California : Safety by City
- Chino Hills
- Chula Vista
- Costa Mesa
- Daly City
- El Cajon
- El Monte
- Garden Grove
- Huntington Beach
- Lake Forest
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Mission Viejo
- Moreno Valley
- Mountain View
- Newport Beach
- Palm Springs
- Rancho Cucamonga
- Redondo Beach
- Redwood City
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- San Leandro
- San Luis Obispo
- San Mateo
- Santa Ana
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Clara
- Santa Clarita
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Monica
- Santa Rosa
- Simi Valley
- South Gate
- Thousand Oaks
- Union City
- West Covina
Sacramento is in Northern California, halfway between San Francisco and the Nevada state line.
It’s also the state capital and one of the most diverse cities you’ll find in America.
The city’s beginning dates back centuries but became well-known during the Gold Rush in the 1840s when prospectors gathered supplies before heading into the mountains with dreams of striking it rich.
One thing to remember as we go through this discussion about safety in Sacramento — because some parts will be tough to hear — is that it’s a resilient place despite all odds.
Within its first 15 years of being incorporated, the city sustained three major floods and two massive fires that reduced it to rubble.
Yet, it is still the legislative headquarters of a powerful state.
The central California region is surrounded by rich agriculture, which has turned Sacramento into a “Farm-to-Fork” city, allowing for an expansive and delicious cultural food community.
The diversity of this community also brings ethnic neighborhood options for tourists, while downtown and Midtown offer a blend of all cultures and entertainment.
Another bonus of visiting Sacramento is that you can be at Lake Tahoe in two hours.
The alpine lake is a tourist attraction itself and one of my favorite places on earth.
Lake Tahoe offers the fun of casinos and entertainment districts on one side.
The California side offers more recreation and natural escapes with some of the best skiing in the Western United States.
Warnings & Dangers in Sacramento
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in Sacramento, and that risk is growing. Violent crime rates are near twice the national average, and between 2020 and late 2022, a surge in violent, random crime is forcing local leaders and law enforcement to urgently find new strategies for crime control.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The public transportation system in Sacramento is SacRT. You can use the Alert SacRT app to track buses and light rail cars, but be aware the system is aging, and there are safety concerns. Taxis and rideshares are available, and you can also get a car rental - which is the best way to get around safely.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Sacramento Police don't release data on pickpocket numbers, but the overall theft rate is 24% higher than the national average. The biggest concern here is the homeless population, which has seen a meteoric population increase in the past few years. Desperate people could be more prone to pickpocketing or worse.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Flooding has wiped this city out several times in history, and the Sacramento River rides the east side of the city boundaries. Flash flooding and ongoing floods will always be a concern. Even if it's not raining, the snowmelt from the mountains can cause catastrophic floods. Wildfires are another big concern in Northern California. Even if a fire isn't burning nearby, the air quality can be greatly impacted by one.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
The robbery rate is two and a half times the national average, and in 2021 and 2022, there were some pretty brazen robberies in plain sight. In one, a woman had her groceries and phone snatched from her in broad daylight. Another involved a man playing pinochle being robbed and then shot in the face. Treat this with medium risk and keep your mobile device, wallet, and purse as hidden as possible. Also, avoid weather valuables in public, like expensive watches or jewelry.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk because of the large population and the governmental importance of the city. While the average tourist won't notice any of those risks, you can review the Department of Homeland Security Terrorism bulletins that are posted every few months with updates.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Some quite outrageous scams are reported in Sacramento, including one woman who fell for a scammer posing as actor Will Smith. While there aren't a lot of tourist-centric scams, you should be on the lookout for anyone offering a deal too good to be true, especially on rental homes if you are trying to stay outside a traditional hotel. Never buy gift cards as part of a "lottery" or under duress, as scammers use them to get your money in an untraceable way.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
Women should use the same caution as anyone else, with a medium risk at all times of the day. If you are walking or running, don't wear headphones so you can be aware of the noises around you. Certainly, don't walk around alone at night. Use rideshares or taxis as much as possible to get around. There have been too many random attacks on the streets, including several sexual assaults by deranged homeless people, to risk walking any more than you need to.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The water provided to Sacramento meets or exceeds all safety requirements, according to the 2021 Consumer Confidence Report for water quality. You can review information closer to your visit at sacramentowaterquality.com.
Safest Places to Visit in Sacramento
VisitSacramento.com is the official tourism site for the city.
For the best cyber security, use official websites run by a city or convention and visitor tourism bureau.
These sites will be more secure and offer more privacy with your personal information.
Sacramento has various museums spanning history and innovation in Central California.
A museum is a safe place to visit with security cameras, larger crowds, and generally in areas with more police presence.
Here is just a sample of the museums here:
- Aerospace Museum of Sacramento
- California Agricultural Museum
- California Automobile Museum
- California State Railroad Museum
- California Museum (about the history of the state)
- California State Capital Museum
- California State Indian Museum
- Sacramento Children’s Museum
The city also has historic sites that are referred to as parks.
With the rich history here connected to Native Americans and the Gold Rush, there are some truly one-of-a-kind parks to see here.
- Sutter’s Fort Historic Park
- Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park
- Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
- Maidu Museum & Historic Park
The Old Sacramento Waterfront has an 1850s Gold Rush era theme to it, right on the banks of the Sacramento River.
You can take a riverboat tour here.
The Delta King is a riverboat turned into a boutique hotel.
While Old Sacramento is near downtown, they are two different neighborhoods.
Midtown is another great place to visit, with cultural options for food, drink, shopping, and live performances.
Fairytale Town is a safe, family-friendly attraction that takes you back to “Once Upon a Time…” Hours adjust with the seasons, and you can buy tickets online ahead of time.
