As a popular city for living, working and visiting, the San Francisco parking situation can get a little overwhelming. Luckily there are many parking options available in or around the city. There are parking garages, on-street metered parking, and even free places to park. Check out the city’s Park & Ride options to remove the headache of driving and parking downtown and instead take public transportation in. Wherever you decide to park your car, just make sure you do not leave any valuables behind!
Where to Find On-Street Parking
You can find on-street metered parking all over the city. Rates vary by zone with time allowances ranging from between 1 to 4 hours. The hours of most on-street metered parking are between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Exceptions to these hours are at the Fisherman’s Wharf where you need to feed the meter between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the Port of San Francisco where on-street meter parking is charged until as late as 11 p.m. Meters are not in effect on Sundays or major holidays. Always check the meter rules, hours of operation, time limits, and rates when parking. Be aware that many residential streets require a specific parking permit and you will be ticketed if you leave your car there without one.
If you’re planning to park on the street in San Francisco take note of colored curbs. Red curbs mean no parking at any time. Green curbs are for short term parking. Yellow curbs are loading and unloading zones specifically for commercial vehicles. White curbs indicate passenger pick-up or drop-off zones, usually with a 5 minute time limit for stopping. Finally, blue curbs indicate handicap parking only for vehicles with a valid permit.
Where to Find Parking Garages
The easiest way to park in San Francisco is at a parking garage. Garage costs vary depending on location. Around Union Square, you can plan to pay $3 to $4 an hour with a daily maximum or lost ticket rate of around $36. Downtown garage prices are similar to Union Square. If you’re headed towards the water to the Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 expect to pay about double ($6 to $8 per hour). Be sure to check and see if the garage you decide to park in accepts ticket validation from eating or shopping at nearby businesses.
Where to Park for Free
Although difficult, it’s not impossible to find free parking in San Francisco. Take advantage of free on-street metered parking on Sundays and major holidays all over the city. Many hotels also offer free parking to their guests. If you’re trying to visit the city’s landmark Golden Gate Bridge, you can park for free on Merchant Road for up to 4 hours.
Park & Ride
Consider staying a little further outside of the city and look into leaving your vehicle at a Park & Ride lot. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Transit system offers frequent access to the city.