Massachusetts : Safety by City
- Cape Cod
- Fall River
- Martha’s Vineyard
- New Bedford
Williamstown, Massachusetts, sits tucked into the northwest corner along the state lines with Vermont and New York.
It’s part of a region known as the Berkshires.
This region doesn’t have big cities, but it does have unique small towns along Highway 7, stretching from Connecticut to Vermont.
All of this region is also in Berkshire County, which helps with standardized information and safety advice.
It’s easy to dismiss this as a college town, with liberal-arts-focused Williams College and the Clark Art Institute bringing students and families here.
It is also home to the Williams College-based Williamstown Theater Festival, where Superman (Christopher Reeve) not only apprenticed before becoming a star but also returned after Superman II.
Legendary songwriter Porter Cole and actor Matthew Perry also have connections to this town.
For such a remote region, there sure are a lot of hotels, inns, campgrounds, and cabins to choose from, with the massive Green Mountain National Forest just to the north in Vermont.
This is a year-round destination for outdoor lovers with a special love of art in all its forms.
To learn more about this region, check out our article, “How Safe Is Pittsfield for Travel?”
Also, don’t confuse Williamstown with Williamsburg, another small town one-hour southeast of Williamstown.
There is also a Williamstown in neighboring Vermont, which isn’t part of the Berkshires region.
Warnings & Dangers in Williamstown
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here, with violent crime rates being unbelievably low and an even lower risk for visitors. There are wilderness and road risks, but by the end of this article, you should be ready for a Berkshire visit to Williamstown.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Berkshire Regional Transit Authority offers routes throughout the county. While Williamstown does have its own route, most routes get you to Adams, Pittsfield, or Great Barrington. Rideshares will be easy to find in this college town, but having your own vehicle is ideal unless you want to rely on public transportation to explore the Berkshires. You won't be able to cross state lines using public transportation.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is a very low risk, but keep using standard safety measures, and be sure to lock your car when you park and clean up campsites when you're leaving the site. Since 2017, thefts in this town have been cut in half, with just 49 reported in 2021. None of those were pickpockets or purse snatchings.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Wild weather can happen in any season in this wildlife area. Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, drought, flooding, winter storms, and remnants of tropical storms all pose a risk. All of those come with plenty of warnings, and those warnings shouldn't be ignored.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is another low risk. In fact, I can't even find a robbery report anywhere in the town going back five years. I think there's actually more of a chance a bear will steal your backpack than a human.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Another low risk here with a small population and no hard targets. Lone Wolf attacks can happen in any community. Many recent ones have included the phrase, "We never thought this could happen in our town," so always stay vigilant and report suspicious activity to the police.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Check the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office to find scams happening across the region, as usually if a scam is happening in one town, it will eventually spread to others. Common scams were reported in 2022, but it's important to know that a police officer or deputy will never call you demanding payments with the threat of arrest if you don't pay.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
The small communities ripe with spas, galleries, and boutiques appeal to women. There's a low risk in the cities, but you'll need good wilderness safety training if you're heading to the woods or mountains.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance. Drought conditions are posted at Drought.gov. Search for Berkshire County to see what, if any, restrictions are in place. As of early 2023, Williamstown was in the "Abnormally Dry" category, which doesn't prompt restrictions.
Safest Places to Visit in Williamstown
DestinationWilliamstown.org will offer a list of things to see and do in the town and nearby Adams, but you’ll want to also bookmark Berkshires.org for a full scope of things to do in this region.
A free tourism guide is available.
Updated blogs on tourism websites are the best ways to see updated activities and new businesses.
Checking the event calendar on the tourism sites and city social media pages will help you find unique performances and literary readings throughout the year.
For some big names in Hollywood and on Broadway, Williamstown is a place to get the creative juices flowing.
You never know who you’ll run into on the street or in a local cafe.
The Williamstown Historical Museum is a great place to start learning about this community’s early days, founded in 1749.
Exhibits rotate throughout the year.
Pick up a map for the self-guided tours of Williamstown, with nearly 60 places to see along the way.
Williamstown was initially called West Hoosac, and the name can be used interchangeably when looking at historical places.
Look for the Northern Berkshires Art Outside interactive map on Google Maps.
This is a collaboration of the colleges and art organizations in the region to ensure no piece of creative work is missed.
Williamstown has several art galleries to explore:
- Greylock Gallery
- Williams College Museum of Art
- Williamstown Art Conservation Center
The Williamstown Theater Festival happens each summer but brings new energy each season.
Check the schedule at wtfestival.org.
With so many places to explore your artistic side, it’s impossible to name all the options in this article.
Destination Williamstown has a robust list.
Mount Greylock State Reservation is just 30 minutes from Williamstown, offering many amenities, including the highest point in the state.
Mount Greylock is open year-round, but the auto roads will be closed in the winter.
Roads are open from late May through the end of October, with fall bringing more traffic to soak in the leaves changing colors.
Bascom Lodge is at the center of the reservation but also closes in the winter.
You can still take part in hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling in the winter.
Summer brings rafting, fishing, and camping to the region.
You’ll find the Veterans War Memorial Tower at Mount Greylock’s summit.
The tower has eight observation windows with sweeping views of the mountains.
These mountain views are rumored to be the inspiring scenery as Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick.
90 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs vertically through the Berkshires.
Trail maps and safety information are provided at AppalacianTrail.org.
Williamstown has seasonal farms for everything from maple syrup to flowers and vegetables.
Sustainable farms and meat produced on humane-focused farms are also an option.
Places to Avoid in Williamstown
No concerns exist for dangerous parts of town or risky neighborhoods.
