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Washington DC Parking: Where to find the best spots in the city

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Scratching your head over Washington DC parking before your trip to the capital? It’s always easier to check out the different parking options before heading out into the city. We’re here to help – let’s narrow them down and find out where to find the best parking spots! 

Parking in Washington DC is always a worry – whether you are a first-time visitor or drive around every day. While it may seem like there’s plenty of street parking, permits usually stand in the way of a vacant spot. The demand for safe and convenient parking spaces in DC is so high that most hotels in the city offer onsite parking and add a hefty price tag to it. If you don’t want to spend $50 a night for Washington DC hotel parking, it’s time to find cheaper alternatives.   

View of Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.

However, as a general rule, we’d advise you to stay off the streets. Even though street parking is affordable, most streets in downtown DC come with metered parking and time restrictions. Keeping track of when to pay, how much, and how long you can park in a spot is a lot of hassle for someone just trying to have a good time sightseeing.

Also, don’t be fooled by the free parking in residential neighborhoods; you’ll need a residential parking permit to enjoy that privilege. In any case, it isn’t the best idea to leave your car parked on the streets for a long time; there’s a strong chance of temporary No-Parking signs popping up for a number of reasons.  If you ask us, your car’s better off in a Washington DC parking garage!

If you don’t believe us, take a look at the bevy of rules you’ll have to follow for street parking or on-site below.

Street parking rules to follow in Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C is the capital of the country and seat of the government. It’s obvious that there will be rules and regulations governing which streets the public can park on, and for how long. Many streets are designated No Parking zones, while parking meter timings are strictly enforced on all other roads. The important rules to remember include:

  • Metered Parking Rates: $2.30 per hour.
  • Metered Parking Hours: Monday – Saturday (7:00am – 6:30pm). Certain zones that have high demand are allowed to extend parking timings like 10 p.m.
  • Free parking on Sundays
  • Check the signboards that indicate street cleaning schedules, no parking timings, and if residential parking permits are required
  • The high-demand zones for parking in Washington D.C. include Downtown Central Business District, National Mall, Georgetown Historic District, Adams Morgan, Chinatown/Penn Quarter, Wisconsin Avenue NW, and Maine Avenue.

How to find free street parking in Washington D.C.

All metered parking spaces in the city are free on Sundays and federal holidays. A rough list of federal holidays is given below.

  • New Year’s Day Observed (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Third Monday in January)
  • Washington’s Day (Third Monday in February)
  • DC Emancipation Day (April 16)
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (July 3)
  • Labor Day (First Monday of September)
  • Columbus Day (Second Monday of October)
  • Veterans Day Observed (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday of November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

Hotels in Washington D.C with free parking

There are quite a few hotels that offer free parking. Some of them include Ivy City Hotel and Motel 6 Washington D.C. However, this is likely to be a package deal – you may only get free parking if you book a suite worth a certain amount. For regular visitors, there might be a certain fee – which is usually not worth the price of admission. We’d recommend ditching such package deals unless you are willing to pay for it.

If you’re looking for cheaper rates for the same level of security, you can always choose off-site garages just a short walk away.

How much does a parking ticket cost in Washington D.C.?

A parking ticket in D.C. can cost you anything from $30-100 depending on the nature of the parking violation. Some common parking violations and their tickets costs are as below:

  • Overtime parking – $30
  • Violating Residential Parking Permit rules – $35
  • Street sweeping rule violations – $45
  • Double parking – $50
  • Parking in a loading zone – $50
  • Parking in a bus stand or prohibited zone – $100

How to pay a parking ticket in Washington D.C.

Even if you are given a citation, you can still contest it – provided you feel it was unfair. In fact, 4 out of 10 drivers have successfully contested their citation successfully in the past decade. However, make sure you gather enough evidence at the time the parking ticket is given. Take photos of how you were parked, look for missing or conflicting signs, and anything that could be grounds of dismissal. Learn more about the process of contesting a ticket here.

If you are ready to pay for the parking ticket, you can do so either online, by mail, in person, or by phone at 866-893-5023.  Tickets should be paid within 30 calendar days to avoid a penalty.

Find parking in DC using Way.com

Where to park near popular landmarks in Washington D.C.

Union Station Garage parking

View from the Union Station Parking Garage

The Union Station Parking Garage (USPG) on Massachusetts Avenue tops every list of best Washington DC parking. It’s open 24 hours a day and serves as a central bus hub in the city for both public transit and tour/charter buses. It’s located half a mile north of the Capitol and is convenient for folks headed downtown.  

Union Station parking garage rates range from $10 an hour to $72 for up to 72 hours. Rates with parking validation are $5 – $7 for up to 2 hours; validation machines are available on the upper levels of the garage near the entrance. You can access the multi-level garage via ramps on the East side of the station and behind the station from H Street.   

Reagan Building Garage parking

Ronal reagan building and international trade center washington dc

It doesn’t get safer than this – park at a federal government building with all that security; get ready to pop your trunk for inspection before you enter. The Ronal Reagan Building and International Trade Center offer 2000 spots for hourly, daily, and monthly parking rates just a block away from the White House. The underground garage is open 24x 7 and bang in the middle of all that you’ve come to see in the city.   

The entrances are at 13 ½ Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and on either side of the building on 14th Street between Constitution Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. Special parking rates during the weekends tend to be cheaper at this garage; during weekdays, hourly parking rates are $12 for an hour or less and go up to a daily maximum of $35. If spots fill up quickly, you can also find more affordable off-site parking nearby. 

The Wharf Washington DC Parking

The Wharf parking garage is located just off Main Avenue in Southwest Washington and can be accessed via Blair Alley, Sutton Square, and 7th Street Park. There are limited parking spots at this 24×7 underground garage, and the rates start at $5 for half an hour, going up to $38 for more than 4 hours on weekdays and $45 for more than 4 hours on weekends. There are also several affordable off-site garages nearby starting at $10/day.

CityCenterDC Garage parking

CityCenterDC on New York Avenue has 1500 parking spaces with valet parking services and is open 24 hours a day. You can access the garage via entrances on 11th Street NW and 9th Street NW; parking rates range from $10 to $19 daily, $22 for overnight parking, and $285 for monthly parking. A special flat rate of $10 is available for evenings and weekends. You can also get great discounts if you choose nearby off-site parking lots.

downtown washington dc parking

How to find great parking deals in Washington DC and save money

Whether you are staying at a downtown hotel or need a safe and affordable parking space while you explore the city, booking a spot at an affordable off-site Washington DC parking garage is the most convenient option. The best way to find great deals is to pre-book a spot online at these garages instead of driving straight up!

You easily use a parking app like Way.com to find top-rated parking lots, compare prices, and book a spot in just a few swipes – saving you both time and money. Pre-booking online using an app has several advantages:

  • You can book a spot even before leaving from home – no more driving around for parking!
  • Online booking rates are up to 25% less than drive-up rates
  • You can get deep discounts, 6-hour or 12-hour vouchers, and special offers
  • Off-site parking gives you the flexibility of hourly, daily, or monthly parking
  • It is also secure – all garages are secure, CCTV-enabled, and professionally managed

Also read: Where to find parking near Echostage in Washington D.C.

Pre-book affordable parking using Way.com in DC

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

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