Is Westerly Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On February 28, 2024
Westerly, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Westerly, Rhode Island mixes quintessential New England with a vibrant beach community.

It sits right at the state line with Connecticut, offering an easy trip to New Haven or Providence, Rhode Island.

The real highlight of Westerly comes with the seven miles of beautiful beaches, largely undeveloped with exceptional views and surging.

Established in the 17th century, this picturesque town boasts a storied past, initially thriving on agriculture and maritime trade before evolving into a beloved seaside destination.

The town is broken up into different neighborhoods, each providing a unique glimpse into history.

Today, tourists flock to Westerly for its pristine beaches, including the renowned Misquamicut State Beach, where golden sands meet the sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The town’s charming downtown area offers a quaint ambiance dotted with historic buildings, boutique shops, and inviting eateries.

Westerly’s cultural allure is evident in its thriving arts community, with galleries showcasing local talent and the United Theatre hosting a diverse array of performances and events.

Nature lovers are drawn to Westerly’s scenic beauty, from the tranquil trails of the Westerly Land Trust to the serene waters of the Pawcatuck River.

Whether kayaking along its shores or strolling through Wilcox Park’s lush gardens, outdoor enthusiasts find endless opportunities for adventure.

In essence, Westerly captivates visitors with its timeless charm, offering a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural splendor.

This picture-perfect community is so inviting that even superstar Taylor Swift bought a home here, perched up on Watch Hill.

No, you can’t visit her home.

You can listen to her song “The Last Great American Dynasty,” written in tribute to the original owners of her home.

Warnings & Dangers in Westerly

Overall Risk


There's a low risk in Westerly and a surprising number of things to do. It's family-friendly and reserved, offering a quieter escape than in places like Newport.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Being this close to I-95, you can explore the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority routes here, take a taxi, call a rideshare, or rent a car. All options are low risk, but expect a lot of traffic in the summer.

Pickpockets Risk


No pickpockets or purse snatchings have been reported in the past five years, but a gray area of "other" thefts could mean items being taken from the beach. Use extra caution, but there isn't anything but a low risk if you're taking basic security steps.

Natural Disasters Risk


Hurricanes, nor'easters, and dangerous ocean currents round out the risks here. Severe storms can lead to risks even when they are offshore. If you can hear thunder, you're close enough to get hit by lightning. Stay informed of daily weather updates and treat this as a medium risk. Westerly seems to take the brunt of tropical storms compared to other Rhode Island beach communities.

Mugging Risk


Over the past decade, the city has averaged three to five robberies a year. None were reported in 2023. The risk is low, but don't take that for granted.

Terrorism Risk


This is another low risk, but always look out for suspicious activity and report it to the local police. An overall view of terrorism concerns in the United States can be found through Homeland Security in the Terrorism Advisory Bulletins, which are updated several times a year.

Scams Risk


It's wise to research the common tactics of rental scammers and trending scams in Rhode Island before you visit. You won't find an insanely low-priced deal here. Never wire money to secure a rental. If you're educated about scamming practices, you'll enjoy a low risk. Now, some people would argue the prices are too high, but you're in an elite area in Westerly.

Women Travelers Risk


This is a low risk, with Westerly providing a great place for everyone from toddlers to great-grandparents.

Tap Water Risk


Westerly is the first city I've seen that provides weekly water quality reports. You can review those on the city website under "Water Sample Reports." The risk is low, and if there is any concern, you'll see them in the weekly report.

Safest Places to Visit in Westerly

Westerly is part of South County, Rhode Island.

You can learn more about all the communities at the website.

The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce is another great resource.

The town’s website has some basic tourist information as well.

This town is all about undeveloped beaches, so let’s go through those first.

The beaches cover seven miles of sandy shoreline.

The longest expanse is East Beach, where beachcombing, sunbathing, swimming, fishing, and shelling are popular.

Nearly two dozen campsites are located here as well.

Lifeguards are on duty during daytime hours in the summer.

In winter, the gates are open, barring incoming severe weather.

Misquamicut State Beach sits east of East Beach and is a great family-friendly destination.

The beach is half a mile long here, with a playground, showers, and snack bars.

The Watch Hill Conservancy offers a peninsula full of wildlife and a chance to see seabirds in action.

Whether you want to take a guided tour or walk alone, the conservancy website has checklists and photos to help you seek out the most spectacular birds in this conserved land.

Watch Hill Beach also has a famous Merry Go Round, which is actually a Flying Horse Carousel.

Only kids are allowed, and the horses lean out when the ride is in motion – there is no ground for adults to stand on.

If you visit the website, you’ll get a better idea if I’m not explaining it well.

Westerly has one of those charming and idyllic downtown, exuding more New England style than a beach atmosphere, so you quite literally get the best of both worlds.

In the middle of downtown is the Living Shark Museum, a place dedicated to studying and learning about sharks of all sizes.

Admission is free, and it’s a wonderful chance for those afraid of sharks to learn more about their behavior patterns.

Another historic stop is the Westerly Armory, built in 1901.

It’s as much a military museum as a celebration of the town’s history.

Places to Avoid in Westerly

You don’t need to worry about bad parts of town here, but you still need to avoid certain areas that are for residents and their guests only.

