Parking In Chicago
Parking is the main reason not to drive in Chicago. Sure, there are stereotypical cab drivers, Hummers that take up whole blocks, streets that end or seem to reverse direction for no apparent reason, and pedestrians that casually cross intersections with no awareness that the light turned red a minute ago. But the absolute worst thing about driving in Chicago is that at some point you will get to your destination and will have to park your car.
That being said, here are a few helpful hints:
- The main thing to be aware of when parking in downtown Chicago is to Watch Your Time!
- There's metered parking on most downtown Chicago streets, but it's difficult to find an open spot. They only let you park in two hour increments. DO NOT let the time elapse. You'll get a ticket faster than you can say "wait, I'm right here" while running towards your car with a quarter in your outstretched hand.
- Read all street signs carefully before parking!!! If it says no parking between 4 and 6, move your car at 3:50. These are rush hour parking zone bans. There is a reason nobody is parked on that side of the street. Do not be fooled. You WILL be towed. Tow trucks roam the alleys and streets like hyenas waiting for the eldest in the pack to drop.
- If your car gets towed you can find it on the City of Chicago's website.
- It's also important to keep track of the time if you valet park your car. Most of the rates are good for three hours, and are half-again as much after that.
- Avoid hotel parking garages: rates are upwards of $50/day!
- Chicago Parking lots are (generally) cheaper the further away from downtown you get. You could park a little distance away and then walk in or take a cab or bus. This can definitely be a better option.
- There is a huge lot underneath Grant Park with fairly reasonable rates - for downtown Chicago.
- Street parking can be near impossible to find and is expensive; (now $6.50 an hour in the loop). Do note the meters do "conveniently" accept credit cards. With $6.50 an hour parking who has 26 quarters lying around in their car anyways?!
- In and Out Privileges. They just don't exist in Chicago garages. Really, they don't. Not one single garage offers this. Some surface lots do offer them, but it's rare. Where do you want to drive in and out to anyways? You'll have to pay to park again if you do. That said Hotel Valets do offer in and out. While expensive it can be very convenient to use these valets as you only have to worry about a single charge per 24 hour period. The alternative if in and out is necessary for you, is to pay each time you enter a "Self Park" facility. This could be a $20 (and up) pop each time you enter and exit which makes the $55 a day seem like a bargain!
Chicago Parking Links
- Chicago Parking SpotHero
You can actually reserve yourself a parking spot in Chicago! Put in an address or neighborhood and see maps with discounted garage parking where you can make an online parking reservation for.
- Best Parking
Not only can you search by address & neighborhood, you can put in your arrival and departure times to find out how much it'll cost! You can also see parking maps for downtown Chicago and O'Hare & Midway airports
- ChicagoMonthlyParking.com - This is a great resource guide with monthly parking links and info about all the different options across the city. Not to miss in the hunt for a monthly parking spot!