How to Find Parking in the City When You Need It (2023)

Whether you're visiting friends downtown or headed to an event in the city, you may need to find parking if you're driving in from outside. Even if you live in another town where parking is scarce, your skills in your old town many not help you too much in the new one. Here's how to find a place to leave your ride, whether you're in town for a few hours or moving in.


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If you're in for something specific, finding parking can be bad but there are usually options near your venue. If you're just in town to see friends or try a new night spot, you might have a tougher time. If you're moving in and still need the option of driving, you'll need longer-term parking for your car in a safe place. All of those things are challenges, but they're not without solutions. Here's how to find short and long-term parking when you need it, in just about any town.

Short Term: Use Technology to Help You


If you're headed into a city for a special event, you may have the parking situation well in hand. Staying at a hotel? Ask the hotel if they have parking. Going in for a concert or a major event? The website for the event or venue probably has parking tips. Those things are useful, and you should definitely check before you leave, but if you're already on the way or headed to a place that's not likely to have parking, you need more options:

  • ParkoPedia is your best friend if you haven't left yet. Even if your event has parking nearby, Parkopedia can show you lots or garages that are closer, and if you're visiting friends or going to a market or concert, you can see all of the nearby paid lots in the vicinity of your friend's place on a top-down Google Map. There are mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, and there's even a price calculator to help you estimate how much you'll pay in a given lot for the time you need to be in town.
  • Parkmobile partners with cities large and small around the country (you can see a full map with locations here) to manage electronic payment for parking. If it's available to you, it's the best thing in the world for finding city parking. Load the iOS or Android app on your phone, and then find a parking space, garage, or lot. Once you park there, you'll see a code you can enter into the app to start a parking session. Type in the code, select how long you'd like to park, and start your session. Your credit card will automatically be billed, your car will be legally parked, and you can walk away—if your session ends, just open the app and extend it or start a new session. No running out to feed the meter, no moving your car every few hours to beat a time limit. Best of all, the app will guide you back to where you parked if you forgot, or help you find supported lots and open spaces if you're on the hunt.
  • Parker is another parking service that also works with cities and municipalities to make paying for parking and finding legal spaces easier on drivers. You'll definitely need the mobile apps to make this service work (available for iOS and Android) but once you have them, a quick search using your destination address or your current GPS location will turn up meters, lots, and garages near you, along with how much they cost. The service even differentiates between ADA compliant parking spaces, EV charging stations, and other speciifc types of parking. Once you find a spot, you can pay with your phone and make a note of where you parked so you can get back easily or renew your parking session if you'll be longer than expected.
  • Robin is a great parking assistant for Android users, and it's hands-free so you can use it in the car while you're driving around looking for a place to park. Just get Robin's attention by tapping the screen or waving your hand on front of it, and then ask for parking in your area. The app will show you available locations, and you can navigate to any one of them. Robin generally supports garages, paid lots, and centralized street parking, and will even tell you how many spots are available if the information is available. If you're looking for the cheapest available parking, just ask Robin to show you something cheaper, and the app will display more affordable alternatives.



Technology can only get you so far, of course. It can help, but sometimes you just have to go and see. You could always try to be sneaky and do things like park in a lot for a nearby store and walk to the concert or your friends' house, or park in a hotel garage pretending you're checking in for the night, but doing that you run the risk of getting found out and coming back to find a parking ticket, or worse, that your car's been towed. Do your homework ahead of time if you can, but even if you can't, a few handy apps will help you find an affordable, legal place to park. Unless the risk is really worth it (or you'll only be gone a short time), try not to tempt fate—or parking enforcement officials. They can swoop in, write a ticket, tow a vehicle, and be long gone in the time it takes you to run in and grab a bite to eat at a 24-hour burger joint.

Long Term: Research is Key


If you'll be parking for longer than a few hours—as in you'll be visiting for a few days or you're moving downtown but don't want to give up your car—you'll need some long-term options. Feeding a meter every single day doesn't sound like fun. Even so, fewer and fewer communities in cities offer garages or parking spaces to their residents, and fewer and fewer cities are letting new residents park on the streets in their neighborhoods. Here are some ways to get around that crunch:

