Is Washington DC safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide
As the capital city of the United States, Washington DC is a pretty significant city. It is the center of most of the country's governmental entities and is also home to some of the most well known monuments. Washington DC has a rich history and, with a wide range of neighborhoods each offering a different personality, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The National Mall, the US Capital Building, the White House and plenty of other landmarks make Washington DC an attractive city for tourists. On average the city can see up to 20 million international visitors every year. The high season for tourism is between the months of March and June because of the agreeable weather, and it is also when the stunning cherry blossoms are in bloom. The city will be relatively busy no matter when you visit since it has a population of over 700,000 residents.
With so many people around, protecting yourself and your belongings will be important. For the latter, we suggest finding somewhere safe to store your things in Washington DC. Feel at ease with the $10,000 BounceShield guarantee for each bag that you leave, and take advantage of plenty of Bounce locations around the city.
Is Washington DC safe to visit right now?
Ranking 122nd place on the Global Peace Index, the United States of America is a relatively safe country but there are some cities that you have to watch out for. Looking at travel advisories before going on a trip is important, and currently, it is safe to travel here as long as you follow regular safety precautions. We suggest looking up your own government's travel restrictions before booking a trip to Washington DC.
As a fast paced and big city, you'll need to be aware of your surroundings while in Washington DC. It is not a dangerous city but there is crime, and as a tourist, you should watch out for petty theft and muggers. By taking into account some safety tips and using common sense you can absolutely be safe in this fun filled city. We'll teach you how to protect yourself from these crimes, but travelers should also do more research on Washington safety sites.
Top petty crimes and scams in Washington DC affecting tourists
Before taking off to Washington DC there are certain crimes that you should know about. You'll find information and Washington DC safety tips below.
Washington DC has a fair share of pickpockets, especially around busy areas where lots of people gather. This includes tourist areas as well as public transport hubs, and you should be extra aware of your items when getting on and off the trains and buses. Since people are already bumping into one another it can be the perfect opportunity for a pickpocket to grab something from your bag without you noticing.
We suggest wearing a cross-body bag that closes securely and can't be snatched and keeping wallets and phones very close to you at all times, like in your front pants pocket. A smart trick is to put a thick rubber band around your wallet so that you'll feel it if anyone is trying to take it from you. Leaving your valuables and unneeded items with Bounce will leave you carefree to admire the cherry blossoms too.
Unfortunately, mugging is something that you'll have to watch out for in Washington DC. The crime rate for robbery is higher than the national average here, which is why you should always be mindful of where you are and who is around you.
Later on, we'll introduce you to some safe and not so safe neighborhoods in Washington DC. We urge you to keep your expensive valuables hidden so as to not attract attention. If you're strolling around the city at night, you must always stick to well lit streets, and if you're ever approached by a dangerous individual your safety should be your only priority. Don't make eye contact but do what they say, and try to remember some identifying characteristics that you can tell the police afterward.
Weather occurrences and conditions
Natural disasters also affect how safe Washington DC is, and you'll have to look out for certain catastrophes depending on when you're in the city. Severe thunderstorms and hurricanes have been known to happen during the stormy season of summer to fall, and the winter brings severe snowstorms as well. The good news is that you'll most likely have a warning before any weather occurrences hit so you can prepare yourself.
Some things to do if there is a storm warning include stocking up on food and preparing an emergency bag in case you have to go somewhere in a rush. It is also wise to plan an escape route by taking into account emergency exits where you're staying. With preparation, these storms will be no real threat, and it isn't very often that they become severe.
Is Washington DC safe to visit alone
Sometimes you want to visit a city on your own, but not all major cities are safe for solo travelers. Thankfully, DC isn't one of them. There is a reliable Washington DC police presence, especially around the main tourist areas, and violent crimes are generally very low. As a solo traveler, you'll just need to do your research to avoid dangerous areas and take extra caution when making your way through the city after dark. If possible, leave exploring for the daytime hours.
Solo female travelers will be happy to know that there are no indications of the city being any more dangerous for women than for men, and the United States sits at 32nd place on the Bounce Women Travel Safety Index. Most tourists are safe wandering around, and as a woman, you should take the same security measures as back home. We do suggest staying around the popular areas since any chances of being harassed are decreased considerably when there are other people around. Walk with confidence if you're on your own and know your destination.
Safest neighborhoods in Washington DC
Washington DC is just like other major cities in the sense that some areas are safe and others are not. Places like Adams Morgan are fine to explore, and listed below are some other places that are generally safe for tourists visiting Washington DC.
This is one of the safer Washington DC neighborhoods with low crime rates making it a great spot for tourists. It is a bright and colorful area with restaurants to try and unique boutiques to browse.
Capitol Hill is one of the safest neighborhoods in Washington DC and it is also close to some of the city's best landmarks. It's a walkable neighborhood and the place to tour congress or the senate.
This area once had the largest black community in the entire nation which has given it a truly incredible culture that makes it stand out from other neighborhoods. It is a wonderful place for people interested in music, art and civil rights activists, and was actually the home of Duke Ellington, the famous jazz musician.
Every city has dangerous neighborhoods or places that should be skipped or visited in groups. Some areas east of the Anacostia river, Deanwood in Northeast DC, Sixth Street, Stadium Armory and Columbia Heights have more common crime activity and higher property crime rates, so we suggest sticking to the safest areas that we listed above. You'll want to play it extra safe in areas around North East and South East DC.
Is Washington DC public transportation safe?
If you're planning to drive yourself around Washington DC it is completely doable, but we suggest reconsidering. The city can be a bit complicated to navigate and car theft is not unheard of, especially around neighborhoods more known for crime. You'll probably be better off using the public transit system which is well developed and reliable. That being said, you should still be careful of pickpockets, especially around any busy metro station.
If you ever feel unsafe or need assistance while using the subway system, make your way to the nearest metro employee who will be able to help you. There is also a fair number of officers around the metro area in case a situation calls for police intervention. When traveling at night try to take transit services that have other people around and keep any valuable personal items or electronic devices concealed.
Important emergency numbers in Washington DC
No matter how prepared you're it can take just a few moments for something to go wrong and you never know when you might need help from the authorities. Here are some emergency numbers to keep in mind while you're in Washington DC. You should also write down your embassy number and keep it handy.
- Emergency Police: 911
- Non-Emergencies: 311
- Public Information Office: 202-727-4383
- Metro Transit Police Department: 202-962-2121
Making your trip to Washington DC safe
Washington DC is not one of the safest cities but it is definitely a place worth visiting. As long as you're careful you can absolutely be safe in this city, and you should have no reservations about joining the other millions of people who vacation here. Plan to see incredible sights like the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums.
To get more comfortable with the layout of the city consult Where to Stay in Washington DC: The Ultimate Guide. Read How to Get Around Washington DC and you'll be a pro at making your way from one place to another.