Massachusetts : Safety by City
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When you set foot in Plymouth, Massachusetts, you’re walking in the footsteps of Mayflower pilgrims who first docked here in 1620.
Plymouth is in the South Shore region outside of Boston, and it’s less than an hour’s drive to the big city.
You are also close to Cape Cod in this coastal community.
Whether you want to celebrate Thanksgiving where the first Thanksgiving was held centuries ago or are looking for a summer getaway, coastal Massachusetts offers many options.
While there’s a head-spinning number of historical things to see and do here, you shouldn’t miss out on other novelties here, like the impressive cranberry farming tours, whaling experiences, or lighthouses.
You might notice during your research that Plymouth is spelled in various ways, such as the Plimoth Patuxet Museum.
It looks like a typo, but it’s actually just an adaption from the many ways people wrote four hundred years ago – before there were a dictionary and spelling rules.
It was common for each person to write a name phonetically.
The name of the city and county is correctly spelled Plymouth.
From ghost tours to Mayflower boat rides to a pilgrim village to magnificent mansions, there’s plenty to do to fill up a few days in this town or even a great day trip for those visiting Boston.
Warnings & Dangers in Plymouth
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here, with almost every category falling well below national averages. Given that it has stood for centuries and is now a popular tourist attraction, you can bet the utmost is done to keep you safe. That will require you to use standard safety measures, too, especially since it's easy to get distracted here.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Rides can get you anywhere you want to go, including a ferry across Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown. MBTA has commuter rail service year-round to get to Boston and other Plymouth County cities. Electric vehicle rides are available in the same fashion as you'd use a taxi. Shuttles and bus services are available from Boston Logan Airport and T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Two purse snatchings were reported in 2021, which is low considering how many people visit here. While the risk is statistically low, the potential is higher. You'll need to limit what you bring and avoid wearing valuables.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Winter storms are one of the biggest risks here, bringing snow, ice, and storm surge or flooding. Severe thunderstorms can happen during warmer months, and the hurricane season from June through November should be on your radar to check the tropic movements before you arrive.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Just six robberies were reported in 2021, and they were all either home or business robberies. There was no single incident of a person being robbed on the street.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
As cherished as this spot is in American history, there's a low risk it would be a target. Nearby Boston would be a harder target since it has a large population and some valuable assets for American businesses and distributions. Port security will always be a concern, but it will also come with abundant safety protocols.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The Plymouth County Sheriff's Office lists the most common scams, but every one of those risks is common nationwide. You should always watch out in tourist places for performance artists or people in costumes offering interaction and then expecting a tip.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk for women here with plenty of activities in safe places that keep you busy and entertained. Ocean and beach safety are critical here; you should never venture out into the water or wilderness area alone. Don't walk alone at night; if you want to explore Haunted Plymouth, do so on a ghost tour instead of going solo.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
There's a low risk as the 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance. One violation was noted, but it was a reporting error, and the water quality was never at risk. Check water quality statuses during and after severe weather or tropical storms, as that's when a breach is most likely to happen.
Safest Places to Visit in Plymouth
SeePlymouth.com is the official website of the city, county, and tourism-related organizations.
The website does include information about Plymouth town and county but also includes other regional attractions, such as the Salem Witch Museum, which is 90 minutes away in Salem, Massachusetts.
The Plimoth Patuxet Museums include several unique opportunities to learn about history.
Historic Patuxet honors the indigenous people of the land before the pilgrims arrived.
The 17th Century English Village shows you how the Pilgrims lived after settling here.
A grist mill gives you insight into how the Pilgrims started providing for themselves, while the Mayflower II offers an exact replica of the original ship.
A craft center allows you to make trinkets and potions, just like the Pilgrims did in the 17th century.
Plymouth Rock is one of the most notable attractions here, as it symbolizes the first step taken onto the land once the Mayflower docked.
Is it the same rock?
You’ll have to learn the different versions of that answer when you’re there.
Oh, and there’s a big effort now to have people “Talk to the Rock,” so don’t be surprised if you see that happen or feel tempted to do it yourself.
The “Talk to the Rock” promotional campaign has me laughing in stitches.
You can see those on the website, too.
Ghost tours are available with several tiers to choose from.
You can walk the streets and hear ghost stories, go through two haunted houses that are so popular they made the Travel Channel in 2022, or take a sunset cemetery tour.
Walking tours that focus on history instead of haunting are also available.
About 40 minutes north in Scituate, the South Shore Irish Heritage Trail tells the story of Irish immigrants who had a special fondness for the Massachusetts coastline.
Back in Plymouth, the Plymouth Harbor Breakwater (also known as “The Jetty”) is more than half a mile long into the bay waters.
You’ll need to use extra caution here, as a wooden bridge to the jetty is about the only solid footing you’ll get on the trek.
The rest of the breakwater is large boulders with deep spaces in between.
Even the metal rope used to balance you out won’t do much good if you aren’t paying attention.
Plymouth Beach is a barrier island that sticks out in the bay, with a mix of rocks and sand on a narrow piece of land.
Visitors can access the beach but will have to pay $20 per person to access it.
White Horse Beach is reserved for resident parking only, and guest passes are only attainable for those who know a resident.
Places to Avoid in Plymouth
With so many areas designated for tourists, you won’t run into a place that’s too dangerous to visit.
