Parking in downtown San Francisco won’t go easy on your pocket. Metered street parking can go up to $7 and cost the same as hourly garage rates. The demand for parking garages in downtown San Francisco rarely sees a dip, and the same is true for parking lot rates. However, it isn’t impossible to bring down your downtown parking expenses. A few expert tips might help – but first, here’s how much it will cost you to park at a secure parking lot or garage in downtown San Francisco.
In San Francisco, the Financial District (FiDi) is the official downtown. However, Union Square, SoMa, Tenderloin, and Chinatown easily fit into what’s considered the downtown area. FiDi is the business core of the city, home to the iconic skyscrapers that define the San Francisco skyline. It is a hub for corporate headquarters, financial institutions, law firms, and other official complexes. The tourist attractions of Embarcadero and the buzz on Market Street are right next door. Overall, the perpetually busy downtown neighborhoods are far from cheap.
Your options for parking in downtown San Francisco
Like any other US city, San Francisco has both on-street and off-street parking facilities. These include public parking garages managed by SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) and privately operated commercial parking garages or surface lots.
Street parking in downtown San Francisco could be tricky due to high demand and permit restrictions. SFMTA has also introduced demand-responsive metered parking to ensure optimal utilization of available street parking spaces. This means that you’ll have to pay more for parking on some streets in downtown and other busy neighborhoods during peak hours.
Parking garages in downtown San Francisco are generally expensive. However, that’s only when you go without a plan and drive into the first garage you see near your destination. Drive-up rates at downtown parking lots are obviously high to keep up with the demand. But even the most popular parking garages offer heavy discounts on online reservations. The key is to book before you go – use a parking app or website like Way.com to book your San Francisco downtown parking spot in advance and get the lowest rates. Another trick is to park a couple of blocks away from popular places to save more without compromising the quality of service.
San Francisco downtown parking rates
Use SFMTA’s demand-responsive parking map to check real-time updates on metered parking rates. Prepaid parking cards are available online for $20 – $50. You can also consider applying for a visitor/residential parking permit to get out of the 2-hour parking limit enforced on most streets. Don’t forget about free street parking on Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. However, keep an eye out for a few exceptions and special event restrictions.
Parking garages in downtown San Francisco charge anywhere between $20 – $40 on average. Monthly parking rates generally range from $300 to $500. But you can skip these drive-up rates and pre-book a secure parking spot for rates as low as $2 – $6 an hour or $10 – $15 a day. How? Go online for affordable parking rates at downtown San Francisco parking lots and get extra discounts when you book a spot in advance.
Hourly parking rates at 490 Post Street costs only $2; 555 Mission Street and 739 Turk Street offer hourly parking spots for $2.50. 333 Bush Street valet parking rates start at $6 / hour. Try 12-hour parking vouchers for $14 – $17 at 530 Broadway, 1625 Powell Street, or 840 Sutter Street for longer durations. 725 Harrison Street has 24-hour parking for just $10! For affordable monthly parking, you can try Front Street Garages with rates starting at $300; but these rates could vary from month to month.
Find more affordable downtown San Francisco parking lots here.
Stay away from SF parking tickets
If you think San Francisco’s downtown parking rates are expensive, try a parking violation and prepare to be shocked. If a ticket ends up on your windshield, any plans to rein in parking expenses by using street parking will go down the drain. For example, failing to move your car for street cleaning will lighten your wallet by $85! It’s best not to gamble with parking meters, either. If you are new to driving in the city, take a good look at posted signs before you park on the streets. 72-hour maximum limit, angle parking on slopes, curb colors, restricted zones, and parking permits can get you in trouble for carelessness.
Check out this visitor’s guide to parking in San Francisco to know more.
Celine is your ‘Need-a-car-because-I’ve-got-places-to-be’ friend. With 10 years of experience in travel & lifestyle writing, she’s always searching for the latest user-friendly features in a car. While she’s not relaxing on a long road trip or catching the next flight for a weekend getaway, you’ll find her home huddled up with a good book or a new show and armchair traveling into distant lands or fantastic worlds.