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
San Francisco, California, is the main attraction in the San Francisco Bay area, surrounded by water on three sides with dynamic bridges connecting it to Oakland and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
When you look at the dynamic skyline of San Francisco, it’s hard to imagine it once tumbling to the ground in a massive earthquake back in 1906.
The powerful quake and the resulting fires essentially leveled the city.
The city was rebuilt into what is now a major commercial, financial, and distribution hub of the western United States.
It’s the fourth-largest city in the state, with nearly 900,000 people, and one of the top five metro areas in the country.
The city is a series of hills, with more than 50 of them throughout the grid layout of streets.
This is why popular places have the word “hill” in them, like Russian Hill or Nob Hill.
The steep inclines give incredible skyline, water, and bridge views from various locations.
San Francisco is a true cultural melting pot of people and places.
From Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf to the Financial District – and beyond – there is so much to explore in just 47 square miles.
Warnings & Dangers in San Francisco
OVERALL RISK: LOW
While there are definitely some hot crime spots and categories, the city is at the high end of a low risk or the low end of a medium risk, depending on how comfortable you are visiting a big city.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
MuniTransit, combined with the cable car routes, makes it easy to get around SF without a car. It's a bikeable and walkable city, but don't forget those hills when considering non-motorized methods. Rideshares and taxis are abundant. If you are going to rent a car, there are plenty of them, but watch out for the steep parking prices at the hotel. Most hotels charge around $50 or more for daily parking. You might be able to find a better deal at a nearby garage, but you won't have access to valet services.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
San Francisco Police don't offer exact pickpocket statistics, but you can review the crime data from MuniTransit. In 2021, there were 127 pickpockets reported on the transit system. In any big city, especially one as crowded as San Francisco, you should treat it with medium risk and avoid large purses or wallets in the back pocket.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Earthquakes are the big risk factor here, and there's no way to know when one is coming. You might feel smaller quakes that aren't damaging, but it can be scary if you've never felt the earth move before. Fog can also be a problem here, limiting visibility.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
Overall in 2021, robberies were three times higher than the national average. In 2022, there was a rash of robberies in the northeast section of the city. The robbers targeted people with expensive watches and even held the victims at gunpoint to get the valuable watch. This is another great reminder to leave valuables at home.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There is serious concern about the potential for an attack on the Bay Area, but it's also met with a lot of security from local law enforcement up to Homeland Security and the military. You can review the San Francisco Emergency Management Plan to be more familiar with risks and safety steps.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Most of the scams reported here involve rental scams. If you're visiting long term and renting an apartment, be cautious of where you find a listing and how much money you pay upfront. A good warning sign is a deal that seems too good to be true or someone who won't meet you in person or Facetime from the apartment.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
The sexual assault rate here is half the national average, which seems a bit of an oddity. You'll need good personal safety steps, like not walking around at night or meeting someone online and going to a private residence.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows there were no violations and full compliance in more than 95,000 tests done throughout the year. On a side note, the city repurposes wastewater after treating it - but not drinking water quality level - to provide irrigation for green spaces.
Safest Places to Visit in San Francisco
Sftravel.com is the official tourism site for the city and county of San Francisco.
(Although the city and county are in the same locations) In a city as big as San Francisco, plus the surrounding cities, it’s hard to summarize all the great, safe places to visit.
Use the website as a way to research the best attractions, restaurants, and hotels while using a secure website with trusted information.
As a bonus, each destination includes which public transportation you can use to get there.
A sightseeing pass is a perfect way to get more value and see more places.
The packages are created with a group of attractions or destinations, and you’ll get deep discounts compared to if you see each attraction solo.
The Land-Sea Combo takes you right from the double Decker bus to the bay cruise boat.
There are 20 neighborhoods in San Francisco to visit, but some are more popular than others or catered to specific tastes.
The top spot for tourists is Fisherman’s Wharf.
It’s a historical district with action and energy abounding at every turn.
Pier 39 has all the shops and restaurants with fresh seafood.
You can also board whale-watching tours here or take some time to watch the sea lions lounging.
In between Pier 39 and Hyde Street Pier is the place to buy tickets for a tour of Alcatraz, a former high-security prison on an island with cold, chopping waters surrounding it.
If you’re going to visit Chinatown, stop by the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum first so you can learn about the history before you explore the colorful and cultural neighborhood.
The Wok Wiz Tours will take you through a variety of restaurants so you can savor the samples.
Art and museum lovers should head South of Market (SoMa) for a series of cultural and historical museums.
This is one of the more upscale neighborhoods if tourists are looking to stay in luxurious hotels.
Channel your inner hippie in the Haigh-Asbury District, with colorful Victorian homes and eclectic shops and cafes.
You can also see the former homes of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
They aren’t open for tours and are now private residences, but most fans won’t care – they still want the Instagram photo.
Golden Gate Park is the Central Park of San Francisco and nestles right up to Ocean Beach with unobstructed views of the ocean.
The park is also where the Botanical Garden is located.
Head south on that beach to get to the San Francisco Zoo.
Fillmore is great for vintage shopping and vogue designers, but it’s also one of the top locations for views of the city.
Check the concert schedule at The Fillmore to get a taste of the music that made this neighborhood famous.
The Golden Gate Bridge is open for walkers, bikers, and wheelchairs.
There’s a gift shop and parks on either side, with walking tours available a few days during the week.
Places to Avoid in San Francisco
Once you go south of California Street, crime rates start to increase, especially on the east side of the city.
Bayview and Mission are neighborhoods with some of the highest crime rates.
