5 Things to Be Aware of When Parking on the Streets of Downtown Chicago
Parking on the streets of downtown Chicago can be nearly impossible, and expensive, to boot. But if you’re heading into the city for business or pleasure, preparing for the parking situation can help you make sure you’re ready to park. Here are a handful of things you should know when you’re parking in downtown Chicago:
1. Metered parking works in two hour increments
On nearly all the streets in downtown Chicago, you can only pay for street parking meters in increments of two hours. Keep track of time, and go feed your meter at least fifteen minutes before the time runs out, or you run the risk of being towed. Tow trucks seriously roam the streets of Chicago looking for a car to tow, so set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you to go feed your parking meter if you need extra time.
2. Pay attention to street signs for parking
On some streets, you’re only allowed to park during certain hours, while the times when rush hour traffic is a problem are off limits. Make sure you pay attention to these signs, and heed them well. In fact, you would do well to make sure your car is moved at least ten minutes before the no-parking time. Again, tow trucks are common in Chicago, and it’s not uncommon for cars to be towed within a few minutes of the no parking time limits.
3. Don’t be afraid to walk
Often times, you can get better, cheaper parking if you aren’t afraid to walk a little bit. Parking a bit outside of the busiest parts of downtown can often net you better access to metered street parking. Another great idea is to park in the suburbs and use public transit to get downtown. Whether you’re afraid of downtown traffic, can’t afford to drive around for an hour to find a parking spot, or want to save some cash on all-day parking, walking or using public transit from the outskirts of downtown can be a great option.
4. Check out nearby neighborhoods
One Chicago Tribune article notes that you can actually park in some of the residential neighborhoods in and around downtown. For instance, the article notes that there are some residential streets around the south entrance to the Brookfield Zoo where you can park during the day. Again, though, pay attention to signs. In some residential areas, you have to have a residential parking permit to park there at any time, while others require no permit or only require a permit during certain hours.
5. Take a credit card
If you must park downtown at metered parking spots, make sure you take a credit card with you. The parking costs $5 an hour on the loop, and since you probably don’t have forty quarters lying around in your car, you’ll need to pay by credit card.
Parking in downtown Chicago is tough, but not impossible. Daniela Baker, blogger at CreditDonkey and frequent traveler says, if you do your homework before heading into the city and get familiar with which areas have the best parking, you can find a spot in no time and pay quite a bit less for it, too.