Baltimore, Maryland! Home of many firsts: the first established postal service, the first telegraph line, and the very first dental school in the states. It is the setting for the broadway smash-hit (now movie) ‘Hairspray’, and has a rich seafaring history.
The food is fabulous (if you like lots of meat), and it even earned the nickname “charm city” in the seventies. But it has had its share of darkness. Indeed, Nina Simone’s tune Baltimore is a slow, almost somber affair, extolling the virtues of getting out, as she croons, “Oh, Baltimore/Ain’t it hard just to live?”. But, is Baltimore safe to visit in this day and age? And just where should you avoid?
Join us as we explore all this and more! We talk safety, diversity, hospitality, and what to see. There is more to Baltimore than old military ships and the odd crime. You are about to discover some of that, all while uncovering just how safe you can expect it to be!
Is Baltimore Safe Right Now?
Due to high incidents of crime in the city, many people believe Baltimore is not a safe place to be. In actuality, most crime happens in specific areas and is drugs and gang related. So tourists need not fear too much, as there are a large number of safe neighbourhoods to visit. Just ensure to avoid West Baltimore first and foremost!
Inner Harbor, Little Italy, Mount Vernon, and Federal Hill all have regular patrols by law enforcement, and Fells Point is particularly noteworthy for its array of local art galleries, cafes, and antiques stores. It feels quaint and kitsch, and is a big hit with visitors and locals!
Places like Inner Harbor are very well populated, with lots of tourist spots to see without any concern for your safety. Visitors tend to flock to the wealth of museums and historic ships of Baltimore’s Maritime history in this area. In fact, most of the best spots to visit are only a short distance from each other, making Baltimore real easy to get around. Walking is the transport method of choice. Though you can use public transportation, which includes subway, light rail and bus. Taxis are also readily available, but more on this later.
The most likely form of interference you will experience is begging. This is generally well-meaning however, and most will leave you alone if you give them some change or politely decline.
You might be interested to note that this is one city that has a long history with the early LGBTQ+ scene. The Drag scene in Baltimore dates back to the 1930s, and today historic gay villages like Mt Vernon are home to fabulous LGBTQ+ friendly bars and clubs. That being said, transphobic and homophobic attacks have happened, in some cases generating national attention in recent years. Whilst attacks are not commonplace, it is wise to stick to stick to more accepting areas if you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community travelling to Baltimore.
With Baltimore having the fifth largest community of black Americans in the United States, along with many other ethnicities, we should talk about the experiences of black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) in the city. It is not secret that black people and people of other ethnicities have had their share of run-ins with law enforcement, and instances of unfair discrimination. However, tourists can maintain safety in the same way as any tourist would. By keeping to the more populated areas, and avoiding walking alone at night.
A Travel Safety Belt is an effective and affordable way of protecting your notes, cards, and cash.
Is Baltimore Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
Whilst female solo travellers are safe to walk around in this city, cat-calling is still prevalent. So be warned! Whilst harassment in the city is illegal, with any attempts to alarm, annoy or interfere with anyone in a public space punishable by law, it of course still happens. The Police cannot be around all the time. To ensure you aren’t found in situations that make you fear for your safety, stick to populated areas, and avoid walking alone at night.
Some will tell you to avoid going out at night at all, but we know this isn’t likely to happen. Not that anyone needs to be reminded, but you are more likely to be mugged at night. So when out and about in the evening, ensure that you travel in groups if walking short distances. And always take taxis across town at night (avoiding public transport). Get to know the places you will be visiting, and memorise the best routes to get back to your accommodation. And if you have the local law enforcement on speed dial, so much the better.
If you do get lost walking alone in the city in the day, act like you know where you are going at all times. Duck into a bar or shop to get your bearings before moving on. Remember, whilst mugging is more of an issue at night, it can happen in the daytime if you find yourself on a deserted street in a less well-known area. One last thing, if you are in a populated area such as a market, be wary of pickpockets. Always keep bags zipped up and valuables stowed in inside pockets. Always pay close attention to your items, and don’t wear overly flashy jewellery and clothing.
As with any well-meaning advice on safety, you can often end up feeling more afraid to go it alone that before the information was dispensed. But it is worth noting that this advice is smart to follow in big cities across the globe. All travellers should have a healthy respect for their possessions, and lives. If you follow basic safety precautions and stick to the downtown areas, Baltimore is a fun and vibrant city to enjoy. Whether you are with friends or alone, you will enjoy your stay. Maybe even make some new friends!
Is Baltimore Safe to Live?
Whilst there are some dangerous places to live, like the already established west side of Baltimore, there are some lovely neighbourhoods to set down roots. Whilst folk living in this city should be wary of leaving valuables in plain view in their car, using only well lit ATMs, there is little reason to fear. Actually, most folk who move to Baltimore actually report really loving it!
If you are considering moving to Baltimore, perhaps check out some of the following locations on your next trip: Federal Hill, Mount Vernon (great for the LGBTQ+ community!), Guildford, Mid-Town Belvedere and Wyman Park.
Most will be familiar with hit HBO show The Wire, which charted the highs and lows of gang crime in Baltimore city. Though only partially true to life, around 20% of Baltimores population is living in poverty. The city also leads the pack in terms of cities with the highest rates of robbery. These are the sadly high statistics of a city that is still pulling itself out of poverty. Crime rates rise in comparison to incidents of poverty, but there is hope for the future.
As we have already covered, there are a lot of areas or renovation, and community lead projects to brighten the city and encourage growth. There is a lot of industry in this port city, with no signs of this slowing. Many students come here to study, with education establishments like the world re-noun John Hopkins University and Morgan State University.
