New Jersey : Safety by City
- Asbury Park
- Atlantic City
- East Orange
- Hamilton Township
- Jersey City
- Long Beach Island
- Mountain Lakes
- Mt. Laurel
- New Brunswick
- Red Bank
- Seaside Heights
- Toms River
- Upper Township & Ocean City
- West Orange
Passaic, New Jersey, is a city just 15 minutes from the center of Manhattan and a culturally and ethnically diverse town of 70,000 on the Passaic River.
Passaic was established in 1679.
Initially an agricultural settlement, the city experienced significant industrial growth during the 19th century, becoming a prominent manufacturing center.
That’s when immigrants came in looking for a better life and fueled the progress of the industries.
That cultural heritage from across the globe still defines Passaic to this day.
Today, remnants of its industrial past can still be seen in the city’s architecture and historic sites mixed in with the vibrant neighborhoods of cultural significance.
The city celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2023.
While there aren’t a lot of museums and historical attractions in Passaic, when you study the history you’ll see that this city helped America stand on its own in the earliest years.
Passaic’s age shows as some people would go as far as to call the city “dirty” or “blighted,” but if you can get past the cracks in the surface, you’ll find people and cultures that cherish community.
You’ll likely find more things to do in Passaic through local event pages than in a tourist guide.
Throughout surrounding Passaic County, you’ll find a wealth of things to do, from a Yogi Berra tribute museum to parks with stunning views of NYC to authentic international cuisine you can’t get in most cities.
NOTE: Passaic hasn’t released valid crime data since 2020, so all research done reflects that data mixed in with more current news stories.
Warnings & Dangers in Passaic
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in Passaic based on historical crime data and a lack of tourism strongholds. You're likely visiting Passaic because you have family there, and there are far more "attractive" places in Passaic County.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You can use NJ Transit, taxis, rideshares, or rental cars to get around. Each option comes with pros and cons, but since you'll likely need to leave Passaic to see the attractions, having a car is the best option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
Between 2015 and 2020, there were an average of 14 pickpockets or purse snatchings each year. Treat it as a medium risk, and don't carry around valuables or priceless items. Limit cash to only what you need.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Passaic has been hit hard by flooding over the years and can take the brunt of a nasty winter storm. With hurricanes and nor'easters possible, you should treat this as a medium risk and just stay weather aware during your visit.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
Based on the latest crime data we have, the robbery risk is more than twice the national average. You should treat this as a medium risk and avoid walking around at night in unfamiliar areas.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Being this close to NYC, there's a medium risk but a low chance that Passaic would be a specific target. Given the ethnic diversity here, there's an increased chance of hate crimes.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Check the Passaic, New Jersey, Better Business Bureau website and check police social media sites to see the most recent and common scams. Likely a tourist won't be a target, but you are more likely to see panhandlers or get someone begging for money with an elaborate and emotional story behind it.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk for women, which is also for anyone who visits here. With a wide cultural berth, you can explore many different types of food and shopping in downtown, but there's also an inherent risk of walking around a place where you might not be able to communicate with different languages.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Follow the Passaic Valley Water Commission on Twitter @PVWC. There are enough time-sensitive water impacts that you'll need to stay informed.
Safest Places to Visit in Passaic
Passaic County has a tourism website called “See Passaic County.”
Keep in mind that at its widest point, the county is 30 miles long.
Passaic, Clifton, and Paterson are more urban areas.
You won’t find many hotels in Passaic, but nearby Clifton has some along the interstate.
One of the biggest attractions in Passaic is Dundee Island Park, which is right on the river and has splash pads and playgrounds.
There are walking paths too.
Just stick to those paths during daylight hours.
Dundee Island Park isn’t the same as Dundee Island Preserve, which is a few miles north of Clifton.
A gathering of parks, much like Central Park, is on the southern edge of Passaic.
Here Veterans’ Memorial Park, Third Ward Park, and Mayor Johnson Park overlap.
Downtown Passaic has a mix of great ethnic restaurants along Broadway.
The Rack N Roll Family Fun Center is also in this neighborhood, offering a great family-friendly space.
Across the river on Main Street, you’ll cross into East Rutherford, where there’s a waterfront park with walking trails along the river.
If you want to visit any museums, you’ll need to leave Passaic and venture into other parts of the county.
The Yogi Berra Museum and Hamilton House Museum are two of the closest.
To get into a wider wilderness area, Norvin Green State Forest is 25 miles northwest.
Here you can take a series of hills to the high point with skyline views of New York City.
The Paterson Great Falls is nearby, and it’s under the National Park System umbrella.
