Virginia : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Virginia - state review
“Give me liberty, or give me death!” might be one of the most famous quotes of all time in Richmond, Virginia.
It’s also a great reminder of Richmond’s role in the formation of the United States, which led to the vital role it played in the Civil War.
It’s not all about history here in this booming city with more than a quarter of a million people.
This is a government, banking, and legal powerhouse of a town.
I wouldn’t be surprised if your trip here were for business, but there are also plenty of recreational opportunities in between court sessions or board meetings.
Richmond is nicknamed River City because the James River flows through it, and it adds an element of wilderness adventure to the urban skyline, complete with a park where you can walk the river.
The tourism bureau in this region celebrates Richmond and surrounding cities and counties, making for a “Richmond Region” celebration of everything from unique colonial towns to electric art districts to extravagant foodie neighborhoods.
Warnings & Dangers in Richmond
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Richmond has a low risk, but it's rising in 2022, with juveniles being the main victims and culprits of many crimes. We'll go more in-depth into that topic a little later on, but you'll need common sense and basic protection practices to have a safe visit here.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Public transportation is available from GRTC, which has fixed-route and express routes and also offers carpooling options. This is a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly town, too, with taxis and rideshares readily available. You can also rent a car if you prefer.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
With more than 5500 thefts in 2021, just 21 of those were pickpockets. That's a sign that people are using great safety steps to keep their wallets and purses protected. If you are bringing a briefcase, make sure it has a lock. The risk is low, but it's still best to treat it as a higher risk for the best safety standards.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Flooding, severe weather, winter weather, and tornadoes are the biggest risks here, but there's not an overwhelming risk of a massive natural disaster. The Emergency Management department for the city of Richmond has a detailed guide to prepare for any emergency.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
I have to give robberies a medium risk because the rate is almost twice the national average. On top of that, 66% of those robberies were individuals, and 10% of those were carjackings. Never fight back or argue with a robber. You don't want to risk your life to save your iPhone or wallet.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Nearby Washington D.C. would be a much more likely target, as we've seen in the past with the Pentagon strike on 9/11. This lowers the risk in Richmond but also has a lot of safety agencies nearby.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
While most scams target locals here, there's a fake UPS scam I wanted to let you know about. It's happening in Central Virginia. A driver will claim they have a package but has an outdated address. They ask for payment upfront to deliver it to a new location and then end up draining your bank account (plus, you've given them your location information.) Also, use caution when renting a home or condo here, as scammers are known to take pictures of stately homes and list them for rent, demanding payment upfront. Then the visitor finds out when they arrive there is no home for rent, and they are out all that money.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The sexual assault rate here is less than half the national average, which is a nice change of pace for this travel safety writer. Nothing in the crime data indicates there's a greater risk for a woman than a man, but use all the smart safety precautions, like not walking around at night and staying on main roads and in well-lit areas.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows general compliance with all required standards, but there was one violation for testing and reporting an issue with e. Coli. This was not a formal water quality violation, but it did meet the threshold for a monitoring violation. The issue has since been resolved. If there is flooding in the area during your visit, check with the city to see if there are new water quality issues.
Safest Places to Visit in Richmond
VisitRichmondVA.com is the official tourism website for Richmond and the surrounding region.
When you’re reviewing options, take note of which city it’s in since many of the attractions could be in a different city.
One bonus of this tourism website that I don’t see on many is a whole section about “Travel Safety.”
Kudos to the team for addressing the concern and not trying to hide it among all the wonderful things to do.
Take a ride on the world’s first trolley with an 1888 birthday.
The climate-controlled trolley is a perfect way to get familiar with the city.
The guided trolley tours run on weekends only, so plan around that so you can enjoy this unique experience.
Riverfront Canal Cruises are also available with narrated tours along downtown’s canal walk.
The attraction has varying hours during different seasons, and you can only book tickets up to 24 hours in advance.
Learn about Richmond’s Civil War history at the American Civil War Museum and the White House of the Confederacy (two different locations).
You’ll enter through the remnants of the Tredegar Iron Works building, which created the first cannonballs that started the Civil War battles.
Look at the tourism website for a 10% off coupon.
The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia is another perspective and experience of how African Americans lived in the early days of Richmond and walks you through a timeline that leads to hope for a more inclusive, diverse, and equal society for all.
Once upon a midnight dreary, you can visit the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and feel its eerie.
Ok, so I’m not a poet, but you can see the birthplace of Edgar Allen Poe’s hauntingly good writing as he spent a good portion of his life in Richmond.
The stone house is also the oldest in Richmond.
Watch out for ravens and tell-tale hearts, will ya?
Belle Island is another unique part of the Richmond downtown area.
You can walk the pedestrian bridge or hop among the rocks where the island meets the James River.
This was once a Native American fishing village and became an industrial powerhouse during the Civil War.
Now you can enjoy the outdoors without leaving downtown Richmond.
There are some safety concerns here, and we’ll address those in the 10 Top Safety Tips.
Places to Avoid in Richmond
The high crime areas are generally northeast of the river and downtown or south of the river, with a concentration directly south and southeast.
While there aren’t neighborhoods that are simply too dangerous to drive through, you should avoid any place where you don’t have a specific purpose.
