New York is one of the metropolitan cities in the US. Thanks to Times Square and other famous landmarks, it is also among the state’s most popular cities. With a population of 8.4 million, NYC welcomes tens of millions of tourists annually. Like any other part of the world, people visiting the city for the first time wonder, “Is it safe to visit New York City right now?”
Overall, yes, it is safe to visit New York City. Besides the tourist-friendly environment, crime rates have also dropped in the past years, making it safer.
NYC ranked in the top five among the 15 safest large cities in the United States.
So, if you plan to visit New York City anytime soon, this article gives you a complete guide regarding safe and unsafe areas.
Crimes in New York City
As we mentioned, New York City is one of the safest cities in the US, and pickpocketing is the only problem you will majorly encounter here.
Pickpockets are pretty aware of the city’s tourist culture and benefit from visitors, depriving them of their belongings. You must stay vigilant of your surroundings and keep your things safe.
Females should especially avoid wearing their bags on the back and carry a cross-body purse. Also, do not hang your bag on your chair or place it on the floor while you are busy with something else. At the same time, men should use the front pockets to keep money and other things instead of the back pocket.
While we encourage appreciating street performers, sometimes they are also a part of pickpocket gangs. Some gang members distract you through street performances or quarrels, while others pick your pocket.
So, despite being a safe city, tourists visiting New York have to be extra vigilant to ensure they do not lose money or other valuables.
Scams in New York City
Though the city is free from major scams like credit card skimming or thefts, you might encounter a few panhandlers trying to get money from you. Two of the most common incidents are:
- You might see some people with a sobbing story, expecting you to help them with money. However, the best approach is to say sorry and move on.
- Another common scam occurs at Times Square with Disney characters. Children often get excited seeing them and take pictures. As soon as you take the pictures, they will ask you for money for the pictures. So, it is better to get permission before clicking photos with them.
Areas to Avoid in New York City
Though the answer to “Is New York City safe for tourists, is generally yes, a few areas, including Brownsville, East Harlem, South Bronx, and Bed-Stuy, can be problematic if not navigated with care. Here’s a sneak peek into these regions:
Brownsville is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York, with high violence and drug use occurrences. It also has high incarceration rates due to the increased crime rate. Most people living in this area lie below the Federal Poverty Line. The best way to avoid Brownsville is to stay in the Brooklyn tourist area and not get on or off the subway here.
The next area you might want to stay safe is East Harlem, with alarming drug and alcohol use issues. This part of the city has numerous shelters and facilities, which means you will encounter a high number of mentally challenged individuals; it can sometimes lead to unexpected incidents.
Like Brownsville, avoid getting on or off the subway in this region. Moreover, do not go to the north end of Central Park, as it borders East Harlem.
South Bronx is another notable mention on the list of NYC neighborhoods to avoid due to the high crime and drug addiction. You will also see more homeless and hookers in this area. South Bronx is home to Hunts Point and Mott Haven, two of the most dangerous places in New York City.
Bed-Stuy, or Bedford-Stuyvesant, is notorious for high crime rates. Thus, despite its rich history and culture, visiting this part of the city is unsafe. When visiting Manhattan from Brooklyn, it is better to take the highway to skip passing through Bed-Stuy. Moreover, stay near the Prospect Park area only.
Safe Neighborhoods in New York City
Flatiron District, Gramercy Park, and Union Square
These areas in Midtown Manhattan are safe for locals and tourists throughout the day, but there is not much activity at the Flatiron District and Gramercy Park at night. So, stay in the avenues and avoid residential streets.
High Line and Chelsea
The High Line and Chelsea are safe throughout the day and night. You will especially see a lot of tourists in the High Line Park area. These regions are also safe at night if you stay on the avenues instead of the side streets.
Ease Village in Lower Manhattan is a safe area but it is suggested not to go past Tompkins Square Park to avoid pickpocketing. It is safer during the day compared to night.
Chinatown, Little Italy, and SoHo
Chinatown, Little Italy, and SoHo are popular neighborhoods among tourists throughout the day and night, making them densely populated. While they are fine during the day, you must take care of pickpockets during rush hours.
Williamsburg is a trendy and safe neighborhood during the day, but you must not roam in the darker areas at night to avoid mishaps; stick to the main streets to stay safe in Williamsburg.
Upper East Side
The Upper East Side in Uptown Manhattan borders 5th Avenue to the East River, between 59th Street and 96th Street. This area is typically safe during the day with a busy nightlife; you will find it quiet and calm at night.
Brooklyn Heights is a beautiful neighborhood, a treat to sore eyes during the day. However, the area is exclusively residential at night. So, it is better to avoid roaming around the region after dark.
NYC Safe Tourist Attractions
The Freedom Tower, or One World Observatory, is the tallest building in New York, with a ride up in less than one minute. It offers you 360 views of the city, which is a sight to remember!
Central Park is a relatively safe place in New York City, but still not free from pickpockets. The park is spread over 840 acres, so you must check it online before visiting. It helps you blend in with the crowd without feeling lost. It is better to avoid wearing headphones in the park to stay attentive to your surroundings.