That’s a better sign of a safe place to visit.
Here you can learn about the first industrial city planned in America.
The falls here are stunning, and you have several indoor and outdoor spaces to explore.
Places to Avoid in Passaic
Passaic is one of those cities where it’s hard to tell if you’re in a dangerous neighborhood or one that is just run down.
With a 25% poverty rate here, you can’t eyeball an area to determine if it’s safe.
Any crime data that would be helpful with this hasn’t been released since 2020.
2021 crime data was grossly underreported to an extent this publication doesn’t feel comfortable displaying it as fact.
More explanation on this topic is below.
Passaic is an urban setting, rich with a mix of cultures, but systemic poverty and crime have taken a toll on the town.
Unfortunately, based on limited information, I can only tell you to avoid any area that isn’t on a main road and doesn’t cater to visitors.
It is definitely worth reaching out to the police department before you choose a place to stay in Passaic.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Passaic
- Passaic has its own police department and uses the same handle across all platforms—@passaicpolicenj. Use Twitter to get more important safety information. The Facebook page is more about community events involving police. You can also email at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can report anonymous crime tips on the police department’s website using a form that doesn’t require you to include your email address or contact information.
- Use the ParkMobile app to find and pay for parking in Passaic. Parking apps are much safer to use since you don’t have to stand at the meter or pull out money to park for parking.
- If you look up videos about Hurricane Ian and Passaic, you’ll see how bad flooding can be here. Superstorm Sandy left behind a trail of disaster too. It’s just important to be aware of incoming tropical weather or nor’easters, so you’re prepared. Too many people only research hurricane safety on the coast, but these monsters can drop large amounts of rain on inland areas as they break apart.
- Children must be eight years or at least 57″ tall to be out of a car seat or booster seat. Seatbelts are required for everyone in the car. The police departments statewide will take part in regular “Click It or Ticket” campaigns.
- You can review the water safety of the Passaic River on the EPA’s website, but I can save you some time—don’t swim in the water. It’s filled with toxins and chemicals from manufacturing and other industrial waste.
- The city’s website has a video tour of the town for those who prefer to watch videos instead of reading articles (finish this article, of course!).
- Plastic bags are not legal in New Jersey stores, so if you want to buy groceries and need a bag, you can either bring recyclable bags or buy them at the store.
- During a snow event, certain roads are given priority, and parking bans could be put in place to let the plows get through. You can review the Public Works section of the city’s website to download maps that show preferred routes.
- Several bear sightings have been reported in Passaic County over the past few years. They have been roaming through residential areas. You can learn more about bear safety in New Jersey on the Department of Environmental Protection website. If you see a bear, call 1-877-927-6337. Do not approach or feed bears.
So... How Safe Is Passaic Really?
New Jersey is habitually bad about providing transparent crime data to the FBI.
Granted, it’s strongly recommended, not required.
However, my first glance at Passaic’s violent crime rate left me pleasantly surprised there was 2021 data.
Most cities only updated as far as 2020, after which a new crime data system was put into place for better transparency.
My spidey senses went off when it showed Passaic with only 14 violent crimes in 2021, with every other year between 2011 and 2019 having anywhere from 590 to 280.
The same thing happened with theft, which was at 41 in 2021, but no year since 2000 had fewer than 752.
You’ll definitely need to lock your car and never leave any personal belongings in plain sight.
Treat the theft risk like you’re walking through New York City and have good street smarts when you interact with people.
We do know that Passaic historically has a higher-than-average crime rate, is susceptible to flooding during intense storms, and has ranked as one of the “most miserable cities” in New Jersey, according to our friends at WPG Talk Radio, citing a new study.
You don’t want to judge the town by its appearance because the stories within are what truly make it great.
How Does Passaic Compare?
|New York City
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
All international visitors need a visa that defines the purpose of the visit (work, education, tourism, etc.) and a passport that isn't within six months of expiring. You can travel between states without showing ID each time.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. Limit cash purchases to only what is necessary, and try to buy as much in advance on your credit card. That offers the best fraud protection.
Dress for four distinct seasons based on when you're visiting, and don't forget winter coats and boots or a rain jacket and waterproof boots. Summers will be hot and muggy. You'll want bug spray and comfortable walking shoes.
Newark Liberty International Airport is just 18 miles away. You can get to LaGuardia in 26 miles. JFK is 30 miles away. Plan extra time for traffic.
Comprehensive travel insurance is important to cover any delay or emergency. Confirm you'll get refunds if a hurricane or nor'easter forces the trip to be canceled.
Passaic Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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