San Francisco is one of the most gorgeous cities in America and a tourist magnet. You will find tourists in this city throughout the year. Despite being home to some eye-pleasing locations, people often wonder, “Is it safe to visit San Francisco?” before planning their trip.
San Francisco is overall a safe city. But like every other place, it has its ups and downs. So, when planning to visit this gorgeous part of the US, knowing places you should avoid is important.
We have put together safe and unsafe areas in San Francisco so you can plan and enjoy your trip without any bad experiences. You will also learn about scams and common crimes you must be wary of.
So, let’s answer your question, “Is it safe to visit San Francisco?”
Is it Safe to Visit San Francisco Right Now?
San Francisco is one of the safest cities in the US, rated safer than road trips to Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Seattle, and many others. The violent crime rate is 636 per 100,000 residents; your chance of being a victim is 1 in 186.
So, San Francisco is a safe location to enjoy your vacation if you know your way around. Stay away from high-crime locations and be street-smart when roaming around. Due to low crime rates, San Francisco is not considered unsafe overall.
But like every city, some crimes are more common in San Francisco than others.
Common Crimes in San Francisco
Theft and Pickpocketing
Theft is the most common crime in San Francisco, and tourists are most prone to pickpocketing. Pickpockets are good at identifying tourists and know that they usually carry more cash and valuables than locals. Thus, they target visitors, depriving them of their valuable items and money. Do not carry lots of money when going out; females should also hold their bags tight to avoid snatching.
Furthermore, stay vigilant of your surroundings; do not let anyone get too close to you, and check your valuables immediately if someone falls on you “accidentally.” Public transport is one of the most common locations for these thefts. So, always take extra care in public transportation to stay safe in San Francisco. These incidents are also common in the Mission District.
Besides pickpocketing, you might also see or experience violent robberies. Armed robbers may attack locals and tourists, taking away their mobile phones, cameras, etc. It is essential to stay safe from robberies, but do not resist if you get into one.
Compared to other tourist locations, San Francisco does not have many scams. Instead, vehicle break-ins are the norm in the region. The number of vehicle crime stories in San Francisco is more than in many other parts of the country.
Vehicle break-ins or “smash and grab” are the most common vehicle-related crime in the city. Thieves break car windows and steal anything valuable they find in the car.
The incidents often occur in parked cars. So, do not park your vehicle in secluded areas. Furthermore, ensure not to leave anything in the car that catches attention, even a charger or a little cash. Apart from break-ins, people also report vehicle theft and car parts theft.
As a tourist, it is not safe to bring your vehicle to San Francisco; instead, opt for public transport. Take standard care when traveling to avoid pickpockets.
If you decide to stay in a low-budget hotel or Airbnb, you must consider the property crime rates in San Francisco. Property crime in the region is higher than the national and state property crime rates. There is a one-in-twenty chance of being a victim of a property crime in the city, with a burglary rate of 67% more than the national average.
Thus, first-time visitors should stay in a reputable hotel to not lose their valuables.
Impersonation Scams in San Francisco
As mentioned earlier, San Francisco does not have tourist scams like other popular cities worldwide. However, scammers often cheat locals and tourists through impersonation scams. They make a call, message, or email asking for money because of XYZ reasons. They often impersonate your family, friends, government agents, or anyone else.
The scammers are experienced and convince you that the situation requires urgent money or it may cause harm to you or your family. You can identify the scams if they create urgency without giving much detail. Moreover, the scammers often request gift cards and cryptocurrency.
Do not give any personal information on call to anyone or transfer money unless you are sure.
Safe Areas in San Francisco
San Francisco is overall a safe city. But some neighborhoods are more secure than others. In these regions, you are typically out of crime sights and scams.
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the favorite tourist spots in the city. It is among the most common locations mentioned when tourists ask, “Is it safe to visit San Francisco?”
Opposed to tourist areas in many other cities, Fisherman Wharf is among the safest destinations. Fisherman’s Wharf is located on the northern waterfront with shops, restaurants, and attractions. You can also visit museums in the area like Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
Roam freely without worrying about street crimes. It might be crowded in peak seasons but not highly susceptible to crimes. So, it is generally considered a safe area.
