Rhode Island : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Rhode Island - state review
Rhode Island might be a small state, but Providence is a large town with a big personality.
As a reminder, Providence is not in Massachusetts or New York – and people here will let you know about it if you are unclear.
One great part about Providence for tourists is that the city is just down the road from Boston (Massachusetts), and you can easily travel between the two if you want to explore more.
Want to get away from the city?
No problem – the beach is also less than an hour away.
While you’re in Providence, you can explore the history of the city or be the life of the party.
Seriously, this city loves to party, and you’ll find some of the best DJs in the country here.
This is the hometown of Pauley D of Jersey Shore fame, after all.
Providence has its own accent, and even once you figure that out, you’ll need to learn some of the languages.
For example, don’t order a hot dog here.
It’s a “hot wiener.”
Ask for quahogs.
Going “all the way” here means something much more PG than you might think.
Providence can set your soul on fire.
After all, they set the water on fire here in the name of art and tourism.
That’s just a slice of what to expect in this Rhode Island wonder.
Warnings & Dangers in Providence
OVERALL RISK : LOW
As of 2022, Providence has a much lower risk than you might expect. Even crime data from 2021 shows at or below-average numbers for major violent crime categories, with 2022 leaning even lower as of October. That doesn't mean you should let your guard down or park your car unlocked. But it's a nice breath of fresh air from a growing crime wave in America.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You can get around Providence and the region using city buses, taxis, rideshares, or car rentals. Ferries are available to the beach cities, and a train can take you to Boston or the airport, with other stops along the way. You don't need a car to enjoy all Providence has to offer, and there are numerous lower-risk options.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Less than 20 pickpockets or purse snatching were reported in 2021, which is a very low portion of the 3500 thefts that happened. (SPOILER ALERT: 52% of thefts were car break-ins) While there's a low risk, there's also a reason that risk is low - people know to carry only what they need and don't create a crime of opportunity.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
You can get intense winter storms here or hurricanes in the summer and fall. Severe thunderstorms are possible too. Most days, there will be a low risk, but if there's tropical weather heading your way or a Nor'easter storm brewing, raise that risk up to high.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, too, with the robbery rates just below the national average. You should still use an excess of caution as you would in any major city. Providence might have less than 200,000 people, but the surrounding metro area has 1.6 million.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Providence is a low-risk city with much larger metro areas nearby. You should still always report anything suspicious and be aware because nobody would've thought Oklahoma City would be a target either until 1995 when the bombing of a federal building happened.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Watch out for rental scams, especially in the waterfront parts of Rhode Island. This unfortunate scam is happening nationwide, but it hits places like Rhode Island hard. In general, it's safer to stay at an established hotel, so you don't need to worry about this. However, some waterfront rentals are truly spectacular. Safety tips include making sure you speak to the landlord, getting a virtual tour of the property, and asking for proof of a rental permit. Don't wire money to reserve a home or condo.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Statistics actually show women have a slightly lower risk of being crime victims in Providence. The sexual assault rate is the same as the national average. One talking point here is that if you are enjoying the party scene in Providence, go with a friend and stay together. Don't take a drink from someone unless you see the bartender making it, and don't leave a drink unattended. Also, don't take pills or drugs from people - well, that's a general rule - but if you are prone to experimenting, it's wise to know there's an overdose epidemic in America when drugs are laced with a cheap and deadly substance called Fentanyl, and you won't know until it's too late.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows compliance with all standards aside from one violation. The violation involved a reporting error, not a quality issue, and was quickly rectified.
Safest Places to Visit in Providence
Goprovidence.com is the official tourism site for the city and region.
You should use official sites for research so you know your cyber information is safe and you’re looking at trusted locations to visit.
You can download a free visitors’ guide on that site.
Providence has tours available on foot and by water.
Just a heads-up for walkers – this city is very hilly.
You’ll find steep inclines and declines throughout Providence.
It will be a great leg workout but use an abundance of caution when walking when snow or ice is on the ground.
Self-guided walking tours include:
- Downtown Historic Walking Tour: Cultural and creative landmarks dot the downtown landscape with a great view of the river.
- Early Black History Walking Tour: The legacy, tragedy, and history of African American influence on Providence.
- East Side Historic Walking Tour: The founder’s section of the city with the state house and more historical landmarks. For those who like haunted history, this neighborhood is great for ghost stories and special guided tours.
- Jewelry Historic Walking Tour: See why Rhode Island is the “Jewelry Capital of the World.”
- West Side Historic Walking Tour: A historical section of the city settled by immigrants.
Tours are also available in a gondola or by boat.
Kayaks are available for rent when it’s warm outside.
Rhode Island Bay Cruises can take you through the bay and to some beach communities.
Providence Place Shopping Mall spans the Woonasquatucket River, and there’s a Greenway nearby to get great views of the water and the WaterFire art display, where fires dance on top of the water and span several city blocks as you walk.
Roger Williams Park Zoo and the surrounding park offer a great getaway from the city without crossing city boundaries.
You can pay for general zoo admission or also book a special encounter where you can get close to a sloth, river otter, or tortoise.
