How Safe Is San Jose for Travel?

San Jose, United States
Safety Index:
58

San Jose, California, is at the heart of Silicon Valley and the largest city in the region, known as the Bay Area.

Even though San Francisco might be more well known, San Jose is larger in population and land size.

Set on the south side of San Francisco Bay, San Jose is an innovative and diverse community with major technology companies headquartered here.

Yet, in just an hour, you can “Hang Ten” in the surfing community of Santa Cruz and enjoy Monterey Bay.

This place is so cool that even the technology headquarters have tourist attractions, like the Semaphore at the top of Adobe’s building, where you are dared to “crack the code” of the four wheels at the top.

San Jose is also very close to massive redwood forests.

It’s interesting that with each city I review around the Bay Area, I happen to like the current one I’m writing about the best.

This is just a great region to explore, and San Jose is one of the safer communities in the region.

Warnings & Dangers in San Jose

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

The risk here is the high end of low or the low end of medium, depending on how comfortable you are in big cities. With more than a million people and dozens of unknown neighborhoods, you're doing the right thing by researching safety here. Every major city will have risks, but with the wave of crime across America, it's truly positive to say, "San Jose isn't nearly as bad as others."

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

There's a tapestry of public transportation routes depending on where you want to go. Caltrain gets you to San Francisco; the VTA gets you around Santa Clara County, where San Jose is located. You can take transportation to Los Angeles or Sacramento too. There are plenty of rideshares and taxis, with abundant rental car options.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

With more than 12,000 thefts in the city, it's surprising that only 102 pickpockets were reported in 2021. The average pickpocket was nearly $1500 - a nice reminder not to carry valuables around with you and keep mobile devices and technology out of plain sight.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Earthquakes will always be a risk in this region. You can review the emergency management plan to prepare just in case, but there's no way to predict "the big one." Even smaller quakes can happen that just rattle the nerves. Wildfires are another concern; California's fires get larger and more destructive each year.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

The robbery risk here is about 50% higher than the national average, and 44% of those happen in public places. We'll talk about the safest places to visit, but you can also lower your risk by not walking around alone and staying out of neighborhoods where you aren't sure of their safety status.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

The Bay Area is one of the largest in the country and home to nearly eight million people. That, mixed with the military presence, high-tech companies, and ports, will result in medium risk and incredible security measures.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

Check out the "Fraud Schemes Explained" section of the San Jose Police Department's (SJPD) website to see the most common scams. You should avoid any purchases from vendors selling out of a car's trunk or offering deep discounts on jewelry (it's likely fake, anyway).

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Women should follow the same guidelines to avoid walking alone and staying in well-lit areas at night. The sexual assault rate here is nearly twice the national average, but a large portion of that percentage is domestic-related. Avoid meeting someone privately if you connect with them on social media or a dating app. It's not worth the risk. For women of South-Asian descent, please look at the Chain Snatch crime safety tip #6 below.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance with all water standards and no violations. SJWater.com explains why some water might appear cloudy or smell funny, but most issues can be resolved by simply letting the water run for a minute or two. If you have any concerns about an issue, call (408) 279-7900. You should also bookmark the "Service Alerts" section to check any issues closer to your visit.

Safest Places to Visit in San Jose

SanJose.org is the tourism website for the city, breaking the mold of having the word “visit” or “explore” in the title, which could be confusing.

The group Team San Jose partners with the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau to create the website, so you know this is a secure and legitimate website.

Since San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley, you can expect some high-tech and innovative attractions.

One of those is Tech Interactive, a science center unlike any other place on earth.

Here the imagination meets science to explore everything from the smallest bacteria that fuel the growth of the earth to the outer reaches of space.

Exhibits are interactive and challenge even the smartest and most creative people.

Legoland Discovery Center is an indoor Lego adventure with 10 interactive zones to build and play with a Lego 4D cinema.

Upgrades for different experiences are available for $5 each.

There’s also a Children’s Discovery Museum to explore with a Guinness Book of World Records Monopoly game you can play outside.

The Winchester Mystery House lives up to its name and then some.

It’s a blend of Gothic and Victorian architecture designed more like a nonsensical maze than a mansion.

The ghost stories and fables are hard to separate from the facts of the mansion and the firearms heiress that tried to make it her home but never quite finished the job.

Is it haunted by the ghosts of Winchester gun victims?

Or just a unique layout by a design mastermind?