Richmond District is the whole package: safe, affordable, serene!
It is one of the safest areas in San Francisco, especially when looking for accommodation. It has low to no crimes throughout the day. Richmond district is close to the city center and offers a wide range of accommodation options. So, whether you want to stay with your family, friends, or partner, there’s something for everyone.
Haight Ashbury is the perfect location for tourists who appreciate historical architecture and hip culture. The best part is that it is safe, and you do not have to worry about pickpocketing or scams.
This area has head shops, record stores, and more to cater to tourists and locals. However, it is slightly more expensive than other districts.
The North Beach is another fun location in San Francisco, full of tourists and locals all the time. It is home to galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Many tourists visit the area for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Furthermore, the lively nightlife makes it quite busy at night. Everyone heads over to this vibrant part of the city to party their hearts out after busy days at work. The clubs at North Beach are the perfect pick to enjoy your evenings in the city.
Good things come with a price tag, and Nob Hill proves that. Nob Hill is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, with the most exquisite houses and businesses.
While the answer to “Is it safe to visit San Francisco?” is a yes when considering the safe areas, you might want to get a sturdy pair of shoes when visiting Nob Hill. The locations in this part of the city are on steep hills that get slippery during rain showers. So, it is better to avoid rainy days when planning for Nob Hill.
South of Market
South of Market is another vibrant location in San Francisco, but more budget-friendly. You will find bars, restaurants, art galleries, shops, and more in the region.
It is a suitable choice for getting to know the city and enjoying delicious food in the district.
Plus, you do not have to worry when visiting Little Italy, Chinatown, Presidio, Castro, and Downtown in San Francisco; they are also tourist-friendly and safe.
Unsafe Areas in San Francisco
Though most areas in San Francisco are safe, you might experience common crimes in others. So, the answer to “Is it safe to visit San Francisco?” might not always be “yes.” You can improve your experience by avoiding areas with high crime rates. It is suggested to stay away from these areas when visiting San Francisco to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Golden Gate Park
Don’t be surprised to see Golden Gate Park among unsafe areas; this gorgeous park is a must-visit on your San Francisco trip.
However, it is best to go to Golden Gate Park in the morning and head back to the hotel as the crowds lessen. Locals know they will mostly find tourists in the park, making you more susceptible to common theft crimes. Walk back to your hotel as you see fewer people in the park after sunset.
The Mission District
The vibrancy and trendiness of the Mission District might attract you. But you must not forget to take extra precautions when visiting the area.
The neighborhood is known for its nightlife, and people head here at night to enjoy delicious food and visit art galleries. Yet the parking problem in the area makes it a favorite among criminals. So, avoid parking your vehicle in a secluded area when enjoying your time here.
The Tenderloin District
The Tenderloin District in San Francisco is notorious for drug use and property crime due to high poverty rates. The region is along the borders of Taylor Streets, Van Ness, and Geary. You will see many shady hotels and common prostitution in the region. Tourists saying “no” to “Is it safe to visit San Francisco” often recall their experience in the Tenderloin District.
The district is safe to visit during the daytime but a no-go as the sun sets; it becomes the hub of drug abuse and prostitution at night. The Warfield Theater and Great American Music Hall in the area are popular tourist attractions.
The Western Addition
The Western Addition is another not-so-safe San Francisco location you should avoid when visiting. As it is close to the Tenderloin District, both regions also share the crime status. Locals and tourists have reported mugging and theft in the area. Also, if you were wondering, “Where do the notorious car break-ins occur?” this is the place!
Many people who visit Japantown and Fillmore District sometimes experience unpleasant incidents. We do not discourage you from visiting these attractions but suggest added safety and vigilance.
Hunters Point and Bayview
The last on our list are Hunters Point and Bayview. Tourists do not usually visit these areas due to the lack of attractive locations. But you must know that these regions have high crime rates, including violent crimes. Thus, crossing these off your list is better when visiting San Francisco.
Dos and Don’ts of Staying in San Francisco
When wondering about “Is San Francisco safe,” you can improve your experience by remembering a few dos and don’ts. Keep these in mind to ensure you enjoy a pleasant trip to the city.
