Is Seattle safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide

Published by: Bounce8 February, 2023
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Seattle is the largest and chief city of the state of Washington and one of the country’s most affluent urban centers. It lies along Puget Sound, a sizeable inland estuary on the northwestern coast of Washington. It is densely populated, with over 737, 000 people who call it home.

In recent years, the city has received over 20 million visitors who experience its rich coffee culture, explore breathtaking mountain hikes, and see its iconic landmarks and incredible attractions, such as Seattle Space Needle, Seattle Center, and Pike Place Market. While any time is best to visit Seattle, summer marks its high season. It’s when you can spend a relaxing afternoon at the park, have dinner at a rooftop restaurant, or party with a crowd at a concert or festival in Downtown Seattle. It’s also the ideal time to plan water adventures, like boating, kayaking, and jet skiing.

Whatever activity you want to do, your well-being and the safety of your belongings should be at the top of your priority list. That’s why it’s best to look for a safe place to store your luggage in Seattle as part of your travel preparations. Besides taking care of your items, we've compiled valuable information and tips on Seattle safety to help you enjoy a worry-free adventure in this charming city.

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Is Seattle safe to visit right now?

If you’re contemplating a visit to the Emerald City, ‘Is Seattle Safe’ is an essential question that needs an immediate answer before your trip. Despite the statistics revealing that the city has one of America’s highest crime rates, Seattle remains a safe city to visit. Since it’s a large area with a prevalence of homelessness, it’s always worth adding extra caution when exploring the metropolis.

Visitors are more likely to have something stolen from them than fall victim to violent crimes. They should also be aware of drug use and mugging, though they typically occur in some of Seattle’s most hazardous areas and poorest and unsafe neighborhoods. If you stay away from those places and avoid exploring at night, you’ll leave the city unscathed and happy.

Of course, we’ll do our best to prepare you for a safe trip to Seattle, but there’s no such thing as a perfect safety guide. Safety is unique to every individual, so you’ll have to stay alert and remain vigilant to any threats. Experienced traveler or not, you must do additional research and check out your government’s official travel guidelines for the country or city you plan to visit before deciding to travel.

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Top petty crimes and scams in Seattle affecting tourists

Seattle’s crime rate is dominated by property crimes, many of which don’t affect tourists. The only threat to your safety would be scams and petty crimes, often in crowded areas like tourist spots and public transportation. One way to protect yourself and your belongings is to stay educated and be up-to-date about the fraudulent behaviors and types of thefts that could ruin your vacation.

Smash and grab

While it mainly affects stores and property owners, an increasing number of tourists visiting Seattle have also become victims of this form of looting or burglary. Smash-and-grab theft typically involves driving visitors or those who rent a car to explore the city. Thieves break the window of a parked car and steal whatever they can from the vehicle.

To avoid car break-ins, only bring essentials and leave the rest of your things in a secure Bounce luggage locker in Seattle. Avoid leaving anything valuables, like your handbag and mobile phone, in plain sight. You should never open your windows for street vendors or those handing out flyers.

Homeless scams

Seattle’s fight against homelessness continues, and along with this problem are other related issues affecting locals and tourists alike. Among them are homeless scams, including panhandling scams or family and pet scams. They play off people’s emotions and make them feel sorry for their situation. Single parents or those with pets tend to illicit more assistance and donations than other groups of homeless people on the streets.

Sadly, some panhandlers are drug addicts, and giving them money will only perpetuate their destructive behavior. It’s a harsh reality, which is why authorities discourage giving money to panhandlers. Sure, there are many real, honest homeless people who need help, but there are also plenty of individuals who request cash when they don’t really need it. Therefore, it may be best to donate to charity groups directly.

Drug use

The problem with people using and dealing drugs is among the highest in Seattle, with a Crime Index of 73.44 according to Numbeo. The country, in general, is currently fighting the war on drugs, a government-led initiative that aims to stop the distribution, trade, and use of illegal drugs. Unfortunately, a drug crisis continues, and it's often prevalent on the city streets.