  • Parkopedia is useful here as well. It's great for short-term parking, but the service also displays lots that have daily, monthly, or yearly permit options, again on a top-down Google Map. Search for your future home or your new office, and then look around the area. Odds are there's a garage or a parking deck nearby that you can get a permit to park in. It may cost you a pretty penny (if you're parking for work, you should check with your company about being reimbursed for that) but you'll have options. Since they're mostly garages and company-owned lots, expect to pay more for spaces there—but at least you'll have reliable parking.
  • BestParking is another service that collects and organizes available parking spaces in an area on a Google Map. If your parking needs take you near an Airport, or if Parkopedia doesn't have options for you, it's worth a look.
  • ParkingSpotter, a service we've mentioned before, has a track record for being on-again-off-again in terms of the reliability of its listings, but the service does have the benefit of hosting Craiglist and independent parking space listings as well as commercial lots. That means that if someone in a nearby building is leasing a garage space in their building and has posted it to Craigslist, ParkingSpotter will show it to you so you can get in touch with the owner. Your mileage may vary though—like we mentioned, some cities and some listings are old and out of date, while others are bustling and active.
  • Craigslist is another great way to find long-term spaces, garage spaces, or even people looking to make a little money by filling up the garage next to their home. Independent owners or people who are leasing apartments with parking to tenants without a car all use Craigslist to try and make a little extra money on their unused parking spaces—and they know that people in the community will bite, especially if parking is limited anyway. Don't overlook Craigslist as an option, especially to find the cheapest available parking. Often individual owners will lease below garage prices just to get people into their spots.


Technology is great, and can help you solve your parking problem, but you wouldn't be the first person paying a meter to park or moving your car every four hours to avoid getting a ticket because all of these options failed you. Here are some less digital but still valuable ways to find a long-term space:

  • Get familiar with your local neighborhood parking cartels. Odds are there are maybe two or three companies that handle the vast majority of lot, garage, and street parking in your city. In some cases, one of those companies may be an absolute juggernaut. If that's the case, call them up directly and let them know where you're interested in parking. They may have their own application process to get you into a space near your home, and even if they don't have spaces there, they may be able to offer you something else. Similarly, don't forget the little guys—smaller companies that only have one or two lots may be thrilled to squeeze you into one of their garages if it means you'll be a monthly paying customer.
  • If there's nothing in your building or on your block, ask other buildings instead. When I moved into the city, only to find there were no resident spaces in the garage under my building, our property manager gave me the number of a friend of his who was the property manager for another condo building about a block away. He explained that her building wasn't full yet and had plenty of units—and spaces in her garage—for sale. He explained that until her building was full, she'd be happy to rent out a space in the garage to me, or even let me park there for free until someone needed it. Be careful with this option though; while garages have set costs, renting spaces from individuals can cost more because you're paying for the convenience of parking near your home. Don't hesitate to ask around, shop around, and try to make a connection with a neighbor in another building.
  • Check with your local housing/parking/motor vehicle authority. In my community, people living in condos and apartment buildings don't qualify for residential parking rights—the people who own and rent townhomes a block away do, though. You may be able to arrange a swap with someone further down the block who doesn't need their parking tag or sticker, or you may be able to swing something if you call your local department of motor vehicles or your nearby parking authority and ask. Similarly, you can ask what it would take to be able to legally park if for some reason your home isn't zoned for it. In my building, for example, a few residents got together and organized a petition to get our block zoned for residential parking, and they're pulling out all the stops to get local government to listen to them. You may need to do the same, especially if you'd rather not pay to park in the same place you live.

Sometimes the soft touch is the best way to go about finding long-term parking in a city. When I moved downtown, I started off with a pretty steady parking space in the garage below the building I lived in, but eventually I had to give it up because the owner of the space got a tenant in their own apartment who had a car. Be prepared to make that switch several times if you have to, and don't get too comfortable with any one space—you can have a great relationship with a "parking landlord," but if they need the space because their own apartment is advertised as having one, they'll ask for it back from you and you'll have to start your search again. Try to have a fallback option available.

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Also, remember that sometimes reliable, safe, and secure parking is better than closer, more convenient parking. I eventually wound up paying for a spot in a lot about two blocks away over the garage below my building just because I could get a solid monthly contract for the lot, as opposed to renting a space in the garage under my building and worrying every month whether they would email me needing their space back. It's less convenient, but it's cheaper, and at least I always know there's a place for my car.


Or, Don't Park at All


Even though up to this point we've talked about how to find great parking options in a city, remember that sometimes the best parking options are no parking options. Many communities are going out of their way to discourage people from moving downtown and bringing their cars with them, and instead are encouraging people to take mass transit, use bikeshare programs, or use car-share programs with communal parking spaces if you need them. If those programs are convenient for you to get around town, then you may be better off just ditching your car and using them instead.

