Connecticut : Safety by City
- East Hartford
- New Haven
- New London
- Old Saybrook
- West Hartford
- Windsor Locks
Stop and smell the “Rose of New England” in Norwich, Connecticut.
This historic town comes with stories of bravery, tragedy, and even some reported hauntings.
The stories I’ve found researching this city make it all the more appealing; an abandoned state hospital for the mentally ill sitting solemnly on the side of a road yet hauntingly beautiful, a beautiful waterfall area that tells the tale of Native Americans who jumped to their death and the two men who made the seemingly impossible leap, and a now serene pound that once broke from its shores and sent a wall of water, ice, and debris 10-13 feet tall through the city streets with little notice for residents.
Several rivers meet here and turn into one bigger river, the Thames, which eventually makes its way to the Long Island Sound.
Every bit of charm Connecticut could hold is nestled in this inland city of 40,000.
You can’t drive through the streets without feeling like you’re transported to the late 1800s.
The mysteries of the majestic buildings make a visit here well worth the trip, and if you need a good book for the trip, purchase ‘A Swift and Deadly Maelstrom: the Great Norwich Flood of 1963, a Survivors Story.’
Warnings & Dangers in Norwich
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, but it's not a simple and safe small town. There are pockets of crime to discuss. The crime risk isn't worth worrying about beyond basic safety measures.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The local bus services are Southeast Area Transit (SEAT) and Windham Regional District. The closest rail line is in New London. You can also get taxis and rideshares. There's low risk with any option, but a car would be ideal here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
No pickpockets were reported in 2020 crime data, so there's a low risk for travelers.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
You'll face snowstorms or blizzards in the winter, and snow can pile up fast. The city is well-versed in handling snowstorms, as these happen several times each season. In summer you can get the occasional thunderstorm, but the real risk is if a hurricane makes its way up the New England Coast and comes inland. There's a low risk in general, as the biggest risks come with plenty of warning to get out, hunker down, or cancel the travel.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were just 14 robberies in 2020, but eight of them were against people in public places. It's a low risk since the number is so small, but it's not risk-free by any means.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Given the proximity to New York, Boston, Hartford, and New Haven, it's medium risk. Norwich wouldn't be a direct target but could have some aftermath impact of a terrorist attack.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The scams around here are made to local phone numbers, so there's a low risk of being impacted as a tourist.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should feel safe traveling here with a low risk of any danger. There were 14 rapes reported in 2020, which is just about the national average. Just because the risk is lower doesn't mean you should let your guard down at all and avoid walking around at night.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There's low risk because the water has no violations as of the 2020 water quality report and it meets or exceeds all standards.
Safest Places to Visit in Norwich
Norwich doesn’t just have hiking trails.
It has trails that each walk you through a part of the city’s history.
There’s the Millionaires’ Triangle Trail that takes you through some of the most majestic and historic homes in town.
The Uncas Leap Trail is as sacred as it is rooted in history with stories of Native American battles in this area of waterfalls and rock ridges.
Infamous traitor Benedict Arnold grew up in Norwich and a trail goes through some of his historic landmarks in the area.
The Mohegan Sun Casino Resort is just four miles away in Uncasville and it is one of the top attractions in all of Connecticut.
There’s golf, a spa, kid’s activities, a sportsbook, and a full casino here.
Mohegan Park is the Central Park of Norwich with a pond, skate park, and a two-acre rose garden.
Summer is the best time to view the stunning roses.
There’s a boat launch in the center of town near Franklin Square.
The city has a live webcam so you can see the traffic waiting to get on the water.
This is a great section of town to wander around during the day and see the stunning architecture mixed with the background of nature.
Places to Avoid in Norwich
Generally, the busiest part of a city has the most crime, and Norwich is no different.
Downtown near Franklin Square has the highest crime rates, as does the area just north of there.
Outside of that small area, the crime rates are very low.
You don’t have to avoid the more crime-ridden areas, as the crimes here are still below the national average.
There are some sacred, scary, or just plain sad places here you should know about before visiting.
One story is the flood of 1963, which was so much more than a flood.
The natural dam burst at Spaulding Pond sending a torrent of water filled with ice chunks the size of refrigerators and loaded with rocks and trees rushing through the downriver parts of the city.
Six people died.
Five of them were on the second floor of a factory, convinced they were high enough to avoid floodwaters, but the wave hit the mill, causing it to crumble.
The sixth person who died was trying to escape the flood.
She left her home with her husband and three children.
They ended up driving right into the wave of water, and the mother was able to hand over her three sons before she was carried away by the floodwater.