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge has high surveillance and security, making it a safe tourist attraction. Over 30,000 people cross it daily.. Thus, it is best to visit it in the morning to experience a smaller crowd.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
You can also visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan to pay your respects. It is a high-security area, requiring you to maintain decorum and avoid disrespect to the families of the martyrs.
Is it Safe to Visit New York City Alone for Female Travelers?
Many cities worldwide are considered unsafe for female solo travelers, but NYC is not one of them. Instead, New York City is among the favorites among female solo travelers who come to explore the beautiful place. The city offers numerous activities for solo travelers to keep you engaged and make you a part of the environment.
Female travelers do not have to worry about harassment or other issues; they are almost negligible in the region. Yet it is always better to avoid going out at night alone and refusing drinks from strangers or people you just met.
Is New York City Safe at Night?
Yes, New York City is typically safer at night, and you do not have to worry about going out at night. Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Clinton Hill are safe neighborhoods with least to no crime reports, even at night.
However, it is not suggested to roam around Brighton Beach, Flatbush area, and surroundings at night. Also, do not visit the city’s outskirts after dark.
Navigating through New York City
As soon as you land at the airport, keep an eye on your luggage. Despite being in a safe city, do not leave your luggage or ask strangers to carry your bags. The best bet is to keep your luggage easily manageable to carry yourself.
Transport is important when you think, “Is it safe to visit New York City alone?” NYC taxis are identified, and you must only travel in a taxi properly marked and avoid getting into an unmarked cab. Typically, taxis have the cab driver’s medallion and ID number; you will find light green taxis outside of Manhattan.
The city also has Uber and Lyft, but locals generally avoid them as the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission does not regulate them. Moreover, it is best to tip the driver before getting out.
The subway is the most popular way of getting through the city, but you must know how it works. Always stand behind the yellow line when waiting for the train, and make sure to buy MetroCards only from approved vendors.
Though NYC offers multiple transport options, there’s nothing better than exploring New York City on foot. IYou will love walking through the stunning architecture and streets.
However, remember it is a busy city, and you must be more cautious. Always pay attention to traffic signals, cars, and cyclists, and cross at the intersection. Note the landmarks when you walk from your hotel to different parts of the city to navigate easily.
Laws in New York
The laws in New York are pretty much the same as other cities in the US. But if you are new to the United States, you must keep two important things in mind:
- The legal drinking age in the US is 21, so you must not drink if you are under 21
- Marijuana is legal, but public smoking is prohibited, especially in crowded areas like Times Square
Staying Safe in New York City
Though the answer to “Is it safe to visit New York City?” is yes, a few precautions always help avoid unfavorable situations as a tourist.
- Most pickpockets attack tourists. So, the best way to avoid pickpocketing is to dress like a local instead of going overboard. The more you blend in with the public, the safer it is.
- Another important thing is to keep your valuable possessions hidden. Showing off your expensive phone or camera can also invite pickpockets.
- Familiarize yourself with the area before visiting any new place. The best is to travel in a group. Otherwise, navigate the place online first to understand the surroundings.
- Take extra precaution when visiting touristic areas like Times Square; the pickpockets are incredibly active in these places.
- Avoid renting or driving cars, as it can be quite stressful for someone new to a busy city.
- Make sure to follow the rules on the sidewalks to not hurt yourself or anyone else.
- Get the Notify NYC app to stay updated with local news, such as emergency information and weather warnings.
- Sign up for an NYC311 account to get immediate answers to your queries regarding city navigation and parking restrictions.
- If you feel anything fishy, feel free to ask the police for help. You will see NYPD cars patrolling around, and they will ensure your safety in case of uncertainty.
- Do not carry a weapon, as it can increase the graveness of a conflict.
- Do not take drinks from anyone, even the ‘friends’ you just made.
When is the best time to visit New York City?
April to July is the best time to visit New York because of the pleasant weather; the crowds are not crazy either. The accommodation is also cheaper during mid-January and the end of February after the holiday rush. However, the weather is not so good at this time.
Is it safe to visit New York City right now?
New York has been known for crimes previously but has always been a tourist favorite. The high-rising skyscrapers and stunning city life make you fall in love with it. If you wonder if New York is safe to visit right now, it is. Plan your trip and embark on this beautiful journey you will cherish forever!
Is Times Square safe at night?
Times Square is undoubtedly the most popular tourist destination in NYC but is also a favorite among pickpockets. Be extra cautious while you visit Times Square to avoid losing any valuables. Keep everything in sight and do not leave your belongings on the floor.
What part of New York should I stay for the first time?
As a first-timer in New York, opt for a safe neighborhood where you do not have to worry much about safety. Midtown Manhattan is among the best choices, with hotels for every budget. You can find everything from affordable options to the most luxurious ones. Moreover, the rooftop restaurants here are excellent for viewing the city skyline.
Diana was an active fitness model in the past. She has had numerous shoots done at different locations and found out that her true interest was in exploring the world! Later on, this passion motivated her to write multiple tarvel blogs about whatever place she visited and discovered, and here it is! Enjoy reading a variety of blogs by Diana to get a lively experience of several places.