Pennsylvania : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country
Pennsylvania was the second of the 13 original colonies to ratify the constitution and has a lot of history to explore.
It played a major role in the founding of America and was the site of the last major battle of the Civil War at Gettysburg.
Pittsburgh played a big role in the industrialization of the nation.
It is called a mid-Atlantic state, just below New England.
It is very close to the ocean, and its northwest border is on Lake Erie.
The East side of the state is part of a big urban area that includes New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
There are a lot of rural areas as well, with national and state parks to explore.
It is also the home of Hershey chocolate and is called the chocolate capital of America.
Warnings & Dangers in Pennsylvania
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Pennsylvania has the fifth-largest population in America and is 24th in its crime rate. Its 389 crimes per 100,000 people are just below the national average of 398. It has some very large cities, like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and those areas have typical big-city problems. The state had a 27 percent rise in crime in 2020, but overall the city is pretty safe.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Philadelphia and Pittsburg have a long history of public transportation. It may not always be clean, but it is reliable, fast, and generally safe. Taxis are regulated. In the cities at least, you can get around fast if you plan, and you will be safe if you use some common sense. The state in general has a good public transportation system.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
In crowded areas of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, there may be some pickpockets working in transport areas. Generally, there is little risk of this type of crime. Even so, you should not leave your property unattended, and don't put your wallet in your back pocket. This type of crime has become less common in many areas.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There are very few earthquakes, and the state is too far north for damaging hurricanes. Storms can wreak havoc locally, but a massive natural disaster is not likely. Snow is heavy at times, but they have a lot of experience managing this type of storm.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Especially in the big cities like Philadelphia, there are dangerous areas where you have a greater risk of being mugged. You have a better chance of being mugged in a big city than you do of being a pickpocket victim. Many areas of big cities are safe, but there are also unsafe areas.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Big cities could be a terrorist target, but thus far there have not been any attacks. Domestic terrorists from radical fringe groups have become more of a concern. There are some random shootings but these are rare. Some cities have gang activity and they can be dangerous.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
For tourists, the risk is low. For residents, it is much greater as online scams are much more common. There may be the occasional fake taxi, fake tickets to events, and so forth, but they are not common. Be wary of anyone trying to sell tickets on the street, or of anyone not licensed offering you a ride.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Pennsylvania is a progressive state where women travelers are very common. In many areas, a woman traveling alone will not get much attention. In urban areas, there are places that are dangerous for anyone. Women should not go out alone in some areas, and never at night. Pennsylvania is 40th in the number of rapes per 100,000 at 33.1, below the national average of 38.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The state has plenty of water with a lot of rivers, lakes, and underground. Cities deliver quality water throughout the state. There may be rare problems with pipes in older cities like Philadelphia, but overall there is very little risk from water.
Safest Places to Visit in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has a lot of significant historical areas that are safe.
The historical areas around Philadelphia, as well as Pittsburgh, are safe.
Ironically perhaps, Philadelphia is often rated as one of the safest cities, as well as one of the most dangerous.
Tourist areas are very safe.
There is a large Amish area and a restored coal-burning train in that area.
Outside the big cities, there are historic sights such as Valley Forge and Gettysburg.
Hershey, the chocolate capital of the world, is a must-see.
Natural areas are very safe.
There are 121 state parks, 19 national parks, and seven national heritage sights.
Waterfalls and thousands of miles of trails wait to be explored.
Lake Erie is in the northwest, and the southeast has rivers leading into the Atlantic.
Places to Avoid in Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is rated as one of the best cities to visit in the world, but it is also one of the most dangerous places in the nation.
Certain areas are very dangerous and should not be entered at all.
The state has had a 27 percent increase in overall crime, and Philadelphia has had a 15 percent increase in gun violence.
The same is true for Pittsburgh.
Tourist areas are very safe, but there are some very dangerous places as well.
Chester, on the Southside of Philadelphia on the Delaware River, is the most dangerous city in the state for both violent and property crimes.
Uniontown, south of Pittsburgh, is the second most dangerous and is not in a big-city environment.
McKeesport, on the southeast side of Pittsburgh, has a crime rate 250 percent above the state average.
Philadelphia is 10th most dangerous by crime rate, while Pittsburgh is not in the top-10.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Pennsylvania
- Keep it locked. Whether it’s your car or your hotel room, keep it locked. Most criminals are just looking for an opportunity. They may check to see if a door is locked, and will usually pass up a locked door.
- Low cash flow. Don’t carry very much cash. Use cards whenever possible. Don’t let people see your cash or let them know how much you have. Keep your cash somewhere other than your wallet or purse.
- Check out your car. The public transportation system is good in the state, but you may want to rent a car. Make sure it is in good operating condition by checking the tires, belts, hoses, lights, and anything else that could go bad. There are not many remote areas in the state, but it’s still a hassle if you break down.
- Respect nature. If you are visiting national or state parks, be mindful of where you are. Don’t feed or otherwise interact with wild animals. They will attack if they feel threatened. Even if not life-threatening, a bite from an animal can cause a lot of health issues.
