San Francisco Parking – The Ultimate Guide

San Francisco Parking

San Francisco, as a central economic hub and a top tourist destination, naturally attracts plenty of traffic. With such a high density of cars within the city at any given time, finding a good parking spot can be difficult.

If you are one of those struggling to find parking in San Francisco, don’t fret; this ultimate guide will tell you everything you need to know and more to help you discover the best spots for car parking throughout the city. Table of Content

1. San Francisco Parking Near Top Attractions

2. San Francisco Parking – Rules and Tips

Parking in San Francisco Near Top Attractions

San Francisco has plenty of iconic attractions that are famous worldwide, and attracts millions of tourists looking to experience these sites. Here we have highlighted some of the top attractions in the city along with our recommendation on the best parking location nearby. You can follow the links as well to discover other convenient and affordable San Francisco parking spaces.

Alcatraz Island

The former fortress-prison turned recreational facility is a popular destination for historical tours and sightseeing. One convenient parking spot near the site is:

Fishermen’s Wharf

The Fishermen’s Wharf is one of the city’s business tourist areas and is well-known for its seafood restaurants and historic attractions. If you are looking for a good place to park, consider:

Propark Beach & Hyde Garage
655 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Find parking near Fishermen’s Wharf


San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest Chinese enclaves outside of Asia. The one-ways streets and congested traffic situation make finding a parking spot a real challenge here. We believe the overall best parking spot for this location is: Portsmouth Square

50 Walter U Lum Pl, between Clay St & Washington St in Chinatown,
San Francisco, CA 94108

Find parking near Chinatown

California Academy of Sciences

Among the largest museums of natural history in the world housing over 46 million specimens, the California Academy of Sciences attracts a lot of visitors daily. There is a parking garage at the Academy but it tends to be quite expensive and the timed parking near the site is generally not long enough for a full visit to the museum. One of the favorite parking sites is:

9th Avenue & Irving Lot
1325 9th Avenue, Inner Sunset, San Francisco, CA 94122

Note: While it is a fair bit of walk to get the main facilities from here, most of it would be within the park so it’s not a negative.

Find parking near California Academy of Sciences

San Francisco Parking – Rules and Tips

If you are not a resident of the city, it can be helpful to know a bit more about the parking situation within the city. Here is a round-up of the essentials.

Rule #1 - Curb Color Code

San Francisco has a curb color code that regulates parking. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Red curbs are no parking zones
  • White curbs are five-minute parking zones
  • Green curbs are ten-minute parking zones
  • Yellow curbs are parking zones reserved for commercial vehicles only
  • Blue curbs are parking zones reserved for the handicapped
  • Unpainted curbs are parking zones for longer-term parking

Rule #2 - Time Limits

Some streets have set limits to parking durations. In residential areas, this limit is usually set to 2-hours. However, acquiring a parking permit will exempt you from the posted time-limit. In case there is no signage on the street, the maximum limit you are allowed is 72 hours, after which you will have to move the vehicle to another location or risk incurring a hefty parking ticket.

Rule #3 - Street Cleaning Schedule

San Francisco, like many other major U.S cities, maintains a street cleaning schedule. The cleaning time will be clearly indicated in every parking zone and you are not allowed to park in the area before the cleaning has occurred. Parking afterward is a fair game even if the officially stated hours have not yet expired.

Rule #4 – Tow Away Zones

Be cautious of tow-away zones. These are parking areas where parked vehicles may be towed away during rush hour. Tow-away restrictions are clearly shown on sign posts and parking meters in red, so make sure to pay heed to the information on them.

Tip #1 - For Long-Term Parking

If you are planning to park your car for the long-term, consider garages at or near residential neighborhoods, which tend to be less crowded and cheaper.

Tip #2 - If You Love it, Don’t Leave It

As with all big cities, Sam Francisco too suffers from crimes such as theft and vandalism. Regardless of wherever you park your car, be sure to take your valuables with you to avoid the risk of break-ins or damage to your vehicle.

Tip#3 - Book in Advance

Many San Francisco parking vendors offer a discount if you book your spot in advance. You can use app to conveniently book a parking spot ahead of time and save up on fees.

Parting Note

San Francisco is an amazing city with loads of sights to see and places to visit. However, the difficulty and cost of parking can tarnish some of the fun. But with this guide, we hope you will have less of a difficult time with parking in San Francisco.

Still, looking for a favorable parking spot in the city? Use our parking app to easily find the best parking spots throughout the city.