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What is the best way to find cheap parking in Chicago?

  • City Parking
  • Renee Martin
  • 6 minutes

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Trying to find cheap parking in Chicago can leave you stressed, tired, and frustrated. Driving around in circles looking for affordable parking is definitely not our idea of a joyride! However, things are not as bad as they seem – follow this guide, and finding cheap parking in the Windy City will be a breeze!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might already know that Chicago has some of the worst traffic in the country. The Windy City is infamous for being one of the densest cities in the country with a very high rate of vehicle ownership – nearly 72%. For example, a Chicago resident can always expect any of the following when she steps outside – traffic snarls, choked roads, and parking issues. All of this inevitably leads to hundreds of lost man-hours – not to mention economic loss. According to a report by transport analytics company INRIX, Chicago residents lose more than 145 hours and nearly $2000 per year stuck in traffic and looking for parking!

Understandably, we cannot simply bring down the number of vehicles in Chicago in a short time. However, we can make life easier by learning some tips, tricks, and hacks to find cheap parking in Chicago. That way, you can be better prepared for any curveballs that come your way! In this post, we’re giving you a detailed run-through of everything you may need to know about cheap Chicago parking. We’ll be covering the conventional options, rates, alternatives, and much more.

How easy is finding cheap parking in Chicago? 

The general consensus about Chicago parking is that it NOT easy to find. That’s not surprising given everything we’ve mentioned above. Street parking meters are ridiculously hard to find – you might even have to drive around for quite a while before finding a free spot. Plus, it’s not enough that you find a spot, you also need to stick to the parking rules and regulations. Spots are available in two-hour increments, and you could get ticketed within minutes of the meter running out. Add to that winter parking rules and street cleaning regulations, and you’re in for a rough time.

One way out of this is to check whether official parking is available at your destination. Most eateries, restaurants, and other establishments offer on-site parking where you can park with ease and ensure your car’s safety. The only drawback is that such lots will have only limited spots and is only available on a first-come, first-serve basis. On-site parking in Chicago is also expensive – it can cost you more than $40 for a day’s parking.

A view of the Chicago streets: Find cheap parking using Way.com

How much is metered parking in Chicago?

Metered street parking is available throughout Chicago, but the rates can vary depending on where you park. The City of Chicago has a three-tier parking rate structure, with higher rates in high-demand areas like downtown Chicago and slightly lower rates in other suburbs. You can find more information on parking meters in Chicago here.

The downtown Loop area has the highest rates, costing $7 per hour of parking. The Central Business District parking rates will cost you $4.75 per hour of parking, while other parts of the city have a uniform rate of $2.50 per hour.

Metered parking may be cheap, but it’s not that convenient! In fact, due to the challenge in finding vacant Chicago parking spots, many residents have started using parking apps to pre-book off-site garage parking in Chicago instead. But more on that later!

Where can you find cheap parking in downtown Chicago?

Some prominent avenues where street parking is in high-demand include Michigan Avenue, Wabash Avenue, Clark Street, State Street, and more. However, you need to be very careful when leaving your car parked here. Due to the continuous influx of vehicles, the City of Chicago parking authorities is very strict on any cars that violate parking rules in downtown Chicago. Keep an eye out for the parking signboards that indicate parking limits and parking timings.

Chicago also has winter parking rules that ban any cars on more than 107 miles of main streets from December 1 to April 1. Parking in these seasonal tow-away zones between 3 am, and 7 am will set you back by a minimum of $60 ticket plus a $150 towing fee and $25 storage fee. Additionally, there is a ban on parking on 500 miles of Chicago streets when there is two inches of snow or more during any time of the year!

Get affordable off-site parking using the Way.com parking app

Where can you find free parking in Chicago?

Chicago parking is not always a continuous onslaught of rules and regulations. Most metered parking spots are free between 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. and on Sundays. Parking meters do not accept payments on Sundays, giving drivers a much-needed break. However, don’t forget to check the parking signboards, since some areas have ‘7-day paid parking’ spots that are excluded from Sunday free parking rules in Chicago. In certain areas like the Loop, free parking is enforced at half the daytime rate and at different timings (9 p.m. to 8 a.m.).

Also read: All you need to know about overnight parking in Chicago  

A car parked at a cheap parking meter in the Chicago winter

What is the best option for cheap long-term parking in Chicago?

Let’s suppose you are a regular commuter in Chicago who travels to and from the office in your car. It is simply not sustainable for you to wing it and try finding street parking every single day. Think about the toll it would take on your nerves and mental health! The hassle to find cheap parking in Chicago is simply not worth it – unless something else does it for you! That’s why thousands of drivers have started using parking apps like Way.com. Not only is pre-booking online easier, it is also more convenient and offers monthly parking for regular commuters.

What app is best to find parking in Chicago?

There are many apps that will help you find cheap parking in Chicago. However, the Way.com app is fast becoming the choice for millions of drivers across Chicago – and the country. Imagine this – in just a few swipes, you can book a safe, secure off-site parking garage within walking distance of your destination at up to 25% lower rates! Way.com helps you solve your parking problem even before you step out of home by cutting through the clutter and helping you select only top-rated, affordable garages in Chicago.

You can also book flexible parking at off-site garages – hourly, daily, or even monthly for regular commuters. The Chicago off-site parking rates start as low as $25 for an entire day – so book now to save big.

Related: Where to find affordable parking near Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago

Find cheap and affordable parking in Chicago using Way.com

Read more blogs on affordable airport parking, the best insurance for your car, and top-rated car washes near you 


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