- Keep watchful. Many areas are safe, but it is still a good idea to remain aware of your surroundings. Avoid falling asleep in a public area or on public transportation. Avoid dangerous areas, and watch out for suspicious-looking behavior.
- Follow your instincts. If something does not feel right in any situation, don’t hesitate to leave immediately. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, just leave if it feels uncomfortable. Better to be wrong and safe.
- Don’t look like a tourist. Especially in large cities, avoid looking like a typical tourist. Try to blend into the scenery and don’t draw attention to yourself. Criminals can be anywhere looking for a target.
- No flashing. Similar to the previous one. Don’t let others see your cash. Keep jewelry, electronics, and cameras out of sight as much as possible. This is especially true on public transportation or in crowded urban areas. Dress casually to avoid drawing attention.
- Listen carefully. If you are using earbuds, use only one, so you can hear what is happening around you. If there is any danger around you, you will want to be able to hear it and that can keep you out of bad situations.
- Be confident. Always act like you know where you are and where you are going whether you do or not. It is OK to ask for directions, but don’t make it obvious you are in unfamiliar territory. Avoid looking at maps in public. Use your phone for that whenever possible. Don’t be an easy mark.
So... How Safe Is Pennsylvania Really?
Pennsylvania is a land of contrast and diversity.
Some areas are extremely safe, and areas that are dangerous any time of day.
Philadelphia is one of the safest, and one of the most dangerous, at the same time.
The state has a crime rate of 389 per 100,000, and the national rate is 398.
The violent crime rate is 3.8 per 1000, and the national average is 4.0.
The southeast of Philadelphia along the Delaware river is unsafe, and there are no tourist areas there.
The Southside of Pittsburg is similar.
Pennsylvania is just below the national average in overall crime and is often in the same place as far as individual crimes.
Natural areas like historical sites and state or national parks are very safe.
There are some areas spread around the state in mid-sized cities that are dangerous.
One odd place to avoid is an area near Centralia, where an underground fire has been burning since the 1960s.
The area around Erie, on the great lake, is also a hotbed of crime, though it is a fairly small town.
The Erie area has a higher crime rate than 90 percent of the rest of the state.
Erie has the most people living under the poverty level in the state.
Overall, the state is about average as far as crime, with plenty of good areas and some areas to avoid.
How Does Pennsylvania Compare?
- Visas - You will need a visa to enter the United States. International airports in Philadelphia and Pittsburg have customs areas where you will need this document. Once in the state, you will not need to show your visa but it can be used for identification.
- Currency - The standard currency in Pennsylvania is the U.S. Dollar. Other currencies will not be accepted by businesses. You can make an exchange at the airport, or any bank in the state. Credit cards may be used from anywhere, and currency exchange is part of the transaction.
- Weather - Winters can be cold and there can be a lot of snow. Summers are generally mild with short periods of heat. Showers are common through the summer months. The state is not known for a lot of tornadoes or hurricanes. Dress appropriately for the season, but generally speaking, the weather is pleasant in Pennsylvania.
- Airports - There are five international airports in Pennsylvania and seven national airports. There are 117 public airports and 280 private airports. Plenty of air transpiration is available in the state from large cities to medium-sized cities. Philadelphia is one of the busiest airports in the nation with many airlines providing service and direct flights all around the world.
- Travel Insurance - Sometimes things happen beyond your control, and plans have to be changed. You can also have trouble during a disruptive trip. With travel insurance you will be covered, so the blow will not be quite as bad. Travel insurance gives you peace of mind when away from home.
Pennsylvania Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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2 Reviews on Pennsylvania
One of the safest US states for solo women travelers
Although there are still plenty of problems here, this is still one of the safest places (in the US) for solo women travelers. You need to be careful at night but otherwise I didn’t experience major (bad) events and there are so many cool things to see here. Stick to the tourist areas and you’ll be fine.
Best of PA
Being native Pennsylvanian, I travel the state considerably for business. I can offer these few tips:
I stay away from Philadelphia, due to self employment tax. City not bad. Just a pian to travel in.
Downtown Pittsburgh has some very uncouth drivers. Beware, you will get honked at or flicked very off quickly. Please use GPS for travel.
Have been is some of the worst of the worst parts of cities. Need directions, just be polite and ask. MIND YOUR MANNERS, and you will be fine. Ladies traveling alone, please use discretion.
Most of my travel in in central part of the state. Autumn is fantastic. Anyplace north of I-80 is great scenery. Benezette, Elk County is great for the elkaholics in November. In spring, watch for bears hungry from hibernation. They will pop up just about anywhere. Wellsboro just may be one of the most friendly small towns in PA. Everybody talks to everybody at the grocery and donut shop!
Tooling past State College, on the Mt. Nittany Express, you will drive past Penn State’s Beaver Stadium. Just below, but not visible is Bryce Jordan Center, home to many Penn State events, as well as public concerts and sports activity.
Just a few of the many sights of PA