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SF Parking

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One of the more stressful moments of every outing is finding parking near your destination, and San Francisco is the big leagues when it comes to parking tickets. It’s important to know the lay of the land if you hope to avoid a hefty fine. Luckily, we’re here to help. Below are the most convenient places to park around San Francisco’s most popular destinations.

So, hop in your Toyota Corollas, your Ford Focuses, your mom vans and your Cadillacs. Arrive with a parking spot in mind, so that you can focus on the most important part of your trip: having as much fun as you can possibly pack into one adventure. Here’s where to park near San Francisco’s top attractions:

 

1. Where to Park Near the Palace of Fine Arts

Palace Of Fine Arts Parking
Parking Map around the Palace Of Fine Arts – Click to Open Map

The amazing Palace of Fine Arts functions as both an architectural marvel and a theatre that plays host to some of the finest performing arts groups in the world. It also happens to be surrounded by plentiful free street parking.

If you’re on a shorter trip, park for two hours free less than a quarter mile from the facility on Lyon, Baker and Beach streets. For day trips, stick to Yacht Road off of Old Mason Street. Should those areas be occupied, there is also a parking garage available in the same area off of Gorgas Avenue.

 

2. Where to Park Near Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks Parking
Parking Map around Twin Peaks – Click to Open Map

This spectacular park is the pride of San Francisco and offers you gorgeous scenery, breathtaking views, and invigorating hikes.

If you’re visiting to get to see SF from above, there is free parking at the vista point on Christmas Tree Point Road. If you’re more into hiking up the hill, there is a wealth of free street parking within a quarter mile of the park. Streets with free parking near the park include Crestline, Parkridge, Gardenside drives, Burnett, Hopkins avenues, Perego Terrace and Cuesta Court. No time limits here, so take all the time you need to enjoy your trip.

If you park at the top of the park, make sure you don’t leave anything visible inside your vehicle as this is an area known for car break-ins.

 

3. Where to Park Near the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Parking
Parking Map around the Golden Gate Bridge – Click to Open Map

The Golden Gate Bridge is much more than just a magnificent bridge. Whether you’re parking nearby to walk across or bike across, there are a variety of parking options near the Golden Gate. Keep in mind, several of them are paid and you’ll have to leave your puppy at home.

The closest free parking option to the bridge is the parking lot on Merchant Road where you can park for 4 hours. The other close options are all paid, ranging from $0.25/15 minutes for the visitor parking lot on Vista Access Road to $1.20/hour half a mile south for the lot on Lincoln Road. This one is ideal if you want to stay for the day as you’ll not pay more than $7, also the walk towards the bridge is stunning from this location. On weekends, when there is much more visitor traffic, an additional lot is open on the south west side of the bridge for $5 per day.

 

4. Where to Park Near Chinatown

Chinatown Parking
Parking Map around Chinatown – Click to Open Map

Chinatown is a cultural landmark and neighborhood in San Francisco. Venture into this area for world-class, authentic Chinese food and culture. Because Chinatown is a neighborhood, you’ll be able to find a good amount of street parking near your destination.

If you’re lucky, you might be able to snag a free 2 hour spot at Waverly Place, but only if you’re one of those people who happens to always be in the right place at the right time. Most of the other the streets are metered and limited for 2 hours, you can find ample parking along Clay Street ($2.25/hour) and for a few dollars more on Stockton Street ($3.25/hour).  For visits longer than 2 hours, your best option is the city garage located at the intersection of Kearny and Clay streets ($4/hour) unless you’re one of those lucky ones there are a handful of metered spots with a 4 hour limit on Washington and Stockton streets ($3.25/hour).

 

5. Where to Park Near the California Academy of Sciences

California Academy Of Sciences Parking
Parking Map around the California Academy Of Sciences – Click to Open Map

The California Academy of Sciences is one of the greatest museums in the country, and features a gigantic aquarium and a planetarium in addition to its main facilities. You could lose a whole day trying to see everything inside, but not without finding parking first.