For example, the Westerly Town Beach isn’t open to the public.

Meanwhile, places like Little Compton do allow public access to the town beach but have several other beaches that are private.

Just be sure to check the public status of any beach you plan to visit before you go.

There are parts of the beach that only have a walkway for public access, and you can’t go off that designated area without stepping onto private property.

Even the Watch Hill Lighthouse can only be viewed from a distance as it’s closed to the public.

For those who are enthralled with Taylor Swift, you can see her house from many points on the beach.

It’s the tallest home in Watch Hill.

Do not try to get onto her property, into her home, or linger outside the gate for too long.

Locals will not want to talk about her, as since she moved here, the attention has brought a little bit of chaos to this usually quiet town.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Westerly

  1. Westerly has its own police department. You can call them at (401)596-2022 if you want to ask specific safety questions. You can also follow them on Facebook. It looks like that page is updated regularly with important information, but posts aren’t always daily.
  2. CodeRED notification is largely what communities here use for emergency alerts. You can sign up on the city’s website to get text, emails, or phone calls when severe weather or public safety threats arise.
  3. You can also sign up for Notify Me alerts from the city. This will pass along information such as a parking ban during a snowstorm or a water main break that might not be covered in a CodeRED alert. For example, a CodeRED might be issued with a winter storm warning, while a Notify Me message tells people when the street parking ban begins so that snowplows can get through.
  4. If you’re visiting between June and November, that’s hurricane season. It will help to know where your hotel or rental home is in the evacuation process. Westerly has two evacuation zones, and they stretch up the tidal-influenced river between the two states.
  5. Check the beach and water quality through the Rhode Island Department of Health between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Different tides and ocean swells can bring in bacteria to one beach but miss another. It’s helpful to know this information before you try to find a parking spot.
  6. Public parking is very limited around town. Beach parking lots can fill up quickly. The best advice I can give a first-timer is to find a hotel or rental near the beach or part of town where you plan to spend the most time. Parking spaces or lots can even charge nearly $50 for a spot!
  7. The Surf Forecast is an essential thing to know when you’re visiting the beach. The sunniest, clearest days can still churn dangerous rip currents from a storm far offshore. Misquamicut State Beach is one of the popular surfing areas if you want to watch people ride the swells.
  8. The water at the beach will only be comfortable for swimming without a wetsuit from July through September, and even then, the water doesn’t get above 68°F. In late spring or early summer, visitors should be aware of this before jumping into the cold water.
  9. Always wear water shoes when walking on the beach or shoreline. You don’t want to risk stepping on a buried jellyfish or sharp shell.
  10. Don’t try to get into Taylor Swift’s house. It’s worth repeating. Do NOT try to get into her house or onto her property.

So... How Safe Is Westerly Really?

It’s really not surprising in a beach town like Westerly that the biggest safety challenges come from the ocean and how well visitors heed warnings and safety guidance.

Crime rates are nothing to worry about beyond standard safety measures you’d take in any new town.

Violent crime rates are 43% below the state average and 75% below the national average.

In addition, Rhode Island is one of the Top 10 Safest States in America.

Thefts are 22% below the national average, and 63% of those fall into the category of “Other.”

But what does that mean?

Theft, or larceny, as the FBI calls it, has different categories, like car theft, pickpockets, shoplifting, car break-ins, etc.

When a theft doesn’t fall into one of those pre-determined categories, it becomes an “Other” larceny.

An “Other” could be items taken from lawns, campsites, beaches, or picnic areas.

About 15% of thefts are related to car accessory thefts or car break-ins.

Limit that risk by locking your car and removing personal items.

Don’t ever put valuables in the trunk when you park at the beach.

You don’t want a potential thief seeing where you’re stashing the goods!

While Westerly is not THE safest beach community in Rhode Island, it’s sure close!

Just don’t try to get into Taylor Swift’s house.

Have I mentioned that?

How Does Westerly Compare?

CitySafety Index
New Orleans57
Washington DC56
New York City67
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Vancouver (Canada)82
Cordoba (Argentina)61

Useful Information



Start with the U.S. State Department website to see if you qualify for a visa waiver, as that's the easiest way to get into the country. You can also apply for a visa that is related to the purpose of your trip (work, student, tourism, etc.). A valid passport that isn't within six months of expiring is required as well.



You'll use the U.S. Dollar everywhere in America. The Providence airport has a currency exchange office, but your home bank will offer the lowest fees.



Plan for four robust seasons, but summers here won't be stifling hot. The bigger issue is the humidity, so pack plenty of clothing options if you don't have access to laundry facilities. Fall will require a jacket or sweater, and spring can still feel like winter well into May. Bug spray and sunscreen are essential in the summer.



You'll be about 45 minutes from Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport in Providence. Tweed New Haven Airport is just an hour west, with all highway driving to get there.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a smart investment, especially if you're visiting during hurricane season. Be sure you're protected against delays, cancelations, theft, and illness.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Westerly Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -1° C
Feb -1° C
Mar 4° C
Apr 9° C
May 14° C
Jun 19° C
Jul 23° C
Aug 22° C
Sep 18° C
Oct 12° C
Nov 7° C
Dec 3° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Rhode Island - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Little Compton81
North Kingstown83

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