should I start?
There’s so much to explore in this community.
The biggest question from tourists is usually “Can I tour the Shipyard?”
No, you cannot.
There are security restrictions that prevent tours.
You can view it from Victory Landing Park.
There are harbor tours you can book to see some of the many other ships along the James River.
Walkthrough Civil War History in various parts of town, and it’s especially important to recognize the many African American historical locations here.
The largest stone fort in the country is located at Fort Monroe.
This was a shelter for escaped slaves in the 1860s, and you’ll walk in the footsteps of Civil War legends like Harriet Tubman, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.
The Mariners Museum is a place to explore the way water connects the world now and through history.
This museum is so prestigious even Congress dubbed it America’s National Maritime Museum.
Cyclists will love this town with various levels of riding challenges.
A highlight is Route 1, which goes 17 miles along the shore.
You can take a more rugged trail on a mountain bike at both Hardwood’s Mill Trail and Mariners’ Lake Natural Area.
Places to Avoid in Newport News
When you look at crime maps of the area, it’s hit or miss where the dangerous parts of town are located.
The downtown area has a higher amount of crime, but that’s normal for any downtown area.
The crime map changes street by street.
Stay near the tourist destinations for the best safety measure.
Many of the locations are historical, therefore they have more security.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Newport News
- To avoid having to take money out of your wallet several times, buy the One City Pass ahead of time. This discounted pass gets you into 6 of the biggest tourist attractions in Newport News.
- People in Newport News have what’s called a Tidewater accent. It’s a Southern drawl and some words might sound a little funny to visitors. “River” becomes “Rivah”, “Store” becomes “Stow”, and even “Newport News” is “Newpaht News.” You might even find you pick up a little of the accent during your time here.
- I’ve got a terrible fear of bridges and tunnels, so I think this is worth noting for others like me. There are a LOT of bridges and tunnels along the main thoroughfares in this area. The tunnels can go deep so those big ships can move overhead, and the bridges can go on a few miles as you leave or enter Newport News. Unless you arrive or depart from Richmond, you will have to deal with bridges and tunnels.
- Newport News has on average 25 murders a year. While some of that could be gang activity in the northern part of downtown, it’s critical to remember this number if you are the victim of a crime. Don’t fight back if you are being robbed. It’s not worth your life to save your purse, wallet, or phone.
- The shipyard is best viewed from a distance for sightseeing and safety. Don’t wander too close to the facility as it has strict security. You won’t be able to get a tour or talk your way in.
- If you want to fish while you are there, you’ll need a license. There’s a saltwater fishing license and a freshwater fishing license. You can purchase this online or when you get to town. We’re not done yet with licensing! If you want to fish at the shoreline of Lee Hall or Hardwood’s Mill, you’ll need a Parks Division Shoreline Fishing Permit. You can get that at the Newport News Campsite Office.
- Virginia is known for its moonshine, potent alcohol once made illegally in the backwoods of various southern states. Virginia’s Franklin County is known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World.” You might find moonshine in the distilleries of Newport News. It’s high-proof, comes with quite a kick, and can easily get you intoxicated faster than the average beer. By definition, moonshine is an illegally distilled spirit, but the name sticks even with legal approval. You’ll notice the difference in its packaging as it generally comes in a mason jar.
- Don’t even think about running a red light in Newport News. The PHOTOSafe program catches red-light runners on camera and then issues a $50 fine which can be paid online.
- If there is a hurricane watch or warning, it’s best to get out of town. The biggest danger of a hurricane isn’t the winds—it’s the storm surge. Since Newport News is surrounded on the west and south sides by water, this increases the chances of flooding. Don’t bunker down during the storm as some locals might suggest. Just get to a safer city inland.
- There is only one place to swim in Newport News and that’s in Huntington Park. It’s open from sunrise to sunset and there are lifeguards there to protect swimmers. There have been reports of high levels of bacteria in the water and when that happens the beach shuts down. You might want to visit nearby Virginia Beach if you want a bigger beach experience.
So... How Safe Is Newport News Really?
The crime statistics don’t paint a good picture.
There’s a higher crime rate here than the national average.
The state’s homicide rate is at a two-decade high, and in 2021, Newport News had 31 homicides.
Newport News was one of six cities in Virginia to get a $300,000 financial infusion to curb gun violence.
Some of the gun crimes are suicides, another issue police and mental health officials are working on.
There were 31 suicides in Newport News in 2020.
The bottom line?
When visiting Newport News, see the historical sites, the shipyard, and the museums.
Enjoy the restaurants in the popular parts of town and don’t wander into unknown neighborhoods.
Stay on main roads and keep your guard up.
While it’s not an inherently dangerous town, there is enough crime data to make any visitor a little wary.
How Does Newport News Compare?
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- Visas - You'll take care of the Visa requirements at your port of entry or airport. There is no special visa or identification needed to be in Virginia or Newport News.
- Currency - You'll use U.S. currency while in Newport News. There are places to exchange currency in town, or you can do that at the airport.
- Weather - You know a city gets a lot of rain when the tourism website has a whole section for "rainy day activities." It rains 113 days a year here, but that doesn't mean all the days are washouts. Just be sure to pack a raincoat and waterproof shoes. In winter there is an average of 5 inches of snow. Temperatures average in the 50s from November - March then climbs until the summer months when highs can get near 90°(F). The sun shines 215 days of the year.
- Airports - The Newport News Williamsburg Airport will take you to the cities of Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Atlanta. The Norfolk International Airport is 30 minutes away to the south and the Richmond airport is about an hour to the northwest.
- Travel Insurance - Hurricane season and winter weather impacting flight schedules are just two good reasons to get travel insurance when visiting Newport News, Virginia.
Newport News Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Virginia - Safety by City