Luckily there are several street parking options nearby with free parking available for 4 hours on Nancy Pelosi, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy drives, as as well on Cloud Forest Path. If all those spots are somehow taken, there’s also a parking garage located on 10th Avenue ($5/hour).

Make sure you don’t leave anything visible inside your vehicle, since the worst block in San Francisco for car break-ins is in this area!

 

6. Where to Park Near the Japanese Tea Garden

Japanese Tea Garden Parking
Parking Map around the Japanese Tea Garden – Click to Open Map

The Japanese Tea Garden is heralded as the oldest public Japanese garden in all of the United States. This beautifully maintained facility pays credence to the elegance and beauty of life, and honors the Japanese tradition of beauty. Its Café is also a delicious place to stop for tea and sweets.

The Tea Gardens are located in the same area as the California Academy of Sciences, so the same 4 hour free parking can be considered on Nancy Pelosi, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy drives, as well as on Cloud Forest Path. If all those spots are somehow taken, there’s also a parking garage located on 10th Avenue ($5/hour).

Make sure you don’t leave anything visible inside your vehicle, since the worst block in San Francisco for car break-ins is in this area!

 

7. Where to Park Near Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square Parking
Parking Map around Ghirardelli Square – Click to Open Map

In the mood for some unique shopping? Ghirardelli Square is the 3-level site of the famous former chocolate factory, and it is now filled with chic shops and exquisite restaurants, where you’ll find delicious ice cream and amazing chocolates.

There is free parking just one block away either on Beach or North Point streets. Metered parking is also available nearby on Beach, Polk and Larkin streets and limited to 4h. Weekday meter rates are reasonable but on weekends they can reach $6.25/hour so you might want to walk a few blocks and park for free.

 

8. Where to Park Near the Exploratorium

Exploratorium Parking
Parking Map around the Exploratorium – Click to Open Map

Who wants to get their science on? The Exploratorium features hundreds of exhibits and activities for guests to interact with and educate themselves about scientific principles. It does come with a hefty admission fee, but right now the museum is offering discounted tickets.

Just 3 blocks away, you can park for free for 2 hours – on Sansome Street between Union and Filbert streets or on Vallejo Street between Sansome and Montgomery Streets. If you plan to stay longer, there is metered parking around the Embarcadero, Green and Vallejo streets for up to $3.50/hour depending on when you visit. These options will be cheaper than the open parking lots in this area.

If you park on the Embarcadero or in one of the open parking lots on the Embarcadero, make sure you don’t leave anything visible inside your vehicle as this is an area known for car break-ins.

 

9. Where to Park Near Coit Tower

Coit Tower Parking
Parking Map around Coit Tower – Click to Open Map

This 210-foot tower offers a slice of history to visitors in the form of WPA murals, 360-degree views of the city and a resident flock of parrots on the grounds.

If you head up there just for the view, there is free street parking for 30 minutes at the vista point. If you’re visiting the inside of the tower, you’ll have to park at the bottom of the hill on Telegraph Hill Boulevard or on side streets like Greenwich, Filbert, Kearney and Montgomery streets. Parking is limited to 2 hours which is generally enough time for the visit. If you plan on staying longer to head to North Beach afterwards, the closest and cheapest garage is on Kearny and Montgomery streets for a $22 flat fee.

 

10. Where to Park Near the De Young Museum

De Young Museum Parking
Parking Map around the De Young Museum – Click to Open Map

Located in Golden Gate Park, the M.H. de Young Museum (or just the De Young for short) is San Francisco’s premier fine arts museum along with the Legion of Honor. The facility offers pristine art as well as a sculpture garden.

Because it’s located by the Japanese Tea Garden and the California Academy of Sciences, free parking can be found for 4 hours on Nancy Pelosi, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy drives, as well as on Cloud Forest Path. If all those spots are somehow taken, there’s also a parking garage located on 10th Avenue ($5/hour).

Make sure you don’t leave anything visible inside your vehicle, since the worst block in San Francisco for car break-ins is in this area!