Off-street parking has it's problems - with the TMA (traffic management authority) workers on the streets, patrolling the area, handing out tickets left and right. Not only is it a struggle to find a decent spot near where you want to park on the street, in highly congested areas of the city, like Downtown, River North, West Loop and tourist attraction areas, but figuring out how to park affordably - that’s almost impossible.
Chicago is one of the best cities to have memorable site seeing, world class dining, enjoy water adventures and more. But if there's one thing you want to ensure you stay in the know about, it's knowing where you're going and what to look out for before you hop in the car and go.
Considerations Before You Park:
The city of Chicago is notorious for issuing parking tickets. There in fact are three organizations that are allowed to ticket vehicles parked publicly in Chicago, IL.
TMA – traffic management authority personnel are employed by the city, provided badges, and are authorized to issue tickets for anyone in violation of any parking related issue. They CANNOT issue a moving violation or red light ticket. They are also in charge of regulating adherence to rules for taxis and city vehicles as well. Needless to say, they are not everyone’s favorite.
CPD – the Chicago police department can issue a ticket for any breach of traffic regulation that applies. Moving violation, illegal parking, expired registration, you name it. However, if you are on an Illinois express way, they cannot issue you a moving violation. They can only hold you until the Illinois State Police arrive, who will then issue you a fine commensurate with your offense.
Parking Meter Contracted Company – a private parking company contracted to manage and operate the meters. The City of Chicago’s contract allows the operator to designate a private enforcement group in order to collect on meter violations.
To makes this easy, we’ve broken Chicago into two parts, parking types & locations.
Parking Types & Locations:
- Metered parking – Just about every inch of Chicago is covered in on-street metered parking zones. These zones vary by location, price, time frame and start from $1.00/hour up to $7.50/hour. Many locations boast a 2 hour maximum as the average. In most residential areas M-S (9am – 10 pm). Some areas have Sundays free, but that is limited.
- Residential Zoned Parking – This requires you to have a city vehicle sticker with a zone number and is about $80, however, if you know someone in the area where there is residential zoning there are 24 hour temporary permits available. This ONLY happens in residential areas.
- Open Street (FREE) Parking – A definite rarity; available mainly in neighborhoods that are exclusively residential, like Ravenswood, Edgewater, Beverly and the like, there is no-cost for this type of on-street parking.
- Uncovered, Lot Parking – There are self-service lots and attended lots that provide parking at a cost. This cost can vary based on location, event type, time of day, and of course, management. Rates start from $9 and can reach in upwards of $65. Time ranges usually start at 3 hours or more.
- Covered, Parking Lot – Similar to uncovered, these tend to be self-service, are above ground, and don’t have wall enclosures. A little more protection, a slightly higher cost. Typically these are found by larger venues and outdoor shopping centers. Cost tends to range from $10 and depending on location can reach $50, however, that’s rare.
- Garage Parking – Garages typically have a gate, garage door, or arm bar that ensure secure entry only. A garage is a fully enclosed structure and can be stand-a-lone or attached. These various types of parking spots or facilities essentially fall into two primary groupings. Public & private. Unfortunately, not free or paid, like most would hope. This is mostly due to city regulations on parking facility builds, public parking options, and of course transportation. The intention is to reduce traffic in congested areas like downtown.
The benefit to you? You save. We’ve partnered with practically every parking operator to bring you an easy and convenient way to park, at a rate you can afford. So whether you’ve visiting, you’re a Chicago native or a transplant, we have options that ensure that parking, is the last thing you have to worry about.
House of Blue's - Get parking as low as $8. Good food, good fun, mostly standing only venue.
329 N. Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60654
Palmer House Hilton Chicago - Park less than 5 minutes away for just $10.
17 E. Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603
Second City - Get a laugh in with some great improv and reserve parking for as low as $5. That beats the meter.
1616 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60614
Get updated about new parking locations & destinations and receive pro parking tips.