Similarly, you may consider renting a long-term space in a lot or garage far from your home but accessible via transit, and leaving your car on the outskirts of town, somewhere safe but accessible on the rare occasions you do need a car. That way you can take the train to your car when you need it, but you don't have to pay ridiculous parking fees to have it downtown close to your home. The same rule applies if you're headed into a city for a short term event, like a concert or a night on the town. You may be better off parking for free at a transit station and taking the train downtown, or driving close enough to park easily and then grabbing a taxi or an Uber or Hailo driver instead to get you around town, and then back to your car when the night winds down. If you need help navigating your city's transit options, we have some tips to help you.


In any event, parking in the city doesn't have to be a nightmare. It's almost never easy, but with these tools hopefully it'll be a little easier, and finding a safe, secure, and affordable place for your vehicle won't take up more time or money than it's really worth.

Photo by thienzieyung, Anthony Easton, xlibber, and Nikodemus Siivola.


How can we solve the problem of parking? ›

Below are some specific strategies for increasing parking supply.
  1. Minimum Parking Requirements.
  2. Increase On-Street (Curb) Parking.
  3. Subsidize Off-street Parking.
  4. Add Remote Parking Spaces.
  5. Redesign Existing Parking Facilities.
  6. Car Stackers and Mechanical Garages.
  7. Provide Parking Information to Users.

How do you always find a parking spot? ›

Add a parking lot or garage to your route
  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Maps app .
  2. At the top, search for a destination.
  3. On the bottom, tap Directions.
  4. At the bottom, tap Steps & parking.
  5. Tap Find parking near destination.
  6. Choose a parking lot or garage and tap Add parking.
  7. On the bottom, tap Start.

What is the parking number riddle? ›

There is a usual sequence of numbers, we're just looking at it in the wrong direction. The numbers of the parking spots must be viewed from the outside in, as a driver would see them, which is upside-down from the current view. The shown numbers are: 86, ??, 88, 89, 90, 91. Therefore the answer is 87.

What is the easiest form of parking? ›

Parallel parking is a technique of parking parallel to the road, in line with other parked vehicles and facing in the same direction as traffic on that side of the road. To do this, you pull up parallel to the vehicle in front of the parking space and slowly back up into the parking space.

How can parking management be improved? ›

Strengthen parking enforcement by developing more convenient payment and time options. Share parking facilities. Parking can be shared among different business in an area to take advantage of different peak periods. Encourage businesses to share parking.

What are the 3 different parking methods? ›

The most common types of parking are angle parking, perpendicular parking and parallel parking.

Is there an app that tells you where you can park? ›

SpotHero gives you access to thousands of garages, lots, and valets nationwide. Whether you're commuting to work, heading to the airport, or exploring your city, we have a parking spot near you.

Why do I always forget where I park? ›

You sometimes forget where you have parked the car. It may be that your spatial memory is weak—it varies from person to person, with women generally having worse spatial memories. Try concentrating harder. You always forget where you have parked the car and sometimes get lost on a familiar route.

What has 88 but can't open a door? ›

A piano has 88 keys and they cannot open a door. Hence, the correct answer to the riddle is a piano.

How do you solve crack codes? ›

Crack the Code and Open the Lock | This will Eat your Brain - YouTube

What is parking puzzle? ›

Puzzle parking is an automated system featuring combination pallets that enable horizontal and vertical movement of parking spots, just like a puzzle, to park and retrieve vehicles.

What are the 4 main types of parking? ›

Different techniques to park: parallel, perpendicular, angle and double parking.

What's the most difficult type of parking? ›

Did you know? 34% of drivers find parallel parking the most difficult parking technique. 8% of drivers admit to bumping the car in front or behind while parallel parking.

How do you perfectly park every time? ›

HOW to PARK PERFECTLY [every TIME] - YouTube

How can I make parking easier? ›

Check the left and right sides of your vehicle to ensure that there is a reasonable amount of free space on either side. Keep turning your steering wheel as you pull into the parking space until your car is parallel with the vehicles parked on either side of that space.

Which five things must be kept in mind when planning a parking area? ›

1. Site Constraints
  • Dimensions. The dimensions for a typical parking space are 9 feet by 18 feet. ...
  • Cant. The street is not a flat surface. ...
  • Curb Height. The curb varies between 6 and 8 inches above the level of the street. ...
  • Barriers. ...
  • Activities. ...
  • Handouts. ...
  • Neighbors. ...
  • Cost.
3 Aug 2015

What is a smart parking system? ›

Smart Parking is a parking strategy that combines technology and human innovation in an effort to use as few resources as possible—such as fuel, time and space—to achieve faster, easier and denser parking of vehicles for the majority of time they remain idle.