The tourist attractions and entertainment districts are not in these areas.
Even one popular tourism reference guide said this about the area south of the James River in Richmond, “South of the river?
No one ever wants to go there.
If you want to drive around and look at colonial homes, ask the visitor’s center for a walking or driving map of the safer locations.
You don’t want to end up in a bad neighborhood, especially with crime on the rise in 2022.
On a lighter note, don’t avoid Millie’s Diner.
It’s said to have one of the best brunches in Richmond and possibly the planet.
You’ll hear “You must eat at Millie’s Diner” a million times while you’re there, so I’ll just get the repetition started now.
Sugar Shack is also known to have incredible doughnuts, so that’s another place to put on your meal list so people won’t repeatedly tell you to go there.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Richmond
- You can review weekly crime statistics on the Richmond Police Department website. There are archived versions, too, that summarize the previous year. All data in this article was retrieved from the 2021 annual summary. It’s important to know more recent crime statistics, especially when a crime is growing from the 2021 average.
- You can text 911 here, but only if you aren’t able to make a call. An example would be if you are in a business being robbed, you wouldn’t want to speak, but you might be able to text with information. You won’t be able to send pictures, so be as specific as you can about the location and incident.
- There is a document on RPD’s website called “Victim’s Rights Brochure.” Download it or print it out now because it’s a wealth of contact information you’ll need – just in case.
- You can call Crime Stoppers to report non-urgent crime information or give tips to police about new crime information you’ve learned. That number is (804)780-1000. You can remain anonymous while also being eligible for a reward.
- When you’re enjoying Belle Island, admire the rapids from a distance. They are far too dangerous for even a strong swimmer to handle. There will be warning signs to remind you. Also, keep a close eye on kids, as the rocks can be slippery, and it’s too easy to wander into deeper water.
- RVA.gov has a great landing page with a video tour of the city. This is the official city website, so you’ll get to see different neighborhoods, attractions, and safety advice.
- Use RVA 311 to report non-emergency incidents, like potholes, fallen trees, or graffiti. This is also a direct connection to the city, where you can find the right department to contact if you have questions. You’ll also be able to see other reports people have made throughout the city.
- Use the Passport Parking app to see available parking, pay for meters or parking garage fees, and add more time to the meter remotely. If you don’t want to use the app, there are also pay stations downtown. Just use caution when you’re using a credit card in such a public place.
- Download the CODERed app to get the latest emergency notifications about the weather. This could be anything from a tornado warning to a snow emergency, which would implement parking restrictions. You can’t afford to be without critical weather alerts during your visit here.
- Richmond is in the South, but parts of Northern Virginia are considered “The North” – aka “Yankees.” Just don’t start a discussion about it with locals. It’s a true boiling point. I had a Southern boyfriend many years ago, and every time we agreed on something minor, he turned it into a Civil War fight because I was a “Yankee.”
So... How Safe Is Richmond Really?
At the time of this publication, there is a call for the Chief of Police in Richmond to resign because of high crime rates.
Whether that’s a political move or justified isn’t for me to decide, I’m just sharing information.
Business robberies and assaults are up in 2022, and there was a string of shootings that left several juveniles shot or killed, some while just walking down the street.
“Morale is down in the police department, with the citizens in Richmond,” Richmond City Councilmember Reva Trammell said.
“Talk to the citizens on the street, talk to the business owners that are scared to death because they don’t know when somebody’s going to come and shoot them or rob them.
The fear of crime is bad.
People are scared, and they have every reason to be.”
It’s just good to know that your visit might happen during a time of flux within the department.
It’s smart to avoid the south side of the city and stay in the areas designed for your business or tourist needs.
Common sense, situational awareness, and basic safety precautions go a long way here.
You also need to remember to always lock cars with the windows rolled up when you park, as 46% of all thefts are related to car break-ins.
How Does Richmond Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need either a U.S. Visa or a Visa Waiver, and the U.S. State Department website will help you determine your eligibility for different options. You should plan this process several months in advance and be aware that an in-person interview and a list of social media accounts from the past five years are required.
- Currency - Across the U.S., you'll only be able to use the U.S. dollar. It's more financially beneficial to exchange currency before you arrive, but you can find plenty of places in Richmond to do that transaction. Just don't use a public ATM as an utmost safety precaution.
- Weather - Richmond gets all four seasons, so it's really just a matter of bringing the right clothing for the right season. Dressing in layers helps because a heavy sweater might be fine outside in the winter but cause you to get warm indoors. Good walking shoes that are already broken in are mandatory as you'll be walking around a lot.
- Airports - The Richmond International Airport is just 10 miles southeast of the city, so it's a close option with enough direct flights to major cities that you shouldn't have to drive to a larger city. If you choose to drive to Washington, D.C., to catch a flight, plan for at least two hours on the road.
- Travel Insurance - International travelers shouldn't visit another country without some kind of insurance to protect against flight delays or cancelations and to protect their health. Even a quick urgent care visit will cost hundreds of dollars out of pocket at minimum. You should also know how much your car insurance policy covers a rental car and mind the gap between the two when you are checking out.
Richmond Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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