Washington : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Washington - state review
Tacoma, Washington is a mid-sized city located in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest.
It is a backyard wilderness with a reputation for being well connected.
Convenient access to the west coast, including Seattle, Canada, Oregon, and California, make Tacoma a great kicking-off point for any travel plans in the region.
A lower cost of living creates a more welcoming environment for Tacoma visitors in comparison to the higher-priced Seattle.
As a result, most of the residents living in Tacoma commute to Seattle to work, or choose to work from home due to the pandemic.
For travelers coming into Tacoma, there is a great number of outdoorsy things to do, including hiking in mountain passes and exploring ancient growth forests.
Year-round, hiking is abundant, and when spring weather warms the region, everyone loves to get out on the water.
The Puget Sound is a crystal clear ocean current that has minimal waves and plenty of wildlife.
Everyone enjoys watching sea lions and orcas out in the wild of the Puget—right from the banks of Tacoma.
At the same time, you want to stay safe when exploring the Great Outdoors, especially if you are in a new city.
So, is Tacoma safe for anyone wanting to travel there?
Warnings & Dangers in Tacoma
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
The Tacoma Crime Index by City-Data.com was 508.2 in 2019 compared to the US national average of 270.6. This makes Tacoma twice as dangerous in comparison to the majority of other cities around the nation. As a result, this puts visitors at risk, and caution should be used in certain situations.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
If you need public transport, there is Pierce Transit and Sound Transit providing bus and train transit on a limited daily schedule. Additionally, third-party taxis from Uber and Lyft, as well as taxi companies, all run in Tacoma. Taxi and for-hire drivers must get a business license in Tacoma and this includes Lyft drivers. For anyone driving into Tacoma, in 2019 there were 1,626 auto thefts, up from 743.7 in 2018, according to City-Data.com.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
Travelers to Tacoma do want to be aware of pickpockets. The following City-Data.com statistics support this: • 1,250 assaults up from 571.7 in 2018 • 1,768 burglaries up from 808.6 in 2018 • 422 robberies up from 193.0 in 2018 • 8,021 thefts up from 3,668 in 2018 Wear outdoors-ready clothing with hiking boots along with a rain jacket to protect your identity if you come in as a tourist. This is the typical PNW fashion and you can easily fit in and better avoid pickpockets. Most locals, including in Seattle, carry personal pocket knives for protective purposes while in the city.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The nearby Mount Rainier is actually an active volcano that is likely to erupt at any time. The mountain is easily visible from many places in Tacoma and reachable within a 1.5-hour drive southeast of the city. If this happens, the city will be covered in mud due to lahars and debris flows, wiping everyone out. Otherwise, based on its location in Puget Sound, Tacoma is not at risk for tsunamis or flooding. Mudslides from too much rain are more likely to cause natural disasters. Also, the occasional deep and heavy slow fall on the Cascade Mountain Range covers Tacoma and shuts down the city. Earthquakes are also a threat to Tacoma, where the historical activity is 1,372 percent greater than the national average.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
For travelers and locals alike, Tacoma is seeing an uptick in its mugging risk. This is because of the following statistics by City-Data.com: • Burglaries 1,768 up from 808.6 in 2018 • Robberies 422 up from 193.0 in 2018 • Thefts 8,021 up from 3,668 in 2018 You are more likely to experience personal theft or be burglarized, rather than personally robbed while in Tacoma.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
In terms of acts of terrorism, the city does not experience a lot of rioting or international terroristic activities. However, the rates of arson were 91 in 2019, an increase from 41.6 in 2018. The nearby Joint Base Fort Lewis-McChord is only 9.1 miles south of Tacoma. Also, the US Military provides local jobs and resources through service in the US National Guard.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
If you are concerned about being involved in a scam while in Tacoma, there are a few areas of theft to contend with: • Auto thefts are 1,626 up from 743.7 in 2018 • Thefts are 8,021 up from 3,668 in 2018 However, if you stay socially distanced and minimize contact with individuals and business owners, you reduce the risk of being scammed.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women who travel alone in Tacoma want to be aware of the latest City-Data.com crime statistics for 2019: • Burglaries are 1,768 up from 808.6 in 2018 • Murders are 16 up from 7.3 in 2018 • Rapes are 160 up from 73.2 in 2018 These statistics are not gendered specific, but they indicate that traveling alone would be less safe for a woman in this city.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
According to Tap Safe, Tacoma tap water was last composed in 2014. Now, from 2018 to September 2021, the Tacoma Water Division has had zero violations. Tap water is safe to drink, but purification at home is recommended.
Safest Places to Visit in Tacoma
Tacoma, Washington is located on the Puget Sound and situated on the northern end of a peninsula.
The North End of Tacoma is considered safer as it contains a higher value, historical homes, and more walkable city streets.
Beach access here is abundant and the sea waters are filled with orcas and sea lions, as well as the world’s only giant red octopus and squid.
Point Defiance Park, Zoo, and Aquarium are popular tourist stop in the North End.
In the park is Owen Beach, which is currently closed, but when opened it is also a great place to sit and view the Sound and neighboring islands.
Also in the North End, Point Ruston is the premier neighborhood for college kids, families with small children, and dog owners.
Here you have active year-round farmer’s markets and vendors, a movie theater, seasonal ice skating, and pedal car rentals.
Old Town and Central Tacoma are also safe communities.
Here you have the Museum District of Downtown Tacoma.
Tacoma has the greatest concentration of museums in the state, even more than Seattle.
If you are in the South End, which can be less safe, there are free blueberries at Charlotte’s Blueberry Park off of Pacific Avenue.
You can pick blueberries in the summer months to eat.
Open year-round with a community garden, kids’ playground, and a Mason bee hive surrounds 12 varieties of organic blueberries.
