The history of Chicago’s Chinatown runs as deep as the formation of Chicago itself. In 1851, the Gold Rush era resulted in many Chinese immigrants finding their way to Chicago. Chinatown is a densely populated 30-block area just south of downtown. Over 10,000 residents and 400 businesses call Chinatown home. Annual events, like the Lunar New Year Parade and the Chicago Dragon Boat Race, bring tourists and Chicago locals to Chinatown almost every month.
Finding parking in Chinatown can be difficult given the neighborhoods proximity to the heart of downtown Chicago. Our Chinatown Parking Guide will help you find the best spaces in the area regardless of your budget or how long you need to park. Keep reading to learn more so that you can start parking with a smile on your face!
Chinatown Online Parking Reservations
Explore parking options in Chinatown with the map below and use SpotHero to book guaranteed spaces ahead of time!
Off-street parking is the perfect solution for anyone headed to Chinatown for more than a few hours. It can also be a great alternative to taking your chances on finding an open street parking space. The table below outlines some of the best parking deals in Chinatown, and their locations. Reserving parking spaces ahead of time helps prevent drivers from circling the block looking for available spaces. You’ll know exactly where you’re going to park, how much you’ll pay, and most importantly that a parking spot will be waiting for you on the other end of your journey!
|Name||Price Range||Online Reservations?||Nearest Intersection|
|11 E 23rd St||$7 – 13 hours||Book Now!||23rd & State St|
|2333 S Wentworth Ave||$15 – 24 hours||Book Now!||23rd & Wentworth Ave|
|2136 S Indiana Ave||$11 – 12 hours||Book Now!||21st & Indiana|
|20 E Cullerton St||$10 –24 hours||Book Now!||Cullerton & State|
While there are absolutely no public parking garages in Chinatown, there’s plenty of street parking and a couple of parking lots. When parking on the streets of Chinatown, there are two key factors to keep in mind: time limits and weather.
Most street parking in Chinatown has a time limit. Feeding the meter for more time won’t count if you exceed the maximum amount of time allowed. You have to move your car after the maximum parking time, even if that means moving it one spot down. Otherwise, you’ll risk getting a parking ticket.
Another important factor to keep in mind is the weather. In the winter, look out for signs indicating whether it’s legal to park on the street. This will depend on how much snow is on the ground. If a couple inches of snow have fallen, your best bet is to opt for a parking garage – both for the safety of your car and for the possibility that the street needs to be cleared.
Find more here on general Chicago parking information, like the details of the Chicago vehicle sticker, how to retrieve a towed car, and more.
- Always, always look out for signage about parking restrictions when parking on the street. Restrictions typically have to do with weather, time limits, and street cleaning.
- If you’re visiting Chinatown during a major event, seriously consider parking near public transportation that takes you directly to Chinatown. Chances are there will be little to no parking available during popular events. Click here for more information on alternative modes of transportation to Chinatown.
The lot at 2155 S. Wentworth Avenue stands out. It’s in a great location for Chinatown, right next to some of Chinatown’s best restaurants. Plus, with validation from participating restaurants, parking only costs $2 for 3 hours.
For street parking, check out Wentworth Avenue between Cermak Road and 24th Place.
View the map below or directly on Google for a list of off-street parking lots and garages in Chinatown.
2333 S Wentworth Ave Lot
Street Parking Overview
Street parking in Chinatown depends on a variety of factors: how long you need parking, if any popular events are taking place, how far you’re willing to walk, and the weather. Your best bet? Do a little research beforehand to decide if street parking is right for you.
If you’re visiting Chinatown and it’s snowing, for example, you may want to consider covered parking near public transportation that goes directly to Chinatown. Because all of the parking in Chinatown is outdoors, parking in the winter can present a few challenges.
Best Bets for Street Parking
- Find meter parking on China between Princeton and Wells.
- If you can’t find meter parking on one of the two main streets for parking in Chinatown, Archer and Wentworth, this is a great place to look, as many drivers may not realize there’s additional parking on China.
