Today’s Post is about the best places to park in Downtown San Diego. I’ve lived in San Diego since I was 9 years old and I consider myself to be a San Diego native. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while, ever since my office moved Downtown and my clients had to start parking downtown to meet with me. Clients always ask me where they can park, because they know Downtown’s reputation. People love to eat and drink at the restaurants Downtown, and go dancing at the clubs, but they hate to park Downtown. I know, I used to be one of them before moving my office next to Horton Plaza, and working Downtown daily. Thanks to being Downtown regularly, I could figure out the best places to park. One thing that Downtown San Diego businesses must overcome to be successful, is their patrons’ reluctance to come downtown because of the struggle to find parking. Parking anxiety is real – I get it, so hopefully this article helps the residents of San Diego, visitors who might come across my article, and the businesses downtown. So here goes:
I get this question from my clients all the time, where should I park? The answers are varied but trust me – I’m an expert.
Padres Game Parking
The first question I have for you is this: what are you coming downtown for? If it’s for a San Diego Padres game, the absolute best place to park is in the Convention Center. It’s gotten more expensive since Petco Park first opened but parking in the Convention Center is an easy choice. It’s right next to the ballpark, there is ample parking, it’s well-lit and well-maintained, and it’s affordable. You don’t have to make sure there is parking there, unless it’s Comic-Con there will be quite a few spots for you to choose from. No anxiety here: come down to Petco Park before the game, grab something to eat, and then walk over at your leisure to the stadium.
San Diego Comic-Con Parking
My first advice for parking downtown during Comic-Con would simply be…don’t. Don’t park downtown during the convention, Comic-Con creates an absolute parking nightmare. However, I will tell you that the lots around Downtown San Diego during Comic-Con sell pre-paid parking for a fraction of the obscene rates they try to get during the actual convention. So google pre-paid parking San Diego Comic-Con 2017, and probably do that at least a few months before the convention. I’d check the actual website of Comic-Con (www.comic-con.org) to make sure. They sell out, so don’t miss out.
Oh, one more tip. Street parking Downtown, for the most part is FREE on Sundays. Don’t get hoodwinked into buying pre-paid parking or paying for lot parking on Sunday. Just arrive early in the morning on Sunday and you will be able to park for free on the street. What a deal!
Night on the Town
If you’re looking for a nice place to park for a night on the town with the mister or missus, look at the lots with a flat rate near the Gaslamp. Make sure they are well-lit and clean and close to where you want to go. While Downtown San Diego is safe, you don’t want to be walking to an unlit lot in the middle of the night, trust me. Also, be aware that some restaurants offer a valet parking service for their patrons, so call the restaurant in advance and ask if they offer valet parking.
All Day Exploring Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego has way more to offer than just one cool lawyer’s office. One of my favorite places to take my friends when they come into town is Seaport Village, down by the water. There are some good restaurants, cute shops, and a beautiful view of the bay. But the parking there is so expensive! If you’re going to be hanging around Seaport Village, a good place to park would be to park in the day parking for the Cruise ships, or parking in the Convention Center and walking behind the Convention Center and getting a nice view of the Marina. If you’re going to be all over Downtown, then a good central location to park for the day is in Horton Plaza Mall’s Parking Lot, which you can access on 4th Avenue and F, its entrance is slightly obscured by the traffic light. If you’re at the light and you see the Hard Rock Café on your left, you’ll be turning right, right into the garage. If you arrive before 930AM and leave by 6PM, it’s 8 dollars for the whole day. It’s quite a bargain as the mall is located right in the middle of the Gaslamp District!
Just Need to Make a Quick Meeting or Drop Something Off?
If you just need to park for an hour, I’d highly recommend parking in Horton Plaza’s Parking Lot. While it’s famous “three free hour parking” has gone the way of the dodo, it still offers one free hour of parking, with no validation necessary. Just park and if you’re out within an hour, it’s absolutely free. After that it’s a steep $2 every fifteen minutes, but even if you found a meter parking spot on the street, it would cost you at least $2 for one hour, and the meter maids are vigilant.
If you’re hell-bent on finding street parking
If you absolutely must use street parking, don’t worry about carrying quarters anymore. All of the meters in Downtown San Diego now accept credit and debit cards. An even better investment? Snag one of those pre-paid parking cards from the City of San Diego. They come in $10 and $40 increments and the best feature? You can put money back on the card if you come back to the meter with time remaining. No need to worry about putting extra time on the machine and watching it go to waste when you get back to the car earlier than you expected, or fretting over getting back to the car in time and avoiding a ticket: just put the max amount on the machine and then when you get back, put the rest back on your card.
The City of San Diego recently introduced a new program called Fred, which is a FREE ride sharing option for those not looking forward to parking Downtown. You can catch a ride any day of the week, and you can catch a ride using the app anywhere within in the map, which can be found at www.thefreeride.com . You can park in some of the less difficult areas to find a parking spot, then catch a FRED to your preferred Downtown location.
I would be remiss without mentioning Uber and Lyft, the ride-sharing mobile apps. I’d highly recommend them if you’re planning on drinking in Downtown San Diego. It’s a safer option and no need to worry about which one of your group will have to be the designated driver.
I hope that you find this post informative and helpful, and for my fellow local San Diegans, please post your tips in the comments. Have a great time in our great city of San Diego. And if you’re coming to meet with me, now you know where to park!