Her body was found the next day.
Her family still tells the tale of that horrible day.
The old state hospital sits on a piece of property just off the side of the road with grass and weeds filling the once immaculate landscape.
It has a prime position on the Thames River but has been closed since 1996.
The building is mostly empty but is an attraction for ghost hunters and squatters.
A video tour inside the home I watched showed it’s a dangerous place to be and you have no business going there.
Hence, why I’m not providing the address.
Please avoid it.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Norwich
- The Thames River is pronounced “Temz”, not in a way that rhymes with names.
- The city has public safety cameras at various intersections around town. These are not red-light cameras, but cameras meant to watch what’s happening and be able to provide a view of a crime after it happens. The cameras are only used in law enforcement under strict ethical guidelines.
- If you are heading to the Mohegan Casino, there are a lot of family-friendly activities, but you cannot bring children until 21 in the casino area at all. Anyone under 21 must be with a guardian in any restaurant that serves alcohol there too.
- Let’s get to a few outdoor items for safety. Black bears have become more common in Connecticut and it’s possible to see a bear in town or on the outskirts of town. Never try to feed a bear and don’t get closer to take a picture.
- When you do go on trail hikes, ticks are very common in this area. They bite but you won’t feel a sting. Usually, you won’t even notice it until you do a full-body search after. Remove a tick immediately and sterilize the area. Ticks can carry Lyme Disease. Symptoms won’t present for up to 10 days after being bitten.
- For those who want to hike and fish in the Connecticut wilderness, you’ll need a license from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. There are different costs for non-residents and don’t try to play the system. You need proof of residency to get the lower price.
- The walking trails in Norwich are free, which is a great change of pace from other, more expensive parts of the state. You can make a small donation to the historical society at the visitor’s center if you’d like.
- Sign up for city alerts through the city’s website. You can get notifications about road closures, impending weather, and crime emergencies.
- Most of the parking in downtown Norwich has the first two hours free. There are some reserved spots, so be sure not to park in those. You can get a ticket for that. You are not allowed to leave a car parked overnight. If you park on the street and need to move the car to avoid the time limit, you should go to another street. It’s illegal to just find another spot on the same street.
- When visiting the rose garden, please do not pick any of the flowers. They are just for viewing, not taking them home with you. Ask at the visitor’s center where you can pick up some of the best roses in town. It makes sense to want a rose from a city named the “Rose of New England,” but don’t get on by vandalizing the beautiful gardens.
So... How Safe Is Norwich Really?
The violent crime rate is twice as high as the Connecticut average, and I wanted to dig into that a little more to give you perspective.
There were 134 violent crime incidents in 2020. 25 of those were against strangers.
Here’s where those incidents came from:
- Homicide: 3 (the largest number per year since at least 2010 and the first homicides since 2016.)
- Rape: 14
- Robbery: 28 (8 happened in public places, 13 were in homes, and 3 were at businesses)
- Aggravated Assault: 89
The data given to the FBI doesn’t break down the details of the aggravated assaults aside from listing them as violent crimes.
We know that none of the homicides were strangers.
This isn’t one of the more dangerous cities in the state, but it’s also got a fair share of it for a smaller city.
The crime concerns here are nothing that good safety practices can’t fix.
The crime data also shows things like aggravated assault which might have started as a robbery but escalated to an assault.
Don’t ever fight back to keep a wallet, purse, backpack, or car.
It’s not worth risking your life.
How Does Norwich Compare?
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- Visas - You don't need to do anything with your Visa in Norwich unless asked for an ID for alcohol or other attractions. The casino will definitely ask for an ID. The processing to get into the country is done at the airport.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and all credit card purchases will be made in that currency. With so many free attractions in Norwich, it's safer not to carry cash and just use a credit card for purchases.
- Weather - The only "heads-up" anyone needs in Norwich and the surrounding area is that winters are going to be long, cold, and snowy. The first snow might seem magical among the historic buildings, but by the fifth, it can get a little annoying. Bring warm winter clothing and waterproof boots and don't assume it's going to be warm until you hit June. Spring can be very unpredictable with temperatures and precipitation.
- Airports - Hartford, New Haven, and Providence, Rhode Island all offer airports about an hour away, so you have a lot of choices. If you are flying out of the New York City area, plan for at least 2-3 hours on a train to get to the city and another two hours to get to the airport and check-in.
- Travel Insurance - There's a saying in Connecticut - "If you don't like the weather, stay a day, it will change," and that unpredictability is exactly why you need travel insurance to Norwich.
Norwich Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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