Places to Avoid in Tacoma
If you are traveling to Tacoma, generally you want to avoid the South End.
Here you have more blue-collar neighborhoods and crime, as well as fewer shops and things to do for tourists who are on foot.
The busy Pacific Avenue travels south as a four-lane highway.
It is bordered by lower-income neighborhoods and niche shops and service providers.
The neighborhood of Hilltop is considered historically to be crime and gang-related.
The infamous Crips gang known as the Hilltop Crips came from this part of Tacoma.
While this was in the 1980s and 1990s, the area remains known for having violent crime and shootings.
Downtown Tacoma, including around the train station at Union Station, is somewhere to avoid hanging out, as drug dealers and the homeless tend to congregate there.
Typically, where there are construction zones in Downtown Tacoma, you want to stay away as this tends to attract these types of individuals.
The dock area in New Tacoma underneath the bridge is another place where tourists and travelers should not be for safety purposes.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Tacoma
- Avoid the city parks, especially downtown, after dark.
- Avoid traveling alone downtown after dark.
- Cannabis is legal, so if you are concerned about being around people who are smoking pot on the streets, the police are not going to assist you. Since cannabis is not legal in most US cities, this can be jarring for some people who get nervous around this drug, which is illegal in other cities.
- Owens Beach, which is in Point Defiance Park, is currently closed due to renovations. The popular and free beach and personal watercraft access area are scheduled to open in the summer of 2022.
- Tacoma has eight hospitals where you can receive medical access, including Allenmore Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and Western State Hospital.
- Tacoma is served by two public library systems, including the Tacoma Public Library and Pierce County Library System. Find the nearest public library to where you are in Tacoma if you need a place to visit to find public information or resources like free wifi.
- Tacoma Mall Shopping Center is the largest shopping mall in the city, offering a respite and a place to stay safe.
- To travel safely in Tacoma, use Pierce Transit. The local service for one ride is $2 per adult and $1 per youth ages 6 to 18; 5 and younger are free with a paying rider. An All-Day Pass is $5 per adult and $2.50 per child. Take the change to provide an exact fare when boarding the bus.
- Visit Point Defiance Park, which is free except for the zoo and aquarium, during the week before noon to drive on Five Mile Drive. The road is popular for tourists, but is only open Monday to Friday, from daylight until 2 pm when gates are locked on the dot.
- When visiting any public parks or hiking trails in Tacoma, look for the Metro Parks signs to see if these are secured by the city. Try to stick with Metro Parks facilities for your safety.
So... How Safe Is Tacoma Really?
Tacoma has seen its heyday of violence and criminal activity as one of the world’s most notorious street gangs has a home base here.
While Hilltop and the Crips do not necessarily represent themselves all over town, there remains the vibe that you do not want to explore certain parts of the city.
Historically, other violence has occurred here in Tacoma.
There was a serial killer named Ted Bundy who lived in a house in Tacoma growing up.
The home has been remodeled and up for sale many times since Bundy’s death, but previous residents report very strange accounts indicating he has never quite left the place behind.
Then, in the Eighties, two young girls in their early teens were abducted while riding their bicycles on Five Mile Road in Point Defiance Park.
Michella Welch and Jennifer “Jenni” Bastian were murdered and their bodies recovered, but it took nearly 30 years for the murderers to be identified and tried for the crimes.
As you can see, there is a lot of seedy and dangerous history of Tacoma.
Combine this with the latest City-Data.com information and you can see that the violence and danger remain.
So should you feel safe when traveling to Tacoma, Washington?
Tacoma has a population of 217,827 as of 2019, which is an increase of 12.5 percent from 2000.
This is comparable to Seattle, which is 27.3 miles north and has a population of 563,374 residents.
Tech resources are there, making good sense of the title “America’s #1 Wired City” thanks to the services available.
You can work there and enjoy the scenery thanks to mild temperatures year-round.
So, while there may be a past that has a reputation for being downright dangerous in Tacoma, the city is not as dangerous today as it has been.
How Does Tacoma Compare?
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- Visas - To visit Tacoma from another country for an extended period, you will need a US Visa. This includes students at colleges in Tacoma, such as Tacoma Community College, who are from out of the country. To get a visa, visit the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Visa Wizard will determine which visa you need to visit Tacoma, Washington.
- Currency - The currency used throughout Tacoma is the US Dollar. In addition, you want to bring a combination of digital currency, such as a debit card or credit card. Some places post the pandemic are no longer able to use cash and/or provide correct change as a result of the coin shortage. Avoid using traveler’s cheques. If you must use them, many currency exchanges and financial institutions including credit unions and Western Union services cash these in Tacoma.
- Weather - The Pacific Northwest is renowned for having wet rainy weather for more months of the year than most US states. The only rainforest in the Continental US is in the neighborhood here. Tacoma weather is mild and features few winds with steady rain throughout the year. Temperatures average at 50 degrees, and most residents don’t have central A/C and burn wood thanks to the abundance of local trees.
- Airports - Tacoma is close to four airports that are accessible for travelers to the city. These include the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport that is located in south Seattle and serves international travelers. Also called Sea-Tac, this airport is 15 miles from Tacoma. Seattle Boeing Field is also in Seattle, 20.3 miles from Tacoma, where you can charter private planes for travel. There is also the Tacoma Narrows Airport in Tacoma, but it only has one runway.
- Travel Insurance - If you need travel insurance, travel vaccines, or travel supplies while in Tacoma, there is an outstanding facility available. Passport Health Tacoma near the Tacoma Mall was founded in 2010 to provide comprehensive travel health consultation services. Purchase travel insurance or find out about certifications and vaccinations required for travel to and from Tacoma. They also specialize in travel medicine if you get sick while in Tacoma, or if you need flu shots or other vaccinations while in the US.
Tacoma Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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