Safety in Baltimore: How safe is Baltimore for Tourists and Travelers? 

‘Charm City’ Baltimore is a popular tourist destination in the United States for its historical sights, proximity to Washington and it’s delicious crab cakes. With old town markets, churches, and neighbourhoods, a trip to Baltimore is a no-brainer! However, like any large metropolitan city, there are some safety precautions you need to take to enjoy your travel experience thoroughly. 

Planning to explore the Inner Harbour, Civil war era warships or the  National Aquarium? This article covers all the safety measures and tips to keep in mind while exploring the city! 

Is Baltimore Safe to Travel? 

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At first glance, Baltimore might look like a dangerous city. Shows like ‘The Wire’ give Baltimore a bad reputation for being violent and controlled by drug kingpins. However, all major cities have some crime, and Baltimore is no different. While there are thefts and drug-related crimes, they usually do not affect tourists or the major tourist attractions. You should comfortably visit popular areas of Baltimore like the Inner Harbor area, Fells Point and Federal Hill. The police heavily patrol them, and there is no reason to worry about your safety in Baltimore if you stick to these areas.

Is Baltimore Safe for Traveling at Night?

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Baltimore surprisingly has a modern and vibrant nightlife scene for such a historic city. Bars, microbreweries, night clubs and late-night restaurants are excellent hangout places after-hours, but there are a few caveats. 

Transportation is unreliable and unsafe at night. Travelling solo at night is also a big NO since crimes increase and even downtown Baltimore is not safe. Avoid dim or deserted areas, and be aware of muggings, thefts and pickpockets as common in Baltimore at night. However, don’t let this completely deter you from having a fun night out, do your research, arrange for safe transportation beforehand and travel in groups to enjoy the nightlife in Baltimore! 

Places you MUST avoid at night in Baltimore: 

Unfortunately, some Baltimore areas have notoriously high crime rates and a bad reputation for drug activities, assaults and robberies. Try and stay within the Federal Hill, Hampden, Fells Point, Canton, and the Inner Harbor areas. Do not, even inadvertently, wander into these areas listed at night. 
  • West Baltimore: Avoid the Sandtown-Winchester area in West Baltimore especially if you are travelling with family. It has a lot of drug-related activity and is generally very unsafe. 
  • Monument Street Area and Kresson Street- Both these neighbourhoods have a lot of violence and drug-related crimes so steer clear of these areas at night. 
  • Greater Rosemont- With very little police patrol and a lot of homeless people, there are a lot of thefts and pickpockets in this area. Avoid venturing into this neighbourhood. 
  • Other high risk and high crime neighbourhoods to avoid in Baltimore include Edmondson Village, Fairfield, Orangeville, Greenmount East, Hopkins-Middle Grove Park, Cherry Hill, Madison-Eastend, and Pulaski. 

Is Baltimore safe for Women and Solo travellers? 

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Travelling solo is an experience in itself and is in a resurgence in the last few years. Don’t let a few hiccups deter you from having a wonderful transformative solo travelling experience! For the most part, Baltimore is safe, especially in the revitalized parts of the city. However, it is always better to be safe than sorry. 
  • Take necessary steps to keep yourself safe such as regularly letting people know where you're going and keeping separate wallets for Money, Credit Cards and Passport. 
  • Stash your original passport in the hotel locker room and carry a photocopy of the data page. It is also a good idea to have at least one digital money app downloaded and ready to use on your phone. 
Touristy areas are also generally very safe for women travellers- solo or group. 
  • While street harassment is illegal, catcalling can still be a problem, so be aware of your surroundings and avoid shady neighbourhoods. 
  • Check your hotel room for any suspicious hidden cameras and don’t hesitate to spend a few extra dollars, if you can, on a hotel with good security. 
  • When you’re at the bar, keep an eye on your drinks to make sure no one is slipping anything into your drink. Or you can order a can or bottle of beer.
  •  Avoid travelling alone at night completely. If you have to travel across the city past midnight, use Uber or Lyft. 
These are just precautions and safety tips. You are highly unlikely to encounter any trouble if you follow these guidelines. So do not focus on the negatives or worry too much! Go forth and explore Baltimore to your heart’s content! The city is very artsy, social, friendly, and historical, and you do not want to miss out! 