You won’t have a reason to go into the neighborhoods unless you know someone there, so stick to the main streets to avoid any resident frustration.
Some locations look like fun on the map, but then doing research makes it seem less fun.
Duxbury Beach, for example, has a lighthouse and a long stretch of beach.
However, it’s a 45-minute drive (without traffic) to get there, and then a series of parking rules for non-residents.
Once you get past that, you’ll still need a 4X4 vehicle to drive on the road to the beach.
The Gurnet Lighthouse is at the island’s tip but is not open for tours.
You don’t need to avoid those places that are a little more challenging to get to, but you should do ample research.
Even giving you information for this article required some in-depth research to ensure it was a publicly accessible area.
Avoid parking on any residential streets if you don’t have a permit.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Plymouth
- The Plymouth Police Department is the agency that oversees safety in the town. They work the ground and the water on cars, bikes, boats, motorcycles, and horses. You can reach the department’s main line by calling (508)830-4218.
- Follow the police department on Facebook or Twitter, as the social media sites are much more updated than the website. Facebook is @PlymouthMAPoliceDept, and Twitter is @Plymouth_Police.
- A nuclear power station is located less than 7 miles from Plymouth, meaning a whole set of “EPZ” (10-mile Emergency Planning Zone) rules are in effect. If that makes you a little uneasy, review the plan under the “Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station” section on the department of emergency management’s website.
- Of course, you’ll need to know the weather information, but knowing the tide schedule is also important here. There are beach access points that will be covered during high tide, and you don’t want to get stuck waiting for the next low tide. Follow @NWSBoston on Twitter to get updates on developing weather and confirm your mobile device has WEA (weather alerts) activated that follow your location as you travel.
- For those getting a rental car, try to get one with Massachusetts license plates. This might help you pay lower parking costs at some of the parks. Non-resident fees can be four times as much as resident fees. The license plate determines the residential status. While rental cars might be flagged as non-resident, it’s worth trying to pay the lower fee first but be prepared to pay the higher fee.
- Anglers will need a fishing license for the type of water they’ll be fishing in. Saltwater and freshwater licenses are available through the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. You can also purchase a license at sporting goods stores in town.
- Lifeguards will be on public beaches seasonally and only during certain daytime hours. You should always ask a lifeguard if there are any risks in the water, like riptides or jellyfish. Beach flags should also give you a hint as to the safety of the water.
- Campers should reserve a spot as soon as possible, especially if visiting during a holiday weekend or in the summer. Again, non-residents will pay a much higher fee than residents. You are expected to take out any trash you create while you’re there, and each site has restrictions on what water source can be used for bathing vs. dishwashing.
- From June through early September, public waters like the bay and ponds will be tested for water quality. Signs will be posted if there is an issue with the water, which would most likely be a cyanobacteria bloom. You should avoid the water if a bloom is present. The water must be clear for two weeks until the water is safe again, so don’t visually judge the water. Private water bodies aren’t monitored, so you’ll swim at risk.
- Use Mass511 to stay on top of road conditions, traffic, construction, and accidents. The site, which has a simple mobile version, is updated around the clock. Live cameras are also available for viewing along major and popular roadways.
So... How Safe Is Plymouth Really?
Plymouth remains a safe community, but violent crime is still on the rise even with the low crime rates.
In 2016, there were 93 violent crimes reported, compared to 186 in 2021.
A continued increase in that nature would put the city above the national rate in the next five years.
27% of violent crimes happen against strangers, lowering your risk.
52% of the thefts reported here are shoplifting, and car break-ins aren’t as prevalent as in other communities.
That is likely due to the number of people who use public and private transportation options.
While the historical features bring the main draw here, you should still respect all the risks of the sea, beach, and sun in the resort areas of this community.
Crime rates can also change by city.
For example, Brocktown, about 45 minutes from Plymouth, has more than twice the violent crime risk as Plymouth.
Plymouth has seen an increase in drug overdoses, so avoid taking drugs from anyone on the street.
Even a Xanax pill from a random person could be loaded with a deadly dose of Fentanyl.
If you’ll need medication while you’re here, confirm your health coverage or buy supplemental coverage before you arrive.
How Does Plymouth Compare?
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|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
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You'll need a valid passport and U.S. Visa to get through Customs at the airport or the port of entry. You should plan several months for that process, as it has several steps required for approval.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and if you exchange currency in your home country, you'll pay lower fees. Cash is optional, as even the beach parking areas take credit cards.
This is a four-season community, and winters will require full outerwear with warm accessories. Bring snow boots and hiking boots for the parks and trails. Spring and fall will fluctuate in temperature, but bring various layers of clothing, so you can easily adapt. Summers will be warm, but you'll need bug spray and sunscreen. You'll do a lot of walking, so bring comfortable shoes.
Plymouth has a private airport, but you can get to the major airports in Boston or Providence, Rhode Island, in about an hour. Plan for more time if you're traveling during a holiday or during high-volume traffic times of the day.
We recommend travel insurance, especially for such a huge tourist destination. Not only will insurance cover weather delays or cancelations, but you'll also get reimbursed for pre-purchased attractions or tours. Mass.gov has a Travel Insurance section to help you select the right plan for a trip to this state.
Plymouth Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Massachusetts - Safety by City