Whether you hope to walk along the Navy Pier, sightsee Millennium Park, or catch a ball game at Wrigley Field, follow these tips and tricks that will make parking in Chicago a breeze, or use our interactive Chicago parking app to find parking in real time.
Street parking in Chicago is made up of more than 36,000 metered parking spaces, residential parking areas that require permits, overnight street parking spaces, and a number of limited free parking spaces. No matter where in Chicago you’re trying to park, follow these general rules to avoid Chicago parking tickets:
✅ Don’t park more than 12 inches from the curb
✅ Park at least 20 feet away from a crosswalk, if your vehicle is more than six feet tall. Keep your bumper off of the crosswalk, if your vehicle is less than six feet tall.
✅ Park at least 20 feet away from stop signs
✅ Park at least 15 feet away from fire hydrants
✅ Do not park in bus or bike lanes
✅ Between December 1-March 31, do not leave your car parked overnight on most main streets
✅ Street parking is prohibited in more than 2 inches of snow
✅ Never park in an alley longer than the time necessary to load or unload your vehicle
✅ Always display your city sticker on the inside of your vehicle on the lower right-hand side of your windshield if you’re a resident
✅ Do not park on a sidewalk, parkway, or crosswalk, even if you’re parked in a private driveway
✅ Don’t park your car somewhere explicitly to advertise that it’s for sale
✅ Never park your vehicle on the street if you plan on making repairs there
✅ Don’t park in the direction opposite to traffic flow, even on two-way streets
✅ No parking under a viaduct or underpass because such parking can restrict traffic flow
Chicago has plenty of street and metered parking that costs between $2-6.50 per hour. If you’re looking for parking in The Loop, street parking costs $6.50 an hour. It’s important to understand the rules of that specific meter if you don’t want to get a parking ticket.
The city just announced it will begin phasing out dashboard receipts, but the change will occur in waves. Make sure that when you pay for street parking in Chicago, you verify whether you need to leave a receipt on your dashboard. If you end up with a ticket, you’re still liable even if you thought the parking meter didn’t require dashboard display.
Read all of the street signs carefully before you park. There are rush hour parking zone bans on high-traffic streets between 4-6pm, and it’s recommended that you move your car at 3:50 to be safe in these spots.
In some neighborhoods, rules change depending on what’s happening locally. During baseball season, Wrigleyville and Bridgeport have different street parking rules. If there are events at Soldier Field, street parking in the South Loop is also enforced differently. Pay attention to the signs to stay one step ahead of the ticketers.
1. Standing Zone Signs
2. Paid Parking Signs
3. Special Event or Surge Parking Signs
4. No Parking Overnight Signs
5. Street Cleaning Signs (permanent and temporary)
6. Residential Parking Signs
The easiest way to find free parking in Chicago is to consult a real-time parking map that displays parking rates on every street. Rates vary block by block and throughout the day, and our comprehensive Chicago parking map makes it easy to find parking close to where you’re going.
Most Chicago street parking spaces are limited to two-hour increments, and lapsed vehicles will be ticketed faster than you can say, “Wait! I’m updating my time on the app!” Keep your eye on the time, or set up an alert to remind you when your time is about to expire. Keep in mind, even if you pay to extend the meter, if you’re parking in a 2-hour max zone, your car can be ticketed if in the same space for longer than 2 hours.
If you park outside Chicago’s central business district, you don’t have to pay for parking on Sundays except for spaces with signage that explicitly states “7 Day Paid Parking.”
The experimental surge pricing program in the Business District allowed meter rates to increase from $2 per hour to $4 per hour during days when events occured at Wrigley Field. As of January 2019, surge pricing near Wrigley Field no longer exists! So don’t worry about increased parking rates if you’re shopping near the field of ball game days.
Between April 1 and mid-November, the city sends street sweepers through areas of Chicago to clean the streets.
In most cases, street cleaning will occur between 6am-9am. On residential streets, bright orange signs are posted 24 hours prior to sweeping and the street cleaning will take place between 9am-3pm. In most Monday cases, the signs will be posted on the Friday prior.
Generally speaking, there are four to eight signs per block on either side of the street, depending on the size of the block. Look for signs on street poles and trees.
Keep your car off the street at all times during street cleaning (usually between 9 am and 3 pm), or you could face a $50 fine or get your car towed. If you want to learn more about Chicago street cleaning schedules and rules, check out our comprehensive Chicago street cleaning guide.
Before you jump to any conclusions, call 311 or visit the City of Chicago’s Find Your Vehicle page. There are several ways you can find out if your car was towed or stolen: by plate, by make and date, and by location and date.
Chicago residents living within a Residential Parking Zone are required to display a residential parking permit. You can purchase these either in person at city hall or online. They cost about $85-200 annually depending on the size and model of your car, with a minimum $200 fine for not having one displayed.
While stickers used to expire universally on June 30, the City Clerk recently changed the system. City stickers now expire six months after your license plate sticker, so keep track of the time to avoid a fine!
Additionally, certain blocks in Chicago are restricted. These blocks only allow vehicles with residential parking permits specific to that neighborhood to park in those spaces during certain hours. If you live on one of these streets, display your neighborhood specific permit on your windshield. When you buy your city sticker, ask to add a zone number for an additional cost.
In addition to purchasing a Zone Number to display on your City Sticker, you’re able to purchase Residential Daily Permits for guests, which are valid for 24 hours once displayed. You can buy up to 30 Residential Daily Permits per month at a cost of $16. You can pick these up at your Alderman’s office or at City Hall. Visit the City Clerk website to find a location nearest you or order them online.
Not sure whether your street qualifies for Zoned permit parking? Look it up here.
Most of the year, if you find an unmetered parking spot on the street, you can it is available for overnight parking. However, in the coldest part of winter between December 1 to March 31, you should not leave your car overnight on most main streets and certain residential streets. This is because the snow plows tend to roll through between the hours of 3am and 7am and you don’t want your car to be in the way. The ban is still active even if there is no snow, and could cost you a minimum $150 towing fee, a $60 ticket and a $20/day storage fee.
Visit this overnight parking map to find where you’re able to park your car overnight.
Chicago winters can be brutal, and finding parking in Chicago can be even more of a challenge. When it snows, plows clear snow almost daily to maintain Chicago’s streets in the winter. That being said, street parking is prohibited when there are more than 2 inches of snow. Check the City of Chicago website to see when restrictions are in effect.
One of the unwritten rules is the law of ‘Dibs’. People who shovel their own parking spot after a snowfall often leave a marker in place to reserve that spot for their cars. If you see a cleared parking spot with a folding chair or some other seemingly random item in the middle of it, best to avoid that spot.
There are tons of options within close proximity to the Chicago O’Hare airport and Midway International airport. Options available include short-term lots, long-term parking, and off-airport lots or hotel parking.
At the end of the day, the most reliable way to avoid parking tickets is by using real-time information, which is easily accessible via the SpotAngels App that is available for free download in the Apple Store and Google Play.
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