San Francisco has a reputation for being a city of art, culture and for fiercely defending the human rights of marginalized groups. So, the question, “Is San Francisco safe for tourists?” isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind.
However, San Francisco has a large homeless population that not many tourists may be aware of. It can lead to a pretty scary situation if not handled correctly. It is also worth remembering that large crowds can be a soft underbelly for criminals to take advantage of, and San Francisco is no different.
Despite this, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, and Silicon Valley. This a reference to the silicon used in computer parts and not plastic surgery, in case you were confused like we were. San Francisco is still one of the best places for coliving with other digital nomads or exploring while escaping on holiday.
Why Visit San Francisco?
As briefly touched on before, San Francisco has so much to offer those who choose to visit the Golden Gate City. From the eerie tours on Alcatraz Island to the picturesque views in Golden Gate Park, there is something in the city by the bay for everyone.
Whether you are planning a workcation or looking to eat, drink, and party at every establishment on Pier 39, San Fran has you covered. The Bay Area alone has numerous hiking trails, coffee shops, and historical sites to see.
We have yet to mention the legendary cable cars you can use to traverse the hills of San Francisco. Speaking of hills, you can even explore famous ones, named The Seven Hills of San Francisco.
Is San Francisco Dangerous?
Statistically, San Francisco’s crime rate increased by 7% in 2022. The short and long of it is that San Francisco is as safe as you make it. Statistics can be misleading, especially on such a large scale. So let’s have a fun thought experiment to answer this question.
Let’s pretend that in a particular summer, there is an increase in crime. During the same summer, the sale of ice cream also increases. It can be interpreted that the more ice cream you eat, the more likely you are to be a victim of a crime.
This is, of course, a misinterpretation of the statistics, so whether any city is labeled “safe” or “dangerous”, it is always best to practice caution and be as aware as possible when visiting or making a new city feel like home.
Dangerous Areas in San Francisco
San Francisco Central
Like most cities, San Francisco’s most dangerous district is its central one. This is usually because this is where the highest concentration of people come and go. Such a busy area is always a hot spot for pickpockets, thieves, and scammers.
According to the previously mentioned crime statistics, San Francisco Central had a total of 10,337 crimes reported in 2022. For context, that is 20% of all reported crimes in the city. It is best to travel with a partner when exploring this or any city center for that matter.
San Francisco’s Tenderloin is famous for its underground art spaces, fantastic music venues, and trendy restaurants. However, its fame has also led to the local homeless population setting up camps in the area.
As the area draws in many tourists, which in turn draws in those hoping to gain a meal or some money from unsuspecting travelers. The Tenderloin is well worth a visit. Just make sure your hotel, motel, or hostel is not within the Tenderloin’s borders.
Is it Safe to Live in San Francisco?
Speaking of where to stay, let’s cover some areas you should look to kick up your shoes in between adventures. San Francisco has world-class hotels, which we will discuss a little later on, but it means Fog City is one of the best places to live in the US.
Before discussing our top picks of hotels, motels, and Holiday inns (Yes, that is a Pitt Bull reference), we should go over which of those places make San Fran one of the best cities to live in when it comes to North America. So that you can completely relax and keep your visit to Fog City stress and crime-free.
Safe Areas in San Francisco
Haight-Ashbury’s biggest claim to fame is that it was the epicenter of the counterculture movement in the sixties. Both Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead had houses within the neighborhood.
However, if rebelling against the man just isn’t your thing. Rest assured, both Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from any residence in the area. A great mix of bars, clubs, and restaurants is also sprinkled throughout the district.
It would not be possible to talk about San Francisco without speaking about what the city has been and continues to be for the LGBTQ+ community. The Castro is synonymous with the LGBTQ+ community. Numerous bars, clubs, and other attractions testify to this fact.
One such testament is The GLBT Historical Society Museum and Archives. As the name states, The GLBT Historical Society collects, preserves, and exhibits LGBTQ+ history, culture, and art.
If you aren’t in the city by the bay for LGBTQ+ history, then you can enjoy the fact The Castro is at most 6,2 miles away from the iconic bridge.
Bayview itself has a few restaurants and parks to take a stroll in on offer but not much else. However, its strength is that it is only an hour’s train and cable car ride away from any attraction you would want to visit.
The area is also one of the safest in the city. Also, the restaurants on offer are some of the best in San Francisco, so if you are a foodie, this is the spot to place your roots.
Tips for Staying Safe in San Francisco
With all densely populated areas, the risk of being a victim of crime is never zero. However, to get your chances as close to zero as possible, we have listed five safety tips below.
- Not all parking lots in San Fran have attendants but try to use the parking lots that have attendants as much as possible.
- Take your valuables with you to prevent car break-ins. SF has a Park Smart initiative to help prevent these crimes.
- Keep your valuables in a hard-to-reach place. Perhaps a theft-proof backpack or hidden pocket as close to your body as possible.
- When traversing the city, do not bring excess cash. Try and budget your day and only bring what you need.
- Explore with a companion as much as possible, especially after dark. This can be hard when traveling alone, but maybe you can make a friend at the hotel you’re staying in.
Is San Francisco Safe | Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Safe to Walk Around at Night in San Francisco?
As with most cities, once the sun goes down, most people are home and unwinding from a long day. This makes the city quieter and slightly more dangerous than during daylight hours.
If you need to be out and about in the city, it is best to do so with someone and not alone. If that isn’t possible, stay in well-lit areas and close to crowds that can help if something happens.
Which is Safer, San Francisco, or Los Angeles?
Statistically speaking, Los Angeles is safer than San Francisco. However, as we discussed earlier, safety is relative to the exact neighborhood you are in. Even then, there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
San Francisco’s danger is mainly derived from the massive homeless population. So, if you steer clear of them and follow our previously discussed tips, you should be safe wherever you are in SF.
Is Downtown San Francisco Safe for Tourists?
San Francisco’s downtown area is safe for tourists. Especially those who operate with a measure of caution and care. Keeping our safety tips in mind while pursuing through the city will help mitigate any danger.
It is worth keeping in mind that even the safest cities in the world still have crime that occurs. Keep a sharp eye on your surroundings and keep your guard up, and you will be fine.
Do Tourists Still Go to San Francisco?
People definitely still visit Fog City. According to the San Francisco Travel Association, in 2022, the city saw a 29% increase in tourists and a whopping 211% increase in international guests.
The city by the bay is expecting the climb to continue as it projects that in 2023 the number of tourists will exceed 23 million. You should hurry now and book your flights and hotels before it’s all gone.