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Is San Francisco Safe to Visit Right Now?

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San Francisco's beautiful skyline, charming neighborhoods and nearby natural beauty make it a wonderful destination.

With a nickname like Golden Gate City, one may not think about safety when visiting.

Photography Locations Marin Headlands

But when traveling to any big city, you should always educate yourself about safety basics.

Fortunately, San Francisco is safe for tourists, even solo travelers.

This post covers 7 safety tips on how to stay safe in San Francisco.


Is San Francisco Dangerous For Visitors?

Like most large cities around the world, San Francisco does experience its share of crime. In particular, petty theft, like pickpocketing.

However, the violent crime rate is lower than in other popular tourist destinations like New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Washington, DC.

So no, San Francisco is not dangerous for visitors. But you play a role in your safety wherever you go.

Below we include tips on how to stay safe in San Francisco.


Is San Francisco Safe To Visit?

Yes, San Francisco is absolutely safe to visit.

Crime rates will vary by neighborhood which is why below we list neighborhoods that are safe and those you should avoid.

The bottom line to staying safe in San Francisco - or anywhere - is to always pay attention to what’s going on around you!

Most of all, do not leave your common sense at home! 


7 Safety Tips To Stay Safe In San Francisco


1. Try to blend in with the locals

As best as possible, try to blend in with the locals.

Don't stop in the middle of a crowded street to take photos. You will stand out as a tourist for sure.

Look like you know where you are going (even if you don't!).

Powell Street San Francsico

Get a lay of the land in advance so you have some sense of where you are and don't end up somewhere you shouldn't be.

Take a few minutes before you head out of your hotel to look at a map of the neighborhood you are visiting.

If lost, ask someone for directions. They will most likely be happy to help.


2. Do not leave your bags unattended

If you put your bag down somewhere, such as under your feet or on the back of your chair at a restaurant, you may find it has disappeared quickly.

Always have your bag in sight.


3. Don't flash your valuables around 

Don’t casually handle your valuables like wallets or expensive jewelry when in public. 

Make sure your bags, backpacks and pocketbooks are zipped closed at all times except for when you are getting something from them.

Open purse

Do not flash your phone around more than needed, especially at night. Phones are an easy grab for a petty thief. 


4. Never stray into dark, unpopulated areas

Always stay on well-lit and fairly populated streets.

empty street at night

Even during the day, if you wind up in a neighborhood that looks run down and there is no one else there, don't stick around.


5. Be especially alert to pickpockets

Pickpockets love crowded areas, especially crowded tourist areas like Fisherman's Wharf.

Some pickpockets are so good, you will never even know someone has been fishing around in your pockets!

In crowded areas stay alert to who is next to you and where their hands are.


6. If you have a car

San Francisco has experienced a high number of car window break-ins recently. Do not leave anything of value in your car.

Don't leave anything that might look like it is valuable but isn't! Someone may be tempted to find out!

car window smashed

Put everything in the trunk or take it with you.

You may want to consider a parking garage instead of street parking.


7. Understand the homeless situation

Like most major cities around the world, San Francisco has a homeless population. You may be unsettled at first by the number of homeless people. Most of these people are harmless.

You might see some individuals displaying signs of mental illness. You may also witness some drug use in public.

Don't be alarmed, but do not linger in the area. Avoid confrontations.

San Francisco is making inroads to resolve homelessness and drug use in the city, but it’s a part of life that most locals are accustomed to.


Which Neighborhoods Of San Francisco Are Safe For Tourists?

Most if not all of these neighborhoods are ones you likely plan to visit.

Painted Ladies San Francisco

You can feel comfortable in these areas, but always keep our safety tips above in mind.

Consider taking one of our pay-what-you-like guided walking tours, where you will be able to see the highlights of these neighborhoods with a guide who knows where to go and where to avoid.

If you are a solo traveler, group tours are one way to meet people as well as see the city's sights without any safety concerns.


San Francisco Neighborhoods To Avoid

The Tenderloin 

Bordered by Geary to the north, Market to the south, Taylor Street to the east, and Van Ness to the west, the Tenderloin should be avoided.

Here the homeless population is quite large and sadly there is a higher crime rate here as well as illegal drug use.


Mission District after Midnight

The Mission District is known for its great restaurants and nightlife, especially along Mission Street and Valencia Street. 

But there is an area around 16th Street and the Mission BART stop that is a little rough, especially at night. Best to avoid the area after dark.


Western Addition late at night

This is where the famous Fillmore Theater is, and also Japantown. You may end up here as part of your exploring the city. 

But wrap up your activities by midnight and Uber it back to your hotel.


SoMa above 4th Street

SoMA has some of the city’s upscale restaurants as well as some great music venues. Also, Oracle Park is here. 

In SoMa the streets are numbered. The area in the lower-numbered streets (4th Street and lower) is fine. 

Towards the higher numbers (5th to 10th/11th) as it is a bit sketchy and should be avoided at night.


Golden Gate Park at night

Golden Gate Park is an expansive park that is really nice to visit during the day. But before it gets dark, it's time to leave. At night, you may encounter some sketchy people.


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About The Author

Courtney

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: October 6th, 2022
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