This is a safe community by average crime standards and is also an exclusive and diverse place.
Since this is a mountainous region, there will be roads or attractions that are not safely accessible in the winter.
Especially if you plan to spend time outdoors, don’t go to a park or destination without knowing several important topics:
- Road Closures: What roads/trails are open/closed during your visit?
- Hours: What attractions have limited hours during winter or outside the fall/spring semesters?
- Licensing/Permits: What license or permit do I need to do for my chosen activity?
- Reservations: Does the place I am going to require reservations for parking or access?
You do need to know that the bear population is growing in this region, and it’s not uncommon to see a bear in the wild or even in town.
The Massachusetts wildlife department has a great web page with everything you need to know about black bear safety.
“As our bear population increases, people need to understand what it means to really co-exist with bears,” said Dave Wattles, MassWildlife’s black bear, and furbearer biologist.
“People need to change their behavior because bears aren’t going to change theirs.”
Safety Tips for Traveling to Williamstown
- Williamstown does have its own police force, with the outside regions covered by the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office. They both have Facebook pages with regularly updated information. The sheriff’s office can be found @BerkshireCountySheriff, and the police department can be found by searching “Williamstown Police Department, Massachusetts.”
- A town manager report is released at least once a month and includes a great list of crime, traffic, and safety statistics. It offers an easy-to-read glance at the safety issues in the community since the previous report.
- If you want to contact someone from the police department, use the email option on the department’s website. Apparently, the office isn’t equipped with voicemail, so you won’t be able to leave a message.
- As of early 2023, the town was in the middle of a “Williamstown Cares Community Assessment and Research Project.” The goal is to make the city (even) safer and make it a place where everyone feels welcome. Look for the results and action of that assessment before your visit.
- Find the town leadership on Facebook @TownofWilliamstownMA to see updated information about ordinance changes or road closures. This can also help you see what construction projects are underway or what weather-related closures are happening.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through the CodeRED app or website. This will get weather watches or warnings to your mobile device, plus cover any other major concern in the community. Most of the Berkshire communities use this system, so you won’t miss out on alerts even as you travel.
- Always check road conditions and traffic flow through Mass 511. This includes live cameras on roadways and construction zones. You can create an account and save routes to set alerts.
- For those using public transportation, purchase a Charlie Card and load money onto it to use as your bus fare. It’s safer to avoid pulling out your credit card for each ride. The cards also offer a discount on all rides. If you do use cash, you’ll need the exact amount.
- Follow the Northern Berkshire Emergency Planning Committee on Facebook to get updated information as storms approach and move through the region. You’ll get a lot of post-storm information too.
- The Mount Greylock website has printable hiking and fall foliage maps you should take with you in case you don’t get mobile service. Check your provider’s coverage map on their respective websites to know when you might lose service.
So... How Safe Is Williamstown Really?
Williamstown is about as safe as you can get, but it’s also a growing community with affluent people moving in, driving up costs for everyone.
While the crime rates are likely to stay low, there could be additional parking or visitor restrictions during busy times of the year.
Several projects are underway in 2023 to build a better and safer Williamstown, even though it’s pretty darn safe to begin with.
Residents here are hyper-engaged and will let you know if you’ve done something wrong, like parking in the wrong place.
There is also a growing sense of the affluent vs. the middle-class vs. the college crowd with finding inclusive places for everyone.
For example, college students have avoided Spring Street due to the high-end boutiques and pricier restaurants.
Community leaders are tightening the rules on residency for people who rent out their homes to seasonal guests.
Changes should be implemented by 2024 to make it a more inclusive and affordable community for everyone.
The central Berkshire community of Pittsfield is more affordable and not quite as affluent.
For example, the average income in Williamstown is more than $95,000 a year.
In Pittsfield, that number is $59,000.
Even Adams, just 20 minutes away, is a city about the same size but with an average income of almost half of that in Williamstown.
You will find more outdoor risks than you might realize.
Black bears are common in this area and can become more comfortable close to humans as they find food sources.
The state wildlife department has a whole section on black bear safety and ways to prevent a bear from getting too close to you.
The fear of bears should not keep you from the parks, but it might change some of your outdoor habits.
While the weather draws people to this region through all seasons, it can also quickly ruin plans with dangerous storms.
You can’t afford to miss important weather warnings and weather safety alerts.
Please sign up for CodeRED notifications.
How Does Williamstown Compare?
|Hong Kong (China)
The U.S. State Department is working to speed up the tourist visa process in 2023 and beyond after several years of wait times as long as six months. You should start the process early and explore all options - like if you qualify for a Visa Waiver or if you can skip the in-person interview - before you finalize the application.
You'll only be able to use the U.S. Dollar in this region and the entire country. Exchange currency at home using your local bank to get much lower fees than you'll find stateside.
Pack for comfortable wilderness adventures for the appropriate season, and don't skip layers of clothing because winters can be brutal. Weather can also have extreme swings, with cold days followed by record heat. Always have comfortable walking shoes with hiking boots or snow boots. Bring bug spray with DEET and if you're really concerned about those bears, bring bear spray.
Use Albany International Airport in New York as it's the closest major airport. It's just an hour west on a two-lane highway. Bradley International Airport in Connecticut is two hours away, and Boston's Logan International is three hours on the road.
Get travel insurance that covers your flight and wilderness adventures, as even a sprained ankle can cost a lot of money out of pocket at an emergency room. Weather delays or cancelations can be common, and since no airport is in the Berkshires, your plane could land only for you to find impassible roads.
Williamstown Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Massachusetts - Safety by City