Maryland : Safety by City
- Ellicott City
- Germantown & Gaithersburg
- Ocean City
- Silver Spring
Waldorf, Maryland, is the epitome of an American suburb on the way to (or from) Washington, D.C.
It is home to 81,000 people and is close to some incredible parks and shopping destinations.
This census-designated area isn’t a city and gets its leadership and law enforcement from Charles County.
This is a fast-growing community as well, with an abundance of hotels along the Crain Highway/301.
That main stretch of road is where you’ll find all things to see and do in Waldorf, as the rest is residential.
However, exploring the full country offers some great options.
Waldorf is an unscaled and diverse community, with the average income being more than $100,000 a year, and nearly 62% of the community is African American.
Another 8% is Hispanic/Latino.
The Potomac River is just 15 minutes from Waldorf and offers several national and state parks along the way.
Wildlife, nature and historic buildings are ready to explore during all seasons.
Waldorf is also less than an hour to beaches along Chesapeake Bay.
You can even explore a swamp within 30 minutes of this location.
Warnings & Dangers in Waldorf
OVERALL RISK : LOW
With a low overall risk, this is a great place to rest for a night or to use as a home base during a trip exploring the area. Waldorf itself won't fill up vacation plans, but the convenient location and lower crime rates countywide make it a good option.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
VanGO is the public bus system in Charles County. There's no direct route to Washington, D.C. Fares are free through June 2023 and could be extended again, but there has also been a driver shortage leading to last-minute route cancelations. Taxis and rideshares are available, but having a rental car is your best option for exploring all the nearby parks.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk, but pay extra attention to your purse or wallet when shopping at the mall. Don't leave your purse on the back of a chair at a restaurant. Put your wallet in your front pocket or tucked inside a jacket pocket.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Depending on the season, you get a mixed bag of weather here. Hurricanes can hit hard and cause widespread flooding and wind damage from June through November. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible during warm weather, and winter weather can happen from fall through early spring. All risks come with plenty of advanced warning.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, but it's not unheard of. You should, again, use caution in the shopping areas, especially when walking to your car at night. If you feel at all uncomfortable, ask a security guard to walk you to your car.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This Washington, D.C., suburb would not be a direct target, and you're far enough away that an attack on D.C. wouldn't impact the community too much. There is a Naval Air Station about an hour southeast of here, but it's once again far enough away that it wouldn't impact this area.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Sergeant Michael Smith, who investigates scams in this county, offers this advice, "If you hesitate for a second on anything if it doesn’t seem right, don’t pay it." This comes after a mobile payment app scam happened to local residents. There is also a scam trending in some cities where a seemingly nice person in trouble needs to use your phone to call for help. Instead, they log into your PayPal or mobile apps and send money to themselves. You don't realize it until they are long gone.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The main risks for women would be having shopping bags making them a potential target, or being inattentive and creating a crime of opportunity. Don't drop off your bags in the trunk and go back into the mall, as thieves will watch for this to happen and break into the car once you're gone. Use a storage locker or concierge service at the mall to hold your bags. You should also know the basics of outdoor safety if you're visiting one of the national parks alone.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance across the board and no violations. If you have additional questions closer to your visit, call the water utility operations manager at (301)609-7400.
Safest Places to Visit in Waldorf
Waldorf doesn’t have its own tourism website, but you can use ExploreCharlesCounty.com for regional attractions, including Waldorf.
There isn’t a city website with locations either since this isn’t technically a city.
St. Charles Towne Center is the local mall with traditional national brands of stores and plenty of restaurant options.
This is a Simon property, which is a well-known mall company in America.
You can buy gift cards online ahead of time if you’d prefer to shop with those.
Along the main stretch of 301, you’ll find various big box stores and restaurants mixed in with a LOT of car dealerships.
That’s really about as exciting as Waldorf proper gets.
Just outside Waldorf to the northeast is Cedarville State Forest.
With 19 miles of trails, you’ll see people on foot, on bikes, and on horseback.
This park is where you’ll find the headwaters of Zekiah Swamp.
Use the reservation system for camping or day use.
An important note for those using GPS to get here – set your GPS to Dent Road and Bee Oak Road.
Using Google Maps default will take you to the wrong side of the park without an entrance.
For those who want to visit the beach, you have several options about an hour east:
- Chesapeake Beach
- Dares Beach
- Breeze Point Beach
- Cove Point Beach
For those wanting to get closer to the Naval Air Station or the water, you’ll many hotels near Lexington Park and Solomons, with some bed & breakfast inns mixed in.
Piscataway Park is on the water but on the other side of the peninsula facing the Potomac River.
While this is a great park for exploring trails and wildlife, there’s also a colonial farm and marina.
The Colonial Farm organization promises you’ll “hear untold stories from Maryland’s history” here.
The Dr. Samuel Mudd house is a historic location that was where John Wilkes Booth went after shooting President Lincoln.
Dr. Mudd set the man’s broken leg and ended up being tried, then later pardoned, for his role in the conspiracy – which is still unclear to this day how much or how he little he actually knew.
Fort Washington has incredible water views, a lighthouse, and historic buildings where you can learn about how these military locations protected the nation’s capital through several wars.
The park is free and has a three-mile trail on the perimeter where you’ll likely run into some local wildlife.
