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San Francisco parking is a constant headache for both locals and visitors. It's not easy to find spots - and most options are quite pricey.
Here you will find some of the best options and pricing estimates for popular spots such as Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown and Union Square.
SF is a colorful place - and that extends to the garages. This mural is on the western side
of the Performing Arts SF garage
in Hayes Valley/Civic Center.
San Francisco Parking Garages
San Francisco parking garages are your best bet if you plan to drive around or into the city for the day. Street parking can be difficult to find, and you will often spend up to an hour looking for a spot.
Below, I've outlined some of the best options by district and/or attraction. This will help you quickly find a place to park and know exactly where to go when you arrive.
Most parking garages in San Francisco are expensive and the rates can increase at times due to special events. I've included parking prices for each one below to give you an idea on what to expect. However, make sure to double check the prices before you pull in so you know the full price for your visit as these prices can (and do!) change at any time.
Jump ahead to the district that interests you most.
Union Square is one of the busiest districts. It's where you will find some great shopping and many of our largest hotels. It's also close to the Yerba Buena district, which is home to some of our top museums. If you plan to park in this district, here are a few recommendations.
Location: 444 Stockton Street
Size: Huge garage with almost 1,900 parking spots
Perfect for: Anyone shopping in Union Square, Chinatown, or the Financial District
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Height clearance: 6'5"
Hourly rate: $2 to $5 per hour
Daily maximum or lost ticket: $36 ($18 on Sundays)
Union Square Garage
Location: 333 Post Street
Size: Large garage with 985 spaces, goes underground about four stories
The most convenient parking is the Pier 39 Garage, which is located directly across the street from the Entrance Plaza.
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Hourly rate: $10 on weekdays (with a daily max of $50) and $12 on weekends (with a daily max of $60)
Validation: Restaurant patrons who dine at one of Pier 39's full-service restaurants receive one-hour free validation at lunch and two hours free validation after 6pm for dinner
Height clearance: 6' 8". If your vehicle is taller than this, you’ll want to look around for street parking.
Alcatraz Parking in San Francisco
There are several lots for those visiting Alcatraz Island for the day. The Alcatraz Island ferries leave from Pier 33. You’ll find one parking lot located just across the street on the Embarcadero at Bay Street.
If that one is full, there is a larger parking garage just a couple blocks away at 80 Francisco Street (at Kearny). You can find out more about these parking lots and other Alcatraz information on my tips to prepare for Alcatraz page.
San Francisco Parking in Nob Hill
Location: 1399 Bush Street
Size: Small garage with 129 spaces
Great for: Nob Hill
Hourly rate: $3 - $5
Hours: Open Monday - Thursday from 7am - 10pm, Friday from 7am - 2:30am, Saturday from 8am - 2:30am, and Sunday 9am - 10pm
Daily maximum or lost ticket: $36
Weekday Early Bird discount: Flat rate of $20 when you enter before 9am and exit before 7pm
Overnight discount: Flat rate of $8 when you enter after 9pm and exit by 9am (weekdays) or 10am (weekends) the next day
Other: Easy to spot because there are dancing murals on the garage done by Josef Norris
Safety: Security camera coverage and well lit
Access: Entrance in the middle of the block on Grove Street with height clearance of 5'9"
Hours: Open weekdays 6am - midnight, closed weekends unless an event is scheduled
Special hours: For performances, the garage is open 3 hours before and 2 hours after each show, so if you have dinner reservations, you'll want to make sure you are back at the garage before it closes
Hourly rate: $2 to $4, special event rates range from $5 to $40
Daily maximum or lost ticket: $28
Weekday Early Bird discount: Flat rate of $14 when you enter before 8:30am and exit before closing
Tips to Park on the Street in San Francisco
If you don’t want to park in one of the San Francisco parking garages, you can also look for a spot on the street. However, the cost to park in the street is often just as much as the garages during the day, and for a limited amount of time.
Most meters have a two-hour time limit. They can be paid by coin, phone, or credit card.
Meter rates vary by zone, with downtown and Fisherman's Wharf being the most expensive. Most are between $2.00 and $4.50 per hour.
With new "smart" technology, there are some SFpark areas based on demand, where rates incrementally adjust by quarter and can range from $0.50 to $6.50 per hour.
Hours of operation for most meters are 9am - 6pm Monday - Saturday. The meters in Fisherman's Wharf run from 7am - 7pm daily. Some of the meters in the busier areas and the Port of San Francisco run until 10 or 11pm.
Most allow you to park without moving your car for 1 to 4 hours. After your time runs out, you are supposed to move your car to a new spot instead of just feeding the meter again.
Most meters are NOT in effect on Sundays, except in the Fisherman's Wharf area, the Embarcadero, off-street parking lots, and the Special Events Area near Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park).
All metered spots are free on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
After you park, always read the meter to confirm days and hours of operation, time limits, and rates.
Other Street Parking
If you find a parking spot on the street that is not metered, check to see if the curb is painted, and look for signs posted about time limits and street sweeping hours.
Most areas of the city have parking permits for local residents. If you do not have a parking permit, you will only be allowed to park for a certain amount of time. Two hours is the standard although some are only one hour and some as much as three. Look for the signs near your car to find out the regulations for San Francisco parking on the street.
Here are some other street parking guidelines:
Red curb means no parking at anytime
Green curb is for short term parking only, usually around 10 minutes
Yellow curbs are loading and unloading zones for commercial vehicles
White is passenger pick up and drop off only, with a time limit of around 5 minutes
Blue is handicapped parking only with a valid permit
Your best bet for parking is to choose one of the San Francisco parking garages. Overall, parking in the city is pretty expensive unless you are lucky enough to get a decent spot on the street.
If you don't want to hassle with driving and using one of the San Francisco parking garages, you can also take public transportation or one of the San Francisco taxis. Both options make it pretty easy to get around the city.
Motels with Free San Francisco Parking
Many of the motels throughout the city offer free parking. You are allowed to park there during your stay and only hotel guests are offered this privilege. If you do plan to drive into SF and stay, this is a great way to save on your visit.
Make sure to also check out the great deals on TripAdvisor.com before you book. They offer deals for places in Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, and other districts throughout the city. Click here to browse their current offers.
Hi there! I'm Jill Loeffler and welcome to my site. I've been exploring San Francisco for almost two decades and I can't wait to help you find the best things to do here! Thanks for stopping by and please contact me if you have any questions before your trip.