Heading to Seattle in a rental car? The good news for weekend visitors is that parking is free on Sundays. The bad news? With peak-hour downtown parking meter fees as high as $5 an hour in prime locations, Seattle is among the most expensive cities in the nation for parking.
Finding cheap and easy parking is possible any day, however, with just a little bit of patience and planning.
Seattle Street Parking: Feed the Meter Except on Sundays
Seattle is super transparent about its parking fees around the city, including its metered parking options. Meters are enforced on every day except Sunday, when parking is free. On all other days, the meters have varying time limits of 2 hours, 4 hours or even all-day parking (10 hours). In addition, there are also several holidays throughout the year when parking is free.
Like several other cities, Seattle's parking fees vary depending on location and time of day. Luckily, the city provides a thorough map and list of the rates in the morning, afternoon and evening around town. Rates vary between 50 cents and $5 per hour depending on the meter location and times.
You can pay at the meters with coins, credit or debit cards and even on your smartphone with the PayByPhone app.
Tips for Finding Cheap Parking in Seattle City Garages
The easiest way to find downtown parking where you need it without circling for a long time is to use Downtown Seattle's handy map, which lets you to search by neighborhood—Pioneer Square, Central Waterfront and the main downtown shopping district.
There are two ways to use the map to find the cheapest parking.
First, look for any garages with the orange "$3" symbol. These garages offer low rates of $3-4 for short-term parking that are similar to the rates you'd find at street meters. You can park in these garages for up to four hours.
If you're planning to spend a few hours in a certain neighborhood, you can also search garages that offer special flat rates on weekends and evenings. These garages, marked with a teal "P", offer parking for $7 during those times.
Regular garages, marked on the map in blue with the "P" symbol, have varying hourly rates. For example, one hour near the Space Needle may cost $8 per hour, while another garage a few blocks away might only cost $3. Some of these garages may offer flat rates during weekends or evenings, but not both.
In addition, the Seattle Department of Transportation's e-Park page displays how many spots are open at popular garages.
The Best Apps for Cheap Seattle Parking
SpotHero offers a handy dynamic map of downtown Seattle and clearly displays prices for all the choices. It 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 50 percent on rates.
Best Parking also allows drivers to find and reserve spots, and also connects to navigation apps.