The wonderful state of Maine has some of the most beautiful nature in the continental United States.
From the craggy coastline of Acadia National Park to amazing lakes, forests, and mountains in inland wilderness areas such as Katahdin Iron Works Park, Maine has enough to occupy hikers for a lifetime.
Besides nature, Maine is also home to beautiful small towns with plenty of traditional New England charm, from Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor. Portland, Maine’s largest city, also has plenty of charm, including a historic port and lighthouse.
There is so much to see and do in Maine that it’s probably already on your travel bucket list. However, you probably want to check on more practical concerns, such as safety, before you head to a new place.
But don’t worry — our travel experts did the hard work to help you figure out if Maine is safe to visit. Keep reading for a complete guide to visiting safely, including navigating any crime. Let us be your guide!
Is Maine Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. Maine is one of the safest places to visit in the United States. It has one of the lowest crime rates, and crime incidents against visitors are extremely rare.
As long as you are careful when you are out in nature, you should be safe when you are in this idyllic state. In face, petty crime is not a concern for most visitors and even residents in Maine.
For several years running, Maine has been ranked the safest, or one of the safest, states in the nation. It has an exceptionally low crime rate, so low that, in some towns, it is local custom to leave doors unlocked!
The biggest concern when you visit Maine is your safety when you’re out in nature. Most people visiting Maine come with the goal of hiking or otherwise exploring nature.
However, nature is not just a place for a pretty photo opportunity. It can also be a dangerous place to be, with poisonous plants, precarious trails, and wild animals that are not as cuddly as they look in photos.
Before heading to one of Maine’s many national or state parks, research safety tips ahead of time. Learn how to recognize poisonous plants that are common in Maine, such as poison ivy.
Ticks are also common in Maine and can cause chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease. Make sure that you are wearing long pants, even when it is hot out, and bring insect repellent.
Make sure that you’re prepared with a first aid kit and water when you head into the backcountry — clear mountain streams are often infected with animal feces, so you should always boil or filter your water before you drink it.
A big draw for visiting Maine is the possibility of spotting wildlife such as bears and moose. However, these animals are dangerous. Never approach a bear if you see one; make noise to scare them away, and always secure food carefully if you are camping.
For moose, you also want to avoid them and make lots of noise as you hike to scare them away. Luckily, Maine authorities have plenty of resources available to help hikers of all levels prepare safely.
If you are planning on visiting Acadia National Park, check the park website for safety tips, including any trail closure. The official state website also has safety tips for hiking and camping.
Maine is one of the most northern states in the continental United States, so you need to be prepared for extreme weather. It can get very cold in the winter, with plenty of snow and blizzards.
If you’re not used to driving in the snow, be careful when renting a car. Always make sure that you have the right clothing on and that you are dressed appropriately for the weather. If you are not prepared for very cold weather, try visiting during another season.
Finally, one caveat to the overall safety of Maine is the fact that the state is not equally safe for everyone. Maine is the state with the highest percentage of white people, and the lack of diversity means people of color often feel uncomfortably visible.
In 2022, Maine, unfortunately, experienced a surge of hate crimes. Most people were targeted due to their race, but there has also been an increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ individuals.
The vast majority of Maine’s residents are welcoming and accepting of visitors, but it’s better to be aware that there are some people who might single you out for being different.
Crime in Maine
As mentioned above, crime in Maine is probably the least of your worries when you come to visit. That’s because crime rates here are some of the lowest in the entire United States.
Maine repeatedly ranks as the state with some of the lowest crime rates in the nation. Even Portland, its biggest city, has very low crime rates. According to some rankings, it is one of the safest cities in all of the United States.
The overall crime rate in Maine is 12.79 incidents per 1,000 residents. The vast majority of incidents, about 91% of them, are property crimes. Maine’s violent crime rate is extremely low: about 1.13 incidents per 1,000 residents.
The most common violent crime is assault, which makes up 55% of all reported violent crimes, but even the assault rate in Maine is far lower than the national average.
The most common property crime is theft, but even theft rates are lower than the national average. To make the crime statistics look even better, the Maine State Police report that crime continues to decrease each year in the state.
The only crime that is increasing is motor vehicle theft or theft from motor vehicles, a type of crime that is increasing across the nation.
Even then, those crimes are happening at a lower rate in Maine than elsewhere. Although Maine residents are more concerned about crime than they used to be, the statistics show that there isn’t much cause for concern after all.
There are a few reasons why Maine has such a low crime rate.