- Ample meter parking is available on Archer between Stewart and Clark.
- This area is in the heart of Chinatown, right next to some of the neighborhood’s most popular restaurants, as well as the Chinatown gate.
- There’s meter street parking Wentworth between Cermak and 24th.
- Wentworth has the longest stretch of meter parking in Chinatown, so it’s a great first place to look.
Chinatown Parking Meter Locations and Rate Areas
All metered parking in Chinatown costs $2 per hour. Click here for an interactive version of the map above.
Find more information about metered parking in Chinatown, like disability parking and pay station hours, here.
Paying for Metered Parking in Chinatown
You can pay for metered parking in Chinatown at the pay stations located in the parking zone where you are parking. You should see a sign pointing to the direction of the pay station. Quarters and credit/debit/pre-paid cards are all accepted.
Another option is to download the city’s street parking app, ParkChicago, which allows you to pay from your smartphone. But its best feature is the ability to extend the time on your meter without having to go back to your car, especially in the winter!
Chinatown Residential Parking Zone
Minimal residential parking is available in central and southern Chinatown. Click here to see Chicago’s residential parking map.
To park in a residential zone, you need either a Chicago City Vehicle Sticker with Residential Zone Parking or a Daily Residential Parking Permit for guests. Some zones require a residential permit at all times, while others only require permit at certain times of day or night. Find more information about city vehicle stickers here.
Snow plows clear snow constantly to maintain Chinatowns’s streets in the winter. That being said, street parking is prohibited when there’s over 2 inches of snow. Don’t carry a ruler with you? Your best bet is to avoid street parking altogether when it’s snowing or when snow is on the ground. Park in a parking garage or lot instead.
The city also puts overnight parking bans in place during the winter so that the streets can be plowed at night. Check the City of Chicago website in the winter for more information about when exactly those bans are in place.
Chinatown Square: If you’re visiting Chicago’s Chinatown for the first time, Chinatown Square is a good place to start. The square, which was completed in 1993, is a two-level retail center with small shops, authentic Chinese restaurants, the Pan Asian Cultural Center, and plaza where many events and performances take place.
You can find meter parking on the north and south sides of the square, on S. China Place and S. Archer Avenue. The next closest option is the lot at 2155 S. Wentworth Ave. Don’t forget to validate parking at a restaurant for a discounted rate.
Chinatown Gate and Nine Dragon Wall: If you’re looking for a classic Chinatown photo op, check out the Chinatown Gate and Nine Dragon Wall, which are located across the street from each other. The gate was built in 1975, designed by architect Peter Fung. The wall depicts nine dragons, which some believe have magical powers, and was inspired by a wall built in BeiHai Park in Beijing.
The wall and gate are located in between two of the streets with the most metered parking in Chinatown, S. Archer Avenue and S. Wentworth Avenue.
Ping Tom Memorial Park: If you decide to take a water taxi to Chinatown, Ping Tom Memorial Park is where you’ll arrive. Before the 12-acre site was converted into a park, it was a Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad yard. Chinatown severely lacked for any outdoor recreational area for many years before the Ping Tom Park was transformed in 1998. Now, the park is comprised of rolling green hills, a boathouse, and play areas for children.
Parking near and around Ping Tom Park is sparse, meaning no matter where you park, walking will be involved. The closest metered parking to the park is on S. China Place. Metered parking on W. 18th St, a few block east of the park, is a good option.
- CTA – Chicago’s public transportation site with parking information near city trains and buses.
- Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce: Neighborhood website with maps, event information, business directories, and more.
- Parknav – Helps parkers find the best street parking with real-time predictive data.
- ParkMe – Helps parkers find off- and on-street parking using full-time researchers and a predictive algorithm.
- Cityofchicago.org – City website with parking information, such as laws, restrictions, permits, and more.
- SpotHero – Find and reserve parking in advance with this free on-demand parking app.
- Parkopedia – Browse street and off-street parking rates with an interactive map.