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Straight talk about safety, please

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Kansas City, MO
Level Contributor
120 posts
19 reviews
Straight talk about safety, please

It looks like I might have listed the "wrong" forum so I am trying again.

How "far afield" should a tourist go in Washington DC. We are "city" women so we travel light, tight and aware -- but don't want to be stupid and have no need to be "macho".

So -- where should we NOT be after dark?

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
1,416 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Straight talk about safety, please


As a general rule, the NW quadrant is plenty safe, even at night. Use your city instincts--if in doubt, take a cab. Large parts of the NE and SE quadrants are not all that safe (but also don't hold many tourist attractions). That said, anywhere west of 11th Street NE/SE, south of H Street NE, and north of G Street SE (gross generalizations here) on the Hill is safe as well (encompassing the Capitol, Library of Congress, several museums, Union Station, etc.).

Frankly, if you're visiting major tourist attractions and doing mainstream things at night, you shouldn't have any safety problems at all. Simply keep your city senses up and you will be perfectly fine!

Level Contributor
3,000 posts
13 reviews
2. Re: Straight talk about safety, please

Actually for anywhere that you would have to go you will be fine. The places that typically see lots of trouble, you have no need to go over there after dark anyway.

DC is actually an overall safe and nice city. You didn't give your age so I would say that after dark the places most people like is Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, U Street area. Those are all pretty much safe. Of course you have the "Don't Be Stupid Dummy" that should always be applied anywhere you go that isn't in your own backyard.

And even the areas that ususally have crime you won't see it as people attacking strangers, it mainly domestic disputes. Of course there are some pick pocketers around but where won't you find that.

So don't walk down any alleys with purses in hand or alone no matter where you are in the world.

I hope that helps. And that is the lowdown truth.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
18,788 posts
47 reviews
3. Re: Straight talk about safety, please

Right off the top of my head, I don't know of anywhere around the usual tourist sights you need to be extra concerned. There are a few hotels and B&B's that require several blocks of walking in very quiet streets, but none of the places usually mentioned on this forum. And during prime tourist season, there will be other people around most of the evening. Tourists rarely get caught up in any sort of crime other than pickpocketing. And I don't think that is epidemic.

Kansas City, MO
Level Contributor
120 posts
19 reviews
4. Re: Straight talk about safety, please

Thank you, everyone, for your kind attention and informative responses. There will be 3 of us -- we don't look or act like victims -- we really aren't in to way late night life -- so we will be smart and "city " aware!

Thanks again!

Destination Expert
for Baltimore
Level Contributor
4,184 posts
16 reviews
5. Re: Straight talk about safety, please

The same rules apply in Washington that apply to every other major American city that caters to tourists. Exercise your normal big-city precautions and common sense and you should be fine.

Obviously there are no guarantees, as anything can happen anywhere. But there are at least a dozen different local and federal law enforcement agencies I can name off the top of my head--and probably as many that I can't--constantly policing the central tourist areas, many plainclothed. That's just the nature of a political world capital, and for that reason Washington may be safer than other tourist-heavy cities.

Trouble largely comes to those who look for it, and well outside the tourist areas. There's no reason why you should find yourself in a bad area, unless you choose the cheapest hotels in town.

Sure, occasionally someone gets mugged or worse in a nice part of the city, and this gets reported on the local news or even a mention in this forum in the guise of a warning. But the reason stuff like this is so newsworthy is because it is so rare. They are statistical anomalies, unless of course you or someone close to you turns out to be the victim.

Hundreds of murders--mostly gang- and drug-related--take place in the worst parts of the city every year that don't get a mention on the local news; parts of the city covered by only the local police force, which is reluctant to patrol because they are out-armed. This is what drives most of the statistics that portray Washington as a dangerous city.

atlanta ga
Destination Expert
for Atlanta
Level Contributor
3,158 posts
17 reviews
6. Re: Straight talk about safety, please

Living in Atlanta for over 30 years and having visited washington dc, i can atest that both cities have gotten an unearned label for being unsafe. Although both cities do produce high crime statistics, those statistics are generally driven by family on family or drug dealer/gang on drug dealer/gang crimes, and do not affect the tourist who visit the cities. We stayed in the Dupont Circle/ Woodley Park area and never felt uneasy at night. We did note that the homeless started appearing in droves after about 6pm (around the mall/ downtown area), but none were aggressive or dangerous that we encountered. As long as you are in the "tourist" areas, you will be fine (using common sense and street sense of course).

7. Re: Straight talk about safety, please

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