Maryland : Safety by City
- Ellicott City
- Germantown & Gaithersburg
- Ocean City
- Silver Spring
Silver Spring, Maryland, is just north of Washington, D.C., and is mostly “inside the Beltway,” meaning inside the I-495 loop around the city.
The city was named after the mineral Mica that was first seen in a nearby spring in 1840.
That same type of Mica is now what gives some makeup shimmering properties.
You can visit the founding site at Acorn Park.
Silver Spring is a suburban area infused with arts and culture.
It has a “new” feel with its entertainment districts and plenty of history to explore, including the bullet used to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.
The Food & Drug Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are located in Silver Spring, confirming that this is close enough to Washington, D.C., to have big industry and government entities.
While most of the local television stations are from Washington, you can read the local paper, Source of the Spring, online.
Silver Spring isn’t a formal city. It’s technically a census-designated area.
Its leadership and law enforcement come from Montgomery County.
There are several hotels near the downtown area, and nearby Bethesda has even more hotels.
Warnings & Dangers in Silver Spring
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Silver Spring is one of the lower-risk areas in the Washington, D.C., metro region and Montgomery County. However, it is one of the town areas in the county that have crime task forces working to lower an increase in crime. Germantown is the other one. As of 2021, this area was still below national averages in key violent and personal crime categories.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
This region has many ways to get around. Use the TRANSIT section of the Maryland Department of Transportation website to research all the options. You can choose from local city buses, commuter busses, light rail systems, a subway system, train route, and "taxi access." Rideshares are also available and rental cars are widely available. You can get to Washington, D.C. using the public transportation here. The abundance of options can be confusing, but the transportation website makes it easier to understand.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Statistically, there's a low risk but don't let your guard down. This is a growing area with an increase in thefts since the 2021 data was released. Avoid putting your wallet in the back pocket and carry small purses that are crossbody design, so they can be easily hidden under jackets.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Winter brings the risk of blizzards, ice storms, and snow storms, with a robust snow emergency plan across the region to help clear roads and communication safety hazards. Spring brings severe thunderstorms and the occasional tornado. Summer starts hurricane season, which runs through November, so keep an eye on the National Hurricane Center social media sites to monitor activity.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Several high-profile armed robberies of individuals has shaken this community, so use extra caution, especially when out at night. A quick survey of local news stories and police blotters show most crimes in 2022 happened after dark. Car thefts, carjackings, and business robberies have also increased. Just be on guard. It's not an overwhelming risk, but it's still a threat you should treat as a medium risk.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The entire metro D.C. area has seen firsthand the acts of terrorism, even with increased security at the nation's capital. While security is now tighter than ever, it's still worth being aware of your surroundings and reporting anything suspicious to the local police.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
For those who will use public transportation, the MDOT website has an urgent message;"If you have received a text from “Maryland-MDot Urgent” addressing “MDot customer” with a link, please ignore the text. It is SPAM and has been reported to MDOT’s IT Department. DO NOT click on the link and DELETE the message." Mail theft has also increased here, in case you plan on getting any mail delivered during your stay.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women face the same risk as anyone else, and nothing in the crime statistics suggests there's a higher risk for women. If you are confronted by a criminal at any time, don't fight back. Use extra care if you're out at night and don't walk around alone. Use taxis or rideshares, even if you are just going a few blocks. Some of the most popular entertainment districts have seen a surge in 2022 crime.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water utility here proudly states it hasn't had a violation of safe drinking water in more than 100 years and the 2021 Water Quality Report backs that up. If you have any questions or complaints about the water after you arrive, call (301)206-4002.
Safest Places to Visit in Silver Spring
VisitMontgomery.com is the official tourism website for the county and has a section for Silver Spring.
You can explore the offerings throughout each region of the state at VisitMaryland.org.
Check out silverspringdowntown.com for events and options in the city’s core.
Downtown Silver Spring is rich with art, shopping, and dining, plus various events and performances throughout the year.
There are hundreds of options to explore here, so use that downtown website to explore your specific tastes and activities.
The National Museum of Health and Medicine is in Silver Spring.
This free museum is easier to explore if you download the NMHM app with maps and safety information.
This is where the bullet that killed President Lincoln is displayed, and the museum walks you through the history of medicine.
Fair warning: Some of the exhibits might be jarring for those with a weak stomach, but this is a museum where children go on field trips, so it’s not too scary. You can review the exhibits online ahead of time to see which ones would best suit your interests. (For example, you’ll see brains, traumatic injury replicas, and skeletons.)
Stop by the urban Acorn Park for a look at the founding site of the city.
Visit the gazebo which is the site where the founding father of Silver Spring proposed to his wife.
Just six miles south on your way to D.C., you can visit the Smithsonian National Zoo.
The zoo is free but does require tickets to be reserved in advance.
To get you excited about the visit, check out the live webcams of pandas, bears, and cheetah’s on the zoo’s website.
These animal live streams could change as time goes on.
AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center is a movie theater that shows everything but the latest blockbuster.
Here you’ll find a rotation of Indy films, historic films, and even some silent films.
You can buy tickets online or at the box office.
For a more modern performance, The Fillmore is the entertainment destination of the city bringing in popular bands and performances.
Places to Avoid in Silver Spring
While it’s widely accepted that downtown areas will have more crime since there are more people and opportunities for criminals, the challenge in 2022 and beyond for Silver Springs is that all the locations that should be safe are seeing a surge in crime.