- Google the places you wish to visit and check the route
- Keep a copy of your passport and ID with you all the time
- Save important contacts like the local crime tip number in case of emergencies
- Always take out money from the ATM during day time
- Get a local sim when you visit San Francisco
- Keep your cash and valuable jewelry hidden
- Take a taxi when traveling at night
- Don’t stay out late at night alone
- Don’t walk around with your phone unnecessarily
- Don’t leave your car unattended in a secluded area
- Don’t ignore your surroundings when wearing headphones
- Don’t put your bag on the back of a chair at a restaurant
Is San Francisco Safe for Solo Travelers?
Traveling solo is a hobby for many people; they do not have to worry when visiting San Francisco. San Francisco is quite safe for solo travelers. However, here are a few things you must consider when visiting the city alone:
Take a few tours around the city with local guides to understand the routes and landmarks. It helps you realize if something is wrong, and you can control the situation.
Stay attentive when using your phone or headphones in public. Besides phone snatching, you will lose other valuables if you ignore your surroundings.
Talk to the locals to get insider information. They might share hacks and ways to get around the city easily and blend with the neighborhood. Avoid walking alone at night to prevent theft. Take a taxi or head back to your hotel before it gets dark.
Do not drink too much alcohol, especially with strangers. People might try to be friends but maintain distance and drink only how much you can manage. Traveling light is the best way to save yourself from scams and crimes, especially robberies. Considering San Francisco’s reputation for property crimes, it is good to carry less to stay safe.
Be confident and do not seem worried or new to the region. Do not worry about eating alone, and enjoy your time in San Francisco.
Is it Safe for Female Travelers to Visit San Francisco?
San Francisco is a gorgeous location suitable for solo travelers who travel often. But even if you are traveling for the first time and wondering, “Is it safe to visit San Francisco as a female?” the answer is “yes.” However, you must take the necessary precautions.
Here are a few tips for solo female travelers in San Francisco to enjoy a safe trip:
Stay Vigilant: Always be vigilant of your surroundings, even when talking to someone or using headphones.
Avoid Sharing Personal Information: You should not share personal information with strangers like mentioning traveling alone or where you are staying.
Keep Family Updated: Sharing your plans with family or friends is suggested so someone knows where you are.
Take Care of Your Bags: Do not leave your bags unattended in a park or café; you might lose them from under your nose.
Blend In: Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or clothes that look very touristy. Try to blend in with the locals by opting for similar clothes. Wear layers and clothing such as sweatshirts.
Invest in Accommodation: The region is known for burglaries. So, opt for a reputable hotel to avoid these issues. Also, make sure the accommodation is safe.
Do Not Sit in Empty Cars: Avoid taking empty public transport and sit near the guard or the gate. Taking a train car or bus with at least a few passengers is better.
Avoid Drinking Too Much: Drinking too much in a new city is not safe. So, do not go for drinks solo, and avoid drinking too much. At the same time, do not leave your drink unattended for even a minute to prevent drink spiking.
Exit Suspicious Situations: Excuse yourself out of situations where someone tries to be too close to you or makes you uncomfortable.
Is San Francisco Safe for Families?
Families visiting another city often worry about safety as they usually have kids. San Francisco is a fun vacation spot with various activities and attractions for visitors. However, the city does not have a lot of interesting spots for children. One of the major reasons is the small population of children in the city itself.
Overall, San Francisco is safe for families with children. The law requires a car seat for young children. So, make sure to carry yours even if you do not bring your car. You might not be able to travel in taxis without your baby’s car seat.
Is it Safe to Go Out at Night in San Francisco?
When you ask anyone, “Is it safe to visit San Francisco?” most will say yes. But nightlife is an exception. Despite numerous clubs and bars, the nightlife scene in the city is not as pleasant as in many other cities.
Due to high theft crimes, it is best to avoid walking alone after dark. Also, drugs are quite common at parties but do not take anything except cannabis. Moreover, do not take drinks from anyone you do not know.
