California : Safety by City
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If you’ve ever enjoyed any of the Tomb Raider games, you’ve already experienced a slice of Redwood City, California.
This is a Silicon Valley city with tech giants like Oracle, Electronic Arts, and Evernote.
Redwood City is less than 30 miles from San Francisco but still holds its own as a unique destination settled on the west side of the bay.
It also houses a deepwater port, the only one on the south side of the bay.
There you can buy fish fresh off the fisherman’s boat.
The city also has its very own island.
You’re not going to find a voracious nightlife here, but there are pockets of places where you can get a nice night out on the town, and even try out a Michelin-star rated Sushi restaurant.
What you will get from Redwood City, is a safe, quaint place to rest your weary head after a day of exploring the greater area.
Warnings & Dangers in Redwood City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. The crime rate is half the California average. This is a charming town without a big city feel.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Caltrain runs through here, with a connection to San Francisco. SamTrans will get you around San Mateo County. The Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) does not make it this far south. You can also grab a taxi or use rideshare services. All are low-risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
You don't have to worry about this. There were just three pickpockets reported in 2020 and overall theft rates are pretty low (1 in 86). There's a low risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Redwood City is subject to earthquakes, thunderstorms that lead to power outages ahead of the storm, and wildfire impacts. There's a medium risk and it's best to study up on the emergency management guidelines provided by the city on its website.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's just a one in 1,453 chance of being a victim of a robbery here. That's a low risk. There were just 58 robberies reported in Redwood City in 2020.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here with so many big tech companies and military installations nearby, not to mention the large population that would be impacted. Homeland Security is aware of the risks and takes proper steps to keep residents and visitors safe.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are basic run-of-the-mill scams here, mostly targeting locals. You have a low risk of being scammed as a visitor.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should feel confident and safe about traveling here. Nothing in the crime numbers suggests women are more at risk. There's a low risk.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water here is safe to drink and comes with low risk. It meets or exceeds all requirements and the city has a detailed annual report to show what's in the drinking water in case you have any sensitivities to tap water.
Safest Places to Visit in Redwood City
You can escape to an island in Redwood City on Bair Island, which is, as the city says, “a complex mosaic of twisted tidal channels, mudflats, and salt marsh vegetation.”
There are more than 3,000 acres to explore here.
The San Mateo History Museum is a great place to learn about this region.
Wait, did you just roll your eyes at me for telling you to go to a museum?
Ok, how about this?
Check out Woodside Store Park and see a refurbished example of a real-life old-time General Store.
Russian Ridge Preserve is a great way to get scenic views of the Bay area and hike or bike through more than 3,000 acres.
If you visit in the spring, you must come here to see the wildflowers.
Downtown Redwood City is the most exciting part of the city.
Not only does it have idyllic street views with shopping and dining options, live music often fills the square at night and there are plenty of community parades that go through here as well.
If you don’t have enough time on your trip to make it to wine country, check out La Honda Winery right in Redwood City.
Crime maps show what little crime there is here gets spread out throughout the community, with a harder focus on the central part of the city.
Places to Avoid in Redwood City
If you’re a video gamer like me, you’d be tempted to just walk right up to Electronic Arts (EA) and demand a tour since you’re so in love with the games and want to meet the people behind them.
Tours are not regularly offered.
You can sign up to be a Playtester and there is a location for Playtesters in Redwood City.
Not gonna lie, I signed up while writing this article.
Other than that, there aren’t bad parts of Redwood City.
This is a very residential area providing homes for the Silicon Valley company employees and it’s an expensive area in which to live.
There’s a homeless camp near Buckeye Street and Chew Street, so that’s a good area to avoid just so you don’t get harassed for money.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Redwood City
- If you’re going to be hunting or fishing on Bair Island, you’ll need a license from the California Department of Wildlife. You can fill out the information ahead of time or get it when you arrive. Don’t try to skirt the system. You can get a citation for hunting or fishing without a license.
