New Hampshire : Safety by City
- Hampton Beach
- North Conway
- West Lebanon
Manchester, New Hampshire, is known as the Queen City for its powerful position as an economic driver in the state. It’s also the largest city in the Granite State.
Piscataquog is a neighborhood and commercial hub on the west side of the city, and it is home to Granite Square.
This neighborhood was settled by German immigrants working in the mills along the Merrimack River.
The city is a mix of cultural activities, historic sites, and a robust commercial region just an hour from Boston.
The Merrimack River offers beautiful views from the banks, while the largest shopping mall in New Hampshire is just down the road.
Manchester is home to 110,000 people.
The city is divided into different regions, the east side and west side of the river, then smaller neighborhoods like Piscataquog fill out the different sides.
This city is also a great pivot point for travel throughout New Hampshire.
You can be at the beach in an hour or in the White Mountains in less than two hours.
Researching Manchester can seem paradoxical, with some websites ranking it as a dangerous town with growing crime problems, while others say it’s among the safest cities in the country.
As we go through this article, we’ll cut through the noise and give you the context to crime numbers while sharing the safest places to visit and the best safety tips for visiting Manchester, New Hampshire.
Warnings & Dangers in Piscataquog
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Manchester is the largest metro area in New Hampshire, so it's going to come with a higher risk than any other. That said, it's still a low risk if you're using smart personal safety steps. It's just not as much of a "postcard setting" as many other New Hampshire cities. It's still ranked as the #12 Safest Place to Live in medium-sized cities by U.S. News & World Report. It ranks #51 in the full list of cities, from small to extra large.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Manchester Transit Authority (MTA) is the public transportation system here. You can download the app or use the Amble App for more on-demand services. Taxis and rideshares are easy to find. Rental cars are widely available too. The MTA has the highest risk since it goes through more dangerous parts of town, but all options are low-risk, with your own vehicle being the safest.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
Nearly two dozen pickpockets and purse snatchings were reported in 2021, which gives this a medium risk. That's mostly because other New Hampshire cities, even in tourist areas, don't have numbers that high. It's more to encourage strict personal safety steps than alarm you.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
Winter storms are the biggest problem here, especially if you aren't used to being in a snowy climate. Extreme cold and flash flooding are the next biggest risks. Severe thunderstorms can ruin outdoor plans but rarely spawn tornadoes. Even though Manchester is inland, it can still feel the effects of hurricanes and nor'easters.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
This is a medium risk, but more to make you aware of an anomaly in New Hampshire crime. Between 2017 and 2021, 34% of all robberies were "highway robberies," which means they happened on a public street or sidewalk. This could be anything from a tourist robbed at gunpoint to a drug user stealing from a drug dealer or a homeless person stealing from a drug dealer. Avoid walking around at night, carry as little as possible, and don't wear valuable items like smartwatches or expensive jewelry in plain sight.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Any city in America can experience domestic terrorism, and you've no doubt heard abut the increase in mass shootings. With Manchester being the largest city in the state, there's an elevated risk that should just make you more aware of your surroundings. You can also review the latest information from the Homeland Security Emergency Management on the New Hampshire Department of Safety website.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
Just some quick research across New Hampshire and Manchester shows a range of scammers and fraud. Always check the police department's social media sites for trending scams. Never give personal information to someone who calls you, even if they claim to be law enforcement. Don't ever wire money to reserve a rental home. Treat this as a medium risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
New Hampshire historically has a higher-than-average sexual assault rate, and for some leaders, that's a head-scratcher as to why. One theory is that sexual assault doesn't necessarily happen more here, but it is reported more often than in some other states. Treat this as a medium risk, especially if you're drinking alcohol or enjoying the nightlife. Don't walk around alone at night, and never go somewhere private with a person you just met.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
All cities are required to post an annual Water Quality Report, which Manchester passes with flying colors. However, issues like hydrant flushing, which impacts water quality and usage briefly, won't show up there. There's a low risk, but always stay informed of potential water quality impairments.
Safest Places to Visit in Piscataquog
Manchester and Piscataquog are in a region known as the Merrimack Valley in the southern portion of the state.
The Merrimack River splits the city down the middle.
It’s a little telling that the only tourist site is from the city of Manchester and looks like something designed in the early 00s.
The Manchester Chamber of Commerce website isn’t the most tourist-friendly experience, but you can find the latest events and newest business openings.
Visit New Hampshire is the state tourism site, if you want a more robust list of things to do through the Merrimack Valley.
Look for the coral-colored tab in the tourist guide that is free to view.
Museums include the Currier Museum of Art and the See Science Center.
The Manchester Historical Society also runs the Millyard Museum with a heaping dose of history.
Download the mobile app to get an interactive experience at your own pace.
The New Hampshire Aviation Museum is the only one of its kind in the state.
We love the special events that are held to get visitors even more involved in learning about aviation history.
Manchester has more than 40 parks to explore, and you can see a full list of options and amenities on the city’s website.
Downtown, there’s a river walk and Arms Park with fantastic views of the city and local festivals held throughout the year.
Rock Rimmon is the city’s largest park, located on the west side, covering nearly 140 acres with a scenic summit.
McIntyre Ski Area isn’t the most dynamic New Hampshire resort, but it’s close and will be less crowded than major resorts.
Snow is 100% made on-site, and tubing, slopes, and lessons are available.
This is a great place for beginning skiers.
I am a darn good athlete, but I’ve never been able to master skiing.
That’s why I prefer tubing locations when I’m on vacations that aren’t focused solely on skiing.
Accessible and unique, the Manchester Cedar Swamp on the northwest side of the metro area is a great place to explore trails in the safest environment possible.
There are more than 640 acres to enjoy among trees that are nearly 500 years old.