You decide.

Head to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium for Egyptian artifacts and folklore.

Docent-led tours take you from the King’s throne to the burial grounds to learn about the history of the Egyptians.

Just outside this museum is the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, where you truly will want to stop and smell the roses in the nearly six-acre park.

Santana Row is a great place to spend an afternoon strolling through unique boutiques and sidewalk cafes, while downtown is bustling with nightlife from brew houses to dance clubs.

Be sure to visit San Pedro Square Market for trending nightlife opportunities.

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo is one of the most interactive and laid-back zoos you’ll find in America.

You’ll also find some carnival-type rides and get a chance to feed a peacock or take a picture with the nicest dragon you’ll ever meet.

Emma Prusch Farm Regional Park is another great family-friendly attraction in the heart of San Jose, where you can learn about agriculture and farm life.

Places to Avoid in San Jose

There are several ways to look at crime in San Jose and decide where you feel is too unsafe to visit.

First, there are people who know the greater Bay Area and realize that San Jose seems extraordinarily safe compared to some of the more dangerous cities.

“At least it’s not Oakland” will often come up in your research.

One person even called San Jose “Disneyland” when compared to Oakland.

Then there are people who don’t know much about the Bay Area and might be looking at sections of the city and be concerned about rising trends and higher crime rates compared to the national average ONLY in San Jose without seeing the comparison to places like Oakland.

Research can also show you that downtown San Jose is one of the most dangerous parts of town yet one of the safest parts of town.

A great rule of thumb, without getting lost in social media rumors or slanted articles, is to stay in the places where you want to visit.

Don’t go driving through different neighborhoods.

Check crime trends before you go to see where crime is trending.

For example, as of late 2022, there was concern in the Alum Rock neighborhood, where a business owner made a pretty damning statement.

“We’ve had situations where they just come in, and we’ve had carjacking where kids run in there to hide out.

We had people that are just sitting here, and people were being robbed right in front of the customers and stuff,” Mark McClain, owner of Mark’s Hot Dogs, told the NBC station in the Bay Area.

You should avoid any place where you don’t have business being in.

There are gangs and drugs here, plus an overwhelming homeless problem coupled with mental health issues.

It’s easy to forget that the “Heart of Silicon Valley ” is also a city of more than a million people.

Safety Tips for Traveling to San Jose

  1. San Jose Police are transparent with crime data, offering monthly updates on crime reports and giving year-to-year comparisons. You can also use the Crime Mapping interactive tool to search for crimes throughout the city. For example, you can search for robberies within two miles of a hotel.
  2. SJPD has a great tool for those who don’t speak English as a first language. Submit a question to askanofficer@sanjoseca.gov, and you’ll receive a response in your native language. You can look at the “Ask An Officer” website for examples.
  3. 58% of all thefts in the city are related to car burglaries. You can greatly lower your risk by simply locking the doors and rolling up the windows. Do a full sweep of your vehicle to see what a thief would see looking inside. Even seeing chargers for mobile devices could signal to a thief there’s a valuable inside. Since this is such a high-tech area, car burglars here are known to use Bluetooth scanners to find devices inside a car – even if the devices are hidden under a seat or in the trunk. If you are storing your device, disable Bluetooth or put the device in airplane mode and turn it off.
  4. If you see suspicious people walking through parking lots, call the police to report it. They could work in teams to see if car doors are unlocked or use that scanning device. The more people report suspicious activity, the faster thieves can be caught. Never assume it’s “none of your business.”
  5. You can use a few hotlines to report suspected drug or gang activity. These are good numbers to store on your phone in case you need them. For drug activity, call (408)971-DRUG. For gang activity, call (408)923-GANG. To report graffiti, which is usually connected to gangs, call 1-866-249-0543.
  6. There’s a crime happening too often in San Jose called the Chain Snatch. Instead of grabbing a purse, thieves will rip a gold chain off a woman’s neck. The women are largely of South Asian descent and are known to wear valuable gold necklaces. It’s a good reminder for all women to limit any valuable jewelry while visiting this area.
  7. For those visiting with kids, there is a 10 pm curfew for children under 16. Those who are 16 or 17 have an 11:30 pm curfew. Don’t let your kids be out after those hours unsupervised, or else they could be taken to a curfew center and held until you come to pick them up.
  8. San Jose police have been cracking down on events known as sideshows. These large gatherings block traffic, and hundreds of people gather to watch stunts and street racing. A sideshow bust in November 2022 led to 700 citations issued, 500 cars detained, and 17 vehicles impounded. Two cars impounded were found to be stolen, and an illegal ghost gun was also confiscated by police. These sideshows are known to have people shooting guns in the air. These are happening in San Jose and Oakland. Stay away from them!
  9. Power outages can be common in San Jose to prevent wildfires and conserve energy. If a storm is moving into the area, PG&E (the utility company) might turn off power to prevent a downed power line or transformer from causing a fire. During Flex Alerts, you’ll be asked to conserve power and keep temperatures at a certain temperature, all to avoid a power outage. More information can be found on the Fire Department section of the San Jose city website.
  10. San Jose encourages micro-mobility and offers scooters and bicycles for rent. Before using these services, review the safety information and rules on the city’s website. For example, you can’t use a scooter unless you have a driver’s license.

