San Francisco, the city by the bay, is a must-visit part of the world. A vibrant city that is easy to explore in a day. If you are heading in as part of your regular commute or sightseeing on holiday, there are so many reasons to go, from the fantastic food on offer to iconic sights or a spot of shopping. However, if you are driving in, it can feel challenging to get a cheap parking space; the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to book in advance.
We have put together this guide to help you find stress-free and cheap parking.
Free Parking In San Francisco
You may think there is no such thing as free parking in San Francisco. However, there are some ways you can secure free parking:
- Some hotels across the city offer this. However, they are few and far between, and there is no guarantee that you will find a space, so you may want to do your research first.
- Parking meters are another way to park for free. During the day, from 9 am – 6 pm, these are payment only; however, outside of these times and on Sundays, parking is free.
Check the meters, as some hours do vary, but it is possible to bag a free spot.
Parking Garages And Lots
If you have had no luck finding a free space, then a cheaper way to park is to head to one of the city’s parking lots or garages. You can usually get discounts during certain times of the day and if you book in advance. To rent a parking garage in San Francisco, search for “public parking” and “garage” in Google Maps, and it will show you available places. The San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency (SFMTA) have garages across the city. They offer 24/7 parking, and prices vary, so check before you go.
Monthly Parking Spots
If you need a regular parking spot, then looking at monthly parking can often be cheaper than paying for it daily. Some garages offer monthly spaces. You can also try to find a garage that offers discounts for paying in cash or making payments in advance—that way, you get the best deal possible without worrying about having enough change on hand for all those quarters required for meters here in San Francisco. Privately owned spaces can be cheaper again.
Use Parking Apps
With nearly everyone we know having a mobile device, using a parking app is a convenient way to quickly find an available parking spot. Apps allow you to reserve by the hour, day or month, making it really flexible. You just have to type in where you want to park near, and it brings up all the nearby spaces with prices. The great thing about this is that it will also then give you directions to the exact spot.
Use The Park And Ride
If all else fails, consider using a park-and-ride service, this is especially handy for commuters into the city. San Francisco has an affordable, reliable public transportation system and a great way of keeping parking costs down.
Parking Rules In The City
To make sure you are following the rules, there are a few things you can do:
- Check the colors on the curbs. These will give you an idea of parking restrictions in that area. Not all areas of the city are the same.
- Red curbs mean this is a strictly no-parking zone
- White curbs mean there is a 5-minute free parking restriction, typical and drop off/pick up
- Green curbs allow you 10 minutes of free parking
- Yellow curbs are for commercial use only
- Blue curbs are reserved for disabled use
- Follow any information on signs, as some residential areas have 2-hour time limits. You can usually park for up to 72 hours if there are no signs or meters.
- Beware of tow-away areas; this is usually shown on red signs or on the parking meters, and it is generally during rush hour
- Your car needs to be parked in the direction of traffic, with the wheels a maximum of 18 inches from the curb; if parking on a hill, you are required to turn the wheel into the curb.
Other Ways To Get Around San Francisco
If finding a parking space is too much for you, then there are plenty of other ways to get around:
- Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway) has streetcars, cablecars and buses that go around all parts of the city. A day pass costs $5 and allows you unlimited rides on the streetcars and buses.
- Bay Area Rapid Transit or BART trains are another brilliant well-connected way to get to where you need to go. Mon – Fri trains run from 5 am to midnight, from 6 am to midnight on Saturdays and 8 am to midnight on Sundays. Prices start from $2.
- Bikes rentals are available across the city and are located at many of the Muni stations.
- Rideshares like Uber or Lyft are a great way to cut costs; you can often use a clipper card to pay for these too.
- Caltrain is a comfortable way to travel, and you can take bikes on the service. However, you need to purchase tickets before you board. Prices vary depending on which zone you are traveling in.
By researching and planning, you can save yourself precious time and money. Then, weigh up your options depending on how long you plan to park. Finding cheap parking in San Francisco may not seem like a simple task, but by following these steps, we hope we can help you make your time in the city a stress-free one.