Winter Parking in Chicago

Image via Flickr user Eli Duke

Image via Flickr user Eli Duke

Time and time again, the first thing people say when you tell them you’re moving to or visiting Chicago is, “It’s really cold there!” And it’s true. It’s really, really cold. But more so, the snow is just a pain to deal with. There’s no avoiding it.

However, those who’ve spent a decent amount of time in Chicago during the winter will tell you that there are a few tricks of the trade to overcoming winter frustrations, especially when it comes to parking.


Street Parking During Chicago Winters

Street parking during the winter in Chicago is notoriously challenging. Between the snow regulations, cars literally freezing to their parking spots, and overnight parking bans, there’s a lot to look out for when parking in the winter.

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 4 Chicago Winter Parking Tips

1. Avoid parking on the street

If it’s snowing, try to avoid parking on the street. With all the regulations and snow plowing, it’s just too risky.


2. If you must park on the street, look out for regulations

If you’re parking in a neighborhood where you can’t really avoid street parking, like Logan Square, make sure to park on a street that doesn’t plow at night.

You can find streets that don’t plow every night by looking for streets with no meters and don’t have any signage indicating snow regulations. Such streets are few and far between, but they’re your best bet for avoiding a parking ticket or, even worse, having your car towed.


3. What to do if your car is towed in the winter

Unfortunately, Chicago is known for moving illegally parked cars in the winter to nearby streets. So if you’ve parked your car on a street with snow regulations overnight and your car isn’t in the same spot the next day, there’s a chance a tow truck simply moved your car to a neighboring street to get it out of the way for the plow.

The only way to know for sure is to wander around nearby streets to see if you can locate your car. If you don’t find your car, you’ll need to visit the city’s government website to try and locate your towed car.


4. How to find off-street parking in the winter

Use the interactive map below to locate off-street parking in various Chicago neighborhoods. Your best bet is to skip uncovered lots and opt for covered parking instead.


Winter Parking Resources and Blog Posts