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Everything you need to know about San Diego parking (2022)

  • City Parking Tips
  • Renee Martin
  • 5 minutes

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City parking in San Diego can be tough – especially at prominent hotspots downtown. If you’re tired of driving around in search of parking without luck, we’re here to help! Read this guide to learn everything important about San Diego parking.

San Diego is one of the most beautiful bay cities in the US. However, it comes with plenty of space and expense-related constraints when you’re searching for affordable San Diego parking. It’s a sad fact that while the city has numerous attractions drawing thousands of residents and tourists every year, safe parking in San Diego is hard to come by.  This is further complicated by the decision of the San Diego City Council to reduce parking spaces in certain areas.

Cars on a street in San Diego

This post will clue you in with the basic rules and regulations in the city. With this information at your fingertips, you can access some of the best street parking, metered parking, and paved parking lots across the city of San Diego. If you are still unsure about where to park, consider checking out and comparing the numerous parking garages in San Diego through parking apps like Way.com.

Street parking in downtown San Diego

Street parking in San Diego is enforced pretty strictly. Any illegal and careless parking is instantly punished with hefty fines! Parking on public streets and alleyways is regulated by the San Diego Municipal Code and the California Vehicle Code.

Here are some general street parking rules:

  • Remember the 72-hour parking rule: don’t park your car on a public street for more than 72 hours.
  • Parking in alleyways is illegal unless for the purpose of unloading goods and passengers. However, some alleys are explicitly designated as parking zones.
  • Commercial vehicles are prohibited from parking in residential areas unless they are loading or unloading.
  • Parking is prohibited at an intersection or crosswalk
  • Do not park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or fire station driveway
  • Parking is not allowed in front of a public or private driveway – even if it is your own driveway!

Remember to never feed your meter more than the time limit. Always double-check the signboards in parking spaces for time restrictions and parking guidelines. Most importantly, keep an eye out for the street sweeping schedule to avoid parking citations in San Diego.

How much does street parking in San Diego cost?

The rates for street parking vary from one location to the other and typically range between $1-3 per hour depending on parking demand and location. However, you also need to pay attention to parking rules and regulations – the usual parking timings are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday. If you’re parking overnight, stay clear of street cleaning rules that are usually in force early in the morning.

At more popular spots like Balboa Park, La Jolla Cove, Sunset Cliffs, and Torrey Pines, you may need to ditch street parking in favor of off-site parking garages for convenience. They’re also quite affordable, with rates starting as low as $10/day.

Parked cars outside a restaurant in San Diego

How can you find free parking in San Diego?

You can park for free on Sundays and national holidays across all the parking zones in and around the city. If the federal holiday falls on a Sunday, you can get free parking throughout the next day (Monday). Please note that you would still have to park at only yellow commercial zones, short-term green zones, and maintain the time limit for parking at the 1-to-2-hour time parking zones.

San Diego Parking National Holidays

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • February 17 – Presidents Day
  • April 20 – Patriots Day
  • May 25 – Memorial Day
  • July 3 – Independence Day
  • September 7 – Labor Day
  • October 12 – Columbus Day
  • November 11 – Veteran’s Day
  • November 26 – Thanksgiving Day
  • December 25 – Christmas Day

Find affordable parking using Way,com

Is there disabled or handicap parking in San Diego?

Yes, there are special spots reserved for persons with disabilities (PwDs). All such vehicles must display a disability placard or license plate and can park at green curbs and time limit zones with no time restriction. Disabled drivers can also park at any metered parking spot for free!

Are parking garages an affordable option in San Diego?

Absolutely! Off-site parking garages offer more value for money than street parking or on-site parking. Using a parking app like Way.com, you can now find the closest garages to your destination and book a guaranteed spot even before leaving from home.

You don’t even have to beat yourself up over the price – booking online is up to 25% cheaper, but with no compromise on quality. With paved, well-lit lots and 24-hour security, off-site San Diego parking garages also offer safer and secure spots than street parking. You can park at any of these garages for as low as $10 for an entire day!

San Diego parking tips

  • Keep an eye out for parking signs, and make sure that there are no temporary signs like construction restrictions or temporary changes in cleaning schedules.    
  • Do not wait until the metered parking timer runs out, and move your vehicle at least 5 – 10 minutes before the parking expires.      
  • All metered parking spots accept payments through the following: credit card, mobile phone payment, and coins. Some city parking meters also accept near field communication (NFC) payments such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.
  • The parking meters are enforced from Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, the parking meters at Hillcrest Commercial Zone and Hospitality Zone Downtown operate until 8 p.m. from Monday through Saturday.
  • If you feel like skipping all this hassle, pre-book an off-site parking spot through Way.com today.

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Pre-book parking spots in San Diego using Way.com


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