Parking and Transit Tips in the San Diego Area

By AaronJB,

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  • 5 months later...


They have links to most cities and on the various websites (individual companies) they offer coupons. I have used Mission Brewery Parking and San Diego Airport Parking (sdap.net) and like both very much.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 5 weeks later...

Not only is the trolley nice to use to get certain places, they have free parking at some of the outer trolley stops. I am not sure of the time limits - might be 24 hours in some places - but if drove to SD in a car, then just needed to store it overnight, especially if you want to use the trolley or buses anyhow to get to TJ or other places, you can leave it at a commuter stop and pay the $2.50 to get downtown or get a day pass to do other things. The Quallcom stadium has 5000 spots that are available to people using the trolley, but you have to make sure you are not parking there on an event day. There are spots at lots of other trolley stops, though. Not all stops are free parking, though. But the closest ones with free parking are just a few minutes on the trolley to downtown.


Parking is free downtown on Sunday and there is no street sweeping. So if you park at 6pm on Saturday you can park until 8 am on Monday morning. On some holidays, Monday is free, too. Even during the week, it is free to park overnight on the street, but be careful of which side of the street to be on with the street sweepers. And when it says no parking "Tuesday" that means you can't park overnight on "Monday night".

If you do want to park overnight on the street, it is best to arrive downtown at about 5-5:30 or maybe even a little earlier and spring for the buck or two in the meter. After 6 it is very hard to find a place. If you have to park a little further away from your hotel than you might like,and if you are going to be up late, spots will open up after midnight at some point when people who work in the restaurants and stuff and had been parking on the street all evening finally go home.

I have seen people park in some yellow zones after 6pm apparently without problem. Definitely 15 minute green zones only apply to 6pm mon-sat. Really they don't enforce anything a whole lot down there. I see people breaking the rules all the time and very few parking tickets handed out.

Some places don't charge a whole lot to park during the day, but at night or overnight it gets a lot more expensive. I haven't tried it yet, but it would seem you could pay the low day fee then move to a street spot with no sweeping the following morning as it gets close to 6pm.

Also, if you have to park in a spot with sweeping the next morning, like I said, spots will open up after midnight on the side you want when people leave. The sweeping times are 3-6am. But the sweepers come through at the early end of that period and people start parking in those areas just after 5am sometimes. By 6am, often many spots are filled up already.

You can park for free in Horton Plaza for three hours. You just have to go in and validate your ticket at one of the machines in the mall. I think you can get a couple of hours free at the seaport village or whatever it is called. You have to get validation, but if you are going to pay to eat, perhaps pick something up there. You can park for a bit in the underground Ralph's parking lot when you are shopping. So if you need to run to get something anyhow, sometimes that can be helpful to not have to feed the meters as much.

It is also free to park during the day up at Balboa park and buses run downtown from there. There are some free spots to park during the day up the hill from downtown, too. And some bridges up there have no meters. They fill up early though with people who commute into downtown to work.

If you are heading to SD by car from the north, and you won't need your car while you are down there, you can also park at some of the Coaster stations for free, up to 72 hours in some places. It might cost $4-$7 to get downtown, and the same to get back, but you will save some gas, too. The coaster starts in Oceanside, 35 miles north of SD, where they have lots of spaces. Some of the other stations on the way down have free parking, too. If you buy a Coaster ticket, you get a free ride once you get downtown on a trolley or bus, too. So you can walk across the street from Union station to the trolley station and hop on without paying any more and get closer to your hotel. Also, if you take the trolley to the coaster station when you leave, I think you qualify for a discounted coaster ticket by arriving at the coaster station by public transport.

That is all I can think of at the moment - hope to see some other ideas on this thread!

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