If you don’t have time to make it to the seacoast, check out the options of Massabesic Lake.
There’s a city park, an Audubon preserved area, and other public access points.
Places to Avoid in Piscataquog
Central, South, and west side neighborhoods along the river (like Piscataquog) can be among the most dangerous places in town.
Luckily, Manchester Police Department is transparent with crime data and offers several resources to track crime hot spots before your visit.
- Use the Crime Mapping technology on MPD’s website. For example, search for car break-ins within a mile of your hotel in the past six months.
- Read the Weekly Update posted on the Crime Data section of the website.
- Check the police department’s Facebook page @ManchesterNHPolice for the most recent crimes and crackdowns.
The department also launched Spot Shooter technology in early 2023.
This is what many cities with increasing crime violence have started using to track gun crime and then saturate patrols in that area.
“This will help us identify hot spots even better so that we’re making sure to put our officers in the right places to deter a crime before it happens,” Police Lieutenant Matthew Baxter said.
For the safest areas, look to the north and northeast, particularly north of Bridge Street and Webster Street.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Piscataquog
- This region has a homelessness problem, which isn’t out of the ordinary for a medium-sized city. If you’re used to seeing homeless people, you’ll know to avoid the camps and not give panhandlers money. If this isn’t what you’re expecting, I encourage you to read the latest news in Manchester because, as of this publication, there was a massive effort to evict homeless camps.
- The police department posts annual reports that detail criminal activity, calls for service, and updated safety steps. It’s worth reading to get the 10,000-foot view.
- If you have information about a crime that isn’t urgent, you can call the Manchester Crime Line at (603)624-4040. Tips that lead to an arrest are worth up to $2,500, and you can still remain anonymous.
- Car break-ins soared in 2021 and 2022, so don’t even think about leaving your car unlocked, windows rolled down, or personal items inside. Get a steering wheel lock if you can swing it. Ask your rental car company what kind of protection is offered to keep catalytic converters from being stolen.
- Use the Passport Parking app to find available spots and pay for parking through your mobile device. If you do any research that mentions EasyParkUSA, please know that the service has been discontinued. Passport Parking is the replacement.
- Follow @mht_snow_emerg on Twitter to get updated on parking bans and street closures due to snow across the state. For road closures, @https://twitter.com/manch_nh_hiway is the Twitter site to use.
- Sign up for Nixle Alerts to get emergency information right to your mobile device. This will include everything from severe weather warnings to shelter-in-place orders to water main breaks.
- If you prefer to use email, check out the Email Notifications section of the city’s website. This will allow you to customize the types of email alerts you want to get. You only have to give your name and email address.
- The city offers a live traffic map on its website, but that’s not very helpful when you’re traveling. The map comes through Waze, which means you can download the Waze app. New England 511 is the more robust option. Both services are free.
- New Hampshire’s seat belt laws only require those under 18 to buckle up. Adults are not required to use seat belts and cannot get a ticket for not wearing one. It’s still in your best interest to buckle up. You should also check to see if this law has been updated, as this publication is being written at a time when a seat belt law is in the legislature.
So... How Safe Is Piscataquog Really?
New Hampshire is in a bit of a tailspin with its crime rates, and Manchester takes the brunt of it as historically one of the highest crime data locations in the small state.
You see, New Hampshire was the epitome of safety for many years.
Now, it’s seeing tarnish on that pristine record.
2022 saw 27 homicides in the state, which is less than two per 100,000 people.
The national average is seven per 100,000.
“Stranger crimes do not occur for homicides as often as people would like to believe from watching different TV shows or movies,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati said.
Manchester’s violent crime rate is 23% higher than the national average and 250% higher than the state average.
Keep in mind, New Hampshire is still one of the top three safest states in the country.
Being a dangerous city in a safe state isn’t something that should deter travel plans.
Here are a few other stats that might be helpful:
- 43% of all violent crimes happened in homes in 2021
- In 2022, violent crime was down 30% compared to the 10-year average
- 13% of violent crimes in 2021 happened against strangers
- 42% of all thefts were related to car break-ins or car accessory thefts in 2021
- Property crime rates were up 10% between 2021 and 2022
“Theft from and theft of motor vehicles is really the major contributing factor to that rise (property crime rates by 10% in 2022),” Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg said.
The biggest challenges facing the police in Manchester are lax bail laws that allow criminals to offend, get released, then re-offend.
In one example, 700 of the people arrested in 2022 were out on bail when they were re-arrested for an additional charge.
That’s a lot of information to throw at you, but it’s important to understand all aspects of the context.
When you’re visiting the most dangerous part of Chicago, you should worry.
Visiting the most dangerous part of New Hampshire is still safe for anyone, provided they use common sense, situational awareness, and relentless safety measures.
How Does Piscataquog Compare?
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The U.S. State Department, Customs, and Border Patrol require a passport and visa or visa waiver to get into the country. That's the same if you're flying into an airport or crossing over from Canada. If you plan on visiting Canada while you're here, check the Canada Border Services Agency for specific requirements.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. You'll be able to exchange currency at local banks and a few stores, but you'll get the best value at your home bank. Just about everything can be paid for by credit card, which is a safer way to pay anyway.
There's really no getting around packing all the winter accessories here since cold temperatures and snow are quite common. Spring and fall can fluctuate, so layers of clothing are ideal. Summers can be mild to hot, but you'll be able to wear shorts and T-shirts most days. Bring bug spray, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes.
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is six miles north of downtown Manchester. The airport code is MHT. Don't get it confused with Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), which is an hour southeast.
Travel insurance is a wise investment for weather delays or cancelations. You should also consider adventure insurance if you're heading to the A.T. or the ski areas, as you'll have to sign liability waivers in most recreation areas.
Piscataquog Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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New Hampshire - Safety by City