How to Find Parking in Old Town

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In This Guide

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to find parking in Old Town:

About Old Town

Many Chicago neighborhoods are named quite literally (River North, South Loop, etc.), and Old Town is no exception. In the mid- 19th century, German-Catholic immigrants were the first to settle into the neighborhood. Old Town’s history is still very present with Victorian buildings, narrow streets, and brick alleyways.

The close proximity to downtown and quaint atmosphere have kept Old Town popular and fresh over the years. Now some of the most visited and reputable comedy destinations in Chicago–The Second City and Zanies Comedy Club-– and other creative businesses have planted their roots in Old Town as well.

Things to Know About Parking in Old Town

Most of the parking in Old Town is designated for residents. However, some meter and off-street parking is available, especially close to popular attractions. If you aren’t familiar with Old Town, it’s worth doing a bit of research beforehand to spend less time searching for parking.

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.

Top Parking Tips

  • Do your research beforehand. Most of the street parking in Old Town is residential, so defer to some of the maps below to determine where you’ll find the closest meter or off-street parking.
  • 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.

Best Places to Park in Old Town

The garage at 230 W. North Avenue stands out. It’s in a great location for Old Town, right next to Second City comedy club. Plus, it’s indoor, so you won’t have to worry about street parking regulations, like time limits or snow.

Another attractive option is the garage at 1933 N. Halsted Street. There’s a serious lack of street parking in northwest Old Town (unless you have a residential permit). If your destination is in the area, off-street parking will be your best bet.

For street parking, check out North Wells between North Avenue and Division Street.

Lots and Garages

View the map below or directly on Google for a list of off-street parking lots and garages in Old Town.

1555 N Dearborn Pkwy Garage

Piper’s Alley Self Park

Carriage Lot

1400 N Lake Shore Dr Lot

1350 N Lake Shore Dr Garage

1440 N Lake Shore Dr Garage

1250 N Dearborn St Valet

1536 N Sedgwick St Garage

1933 N Halsted St Garage

Street Parking

Street Parking Overview

Street parking in Old Town is very sparse if you don’t have a residential permit. The only meter parking available is located around the neighborhood’s perimeters, as well as along North and Wells, where many of Old Town’s shops and restaurants are located.

If you do find meter parking, keep in mind the time limits. 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.

And don’t forget about Chicago winters, which makes street parking impossible at times.

 

Best Bets for Street Parking

Old Town Meter

W North Ave

  • Find ample meter parking on North between Orleans and Wells.
  • This is some of the only meter street parking you’ll find in central Old Town, so it will most likely be your best bet if your destination is a couple blocks north or south of North Avenue.

N Wells St

  • Meter parking is available on Wells between Division and Eugenie.
  • This parking stretch is located near some of Old Town’s top attractions, like famous comedy clubs and popular, family-owned restaurants.

N Clark St

  • There’s meter street parking on Clark between Armitage and Menomonee.
  • Located on the northeast border of Old Town, this stretch of parking is near a couple major attractions, such as the Park West venue, the Chicago History Museum, North Avenue Beach, and the most southern tip of Lincoln Park.

 

Old Town Parking Meter Locations and Rate Areas

Old Town Meters

Meter parking in Old Town costs between $2 and $4 per hour. Click here for an interactive version of the map above.

Find more information about metered parking in Old Town, like disability parking and pay station hours, here.

 

Paying for Metered Parking in Old Town

You can pay for metered parking in Old Town 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!

 

Old Town Residential Parking Zone

Old Town Residential

Residential parking is available all throughout Old Town. 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 Regulations

Snow plows clear snow almost daily to maintain Old Town’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.

Parking Near Top Attractions

The Second City: One of the first things people do when planning a trip to Chicago is purchase tickets for a show at Second City. Chicago has some serious comedy pride, which has mainly stemmed from the Second City stage.

Opening its doors in 1959, The Second City now has live shows, hosts stand-up comedy, and offers a school of improvisation. Major names have come out of Second City, such as Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Jane Lynch, Joan Rivers, and an ongoing impressive list of comedians and celebrities.

Due to the crowded intersection at North Ave. and Wells St., as well as imposing meter time limits, your more reliable parking option for Second City is the Piper’s Alley Self Park located at 230 W. North Ave. Reserve parking here.

 

Old Town Art Fair: Chicago is known for its reputable fairs throughout the entire calendar year. Old Town Art Fair may be one of the best. In 2015, the fair was rated as America’s #1 Art Fair by Art Fair Calendar.

The annual art fair, which is held every summer, hosts 250 artists and around 30,000 visitors. A jury of art professionals selects the artists who can showcase their work, making sure to pick new artists every year to keep things fresh and interesting.

The fair takes place at Lincoln Avenue and Wisconsin Street, which is near many bus lines and the El Brown Line. If you prefer to drive, be prepared to do a little bit of walking. Looking for meter parking on either Clark Street, just a couple of blocks east of the fair, or on Wells Street, just a few blocks south of the fair.

Resources

  • CTA – Chicago’s public transportation site with parking information near city trains and buses.
  • 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.