My day actually started out pretty great today; I slept in, took a nice long shower, and started to drive myself to my volunteer job. However, about halfway there I noticed a little white slip of paper on my windshield: my first ticket. It was like I was back in third grade again with Ms. M yelling at me and it completely ruined my day. And what did I get it for? Parking on the wrong side of the street on street-cleaning day (insert sad face here).
Unfortunately, part of exploring a new place involves transportation and parking in Los Angeles can be a real problem (I mean, have you seen how many rules there are?!). On several occasions I’ve been that idiot friend that pulls up to a spot and fails dismally at parallel parking in front of everyone. With LA being so driving intensive and now my first ticket, I have become on the lookout for convenient and easy places to park. Parking structures that never fill up, cheap/free lots, or places full of pull-in spots make for a less stressful outing. So, here are my findings that might help you avoid getting a ticket or make your days a little bit better:
In Santa Monica, especially down by third street, there are tons of pay lots, but on crazy summer weekends they all fill up fast (on these days you can rarely find an empty lot by the beach after 10am). However, there are a few lots that are less known and therefore tend to fill up later. If you are going to the Promenade, I would recommend the lot on 4th street between Wilshire and California. It is a little more discreet looking and not right on 3rd, so it’s used less. On non-crazy days though, the Santa Monica Place parking structure is really nice and even has a kiosk that can locate your car if you lose it. If you are trying to get to the beach, there are lots all along the coast and along Main Street that provide head in parking, but when these fill up there isn’t another nearby option (Take note that all lots in Santa Monica have a strictly enforced head-in-parking only law). A little further down, Abbot Kinney can also be a problem. There are lots behind all of the stores that provide free parking, but only if you can find a spot. Or, some restaurants, like Hal’s, provide valet parking. Valet parking can be a great option if you are not up for a long walk or if you arrive on the later side during Abbot Kinney’s First Fridays.
Beverly Hills is like a godsend for bad drivers. Down by Rodeo, there are lots at the corner of every block where they meet Santa Monica Blvd. These are pay lots, except on Sunday’s when they are free. There are also many other free or cheap lots all around that area. Also, on S. Beverly Dr. (Beverly Dr. just below Wilshire) and Melrose there are streets with head in parking (Hallelujah!!) and the same on a few other streets nearby. If you search “Beverly Hills parking” there is a city run map that can give you real time rates of all the parking lots and how full they currently are. (Like I said, this place is a bad parkers heaven).
In Brentwood, parking along the crazy street of San Vicente may seem like the only option. However, many of the shops actually have extra parking behind them (even if they don’t advertise it). If they don’t have it, parking down in the neighborhoods is rarely restricted and there is usually enough space to pull right in and forgo that wretchedness that is parallel parking. Also, up by the Brentwood Village, there is parking not only by the shops, but across the way in both the pay lot and the dog park lot. So while the provided parking might seem too full or too tight, these lots are much bigger, less used, and still very close.
In West LA, you usually need a permit to park in the neighborhoods. However, by Sawtelle there is a large lot in both malls and parking behind almost all the restaurants. On Pico, by the Westside Pavilion most of the shops just have tiny parking lots behind them, so park if you can, or use the mall’s parking structure. Westwood has a pretty bad parking situation (many of the smaller lots are very expensive), but there are two good lots to use. There is the main parking structure (first two hours free, then you pay) on Broxton Ave nearby the movie theaters and Chipotle. The other good lot is the Ralph’s parking lot, which is a little further away, but free as long as you purchase something from the store (who can’t use a pack of gum or a banana?).
These are my best recommendations for parking, but obviously sometimes LA gets so bad that its all luck whether or not you get a spot. However every adventure needs a starting point, so avoiding parking isn’t really an option. If you have even better hints on where to park please comment!