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Categories: Boston Parking

The Complete Guide to Boston Street Parking

Boston is one of the most walkable cities in America because it’s built for public transportation. That means tiny roads and few street parking spaces for the number of cars driving its streets.

Two rules of thumb in Boston: be prepared for high hourly parking rates and time restricted street parking. But even then with the right tips and tricks, even you should be able to find the perfect parking spot. Here are all of the things you need to know about Boston street parking:

General Boston Street Parking Rules

To avoid expensive parking tickets handed out by the City of Boston Parking Authority, consider downloading a parking app recommended by Boston locals. This way, you won’t have to spend time memorizing street parking rules. You’ll receive real-time alerts when your meter is about to expire, and know ahead of time how much each hour of parking will cost you.

But just in case, it’s good to be aware of common violations that could lead to expensive parking tickets:

✅  During the winter months, many Boston streets prohibit street parking to allow better access for snow plows and emergency assistance vehicles.

✅  Most meter parking has a two-hour maximum parking limit.  

✅ During rush hours, some major streets convert street parking lanes into extra travel lanes for a better traffic flow. Always read parking signs before leaving your car, or risk being towed.

✅ Residential neighborhoods tend to ONLY allow parking for those who actually live in the area. That means you need a permit to park. No home, no parking!

✅ Street cleaning and city construction schedules prevent Boston residents from parking on the street certain days of the week. To find out about street parking near you, check out this street cleaning map.

✅ Boston keeps their city free from litter by running an all year night-time street cleaning program. If you’re parking in a commercial area, this is when your car will need to move. Daytime street cleaning rules are different. Read this guide to learn about street cleaning rules.

Towed car? This is what to do!

If you left your car without checking the parking signs, it might be towed. After a long day at work, you’re probably not in the mood to spend hours searching for it.

Relax! In Boston, it’s easy to find out which location your car has been towed to. If you know your license plate, you can find your car here. More of a talker? Call the Boston Police Department at 617-343-4629 and they’ll be happy to help.

Expect to pay a $108 dollars fee for the tow, and an additional $35 dollars per day until you pick up your car from the towing lot.

How does the Boston Parking Ban work?

It gets blustery and snowy in Boston. To keep roads clear for plows and emergency vehicles, keep an eye on the Boston Parking Ban. You will be ticketed and towed if you park on a street that is designated an emergency snow route.

To help plows and emergency vehicles get through, the city requires you to park at least 20 feet away from all intersections and further than one foot from all curbs. As usual, don’t block sidewalks, fire hydrants, driveways, ramps, or the street.

Thinking about saving your parking spot with a space-saving cone?

You may see trash cans, cones, or other objects being used to save parking spots in residential areas throughout the winter. No one wants to shovel their spot to find it taken by the time they return! This is common practice, and completely legal but only in certain cases. Here’s when:

  • You can only use a space saver when the City declares a snow emergency.
  • You have 48 hours to use a space saver after we end an emergency. After that, you must remove it from the street.
  • Space savers are always banned in the South End.

What’s the cost of a parking ticket?

This past July, the city increased many of their parking ticket fines. To pay an existing Boston parking ticket, the city allows you to use your ticket number, notice number, or plate number. Now, you can even pay your parking ticket online.

The best way to deal with parking tickets is to avoid them entirely. Here are the most commonly cited tickets given out by the city of Boston:

Ticket Type Fee Amount
Resident Parking Violation $60
Overnight Street Cleaning (Ticket But No Tow) $90
Loading Zone $90
No Parking Zone A $90
No Parking Zone B $55
Double Parking Zone A $55
Double Parking Zone B $35
No Stopping or Standing $90
Meter Fee Unpaid $40
Over Posted Time Limit $40
Over Meter Time Limit $40

Commonly used parking signs

Here are commonly spotted Boston parking signs to know and understand. See the list below:

No stopping any time: If you run into this sign, you’re not even allowed to pull over for a pickup or drop off.  

No standing any time: With this sign in sight, you’re only allowed a quick pick up or drop off.

Street cleaning: This sign tells you which days out of the week and which hours street parking not allowed.

Two-hour parking limit: Here, you’re good to park for up to two hours only. If you’re planning a longer stop, you’re better off finding a different parking spot.

No Stopping Boston Police special event: No parking allowed due to special events.

Resident permit parking only: Parking is only allowed for those with a residential parking sticker. If this isn’t your neighborhood, better luck elsewhere.

Where do I find free or cheap parking?

On Sundays and holidays, enjoy free street parking all over the city. If you’re visiting from out of town, it’s easy to find free parking on the Spot Angels app. In general, be prepared to pay where you park.

Check out this parking map for low rate street parking or head over to neighborhoods known for low-cost parking in Boston, either on the street or in a parking garage. Metered parking prices range from $1.25 to $3.75/hour depending on the street.

  • Theatre District: People are flocking to this area from all over the town. Surprisingly, it’s still known for low parking rates.
  • All the night birds who are looking for a poppin’ nightlife and decent parking rates, make your way to Fenway.
  • Boston Common Garage might be your best bet if you’re looking for downtown parking near popular city attractions. Low costs and a convenient location rank this parking garage high on the list.

What about overnight parking in Boston?

To find overnight parking, you can use this overnight parking map.

Okay, so how do parking meters work?

As we said, most meters are only active Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and most meters cost $1.25/hour. Sundays are always free and clear. Most meters allow parking for up to two hours, but there are some exceptions. Always check nearby signs wherever you park.

Or, even better, check ahead of time using this free interactive map. You’ll be able to see how long meters allow parking on specific streets, as well as how much the meter will cost you to park there.

To pay a Boston meter, you can use coins, cash, cards, or the city’s app. There are a few different types of meters, so be aware of which you’re using to properly display your proof of payment and avoid a pesky ticket.


For Pay and Display meters, you must take the receipt from the meter and place it on the inside of your car’s curbside window.


Look for these throughout the City’s most popular shopping, business, and entertainment areas. These areas include Faneuil Hall, the Financial District, Back Bay, and the South End. They all accept quarters, and debit or credit cards from Discover, MasterCard, or Visa.


These battery-operated meters are recharged by solar power and have instructions in English and Spanish. As with other Pay and Display meters, put the receipt on the inside of your car’s curbside window to show you’re legit.


  • Parking meters with red-capped domes: these meters are not in effect at certain times of day due to parking restrictions. Check the meter and nearby signs for hours!
  • Parking meters with yellow-capped domes: these metered spaces are also used as loading zones at times during the day.


If you notice a meter that is a bit more expensive than what you’re used to seeing, chances are you’ve stumbled into a city area that’s trying out Performance Parking. This new city initiative aims to free up metered parking spots during high volume times of day to make room for additional vehicles more often.

During the pilot, Back Bay meters are $3.75 an hour. Meters in the Seaport District in South Boston also experience variable rates. Check the map to find out how much these spaces cost right now.

FREE Holiday Parking Days

Boston offers free parking on certain Holidays. But which Holidays are city-wide? Here are all of Boston’s parking holidays:

January 1 – New Year’s Day

January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

February 17 – Presidents Day

April 20 – Patriots Day

May 25 – Memorial Day

July 3 – Independence Day

September 7 – Labor Day

October 12 – Columbus Day

November 11 – Veteran’s Day

November 26 – Thanksgiving Day

December 25 – Christmas Day

Ultimately, the easiest way to find parking in Boston is with the SpotAngels app.

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