Having said all this, there are definitely some spots to avoid. If you stick to the populated spots, you are less likely to experience any crime. These will usually be found on the outskirts of the cities metropolitan area, such as Edmondson Village, Orangeville, Fairfield, Cherry Hill, Grove Park and Hopkins-Middle East. A good rule of thumb is to steer clear of anywhere that gives you a bad vibe. And generally you will find that gangs and drug-dealers are only violent with each other. So as long as you stay outside of these pockets of criminal activity, you will be fine.
Prostitution in Baltimore is also rife, and even more reason to steer clear of walking alone in the city at night, especially in less populated locations with large numbers of cars passing through them.
Is Baltimore Safe at Night?
Like any city, there are some places not to visit at night, and some safer areas that are okay. Though it’s never advisable to walk anywhere alone in Baltimore at night, much of downtown has a regular police presence. You will see a lot of law enforcement activity around Inner Harbor day and night, for instance. Therefore its perfectly safe to walk around anytime. It is wise to not walk long distances at night, however. And, when covering a short distances, always ensure you walk with other people.
As we have already noted, West Baltimore is a high crime neighbourhood. This and a number of areas surrounding the centre should be avoid at all times. Especially at night. Having said that, when it comes to night time pursuits, it is worth noting that there are some really wonderful spots to hit!
Bars and clubs in Mount Vernon are diverse and friendly. And you will definitely want to check out the East Baltimore St scene around Power Plant Live! This is an outdoor venue where revellers can sample a range of bars and tasty treats whilst listening to fantastic music. Mosaic Nightclub and Howl At The Moon are also close by!
It would be such a shame to miss out on the music, culture and joy of a night out in Baltimore. There is so much more to explore than just those tourist areas, foodie venues, galleries and museums. So as long as you are wise and stick to the golden rules and never finding yourself alone at night, you will be fine! And if you want a short version of the golden rules, continue on dear reader!
Is the Tap Water in Baltimore Safe to Drink?
As with much of the United States, the tap water in Baltimore is perfectly safe to drink. In fact, some studies have found that the water is actually safer than most bottled water.
The body of tap water in Baltimore comes from snow, rainwater and run off. All of which has been treated and certified safe via the governing bodies. Much of the college population of the city also believe it to be more eco friendly and financially viable than drinking bottled water in single use plastics. So, bring your own bottle whilst touring the city!
A filter water bottle is an effective way of purifying water to remove any impurities or contaminants.
Are Taxis in Baltimore Safe?
In the past there are some issues with taxi drivers ripping off tourists. Generally, however, taxis are safe to take at any time of the day or night. Providing, that is, you choose a licensed taxi driver from a known company. Yellow Cab is a registered company that many will know. But whilst safe, their service isn’t known to be the best in the business. All Star Taxi, however, are generally considered to be polite, reasonable and on time if you book ahead.
All licensed taxis should have a meter. If the taxi driver does not turn this on at the start of your journey, you have the right to insist that they do. If a meter is not available or working, ensure to agree on a price prior to getting in. This way you can avoid nasty surprises or arguments once you arrive at your destination. If in doubt, order a taxi from your hotel, or the restaurant or bar you are in. Most establishments will be happy to help if you find yourself in a bind!
If you are savvy, taking a taxi in Baltimore is safe. If you are a regular Uber user, you’ll be interested to note that Uber is available. As well as Lyft services! But as always, be sure to check the licence plate and the driver description before getting into the vehicle. But we don’t need to tell you that!
Top 9 Baltimore Safety Tips
So we have covered a lot of ground. By now you know that Baltimore is a fine and safe city to visit. Be that for a bit of history, art, culture, food or even music! Though you might find it helpful to keep for reference out top 9 health and safety tips for touring the city.
- Show awareness of the city: plan your trips around the city and how you will get there. If you get lost or confused, duck into an open shop to ask directions or get your bearings. Ensure you learn the surrounding street names and directions to and from your hotel. This knowledge will be invaluable!
- Stick to the metropolitan areas: avoiding the surrounding neighbourhoods like Edmondson Village, Orangeville, and Fairfield, as listed above. If in doubt, ask hotel staff for advice, and always use your powers of deduction. If a place feels dodgy, it probably is!
- Don’t wear overly expensive clothes or jewellery: Hide expensive jewellery if you must wear it.
- Keep valuables out of sight when locked in a car: Don’t leave phones or other valuables on the seat, even if you will only be a few minutes. Never leave anything to chance!
- Avoid walking at night: take a taxi, or walk with others if covering a short distance.
- Take licensed taxis only: Yellow Cab or Five Star are well known. Ask at your hotel if unsure, or play it real safe and go for an Uber or Lyft. Never get into any unmarked vehicles.
- Exercise caution when approached by strangers: while it is lovely to make new friends, some people could be out to harass or steal from you. Be mindful of anyone looking to take you away from crowds or separate you from your friends. It is not common, but it can happen. This is also the case if you are in a bar or nightclub. Watch your drinks, your friends and your possessions!
- Be mindful of pickpockets: most would think only of muggings, which feel more violent. However, pickpockets operate in tourist hotspots, so ensure your personal items are secure!
- For LGBTQ+ travellers, Mount Vernon is your hub: you can move freely about the city with no trouble of course. But for a good time (day or night), and some wholesome friendly vibes, this is the place to be!
This concludes our whistle stop tour of Baltimore! If you are raring to go out and experience all that it has to offer, share this with your friends. Perhaps this will be your next city for fun and frolics?! If it is now on your list, or you have experiences you would like to share, drop us a message below! We are always interested to hear your personal experiences.