Only go to Golden Gate Park during the day and try to visit SoMa in the daytime as it can get a little seedy at night – or just use an abundance of caution and enjoy the nightlife.
Avoid just hopping in the bay or ocean water anytime you’re near the edge.
Ocean Beach is one of the safer beaches for swimming, and China Beach does have great windsurfing or parasailing but isn’t great for swimming.
You might want to wear a wetsuit in the water because it could get cold.
Check San Francisco Shoreline Beach Monitoring Program’s website each day to see if the water quality is suitable for activities.
Don’t walk around the city with headphones on or look like a lost puppy.
Even when in doubt, walk with confidence and swagger to seem like you know exactly where you are going.
If you need to ask for directions, pop into a business and ask the manager for help.
Don’t ask any person on the street.
Safety Tips for Traveling to San Francisco
- I usually save this one for later, but with 66% of all thefts being car break-ins here, it’s worth mentioning upfront. I do believe that’s the highest car break-in rate I’ve seen. Even when you’re parking at a hotel and using valet, don’t leave personal belongings inside. Only give the key to your vehicle, not the whole key ring.
- SFPD has a real-time crime-tracking dashboard on its website. This allows you to see up-to-date crime information and not just the 2021 data I can offer you. You can custom tailor the dashboard to only show crimes in certain neighborhoods, giving you a better look at the places to avoid when you visit.
- SF311 is a program to get you in touch with city services or file a concern, like a pothole or homeless encampment. This is not for law enforcement emergencies. You’ll use 911 for that.
- There are a lot of homeless people in San Francisco, and some suffer from mental illness. It can be jarring for people who aren’t used to seeing a homeless problem up close. There are a lot of good charities you can donate to if you are inclined to give money, but don’t give money to a homeless person.
- There’s a 24/7 crime tip hotline. The number is (415)575-4444. You can also call the Narcotics tipline at 1-800-CRACK-it (272-2548) if you suspect illegal drug use. If you want to text a crime tip, send it to TIP411 (847411) using SFPD as a keyword and then type your message.
- Sign up for AlertSF to get emergency notifications during your visit. This will cover severe weather, criminal emergencies, or civil disturbances. Also, follow @SF_Emergency on Twitter to get updates there.
- If you do experience an earthquake while you are there, it’s important to review the emergency management guide for what to do ahead of time. If you are outside, you do NOT want to run inside to seek cover. Just try to get to a place away from any falling debris (for example, don’t hide under the awning of a building). If you are inside, get under a sturdy table or desk and cover your head with your hands.
- You can use that 311 number to ask for a Community Ambassador to safely escort you between locations. You’ll be able to identify your ambassador by the bright yellow jacket. While this service is available in many neighborhoods, review the city website to see which neighborhoods are served.
- There are a lot of rules for parking in San Francisco, from colored curbs to towing zones. SFTravel.com is a great website that lays out all the rules you need to know. The PayByPhone Parking app can help you pay for metered parking without having to pull out your wallet or be at a meter.
- San Francisco is known for its fog, especially in the mornings and during the summer. If you want to avoid the fog, plan for afternoon activities, as the morning fog has melted away and the evening fog hasn’t set in yet. This could also be a good window to schedule flights to reduce the risk of fog delays.
So... How Safe Is San Francisco Really?
While San Francisco is ranked as one of the Top 10 Places to Live by U.S. News and World Report and is one of the top tourist destinations in America, there’s still a crime rate to be weary of when visiting.
The Mission, Bayview, and Tenderloin districts are the ones you should go out of your way to avoid.
Theft is really the biggest thing a tourist needs to worry about when visiting San Francisco.
Whether it’s breaking into a car or slipping an iPhone out of a pocket, you need to be protective of your stuff in a proactive way.
Don’t fight back if someone does steal from you.
Watch thefts have been getting increasingly violent, so reduce that risk by not wearing an expensive watch or jewelry, for that matter.
An average of 17 cars are stolen daily in San Francisco, too, so don’t leave the car running to pick up food or leave the keys in the car.
Ask the hotel to see where the car keys are stored to make sure it’s in a safe place away from your vehicle.
One thing that really stood out to me when I booked a San Francisco trip was the hotel price shown online versus the final total.
Once you add in the parking, which left me speechless, and other fees, the discount price wasn’t such a great deal.
You might find a hotel that is actually more expensive with less expensive parking, making it a better deal than a lower-priced hotel room.
Stay in the areas designated for tourists here and use extra caution at night.
Don’t leave both ears immersed in headphones.
You want to be able to see and hear all the things around you – day and night.
How Does San Francisco Compare?
|New York City
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
You'll need a Visa issued by the U.S. State Department to get into the country by boat or through one of the airports. You can use the Visa Wizard on the department's website to see which one is right for you. Plan a few months for this process to happen, and you will be required to do an in-person interview.
You can exchange currency at the airport or many local banks. Don't use a public ATM. Get cash inside a bank. You will only be able to use the U.S. Dollar (USD) currency here.
The weather here is pretty consistent throughout the year, so you don't need to plan clothing for extremes. This is northern California, so warm beach days will not happen often. Jeans, a light jacket, and a t-shirt or sweatshirt should be fine. Wear comfortable shoes because there are a lot of hills here.
You can choose from the San Francisco Airport, the San Jose airport, or Oakland's airport. Even the closest airport, SFO, will take at least 30 minutes to get there in traffic.
We always recommend travel insurance, especially in a region where the fog can greatly impact flight delays and cancellations. If you don't have health coverage that extends to San Fransisco, it's wise to purchase supplemental insurance just in case of any emergencies.
San Francisco Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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