- Sign up for SMCAlerts when you get to town so you can be aware of any weather or civil emergencies that happen. All you need to do is text your hotel’s zip code to 888777.
- There might be times the power is shut off as a storm approaches or if strong winds are forecast. This is to prevent transformers or power lines from starting a wildfire. It’s going to seem off to some travelers, but it’s a perfectly normal process that happens in this part of California.
- For getting around the entire Bay area, CalTrans is your savior. You’ll see traffic and delays reported in real-time and can check out live cameras to see the weather where you’re going.
- Don’t leave the car unlocked or the windows rolled down when you park it. 240 cars were stolen in Redwood City in 2020 to the tune of $2.2 million. If you get a rental car, ask for one with an alarm. Keep all valuables at the hotel and if you need them, take them with you. Never leave them in the car in plain sight.
- All local police news releases are sent out through a system called Nixle. Anyone can sign up for it and that will put the latest crime information right in your hands during the visit.
- A trip to Bair Island isn’t going to be a quiet getaway if it’s important to you. The highway noise is relentless and there are also small planes landing at a nearby airport. It doesn’t take away from the beauty of the island, but if getting away from the noise is important to you, head west to some of those areas where it’s so remote you won’t even get cell phone service.
- El Camino Real is one of the most dangerous roads in Redwood City for bicycle accidents. In five years, 226 crashes have happened here with 197 injuries reported from those crashes. Whether you are in a car or on a bike, use extra caution on this busy roadway.
- The police department in Redwood City subscribes to a live crime map so you can search the area where you’ll be staying for recent crimes. The latest data available officially is from 2020, and that was a pandemic year, so updated crime mapping will be a great place to find current crime information.
- Things might get a little shaky while you’re here. It’s not uncommon to have smaller earthquakes and it doesn’t mean a big one is coming. For people who live here, this is just a normal part of life. However, it’s a good reminder to study up earthquake safety before you go.
So... How Safe Is Redwood City Really?
There just aren’t a lot of places where large amounts of crime can occur here.
It’s a community of 1.2 million dollars homes and people who make enough money ($117,000 on average) to afford security systems.
There isn’t a big nightlife area or huge tourist attractions to lead to crimes of opportunity.
By the numbers, you have a one in 448 chance of being a violent crime victim and a one in 56 chance of being a property crime victim.
However, property crime includes all crimes involving property, including home break-ins and such.
Not many property crimes affect tourists unless they have a car or are a victim of theft.
There’s a one in 970 chance of being a theft victim, and that’s among the lowest I’ve seen in my research.
One Redditor reported, “Personally, I think Redwood City is the nicest place to live on the Peninsula.”
Another commented, “Redwood City isn’t exciting at all.
It was really easy to save money because it’s so boring there.
Easy access to green spaces and nice weather was a huge plus.
World-class hiking and biking trails are just up the mountain.
It’s a non-culture kinda place.”
How Does Redwood City Compare?
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- Visas - You'll be all set with the Visa requirements once you leave the airport. You won't need any additional ID to be in Redwood City. Don't forget that fishing or hunting license, though.
- Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar and you might find some places that will use cryptocurrency. You don't need to carry cash here as everything can be purchased using credit cards for payment via your mobile device if you're set up for that.
- Weather - You're going to need a jacket and wet shoes here. The coldest day you'll see, on average, is a high of 59°(F) and a low of 40°(F). The hottest days will be 82° with a low of 56°(F). The wet shoes are for spending time on Bair Island. There isn't a lot of rainfall here, so feel free to leave rain gear behind.
- Airports - San Francisco International Airport will be your best bet. It's just 15 minutes away. Norman Y. Minera San Jose International Airport is 25 minutes in the other direction. Oakland International Airport is 40 minutes away with a breath-taking view of the bay.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance for your trip to Redwood City. The San Francisco fog is notorious for leading to canceled flights, and wildfires can also send smoke into the city, which could lead to more delays.
Redwood City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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