15 Common Baltimore Safety Tips to Keep in Mind:

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  1. Avoid Rougher Neighborhoods like Monument Street Area, Hopkins-Middle East, Madison-Eastend, and others as mentioned 
  2. Beware of pickpockets: Do not carry too much loose change with you. Be alert, especially in public transport and in poorly lit areas. However, if you find someone actively trying to rob you, do not resist, your safety is more important than the contents of your wallet. 
  3. Stick to busy and crowded tourist spots: These include tourist-friendly, well-patrolled areas like the Baltimore Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Mount Vernon, and Federal Hill. 
  4. Travel in groups- You’re less likely to be mugged if you travel in large groups and you won't get lost in a new city either!
  5. Be careful around ATM’s- Be alert near ATMs, especially in the evening and in desolate areas. Avoid withdrawing too much cash at one go. If the ATM is located in a shady neighbourhood, do not use it!
  6. Party responsibly: Have your ride planned. Go clubbing in groups and have a sober friend drive you back to your hotel. Or use Uber or Lyft. 
  7. Do not try illegal substances: Weed and other hard drugs are illegal in Baltimore, and usually, there are heavy penalties if you get caught. 
  8. Keep your documents safe: It is easy to misplace important documents like your ID proof or passport. Be vigilant and keep your papers safe. 
  9. Be cautious when approached by strangers. If you are alone pedestrian, you have higher chances of being scammed out of your money and electronics. 
  10. Avoid walking alone in dimly lit areas. If someone is confronting you, try to walk away without escalating the situation. 
  11. Drive safely and responsibly: Be mindful of traffic rules, do not drink and drive after partying. Keep rental cars in proper condition. Keep a valid driver’s license and other papers such as registration and insurance. 
  12. Avoid wearing flashy clothes, expensive jewellery or designer clothes unless you are in a safe neighbourhood. You will draw unwanted attention and be targeted by pickpockets and thieves. 
  13. Always inform someone about your whereabouts: It’s easy to get lost in a new city. Letting people know where you are will be helpful if you cannot find your way back or if you are in a deserted area.
  14. Pay attention to your surroundings: Keep an eye on your belongings at all times and be vigilant. Avoid texting or talking on the phone while walking; it will distract you and thieves can easily rob you. If you feel like you’re being followed or stalked call 911. 
  15. Keep your car doors locked. Don’t leave any valuables inside the car. Take out minimum liability insurance if you are renting a car to be on the safe side. 

Baltimore Outdoor Safety Tips for Hiking, Camping and Biking

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Baltimore has a variety of hiking trails and forests to explore within a few miles from the city. If you’re looking for a quick stroll or an elaborate camping trip at Patapsco Valley State Park or Rocks State Park, we’ve got you covered. 

Here is a list of a few Baltimore safety tips while exploring the great outdoors! 

Make sure to pack enough gear for your trip- Keep flashlights, extra water, a map/compass, food, and rain gear. You’ll be walking a lot so wear comfortable boots with sturdy ankle support. If your trip is longer than a day, invest in a good backpack and tent. 
Keep someone informed of your plans- Always hike or camp in groups. There are many online groups such as Women who hike and Outdoor Afro that meet up regularly for trips. If you want to go solo, keep responsible friends or family informed. You can also leave your itinerary with the hotel concierge. 
Carry a first aid kit and other essentials- Get a ready-made first aid kit with antiseptics and bug spray for common injuries like scrapes and insect bites. Also, carry sunscreen, a lighter and some duct tape for emergencies. 
Have a contingency plan - If you are new to the trail and plan on camping for a few days, contact the park ranger and ask for any information that you want to know. Decide on an emergency plan to call for help. Bring a satellite phone or a locator beacon. Ask for the emergency number of the park in case 911 takes too long to respond. 

Coronavirus Guidelines 

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Safety in Baltimore is especially a concern due to the coronavirus outbreak. With the unpredictability of the virus, city rules and regulations are constantly changing, and you will have to research for the latest guidelines before you plan your trip. However, here are the CDC guidelines and Maryland state guidelines for visiting the city during the virus. 
  • Theatres, Museums, Indoor and Outdoor recreational establishments are closed until further notice and may operate at 25% capacity shortly. 
  • Face covering and/or masks are compulsory at all times while indoors in retail spaces, malls and small businesses. 
  • Indoor and Outdoor dining is closed; however, delivery and drive-through services are still open. 
  • Six feet distance is mandatory to maintain in public spaces and gatherings of more than twenty-five is prohibited. 
  • While essential services and Utilities remain open, permits are needed to use recreational centres like state parks. Senior citizens are discouraged from going out too much and encouraged to use delivery services as much as possible. 

Healthcare in Baltimore

The Baltimore City Health Department urges citizens to call 2-1-1, a 24X7 service for non-emergency coronavirus related issues. These include asking for information regarding food services, housing and shelter, mental health, veteran, children and disabled people specific information, and basic healthcare questions. 

However, if you have an emergency, call 911 or go to the hospitals listed below: 
1.  Mercy Medical Center
Address: 345 St Paul Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202, United States

2.  The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Address: 1800 Orleans St, Baltimore, MD 21287, United States

3.  University of Maryland Medical Center
Address: 22 S Greene St, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States

4.  Greater Baltimore Medical Centre 
Address: N. Charles St. Towson, MD 21204, United States
Baltimore is as safe as any other major metropolitan city. Exploring Baltimore’s historic and artistic sights is a wonderful experience and one that should not be missed. With various museums, parks, restaurants and seaport activities, Baltimore should definitely be on your bucket list! Use this safety guide to help you navigate across the city seamlessly and enjoy your travel experience to the fullest. 

This post was published by Anupama Manjunath

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