Maryland : Safety by City
- Ellicott City
- Germantown & Gaithersburg
- Ocean City
- Silver Spring
Salisbury, Maryland, and the surrounding Wicomico County are full of adventures, surprises, and rather hard-to-pronounce names.
Maryland as a whole has the nickname “American in Miniature” due to the vast landscapes – oceans, mountains, marshes, plains, etc. – and Salisbury is a great central location to all of them.
Salisbury has adopted the motto “The Comfortable Side of Coastal,” offering small town-charm in the eastern coastal state section on the Delmarva Peninsula.
I’ve gotten quite a few laughs learning how to pronounce things here, including Wicomico County, which is “WHY-comic-oh,” not “Wyco-Meeco.”
Nearby Worcester County is “Wooster.”
In fact, one of the few things that are pronounced as it looks is Assawoman Bay.
(It’s an Indian phrase for “midway fishing creek.”)
Even nearby Deal Island looks like a great spot to visit if you’re just looking at the maps, only to find its actual Devil’s Island and great stories about why it got that foreboding nickname.
Salisbury is a small town of 33,000 people with a love of Maryland’s landscapes but sits at the mouth of the Wicomico River with easy access to the Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic Ocean.
This convenient location has long made Salisbury a shipping, shopping, and distribution city.
Oh, and the name of the city has nothing to do with Salisbury steaks.
That dish got its name from the man who invented it.
Warnings & Dangers in Salisbury
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Salisbury is exponentially safer than it was a decade ago, but there's still some work to be done. At the end of 2021, crime data shows the violent crime rate was twice the national average. Property crimes were high as well. It's important to remember that the data can be slightly misleading with a smaller population since crime rates are determined per 100,000 people. For example, the 48 robberies in this city of 33,000 turn out to be a robbery rate 1.5 times higher than the national average. Treat this with a medium risk out of an abundance of caution.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Downtown Salisbury has a trolley between different entertainment locations. There's a Shore Transit that can take you to several beach communities as well. Taxis and rideshares are available, but having your own car is a great way to explore all the scenic drives here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Just two pickpockets were reported in 2021, giving it a low risk. Nearly 30% of thefts were from car burglaries, so don't leave personal items in your car to avoid carrying them around. Bring only what you need and leave the rest in the hotel.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's potential for dangerous weather throughout the year, so treat it with a medium risk. Review the emergency management plan to deal with flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, or hurricanes as they approach. Knowing hurricane and tropical storm safety from June through November is especially important.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Robbery reports have been cut in half since 2015, and 2021 saw the lowest rate since at least 2011. As we discussed, it's still a higher crime rate than average. Most of the crimes are business robberies, but just use caution if you're out at night or in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here since it's a rural area with nothing but small towns and wilderness for miles. Salisbury is on a separate peninsula from nearby Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The typical utility and IRS scams happen here, but no scams are reported as being common against tourists. There have been a few elderly scams. Report any suspicious activity to the police.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should use all the standard cautions and safety steps here, but there isn't any reason to be overly worried, even if you're visiting here alone. Always keep a charged mobile device with you, and don't walk alone at night. If you're going to the nature areas, let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance for all tested chemicals, but there was one violation due to a reporting error that was quickly fixed. You should double-check water quality if you're there during tropical weather or flooding.
Safest Places to Visit in Salisbury
Salisbury doesn’t have its own official tourism website, but WicomicoTourism.org might as well be.
It covers the whole country, including Salisbury surrounding cities and some along the Chesapeake Bay.
The Salisbury Zoo is a free attraction open every day of the year except for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Donations and welcome, and the gift shop offers Fair Trade artisan crafts that help support underserved countries represented in the zoo family.
The zoo also has an app where you learn more information.
Poplar Hill Mansion is a historical building open for tours, with quite the story behind it.
The original builder got a little too extravagant with the building, especially since he had serious health issues, and the building went to a local doctor.
I don’t want to ruin the whole story, but it’s worth walking through this charming mansion and seeing the mementos and artifacts within.
The downtown Salisbury Arts & Entertainment District is a wonderful place for a morning cup of coffee through a fine dining dinner to wrap up the day.
This is where the National Folk Festival is held each year and the third Friday of every month brings locals out for a night of artsy entertainment.
Visit SalisburyArtsDistrict.com for a full schedule of events during your trip.
The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art celebrates birds, art, and nature with hands-on activities, a nature trail, and some of the best duck decoys you’ve ever seen.
Some workshops are cool, like one where you can learn how to turn a seashell or oyster shell into a trinket dish that will last for decades.
Pemberton Historical Park is alive with nature and environmental tours as you stroll through forests, meadows, and wetlands.
On-site is the only 18th-century home in this county, and its history explains how an indentured servant brought forth a family that would become among the wealthiest in the community.
This park spans 262 acres with nearly five miles of trails.
Places to Avoid in Salisbury
The Salisbury Police Department offers crime maps from the past few years and year-to-date that clearly lays out the higher crime areas.
This is very helpful since crime rates and hot spots can change quickly.
The city has a large income disparity, which will be reflected in the neighborhoods.
It’s always smart to avoid driving through neighborhood streets and stick to main roads to get around.
There are more pockets of crime on the south side of the city, but the areas are so small it’s not easy to mention places to avoid.