Places to Avoid in Sacramento
The SacPD Violent Crime Reduction Strategy posted on the department’s website gives a look at some of the hot spots for crime in the region and a new method to track those areas.
While you can review the map online, the general areas are north of the American River, south of the El Dorado Freeway, and the area southeast of the Sacramento Executive Airport (not the commercial airport).
While tracking gun crimes with a new methodology, the police found 140 hot spots in seven square miles.
Nearly 45% of gun crimes happened in these areas in 2021.
However, more crime was spilling into neighborhoods generally considered safer.
“We’re tired of the gun violence, quite honestly, in all parts of our city and not just downtown,” Sacramento Police (SacPD) Sgt. Zach Eaton said during a crime statistics update in 2022.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Sacramento
- With all the sensational headlines and challenging crime statistics, it’s important to know how transparent and reactive the city leaders and law enforcement officers are being to get a grip on this problem. That’s why reading the strategic plans and annual reports can help ease concerns.
- You can sign up for emergency notifications from the Sacramento police department AND city through the eNotify and Sacramento Alert programs. This can help you see places to avoid in real time during crime investigations.
- SacPD also has a helicopter used when searching for suspects or other investigations. If you see a police helicopter, it might make you feel uneasy. Check the department’s website under Helicopter Notifications to see where and why the chopper is flying.
- The 311 app from the city is another valuable tool for a tourist. This allows you to contact the city directly with questions and report issues like potholes or storm damage.
- There’s another app you might want to get. It’s the SACPD Mobile App. You can offer crime tips or get links to the police’s social media pages.
- For parking downtown, use the Park Mobile app to find spots and pay for parking from the safety of your car. You won’t need to feed a meter and can add time to the meter without having to go back to your car’s location.
- Don’t donate directly to the homeless people here. It might tug at your heartstrings to see so many people down and out, but for your safety, resist temptation. You could have more people begging for money if one person gets a donation. Donate to a homeless shelter instead if you are so inclined.
- There are two ways to get to Lake Tahoe, and both can become impassible in the winter. The route to the north shore is along I-80, which is a major interstate. The south route is going to be more mountainous and narrow. You’ll need tire chains and an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle to cross the pass safely but be prepared for long wait times in heavy snowstorms.
- Summers can get very hot, but don’t swim in the rivers around Sacramento due to debris, water quality concerns, and strong currents. You can enjoy one of 17 pools in the city with very low admission rates of less than $5 a person.
- Most of the parks and public spaces here will have free WiFi, which is great for avoiding using your own data plan. Since it’s a public network, you should avoid visiting any personal websites, like banking or credit card apps, while using public WiFi. Look into getting a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before you arrive to keep your information secure.
So... How Safe Is Sacramento Really?
Sacramento not only has a higher-than-average crime problem, but the accelerated rate of that growth over the past few years is also concerning.
Even a notable personality in town tweeted that she doesn’t feel safe jogging in the middle of the day.
While that might be some theatrics because this isn’t wartime Baghdad, there are enough random and brazen crimes stacking up that it should get community engagement to help make the streets safer.
The reason for the crime problem splinters in so many directions that it’s hard to assign one – or two or three – root causes.
First, there are gangs, drug dealers, and typical crime-ridden communities.
Add to that a 70% increase in transients or homeless since 2019.
Sacramento has more homeless people than the much larger San Francisco.
The homeless problem is due, in part, to unaffordable housing rates and inflation that too many people just can’t afford.
Then there’s criminal reform, which is a political discussion on some levels.
However, it does lead to some repeat offenders getting out of jail early.
There aren’t enough mental health services to truly help those who shouldn’t be on the streets.
In 2021, the surge in crime is as listed below.
Keep in mind that many of those categories are also trending up in 2022, but final-year data isn’t available at the time of this publication.
- Murder: Up 30%
- Rape: Up 27%
- Robbery: Up 13%
- Aggravated Assult: Up 16%
- Larceny: Up 9%
- Motor Vehicle Theft: Up 26%
Crime in 2022 was trending toward an increase of nearly 20% across the board.
Domestic violence, which generally won’t impact a tourist but fuels the crime rate, was up in 2022, with an average of nine incidents each day through early June.
If you stay out of the more dangerous parts of town and avoid the homeless camps while also perfecting personal and vehicle safety, you can lower your risk here.
We’re not really ones to be alarmist about the crime rate in a city, and we certainly don’t want to scare anyone away from visiting all the great sights to see here.
That’s why focusing on safety and being transparent with information is so important.
How Does Sacramento Compare?
|New York City
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
You'll need a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver from the U.S. State Department to enter the country. You'll go through Customs at the airport, where you'll be questioned briefly by Homeland Security and Border Patrol. The process of getting a visa can take several months, so please start planning ahead of time.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted in Sacramento and across California. You should avoid using public ATMs to exchange currency or withdraw money. If you can avoid carrying cash altogether, you'll be able to get by with just a credit card for all purchases.
Rarely will the temperature get below freezing here, but you will need jackets and sweaters/sweatshirts in the winter. Bring all your winter gear if you plan to visit the nearby mountains. Most of the year, it is warm to hot, with summers getting above 90°(F) for daily highs. You'll want sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes.
Sacramento International Airport is a large enough airport for all your travel needs, but you can choose to drive two hours to the San Francisco area airports. A little fun fact about the Sacramento airport is that a giant red rabbit, as part of an art installation, looks to be jumping into a suitcase. There's a curved top on that suitcase that tourists started putting coins into, thinking it was one of those coin-swirling gravity pools. However, it's not. More than $12,000 in coins have been put into that "rabbit hole" since 2012.
Travel insurance offers peace of mind for any unexpected delays or incidents that cost you a lot of money out of pocket. Any health care visit in the United States will be costly without health insurance or supplemental travel health insurance.
Sacramento Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month