Street Parking in Chicago

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Street parking in Chicago can be frustrating, intimidating, and confusing at best. Factors such as neighborhood, weather, time restrictions, and nearby events all play a vital role in deciding where and how you’ll park. Whether you’re a Chicago native or simply visiting the city, knowing a few key pieces of information will drastically improve your street parking experience.

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about street parking in Chicago:

Street Parking by Neighborhood

Parking on the street in Chicago varies by neighborhood. Looking for street parking in neighborhoods near downtown (Loop, River North, Streeterville), for example, is much more challenging than parking on a street in a northern neighborhood (Lincoln Park, Old Town, Lakeview).

A good rule of thumb is to think about it like this: the denser the neighborhood, the more challenging street parking will be.

Click on the links below to learn more about street parking in specific Chicago neighborhoods:

Chicago Parking Meter Locations and Rates

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Metered parking in Chicago costs $2-$6.50 per hour. Click here for an interactive version of the map above. Find more information about metered parking in Chicago, like disability parking and pay station hours, here.

You can pay for metered parking 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, which is especially convenient in the winter!

Chicago Residential Parking

There’s residential parking available throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods. 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 Chicago’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.

Top Street Parking Tips

  • 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.
  • Major events take place in Chicago year-round, which influences street parking in the affected neighborhoods. Regardless of the time of year, it’s always smart to check whether there are any events near your destination. Click on the links below to learn more about street parking during specific events and common destinations they take place in:
  • Know when to avoid street parking. Sometimes,  off-street parking in a lot or garage can save you a lot of pain and frustration. When traveling to a dense area or one with a major event, for example, off-street parking is not only the easier, but the more affordable choice. Consider finding and reserving off-street parking in advance for optimal convenience.
  • Make sure to leave enough space between you and the car in front of or behind you whenever possible. Drivers in Chicago tend to really pack it in when parking on the street, making it incredibly challenging to get your car out. You want to find that sweet spot: where you’re not so far from a car that you’re using the street inefficiently (making it difficult for others to park), but so that there’s still enough room for you to leave without hitting bumpers.
  • Make a mental, or physical, note whenever you find free street parking. Finding free street parking in Chicago is like striking gold. And chances are, most people probably don’t know about it. All Chicagoans are a little nervous when they park on the street and don’t see any parking signs since parking tickets are so common. As mentioned above, look meticulously to make sure there aren’t regulations. Once you find this rare free street parking, remember it so that you can use it again in the future.
  • Download the ParkChicago app so you can pay for and replenish your meter from your phone. This is especially helpful in the winter, when you can pay for parking from the warmth of your car without having to wait outside for your parking pass to print.

Resources

  • CTA – Chicago’s public transportation site with parking information near city trains and buses.
  • Cityofchicago.org – City website with parking information, such as laws, restrictions, permits, and more.
  • Parkopedia – Browse street and off-street parking rates with an interactive map.
  • Chicago Meters Map Demo – Interactive map with meter locations, rates, and regulation information throughout Chicago.
  • Chicago Meters FAQ – FAQ answering the most common questions about meter parking in the city.
  • ParkChicago – App where you can pay for and replenish meter parking in Chicago.
  • Chicago Residential Parking Map – Interactive map indicating where residential parking is located throughout the city.
  • SpotHero: If you have trouble finding street parking, reserve a spot in a garage or lot with a parking reservation service like SpotHero instead.