The crime distribution maps are very helpful.
Deal Island Historic District sounds like a great place to visit.
It even pops out when you look at the map as it’s surrounded by water on the bay.
Add on a trip to the Deal Island State Wildlife Management Area, and you’ve got a great day trip.
Now, I’m not telling you to AVOID Deal Island.
I just want to tell you why some people call it Devil’s Island, and the cute natural area you drive through on the way there, named Dames Quarters, is called the Quarters of the Damned.
This is because pirates used to roam this area, hiding in the marshes that leave no footprints, allowing them to pillage and plot.
Today, there are no more pirates, but there’s not much else unless you love watching crab and shelling boats work their loads.
Labor Day brings skipjack races, which is a popular event.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Salisbury
- You can contact Salisbury Police by emailing email@example.com or calling (410)548-3165. Officers will be happy to help you by discussing the safer areas for you to visit or the best location to get a hotel.
- Look at the Community Connection section of the department’s website for a list of the top security concerns and safety steps you can take while visiting this quaint community. For example, it’s recommended that you don’t wear expensive jewelry or use your mobile phone in plain sight.
- The crime reduction in Salisbury has been possible because of a good relationship between police and the community, so please help keep that spirit alive by reporting any crime information you get. You can always call 911 in an emergency, but there’s also an anonymous form you can use on the department’s website.
- Salisbury has speed enforcement cameras, so stick to the speed limit. Most of these are near schools, and you’ll see a sign alerting you to the camera’s presence. If you get caught, a digital photo will be taken of your vehicle, and you’ll be mailed a ticket within 30 days. Yes, even in a rental car. Two notices are sent before a summons is issued.
- Sign up for Text Message Alerts through the city’s website. You just need to leave your name and phone number to get information covering the city or downtown. You should also get emergency alerts from Wicomico County, covering severe weather and civil emergencies.
- You’ll need a fishing license if you want to do any kind of fishing, including crabbing or shelling. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers all the information on its website, and you can also purchase the license there.
- Don’t risk anything when it comes to hurricanes or tropical weather. This area is rather remote, and there’s only one highway to get you back to the mainland. You could be stuck in traffic for hours if you wait too long. For those who think a hurricane could be “exciting,” think about how NOT exciting it will be afterward to be without power and clean water for days at a time.
- This area is surrounded by water on three sides and brings an abundance of bugs. Mosquitos can carry West Nile Virus and leave behind painful bites. Wear a bug spray with DEET at all times, and using a citrus-based cologne or perfume can help too.
- If you see windows with dots or cables across them, it’s not because of a safety concern for people. It prevents birds from flying into windows and getting hurt or killed. If you see an injured bird, don’t touch it with your bare hands. Call 1-877-463-6497 to report the incident and follow guidance from the natural resources officer.
- You’ll have plenty of fresh seafood choices in Maryland, but if you’re concerned about eating too much, visit the Maryland Department of the Environment website. Look for the Fish Consumption Advisories and check out the interactive map listing how much of a certain fish or shelled animal is safe to eat in a month. It also shows information by county, as the body of water where an animal is caught can lead to different health issues.
So... How Safe Is Salisbury Really?
This is a question that is very hard to nail down.
Looking just at the statistics, it’s not a very safe place.
Of course, compared to Baltimore – a very dangerous city – it’s not that dangerous at all.
What is promising is how much crime has been reduced over the past decade.
There is no “flash in the pan” drop in crime.
It has been systematic and consistent each year.
While the Salisbury Police offer great information about the crime data and the “hot spots” for certain types of crime, what’s lacking is “who’s the victim?”.
Since there aren’t solid numbers to suggest how many crimes are random acts of violence vs. domestic issues vs. drug-related, we can best suggest using crime prevention strategies and personal safety steps as if you were in a larger city.
You still need to lock your car and roll up the windows when you park while not leaving personal items inside.
You should avoid anyone who’s offering drugs, even if they look like discounted prescription drugs, as the Opioid epidemic is running rampant in America.
That said, this city is bucking the national trend of increasing crime rates and, year over year, breaks “lowest crime” records in key categories.
This is a great vacation spot and a cool area to visit, but don’t let your guard down.
How Does Salisbury Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. Visa to get through Customs at the airport. There are several Visa options connected to the purpose of your trip. Get the right choice from the start, or else you'll have to start over. This process can take several months, so plan ahead of time.
- Currency - You will need to have U.S. Currency here. Exchange currency at the airport or in a bigger city to avoid using public ATMs. Credit cards are the safest payment for since you can track your purchases daily and look for fraudulent activity. Those cards also offer better fraud and identity theft protection than debit cards.
- Weather - Maryland gets all four seasons, so pack accordingly. Winter can be chilly, so bring a warm coat and winter accessories. You'll want hiking boots too. Summers will be warm, but there might be chilly nights where a sweatshirt would be good to have. Bring bug spray and sunscreen.
- Airports - Salisbury Regional Airport offers American Airlines flights. The airport is just six miles from downtown. If you want to fly in/out of Washington, D.C., or Baltimore, expect a two-hour road trip each way.
- Travel Insurance - It might seem like investing in travel insurance is a financial risk, but it gives so much peace of mind during your trip in case anything would go wrong. You'll also get better protection if a hurricane or winter storm shut down this part of the country.
Salisbury Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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