Some addicts inject all kinds of substances and smoke in plain sight—even in the most popular tourist spots. They’re not always hiding in the back alleys. Westlake Park, for instance, a public plaza in the downtown area, turns into an open-air drug night after dark. You’ll have to be careful when enjoying the city’s nightlife and follow safety tips. If possible, avoid walking around at night, especially if you've enjoyed a few drinks.

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Is Seattle safe to travel alone

Yes, Seattle is a safe place to visit alone. Of course, you should still take extra precautions, as solo travelers are more vulnerable to being victims of a violent or property crime. If you follow basic safety tips like staying alert, avoiding wandering at night, and paying attention to your surroundings, you’ll likely enjoy a safe and fun trip.

Additionally, with the United States ranking 21st on the 2021 Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Index and 32nd on the Bounce Women Travel Safety Index, solo female travelers can plan a tour to one of its major metropolises without worries. However, you shouldn’t be too comfortable as you explore ‘Jet City.’ Do your research and stay out of unlit areas and places with little or no people. Follow your instincts—if something feels off, leave immediately.

Safest neighborhoods in Seattle

Seattle can be one of the safest among the major cities in the United States if you know where to go and what places to avoid. So before booking your accommodation, check out our list of the safest areas to stay in and the dangerous neighborhoods you might want to skip during your tour.

Hawthorne Hills

The crime rates in Hawthorne Hills are 77 percent lower than the Seattle average, making it one of the safest city neighborhoods. It’s a quaint residential area on a hilltop just northeast of the University of Washington campus. It’s an affluent community, so you’ll rarely see homeless people. It is remarkably peaceful and quiet, offering spectacular views of the Seattle skyline, Cascade Mountains, and Lake Washington.

North Bridge

Another quiet and cozy residential community where you’ll feel safe in Seattle is North Bridge, overlooking Puget Sound on the north. Its residents have access to numerous local parks and private beaches for recreation, dining, and retail options. It has a significantly low crime rate compared to other Seattle neighborhoods and is one of the ideal places to live in Washington.

Property and violent crimes can happen anywhere, at any time. But you can mitigate your risk of being a victim by steering clear of shady areas and unsafe neighborhoods. These include certain spots in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Sand Point, and South Park. The downtown core also sees increased violent crime and proper crime rates, but it also has more visitors, which is common in most cities.

The Seattle Police Department offers interactive crime mapping, providing the public with the most timely and accurate crime data. You check specific neighborhoods and determine the crime types and the time.

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Is Seattle public transportation safe?

Public transportation in Seattle is generally safe, but like in any public setting, situational awareness is vital. You should be aware of what’s happening around you while watching for potential threats.

Familiarize yourself with the bus and train system. Depending on your destination, you can buy tickets for light rails, buses, streetcars, and ferries. A monorail is also a popular option, especially for tourists, as it'll take you to several famous spots. It may not be a good idea to travel via public transit at night but catch a taxi instead. Rideshares are also prevalent, but renting a car is your best bet when planning to travel area outside the city.

Important emergency numbers in Seattle

It’s so easy to be confused, overwhelmed, or disoriented during an emergency. You never know when a disaster will happen, so you need to be prepared at all times. Part of the preparation is having all emergency contacts saved on your phone so the authorities are just a dial away when a crisis arises. Also, don’t forget to add your embassy number to your emergency contact list.

  • US Area code: +1
  • Seattle area code: 206
  • Emergency number: 911
  • Non-emergency number: (206) 625-5011
  • Non-police issues: (206) 684-2489
  • Social Services: 211
  • 24-hour crisis line: (1-866-427-4747)
  • Washington Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222

Organize a safe trip to Seattle

Seattle is Washington’s largest city and one of its most famous tourist destinations, influencing Emerald City’s crime rate. A safe trip to Seattle is possible, but it also largely depends on how you take care of your well-being and belongings. Stay out of sketchy areas and exercise common sense as you discover the city’s attractions and stunning offerings.

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