Which 3 places must you not park? ›

A cycle track. A pedestrian crossing, including the area marked by the zig-zag lines. On the carriageway or the hard shoulder of a motorway (except in an emergency) Taxi bays (as directed by the upright signs and road markings)

What is the most common type of parking? ›

Perpendicular parking is one of the most common ways you'll park your car, with many bays at supermarkets and shopping centres using these types of spaces at their complexes.

How do you park front first? ›

How To Forward Park A Car-Driving Tutorial - YouTube

How can parking accidents be prevented? ›

Prevent parking lot crashes
  1. Slow down and anticipate the actions of other drivers. ...
  2. Keep pedestrians in mind. ...
  3. Distance yourself. ...
  4. Set your side mirrors correctly. ...
  5. Install backup cameras if your car doesn't have them.
  6. Be extra careful on windy days. ...
  7. Look for pull-through spots. ...
  8. Use turn signals.

How can I make parking easier? ›

Check the left and right sides of your vehicle to ensure that there is a reasonable amount of free space on either side. Keep turning your steering wheel as you pull into the parking space until your car is parallel with the vehicles parked on either side of that space.

How do you solve campus parking problems without adding more parking? ›

9 Ways to Reduce Parking Demand and Traffic on Campus
  1. Switch to daily parking. ...
  2. Reserve the best parking spots for carpool vehicles. ...
  3. Offer subsidized transit passes. ...
  4. Create staggered class schedules. ...
  5. Offer creative alternatives. ...
  6. Add secure bike parking. ...
  7. Create a campus-wide ridesharing community. ...
  8. Establish vanpool connections.
18 Apr 2018

How do parking lots cause problems? ›

The most common environmental problems of parking lots

Because parking lots accumulate a lot of pollutants (such as oil, grease, heavy metals and sediment), a major environmental issue is the runoff of these into waterways[sc:4].

What is the most common type of parking accident? ›

One of the most common types of parking lot accidents is when a driver backs into another parked vehicle. This type of accident is particularly frequent in small parking lots with tightly-packed spaces.

What six things should you consider when parking? ›

1. Site Constraints
  • Dimensions. The dimensions for a typical parking space are 9 feet by 18 feet. ...
  • Cant. The street is not a flat surface. ...
  • Curb Height. The curb varies between 6 and 8 inches above the level of the street. ...
  • Barriers. ...
  • Activities. ...
  • Handouts. ...
  • Neighbors. ...
  • Cost.
3 Aug 2015

What are 3 ways to prevent accidents? ›

10 ways to prevent common accidents and protect your small...
  1. Avoid slips and falls. ...
  2. Be aware of electrical hazards. ...
  3. Limit manual handling and lifting. ...
  4. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in plain sight. ...
  5. Create an emergency action plan. ...
  6. Identify staff who may need extra help in an emergency. ...
  7. Promote fire safety.

How do you perfectly park every time? ›

HOW to PARK PERFECTLY [every TIME] - YouTube

What is the hardest kind of parking? ›

Did you know? 34% of drivers find parallel parking the most difficult parking technique. 8% of drivers admit to bumping the car in front or behind while parallel parking. Drivers say finding a parking space is the 15th most stressful thing in life.

What are the common methods of on-street parking? ›

On-street parking can come in the form of curbside or central parking. Curbside parking may be parallel, angled or perpendicular parking. Parallel parking is often considered a complicated maneuver for drivers, however uses the least road width.

How do I stop people parking outside my house? ›

Some other ways you can stop your neighbour from parking in front of your house
  1. Call the police. ...
  2. Residents- only parking. ...
  3. Leave A Note. ...
  4. Perhaps it's not your neighbour. ...
  5. Accept It.
10 Jan 2022

When parking you should make sure that there is at least how much space between your vehicle and those to the front and rear? ›

So one arm distance is the least, but do not spare more than half of your car's width between your car and the car parked in front. Some would recommend aligning the rear wheels of your car with the rearmost part of the adjacent parked car.

Why do people face parking problems in cities? ›

One of the most common parking problems in the cities is the saturation of parking spaces. Vehicles continue to outnumber existing parking spaces. Most of the commercial and residential buildings do not have enough space for parking for the space owners, so they end up parking their vehicles on the road.

Why does parking stress me out? ›

For parking, it could be anxiety about finding a spot, getting into a minor collision if paths seem narrow, or uncertainty about your ability to park efficiently when someone is looking.” Safety is another cause for anxiety, particularly in urban areas, or areas that are perceived to be blighted.

What is a smart parking system? ›

Smart Parking is a parking strategy that combines technology and human innovation in an effort to use as few resources as possible—such as fuel, time and space—to achieve faster, easier and denser parking of vehicles for the majority of time they remain idle.


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