If you’re from Philly, then get ready to roll your eyes. For the rest of you, this is what you need to do in your first visit to Philadelphia: Take a selfie in front of the Liberty Bell, another one near the Rocky statue, and maybe another one at the bottom of the steps jumping up with hands extended.
Take a picture of your authentic cheesesteak sandwich right before you eat it. Of course, there’s Independence Hall, museums, revitalized waterfront, city center (both east and west) and the list goes on.
But how do you take all this in and keep safe? It’s not a big secret that Philadelphia has a high crime rate, and in fact, it’s over twice both the rest of Pennsylvania and U.S. Average.
Stay in Tourist Areas
One of the best tips to stay safe when you visit Philly is to stay in the tourist areas. These are usually better patrolled, cleaner, more people, have better lighting for night visits, and generally safer.
The best way to do this is to just walk. Philadelphia is considered the 4th most walkable city in the U.S., and City Center is one of the main reasons. The only dangers Philly’s pedestrians face usually involve avoiding construction areas as per this pedestrian safety article.
If you get a hotel room in one of the many City Center lodging offerings, then you can just walk out of the hotel and right into one of the most walkable areas of any cities in the U.S. Never leave the area, and you can take in all the hotspots, get all the right selfies and all in walkable distance.
If you get tired, there are a few options. Uber or Lyft rideshare, Lime’s dockless e-scooters and Indego’s dockless bikes are cheap and easy ways to get around in the “walkable areas.”
Lyft and Uber are absolutely everywhere. There’s very little parking available in Philly, and it seems like every other vehicle is a ridesharing vehicle. Philly’s ridesharing drivers are totally happy to drive you 2 or 3 blocks as well. The vast majority of ridesharing vehicles are the Toyota Prius and the Dodge Caravan.
Know Where You are Going
Do some research, get maps, know where you are at all times. A wrong turn might get you into trouble, so make sure you are on the right path to where you are going.
One of the best guides online is found here at reddit.
The city has a very good transit system with SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), and they operate trains, buses, trolleys, and subways that can get you anywhere.
For the most part, they are fairly clean and generally safe. But make sure you get on the right line and don’t end up getting off in a higher crime zone with no way back.
Hire a Guide
If you want to spend the money, you can hire your own private tour guide that will take you around the city. They know how to get to the popular spots and at the best times so you won’t be endlessly photobombed.
There are also the group guided tours that offer the same safety but in a group—which can add another safety element.
Use Common Sense
Scammers are everywhere, and a healthy dose of common sense will usually steer you clear of any problems. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Keep your person secured, zipped pockets, tight grip on purses, wallet in your front pocket, don’t set your phone down, don’t give it to a stranger to take a picture of you.
If an alley appears to say “not here” then listen to it. If you order a ride-share, make sure the picture matches up. The bottom line is, the best person to keep you safe is you. A well-planned trip to Philly can be a lot of fun, and a good dose of common sense and awareness can keep you safe.