When it comes to charm and charisma, few cities can hold a candle to New Orleans. But if you're exploring the Big Easy in a rental car, finding cheap parking can be a big headache. Here's how to find inexpensive parking without breaking a sweat.
New Orleans Street Parking: Know Before You Go
Metered parking is not only abundant in New Orleans but many meters are amazingly high-tech—solar-powered with touchscreen menus that feature instructions in several languages.
Parking is free on Sundays, and otherwise enforced Monday-Saturday 8 a.m-7 p.m..
Metered parking costs $3 per hour in the French Quarter, Marigny Central Business District and the Warehouse District. In other neighborhoods, metered parking costs $2 per hour. If you've got a handicap sticker, you can park at meters up to three hours for free.
Meters accept cash as well as credit cards. But don't forget to pay the meter. Parking tickets cost $30.
In the busiest districts, such as the French Quarter, parking lots and garages are the best option. Going shopping? Several downtown department stores offer Park-N-Shop lots with free or discounted parking. You need to make a purchase to get validated parking, so be sure to get your parking stamp, pass or receipt.
Be forewarned: For a city with such a footloose and fancy free reputation, New Orleans has a lot of ways you can end up with a parking violation, such as parking near railroad crossings, on main streets during rush hour and—perhaps something you're not used to—parking near parade routes within two hours of the event. Always read the signs.
Also, some areas have restrictions on how long you can park without a residential parking permit. Check out the city's 17 residential parking permit zones.
The Best Websites and Apps for Cheap New Orleans Parking
Several resources can help you find cheap parking in garages and lots. Costs can vary wildly depending on the location and garage. Three hours of discounted parking can cost anywhere from $3 to $30.
Parking Panda lets you find, reserve and pay for parking in advance. This mobile reservation service partners with a variety of companies at over 30 locations in New Orleans.
SpotHero offers a handy dynamic map of downtown New Orleans and allows users to reserve parking.
ParkMobile also allows users to see available spots and reserve parking. Reserving spots in garages in advance can save up to half on rates.
BestParking also allows drivers to find and reserve spots, and also connects to navigation apps.