So... How Safe Is San Jose Really?

San Jose is – statistically and in reality – safer than Oakland or San Francisco.

That doesn’t mean it’s a “safe” city.

The crime that comes with any city of more than a million people exists here with a habitually understaffed police force.

There’s a justice issue and prison reform that leads to more criminals getting out of jail or not being held fully accountable for crimes, which can increase recidivism.

A rash of violent crimes downtown in 2022 brought special attention to “nightlife dangers,” and a new policing strategy will put more officers on foot patrolling the neighborhood, especially after dark.

That’s going to take some time as the department is one of the lowest-staffed departments per capita in the country.

Chain Snatch robberies reached an elevated Hate Crime status because they targeted a certain group of minorities and filled social media channels with negative and offensive language about the crime.

The city and law enforcement has cleared out homeless camps causing safety concerns, but those same people will find a new place to stay with nowhere to go.

There are many safety tiers that need to be addressed in San Jose.

All that said, using common sense, big-city safety steps, and situational awareness will go a long way here.

Give your car extra safety measures to avoid being a victim of a car burglary or one of 17 cars stolen daily.

How Does San Jose Compare?

CitySafety Index
San Jose58
Honolulu65
Chicago65
Dallas64
Memphis54
Sydney (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71
Vienna (Austria)88

Useful Information

  • Visas - A passport and a U.S. Visa are required to get through Customs at the airport. There are different types of visas issued by the U.S. State Department, so be sure you're applying for the right one, or else you could have to start all over. The process can take several months.
  • Currency - The U.S. Dollar is used in the Bay Area, and you won't be able to use any other currency. Credit cards are accepted, and the transactions will default into USD currency. Don't use public ATMs, but there will be plenty of banks under surveillance cameras where you can safely exchange your currency.
  • Weather - San Jose is pretty mild throughout the year, with a warm yet comfortable summer. Bring a jacket for cooler nights and mornings. You'll want comfortable walking shoes, and a raincoat is a good idea too.
  • Airports - Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport is less than five miles from downtown. Oakland and San Francisco have their own airports, but each one will have at least 90 minutes on the road or public transportation to get there.
  • Travel Insurance - We always recommend travel insurance, especially when flying internationally. Buying travel insurance as soon as you book your trip also protects your travel costs in case of any last-minute cancellations. For example, if you get the flu, you'll be able to get your money back on the flight.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

San Jose Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 11° C
Feb 12° C
Mar 14° C
Apr 15° C
May 18° C
Jun 20° C
Jul 22° C
Aug 22° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 18° C
Nov 14° C
Dec 11° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
151719212426282827241915
Low
°C
678911131515141286
High
°F
596366707579828281756659
Low
°F
434546485255595957544643

Where to Next?

3 Reviews on San Jose

  1. N
    Nikolai says:

    AWFUL!

    MOST DANGEROUS CITY IN AMERICA! I WAS SHOT AT BY TERRORISTS!

  2. T
    Tim Liao says:

    I think you have San Jose, California mixed up. If New York City is a 67 and San Diego a 68 and Baltimore like 54, it is not very likely San Jose is a 56. San Jose is more closer to NYC and San Diego. Now maybe you are thinking of San Francisco or Oakland.

  3. An average location with high prices

    Very high living expenses and not a lot of interesting (to me) places to visit make this a so-so city. It’s not boring or bad although there are pickpockets around. It’s not a place to visit if you ask me as there are many other cities that are much more interesting. Just my 2 cents.

Rated 3 / 5 based on 3 user reviews.

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