Federal Hill is the Italian community in Providence, and you’ll get the most authentic treats, meats, and desserts on this side of Italy.
Some claim the food here is even better than in Italy.
Places to Avoid in Providence
Let’s talk about the lay of the land first.
Providence is a city with its own police force, and while it has an east and north side, there are separate cities called North Providence and East Providence.
All three cities have their own crime statistics, law enforcement, and unique qualities.
Providence has higher crime numbers than the other two, and by crime data alone, North Providence is the safest of the three.
In order of lowest to highest crime rates:
- North Providence
- East Providence
In Providence, Elnywood, Elmwood, and Lower South Providence are the neighborhoods to avoid.
You also won’t find many places to visit there as a tourist, so it’s unlikely you’ll end up in one of those places.
If you are out enjoying the nightlife, try to leave before the club closes so you can avoid the crowds at the end, and always have a ride booked to get home.
Don’t risk walking home.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Providence
- The Providence Police Department releases weekly crime statistics to the public. You can review the information and see what crimes are trending closer to your visit.
- PVD 311 is a website where you can find information about city services and ask questions or file complaints. There’s a PVD311 app too. This is a great tool for learning about winter road conditions or pothole problems. You can also look up parking and ask a city worker any question that comes to mind.
- You can report non-urgent and non-violent crimes through the “ONLINE POLICE REPORT” on the police department’s website. This would be perfect for a car break-in or reports of fraud. You can also self-report a fender bender that wasn’t a hit or run or substance abuse involved.
- If you are riding public transportation, law enforcement recommends sitting as close to the driver or engineer as possible. Avoid empty bus stops at night, and don’t wear headphones while riding. You want to stay aware of your surroundings.
- Providence Police also suggest you shouldn’t wear Apple earbuds while walking on the street, since that indicates you have a high-value device on you and could make you a target.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes that are already broken in when you walk around Providence. The hilly streets can really do a number on your calves and feet. Take frequent breaks if you feel winded, and drink plenty of water.
- When parking downtown, be sure to read the meter rules. Many meters here have a time limit, and you can’t feed the meter to add more time. You’ll need to move the vehicle. If you are staying longer, park in a garage that charges a flat fee or by the hour. You can also use the Passport Parking app for information about parking citywide.
- Many of the ferries, boat tours, and outdoor attractions are open seasonally. Be sure to check the hours for your desired attractions before you book your trip.
- Don’t take and eat any fish from the Woonasquatucket River. There are pollutants in the water, and you shouldn’t swim in the water either. Look at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to see what waterways are safe for fishing and which should be avoided. Get yourself a non-resident fishing license while you’re there. Catch and release is the most common type of fishing here.
- Sign up for CodeRED alerts in Providence and Rhode Island. You can get notifications right to your mobile device or email so you won’t miss approaching weather or safety issues.
So... How Safe Is Providence Really?
It’s a welcome surprise to write that crime went down in Providence in 2021, and it is continuing that decline in 2022.
As of this publication, data is available through the summer of 2022.
“We have what has probably been one of, if not the safest summers in the city in at least a generation, maybe 40 or 50 years,” Mayor Jorge Elorza told local station WPRI.
This shouldn’t give you a false sense of safety because there are still crimes, ghost guns, and gang members here.
It’s just that, for now, the police are keeping up with the crime.
New license plate readers are installed in 2022 that will also record license plate numbers, making criminals easier to track down.
Let’s say, for example, your car is stolen.
The license plate reader can scan the video to see where the car was last seen.
2021 crime data shows that 26% of all violent crimes were against strangers, which is even more reassuring for visitors.
52% of thefts were related to car break-ins, so never leave your car unlocked, and certainly don’t leave it running with the keys inside to warm it up.
Common sense and situational awareness will go a long way here.
Oh, and if someone tells you about an Awful Awful.
It’s not a bad thing.
It’s a mix similar to a milkshake, but those are known as cabinets here.
If you get the chance to be Awful Awful – do it.
How Does Providence Compare?
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- Visas - The U.S. State Department explains the detailed visa process on its website and offers a Visa Wizard to choose the right one for you. The process includes many important steps; missing a step could result in your visa being denied. Be thorough and detailed. Bring your passport and visa on the plane with you as you can't get into the country without going through Customs.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar will be accepted here, and a big city like Providence has plenty of currency exchange locations. Credit cards are widely accepted. It's best to carry as little cash as possible and avoid using ATMs on the street or in public shopping areas.
- Weather - You'll need to layer up in the winter and bring snow boots because this area gets a lot of winter weather. Spring and fall fluctuate in temperature, but you'll likely need a jacket or sweater. Summers have great shorts and t-shirt weather, but a hoodie is great for cooler nights and mornings, especially if you go to the shore.
- Airports - The Rhode Island T.F. Green airport is 12 miles from downtown Providence and provides plenty of direct flights to major cities. Boston Logan International Airport is a larger option, and it's just an hour away by car. Plan for more time during heavy traffic.
- Travel Insurance - We always suggest travel insurance for the security it provides against things you can't control, like weather delays or accidents.
Providence Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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