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Park your car at home! Philadelphia is a walking city. There are only two reasons why you would have a car in Philadelphia: You are on a road trip and drove here, or you plan on visiting some of the surrounding areas that cannot be reached by public transit.
That being said, if you have a car, there are three general options:
1. Park at your hotel. This is usually the most expensive option, but you will have in/out privileges, which means you pay one daily fee and can take your car in and out as many times as you wish.
If you are looking to save a few dollars, there are often parking garages within a block. For example, The Bourse Garage
is less than a block from Hotel Monaco and Omni. Even less expensive parking can often be found just a few blocks away. These options are explained in #2:
2. Park in a public garage or parking lot. There are two types of parking facility operators in Philadelphia:
a) The Philadelphia Parking Authorrity (PPA). The PPA garages are usually the least expensive, averaging around $18.50 for 12 hopurs, or $20.50/day (24 hours).
b) Private operators. These tend to be more expensive than the PPA, but not always. There are commuter rates (in by 9, out by 5) that can be a little less expensive, and there are sometimes lower evening or weekend rates. Some of these are self-park, and other are valet parked. The problem witha valet parked is that you will have to wait for you car to be retrieved from the innards of the garage or parking lot and brought to you. This always is slower than retrieving the car yourself at a self-park, and can waste precious time.
In general, parking rates are front-loaded, so that once you hit 2 or 3 hours, you will have paid for a full day. Short term parking in lots or garages is not economical.
Parking Garage/Lot Locator: ---> Click here to help determine where the best parking lot or garage is for your needs.
Also, Central Parking Systems has a website where you can find their garages and print coupons. You can browse by desitnation or address. Keep in mind that this is just one of several private garage operators in the city. Central Parking Systems
3. Park on the street. This is a dangerous sport in Philadelphia. The aforementioned PPA is the most efficient governmental department anywhere. No joke. If you park 2 minutes over your allotted time, you will have a ticket. The parking regulation signs are confusing. Parking signs are either red on white, or green on white. The green ones tell you when and where you can park. The red ones tell you when and where you cannot park. Many signs are combinations, part red, part green. Most spots have a time limit, whether or not there is a meter present. If the sign says 2 hour parking, you must move your car to another street when the 2 hours are up. If there is a meter, be sure to have your quarters with you when you park, as it is very difficult to get change. Most streets now have an electronic ticketing system rather than meters. You find the ticket dispensing kiosk, pay your money for the time indicated on the machine (it increases as you add money), and then place the ticket, printed side up, on your dash. If the machine is broken, use another nearby machine. The machines accept paper currency and credit cards, so change is not as much an issue as with meters. If it is a 2 hour zone, you can purchase up to two hours of parking. It will not allow you to purchase more parking time than what is allowed, but they do not make change, so you can easily overpay. Note that you cannot feed the meters or tickets to try to extend your parking time. Well, you can, but you will get a ticket for overtime parking. Rates vary around town from roughly $1 to $2 per hour. Advanced math is sometimes needed, as rates can be expressed as $.25 for 8 minutes. That works out to 7.5 quarters per hour, or $1.875. Parking during rush hours is more restricted. Red signs will say "No Stopping 4PM - 6PM" or similar. Parking on the street is not reccommended for out-of-towners, but if you feel up to the challenge, go for it. Just remember- you have been warned.
Note: If you park in a a No Parking zone during rush hour, your car will be ticketed and towed. This will set you off on a perplexing and expensive journey through Philadelphia. If the TV program, "Parking Wars" is available in your area, watch it before thinking of parking on the streets. The first few seasons take place in Philadelphia, and follows Philadelphia Parking Authority employees around. Be aware of the many handicapped parking spots. These tend to be the first and last spots on a street, and are marked by signs. Also be careful not to park in motorcycle/motor scooter spots. These are also at the ends of streets, and are marked with signs, diagonal parking spaces the size of motorcycles, and have meters. They are usually next to the handicapped spots.