One is that the towns in the state are mostly rural and small, creating tight-knit communities where people look after each other (and getting away with a crime is much tougher).
Plus, Maine’s income inequality is lower than the national average (although the state suffers from a racial wealth gap). As inequality is often a major factor driving crime, the relatively equal nature of Maine’s society prevents a lot of crime.
Theft from a Vehicle
One of the most common crimes in Maine is theft from a motor vehicle. In 2021, Maine police reported a spike in vehicle burglaries, and the trend has continued until today.
If you are renting a car in Maine or road-tripping up to the state, you want to take some precautions to protect your things. However, a few basic precautions are enough to prevent this crime completely.
In their report, Maine police said that the vast majority of cars targeted for break-ins were unlocked. Many Maine residents and visitors became complacent due to the state’s low crime rate and stopped locking their cars.
Always make sure your doors are locked, the windows are rolled up, and your car keys are with you when you park. When you leave your car, make sure that you don’t leave any valuables inside, even if you are just going to pay for gas.
Purses, phones, and electronics in plain sight make your car a tempting target for thieves. Most thefts occur at night, so be careful where you park your car overnight.
Try to book accommodations that have secure parking. If you are filling up for gas or stopping for any reason while driving at night, make sure you stop in a well-lit area.
Although pickpocketing is uncommon in Maine, another form of petty theft is common — scams. Scams are, unfortunately, common everywhere you go in the United States.
Be careful of phone callers claiming to be holders of sensitive information, such as the IRS or insurance holders. Never give out personal information over the phone.
You should also be careful of offers that seem too good to be true, such as unexpected lottery winnings. Although the vast majority of common scams impact residents more than visitors, you should still be careful.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Although Maine overall is very safe, the bigger cities do have a few neighborhoods with elevated crime rates. Keep in mind that in Maine, even “bad areas” are relatively safe.
For example, Augusta is ranked the most dangerous city in Maine — but its crime rate is still below the national average. In Portland, locals say some rougher areas include Parkside and other neighborhoods close by.
But even in Parkside, the violent crime rate is very low. The area around Grant Street is also a bit seedy. Bangor, another bigger city in Maine, also has a few rougher areas.
Locals say to be careful in the area around 2nd Street, as there are often incidents around the nearby homeless shelter, around Ohio Street, and near the Capehart housing projects.
Even then, these areas just have higher risks of property crimes, not violent crimes.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other tips to make sure that your trip to Maine goes off without a hitch:
- If you have to get gas at night, make sure that you stop at a well-lit gas station. Criminals sometimes target remote gas stations in poorly trafficked areas for vehicle thefts.
- Even though the crime rate is low, still exercise basic precautions such as not flashing around your valuables and not leaving expensive items lying around your hotel room.
- If you are bitten by a wild animal, wash the bite area and immediately seek medical attention. Some animals carry the rabies virus, and you need to get vaccinated immediately, as without prompt treatment, the virus is fatal.
- Some parts of Maine don’t have safe tap water, so ask before drinking from it. This is especially true in rural areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other questions visitors to Maine wanted to ask:
Is Maine a safe place to visit?
Yes, Maine is a safe place to visit. In fact, it is one of the safest places to visit in the United States. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation, and the few crimes that do occur almost never affect visitors.
Is Portland, Maine, safe for tourists?
Yes, Portland, Maine, is very safe for tourists! It is, in fact, one of the safest cities in the entire United States. It has a very low crime rate, especially in popular touristy areas, and even areas with high crime rates have low incidence rates of violence.
Is Portland, Maine, safe to walk around?
Yes, Portland, Maine, is safe to walk around. Not only is the crime rate low, but the city center is very walkable. There are some areas where you might not want to go at night, but you can probably identify those based on your instinct.
What do I need to know before going to Maine?
Before going to Maine, you should probably research basic wilderness safety tips if you are planning to go out into nature. Plus, make sure that you know what the weather will be like before you head there so you can dress safely.
Is Maine a friendly state?
Yes, people in Maine are known for being friendly. However, some people are distrustful of outsiders since they are used to their small communities, and there have been incidents of hate crimes.
So, Is Maine Safe to Visit?
Maine is probably one of the safest places to visit in the United States! You have more to fear from moose and bears than from your fellow humans, as the crime rate is very low.
That doesn’t mean that you should forget about basic precautions, such as putting valuables out of sight, but those basic precautions are usually enough to keep you safe. So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today!