The downtown area experienced several high-profile crimes near the intersection of Ellsworth and Fenton.
Veteran’s plaza, where many festivals and events are held, has seen an increase as well.
While local leaders and law enforcement have enacted crime-lowering safety strategies, you can take some steps to lower your risk of being a victim.
- I’ve seen this trend in big cities across the nation – crime happening at closing time of bars. Lower your risk by leaving at least 30 minutes before closing.
- Don’t walk around at night alone in any area that isn’t well-lit. Try to stick to places where you can see law enforcement.
There are also 24-hour businesses in this downtown district, and we’d recommend avoiding those as too many crimes have been connected to people out late at night and getting into trouble.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Silver Spring
- Montgomery County Police split up the region into six districts. Silver Spring is in District 3. This is helpful because you can review weekly crime reports on the police department’s Facebook page @mcpnews. You can also use the interactive crime map on the department’s website to search for crimes in this area closer to your visit.
- Car thefts and car burglaries are on the risk in this popular entertainment area. Never leave your keys inside a vehicle and don’t let the car “warm up” if you aren’t safely locked inside. Don’t leave personal belongings in plain sight. If you have computers or mobile devices in the trunk, turn off all Bluetooth functions and shut then down before leaving the car parked.
- You can contact District 3 officers by emailing 3DCommunity@montgomerycountymd.gov or calling (240)773-6800. This can help you get specific information closer to your visit.
- Download the Crime Solvers app to help report any suspicious activity during your visit. Being aware of these situations can help police crackdown on crime. Don’t assume because you’re visiting that it’s “none of your business.” Every tip helps. You will remain completely anonymous.
- Panhandling is legal in Montgomery County and Silver Spring, but that doesn’t mean the panhandlers can be aggressive or block traffic. If you experience a panhandler crossing the line, report it to the police immediately.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through Alert Montgomery. You’ll be able to select which notifications you want to receive and what method of communication you prefer. At minium, opt in to severe weather and traffic information. You should also follow the emergency management department on Facebook @MCOEMHS.
- Since winter can be bitterly cold here, the emergency management department could issue a Hypothermia Warning. This means that temperatures will be at or below 32°(F) for extended periods of time. If you see a person or pet left out in the cold, call (301)279-8000.
- Summer brings the reverse warning of a Hyperthermia Alert. This is when the temperature or “feels like” temperature will be above 95°(F). Be sure to drink extra water and consumer more electrolytes during the heat waves.
- Anglers will need a fishing license from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. There are different options for licensing, including specific information for crabbing. Be sure you get the non-resident license. International travelers can get a license.
- This region has a mix of pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists. To reduce the risk of injuries and accidents, check out the BeStreetSmart.net which offers regional safety advice and statistics to help you get around safely.
So... How Safe Is Silver Spring Really?
A crime task force is specifically working the downtown area of Silver Spring, with extra patrols on Friday and Saturday nights.
Traffic cameras have been added to hold reckless drivers accountable.
While this district is facing a shortage of police officers in 2022, new incentives were created to recruit more officers.
“The objective is to make the situation better so that businesses thrive, the community thrives, and people are safe when they come downtown to have dinner or to shop or come down to listen to a band,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.
Half of the car thefts in this area are when people leave a car running and step outside.
This could even happen in a few seconds at a gas station.
There has also been a trend of thieves breaking into a home to get the car keys, then stealing the car.
Keep your keys in a safe hiding spot when you aren’t using them at your hotel or rental home.
50% of the carjackings in Montgomery County happened in Silver Spring, which is a great reminder to drive with your doors locked and always leave an “escape path” when sitting in traffic.
The biggest concerns and risks happen in Silver Spring at night and after hours.
As this is a live, work, play community, some people have expressed concerned about the increase in crime since the summer of 2021.
600 residents have signed a petition demanding more restrictions on late night and after hours bars and lounges.
This area is still facing a lower crime risk than in some other counties and big cities, but to see the crime increase happening is concerning enough to use extra caution while enjoying the great entertainment districts of Silver Spring.
How Does Silver Spring Compare?
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- Visas - The U.S. State Department issues any visa for visitors from outside the United States. Start with the Visa Wizard module to find the right visa for your travel needs. This process is lengthy, with an in-person interview and extensive background check required. You'll also need a valid passport to travel.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar in this state and across the country. Credit cards are widely accepted, and you can get away without carrying cash. If you do need to exchange currency, most major banks should be able to help you, and there's a currency exchange at the major airports.
- Weather - Bring winter outerwear because it can get quite cold here. Winter storms can range from run-of-the-mill to crippling blizzards, so keep a close eye on the forecast. You'll want layers of clothing for the rest of the year, with summer usually warm enough to avoid wearing a jacket. Bring good walking shoes and bug spray.
- Airports - Dulles International Airport and Reagan International Airport are both in the Washington, D.C. area, but it will take about an hour to get to either one. Regan is a bit closer. Baltimore's airport is also about an hour away.
- Travel Insurance - We recommend purchasing travel insurance when you book a flight, especially if you're spending a lot of money on international travel. Winter weather can cripple flights across the northeast, and year-round staffing shortages can also cause unpredictable delays. If you rent a car in winter, get an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle with insurance in case of an accident on slick streets.
Silver Spring Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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