Pennsylvania : Safety by City
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In the heart of Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, Scranton offers a surprising blend of rugged history, a vibrant arts scene, and a touch of TV magic.
Scranton’s story starts with black gold.
The 19th century saw coal miners flocking here, fueling an industrial boom.
That brought in the railroad era, with both economic drivers still celebrated in local museums.
Another form of transportation brought a new nickname to Scranton.
The first electrified streetcar in America rolled through Scranton in 1886.
It’s called “Electric City” because of that and future power initiatives.
The success of that era is reflected in the Hill and Greed Ridge neighborhoods, with stately mansions of the Gilded Age.
By the 1950s, coal was on the decline due to the growth of oil as a fuel.
Then a mine disaster in 1959 started what would be the economic decline of Scranton.
The once financially distressed city is now rising from the tribulations of the past – honoring the legacies but reinventing itself for modern Americans and tourists.
Visiting Scranton can take you down a coal mine shaft, ride along a historic railroad route, and dance the night away in the revitalized downtown, all in one day!
For “The Office” fans, Scranton holds a special charm.
Visit the exterior of Dunder Mifflin’s fictional Scranton branch (real-life office building!), snap a selfie by the “Scrantonicity 2” mural, or grab a pretzel at Wegmans (just like Michael!).
For a city with such a tough past, it’s also pretty safe.
Warnings & Dangers in Scranton
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in Scranton, but in reality, it's an average risk. Plenty of museums and attractions can keep you busy and away from crime concerns as long as you use common sense.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
COLTS is the public bus system for the county. Download the mySTOP app to see schedules and routes. Taxis and rideshares are easy to find. Rental cars are available at airports and in Scranton if you want to choose that option. All come with a low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
The city averages about six pickpockets and purse snatchings a year going back five years. It's a low risk, but keep it that way by only bringing what you need and leaving valuables at home.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
Flooding and winter storms are the two biggest risks here, but they come with plenty of advance notice. You can also get thunderstorms, extreme cold, or extreme heat, but the risk is low overall, especially if you keep a keen eye on the weather forecast and city alerts.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The robbery rate has dropped significantly in the past decade and is 25% lower than the national average. Keep the risk low by staying out of unknown neighborhoods and sticking to well-lit areas and main streets.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, but mass shootings and domestic terrorism in America can happen randomly anywhere. The best thing you can do is report suspicious activity as it happens. In general, it's not something to worry about in Scranton.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
This is a highly residential area, and most scams target residents. You can get with the Better Business Bureau for the most common scams to learn the tactics and avoid any new scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women are 10% more likely than men to be the victim of a violent crime, but since so many crimes here are domestic, it's not something that should overly concern a female visitor. Standard safety precautions go a long way.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report for Scranton shows no violations and full compliance. The risk is low.
Safest Places to Visit in Scranton
The tourism websites in Pennsylvania try to stick with the “Visit PA” moniker as much as possible.
That’s why it’s important to note that Visitpa.com is the statewide tourism site, while visitnepa.org is the Visit Northeast Pennsylvania website for Lackawanna County.
Scranton is in the center of the county, meaning all destinations within Lackawanna County are within 15–20 miles.
The mining and electrical history here provides several attractions, from viewing icons to immersing yourself in activities.
Sparks fly at the Electric City Trolley Station & Museum!
Ride restored antique trolleys through scenic valleys, learn how Scranton earned its “Electric City” title, and explore interactive exhibits celebrating trolley history.
Vintage streetcars, a 50-seat theater, and kid-friendly fun – all aboard for a journey to the past!
The PA Anthracite Heritage Museum sparks a journey into the “black gold” era.
Dive into interactive exhibits, uncovering the stories of anthracite miners who fueled America’s Industrial Revolution.
Touch real coal, descend a simulated mineshaft, and witness powerful steam engines in action.
NOTE: Anthracite is a black, hard, and brittle type of coal.
The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour is not simulated – you plunge 300 feet below into an 1860s mine.
Ride a mine car, explore winding tunnels past veins of anthracite, and hear miners’ tales.
Feel the 50°F chill, learn about backbreaking labor, and witness the legacy that fueled the Industrial Revolution.
The tour is underground, but for those who don’t like tight spaces (like me), there’s plenty of breathing room.
History meets wonder at the Everhart Museum, one of the oldest in the state.
Journey through time from the dinosaur T. rex’s mighty bones to a glowing gallery of rocks and gems to captivating dioramas transporting you to faraway lands.
Scranton’s Iron Furnaces once belched fire and forged a nation’s rails.
Explore these 19th-century titans, remnants of a bygone era when Pennsylvania fueled the Industrial Revolution.
At Steamtown National Historic Site, you will learn more about the railroad era with the whistle-blow and ground thrum as majestic steam locomotives come alive.
Explore a vast railyard where gleaming giants like the K4 Pacific (pictured) stand proud.
Unleash your inner magic at the Houdini Museum & Magic Show.
Immerse yourself in the world of the legendary escapologist with fascinating artifacts, a captivating movie, and a guided tour revealing Houdini’s daring feats.
Then, be dazzled by a live hour-long stage show featuring professional magicians and awe-inspiring illusions.
Houdini wasn’t from here, but he had several big performances in Scranton.
Dive into an underwater adventure and slither into scaly encounters at the Electric City Aquarium & Reptile Den!
Explore over 20,000 square feet of aquatic and reptilian exhibits, where you can watch feedings, attend guided tours or even touch a stingray.