Fort Foote is north of that part of the peninsula and is a much smaller but just as important security measure created to protect Washington, D.C., during wartime.
The National Harbor is about 45 minutes away, near the capital but on the Maryland side of the city.
Here you can shop, dine, walk the waterfront, or take a boat cruise.
There are ferry rides available to historic Alexandria too.
Speaking of rides, there’s a Ferris wheel, too, so that you can see the harbor and Washington, D.C., from a unique perspective.
Places to Avoid in Waldorf
Unless you’re driving the main east/west road to get in or out of town, you’ll spend your time along Highway 301.
That’s the main drag of the city.
You can’t avoid it, but you also don’t want to since that’s where everything is.
Dangerous parts of the city don’t really exist, but there have been several reports of juvenile fights at the Towne Center mall.
It would be smart to avoid shopping at the mall on weekend nights when more youngsters will be there.
If a hurricane is approaching, get out of the area or reschedule your trip.
There are just a handful of ways off and on the peninsula, which will take you through the busy Metro D.C. area.
This is a traffic nightmare during evacuations.
Staying could leave you without clean water or power for days, and if it’s a mandatory evacuation, you won’t have a choice but to leave.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Waldorf
- Use the interactive crime map under “Crime Statistics” on the Charles County Sheriff’s Office website. You can search specific areas, like the strip in Waldorf, and search for crimes in the past week, month, or six months.
- You can report any suspicious activity or criminal incidents (non-urgent) through the Crime Solvers website or by calling (866)-411-TIPS. Reports can be made anonymously, and you could be eligible for a cash prize.
- The sheriff’s office is split into two districts. Waldorf is in the northern district, and Captain Jason Carlson is the contact there. You can email him at email@example.com if you have any specific questions about safety closer to your visit.
- Use the National Parks app to get mobile information about the places to visit in this area. This will not cover the state parks, but it offers abundant information about several parks throughout the peninsula. If you have an emergency while you’re at a park, call the United States Park Police at (202)610-7500.
- Park rangers should be contacted if you see injured or aggressive wildlife during your visit. Don’t touch birds, as they could be carrying the Avian Flu; you can carry that virus on your shoes, skin, and clothing. The ranger’s phone number is (301) 763-4600.
- For Maryland state parks, use the AccessDNR app to get information, trail maps, and safety guidance. The app even includes wildlife identifiers and great sunrise/sunset locations. You’ll be able to get alerts through that app as well.
- Anglers need a fishing permit, and you should explore the options of saltwater and freshwater since both exist in this region and require a separate license. You’ll need to have the license on you at all times while fishing, along with a photo ID.
- Download the Everbridge mobile app or sign up online for emergency notifications from Charles County. This is especially important for severe weather information, road closures, and other emergency situations. You will custom-tailor the message you want to get and can also geo-target your location to minimize alerts that don’t impact your part of the county.
- One of the selling points of Waldorf is that it’s just 40 minutes from Washington, D.C. That estimate is without traffic, accidents, or severe weather. This growing area is a commuter city, and traffic can make the trip up to 90 minutes long. You can follow 511 MD on social media to get real-time traffic information on your mobile device.
- There’s the Legend of the Blue Dog of Rose Hill based on the tale of a dog who died defending his master during a gold robbery centuries ago, yet still haunts the area to this day. The gold was never found, and legend has it that anyone who goes looking for gold on Rose Hill during a full moon will meet the ghost dog, and he’ll lead them to the treasure. This might very well be the oldest American ghost story, dating back to the 1650s. Don’t go to Rose Hill looking for gold at night. It’s now private property.
So... How Safe Is Waldorf Really?
Most violent crimes in Waldorf are domestic or among people who know each other, as this is a highly residential area.
2022 saw a couple of high-profile murder cases connected to or in Waldorf, but they were all domestic.
After spending what was probably too much time on crime mapping technology for the past six months, it’s clear that there isn’t a major risk to tourists in this area.
That said, violent crime is sporadically increasing in American cities, so it’s wise to use that mapping technology yourself when choosing a hotel.
You can enter the address and select robberies, car thefts, assaults, etc., near that location.
We recommend looking at the past 30 days, but you can go back almost a year.
Waldorf isn’t the best option if you are looking for a safe place to stay close to Washington, D.C., but it really is a great location to explore the capital, the river, and the bay, while getting a taste of everything Maryland has to offer.
How Does Waldorf Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver, along with a valid passport, to get through Customs at the airport. The U.S. State Department oversees that process, and you'll find a list of information on its website to help you plan. Start that process about three months ahead of time.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar will be the only currency accepted here, and you'll want to exchange currency at the airport if you can. Most banks will offer currency exchange services and might even buy back your USD before you return home if you're an international traveler. Make as many purchases as you can on a credit card to get the best fraud protection.
- Weather - You'll need warm clothing during the winter with outdoor accessories like gloves, hats, and earmuffs. Spring and fall have fluctuating temperatures, so bring various layers of clothing to give yourself more options. Winters will be warm to hot and muggy. You'll need bug spray and sunscreen.
- Airports - You can be at Dulles International Airport or Reagan National in less than an hour (more if you're driving during traffic).
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance offers peace of mind and protection against injuries, cancelations, or natural disasters. If you're traveling during hurricane season, confirm what costs will be covered if you need to evacuate or revise your trip.
Waldorf Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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