Considering the drug consumption in San Francisco, carry Narcan with you. It is an emergency medication that can reverse opiate overdose. You or someone around you might consume opiates unknowingly; the medicine comes in handy then. Make sure to read the indications and warnings.
Worst Time to Visit San Francisco
Summer is typically a favorite among families because of children’s holidays. As a family, it is suitable as the kids can enjoy their time to the fullest. However, it gets quite expensive in San Francisco in summer due to the high tourist influx. So, summer is the worst time to visit San Francisco when you want to travel on a budget.
Furthermore, San Francisco is not really a sunny destination. So, the weather is slightly cold and foggy in summer as well. The city also welcomes seagulls in summer. Sometimes, it can get uncomfortable and annoying when they take food from your table.
You might not also want to visit between November and March due to heavy rainfall.
Things to Consider When Visiting San Francisco
Besides the crime-related details on if Is it safe to Visit San Francisco now, there are a few more things you must consider. So, whether you are traveling alone, with friends, or with family, keep the following in mind:
Pack layers when visiting San Francisco, even in summer. Compared to others, this city is typically foggy and cold, even in warm months. You will see locals in layers, too, when visiting San Francisco.
Cannabis is legal in the city, but only if you are over 21. However, you cannot smoke weed in public or public events.
San Francisco has a liberal culture. So, don’t be surprised if you see people walking around naked in the city. Moreover, San Francisco has the highest number of LGBTQ+ community living openly. The welcoming culture makes it quite safe for locals and visitors.
The city has a large number of homeless people you might see in most areas. They are usually harmless, yet the city administration suggests maintaining distance if you feel unsafe.
San Francisco often experiences earthquakes. To stay safe, read about precautions during earthquakes besides moving away from tall buildings.
While you might want to enjoy beach time, you must not swim as the beach has strong riptides. The local authorities recommend enjoying the beach from a distance to stay safe.
Human Fecal Hazards
Due to increasing homelessness in the city, human feces are becoming common on roadsides and streets. The city is trying to combat the issue to prevent potential health hazards.
San Francisco Crime Report Line
If you see a crime happening or become a victim, you can call 911 to inform them of the incident. Furthermore, San Francisco has a local crime tip line to inform of an unpleasant happening at (415) 575-4444. Alternatively, you can text the information to TIP411, mentioning SFPD before your message.
The Bottom Line
San Francisco is among the most popular tourist destinations, whether you want to enjoy a friend’s trip or a romantic getaway. “Is it safe to visit San Francisco?” is the foremost question when visiting the Golden City. Fisherman’s Wharf, Richmond District, North Beach, Haight Ashbury, Nob Hill, and South of Market are safe tourist areas. At the same time, The Mission District, The Tenderloin District, The Western Addition, Hunters Point, and Bayview are not safe to go.
Moreover, stay vigilant of theft, vehicle break-ins, property crimes, and impersonation scams when in the city. While San Francisco is a culturally liberal and gorgeous city, homelessness has increased over time. So, you might need to watch out while planning to visit there.
Is San Francisco safe to walk at night?
Despite being generally safe, thefts are common in San Francisco, especially in dark areas. So, it is suggested not to walk alone at night. Instead, take a taxi to go home if you are out late at night.
How not to look like a tourist in San Francisco?
Dress casually but layer up due to the cold weather. You can also opt for sweatshirts and cardigans. Leave your umbrellas at home and avoid wearing flashy clothes or jewelry.
Where to avoid staying in San Francisco?
When looking for accommodation options in San Francisco, try to avoid staying in the Mission District, the Tenderloin District, Western Addition, and Hunters Point. On the flip side, Richmond District is among the best choices for staying in the city.
When is the best time to visit San Francisco?
Visiting San Francisco in the fall and winter is suggested as you see fewer homeless people on the streets. So, September, October, and November are the best months to visit San Francisco. However, the city also has pleasant weather during the summer months. But you might want to avoid visiting between November and March due to monsoon rains.
How many tourists visit San Francisco each year?
San Francisco is a popular tourist destination, and around 2 million people visit the Golden City every year. Overall, visitation to the city is forecast to reach 23.9 million by the end of 2023.
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.