The city also offers a slew of self-guided tours and trails, including:
- “The Office” Guided Tour: See some of the most popular locations from the hit TV show The Office.
- Pizza Trail: Pizza is a big deal here, and through the Lackawanna Pizza Trail, you can explore more than 160 iterations of pizza flavors.
- Sipping Tour: Try the different vine creations on the Lackawanna County Wine Trail.
- Boo!: The Lackawanna County Haunted Trail is sure to question your belief in ghosts.
- Underground Railroad: Explore the destinations on the Destination Freedom: Underground Railroad Walking Tour.
Places to Avoid in Scranton
I wouldn’t consider any part of Scranton “too dangerous” to visit, but there are pockets on the south side that are less desirable.
However, most places that aren’t smart for tourists to visit are pretty obvious, like those lined with blighted homes and businesses.
Even though violent crimes against strangers aren’t common, you don’t want to roll up on a bad situation and be caught in the crossfire.
Finding a hotel in Scranton means staying on the outskirts of the community, as that’s where the groupings of hotels are located.
Avoid trying to find a hotel within the city, as there just aren’t many.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Scranton
- Scranton does have its own police department. You can find them on Facebook or Twitter under @ScrantonPolice. The phone number is (570)348-4131 should you have specific questions.
- Sign up for AlertPA notifications to get severe weather and public safety messages. It’s important to stay on top of developing weather or dangerous situations. This is a statewide alert, but you can choose the city or county you’ll be in to reduce the number of messages. Scranton is in Lackawanna County.
- Students at the University of Scranton have an additional emergency notification system, and parents can also be enrolled in those alerts. You can also follow them on X (formerly Twitter) @univofscranton.
- Scranton Police use the City Protect crime mapping system, which is a wonderful tool to track down more recent crimes based on your own parameters. For example, you might want to know how many robberies have happened near the hotel you’re considering.
- That same program offers a function where you can provide anonymous information about a crime that occurred. For example, if you think you saw a drug deal but didn’t want to report it – but then realize it ended in a shooting – you can offer whatever information you remember.
- If you are involved in a car accident in Scranton, even with minor damage, you’ll need a police report from the insurance company. You can get those online for a $15 fee.
- Also, on the police website, there is a section where you can report a crime involving you or your property. To keep police engaged on the most pressing crime issues, like gun violence, issues like a hit-and-run accident with minor damage to your car can be reported online without having to call an officer to the scene.
- Scrantonpaparking.com is the website where you can get information about where to park and how much it will cost. This is separate from the city’s website. Parking rules and rates differ from parking garages to street parking.
- Before booking a hotel, look at how close that location is to the river and check the city flood risk management section to see how prone that area is to flooding. While Scranton is no stranger to floods, a major storm in September 2023 did a lot of damage. You don’t want to be anywhere near a flood area if you visit during a period of heavy rain.
- Any fishing in the state requires a license from the Pennsylvania Boat & Fish Commission. Be sure to get a non-resident license and carry it with you at all times while fishing.
So... How Safe Is Scranton Really?
By all accounts, Scranton is a tough city that has been repeatedly down but never out.
Even after spending 30 years as a financially distressed city, the designation was removed in 2022.
There are still many battles to be fought, particularly when it comes to juveniles and crime, which also ties back to economic conditions.
One in five people live in poverty here, with an average income 23% lower than the national average.
Then gang problems plague the city, with juveniles being recruited at a young age.
Recently it was found that more than 100 students in the school district are affiliated with gangs.
“Believe me, it’s a shock to all of us, but now we’ve been made aware of it, we need to come up with a plan on how we are going to deal with this growing problem,” said Scranton School Board President Ty Holmes.
Yet despite the challenges, the city has seen an 81% decrease in violent crime since a huge spike in 2019.
Between 2018 and 2020, crime rates soared.
That has leveled back down to the average numbers from the past decade.
Violent crime is 8% higher than the state average and 24% lower than the national average.
Just 11% of crimes involve strangers, which suggests if you don’t go looking for trouble, you won’t find any.
Even robberies are down 74% over the past decade and now stand 63% lower than the national average.
Thefts are 25% lower than the national average, with 27% of those being car break-ins or car accessory thefts.
If you choose to rent a car here, always lock the doors, roll up the windows, and remove personal items.
Scranton is also making concerted efforts to improve blight and offer more programs to help its citizens economically.
Let’s hope this safer trend continues.
How Does Scranton Compare?
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International visitors might be eligible for a visa waiver, but it depends on the country of origin and some other factors. Check that on the U.S. State Department website. Otherwise, a visa will be required, along with a valid passport.
The U.S. Dollar is the currency of the land. All the nearby airports offer currency exchange services, but your home bank offers the lowest fees - or if your home bank has a branch in Scranton, you can use that too. Check with your credit card company about foreign transaction fees.
Scranton experiences four full seasons, with summer temperatures staying in the low 80s F. Watch out for the humidity, though - it can send the heat index soaring, and you'll want sunscreen and bug spray. Winter nights stay below freezing from December through March, so pack warm, insulated layers.
Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport is just eight miles from Scranton, while the NYC area airports are a 2-3 hour drive. A bus ride to the city will take longer, so check that schedule before booking.
U.S. adventures made secure! Comprehensive travel insurance protects against emergencies, weather disasters, and car trouble. Remember to confirm U.S. health coverage.
Scranton Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Pennsylvania - Safety by City