There’s a reason Parking Wars was filmed here — it’s not the easiest place to find a spot for your ride, much less figure out how the meters work.
But we’ve pulled together a few of the city’s best parking tips, tricks and secrets to make that chore a little less stressful.
1. It’s (sometimes) free to park in Center City
Pro tip: Street parking in Center City is free every Wednesday after 5 p.m. The boundaries are from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and from Bainbridge St. to Spring Garden St. (This is why meters won’t accept your money after 5… Sorry, Guy Waiting At Your Civic Because You’re Paranoid.)
But beware: Like all things free, there are weird limits — like this deal doesn’t start until 6:30 on rush hour streets. More here, from Visit Philly.
2. Loading zones are your friends
Those scary “Loading Zone” signs aren’t all bad. It’s actually a free 30-minute spot, Philadelphia City Homes points out, which you can use without flashers, or paying at a kiosk. Best use of the Loading Dock rule: Near the Reading Terminal Market. But be careful, a 20-minute passenger loading zone is completely different, and requires you to be in your car while in the spot.
3. Parking: There’s (almost) an app for that
If you’re the type to drive to the historical sights or peruse a museum, bookmark ParkWhiz. Their handy map points out spaces and compares prices. Type in any address or landmark, along with the time of how long you’re going to be there, and you’ll receive the closest, cheapest places to park the car.
4. The PPA gives everyone a Christmas present every year
Every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, all metered parking is free after 11 a.m. You’re welcome.
5. There are a bunch of secret, free parking lots
While we’re on the topic of paying $0 for things, Visit Philly has a list of 24 free neighborhood PPA parking lots across the city. Print it out, memorize it, tattoo it on your arm. We’ve all failed as money-savers by not taking better advantage of these.
6. It pays to live in Philly
Well, usually it costs. But if you’re a resident within city limits, you should nab a zone parking permit. It will save you if you live near any sort of time-limited parking area. If your car is registered to your address, you can get the special permit for 35 bucks a year.
But be sure to read the rules closely: The permits are only usable in permit-designated areas, and you can only use them in the District in which they were purchased to be used. You can sign up for a residential parking permit here.
7. There’s a magic word for the meter checkers
Did you just finish up your shopping list and came back to your car to find a parking official in the process of writing you a ticket for an expired meter? No worries — just say the magic word: “rescission.” According to Around Philly, “as long as your ticket hasn’t been printed and the parking enforcement likes your face, you should be able to get a free pass.”
8. For $25 on moving day, it’s legal to reserve spaces
If you or a friend is moving into a new place in the city, you can actually prohibit parking so you can move your crap into your new place. For 25 bucks, you can essentially rent out 40 feet of space in front of your new place, as long as you give the Parking Authority three days’ notice. Oh, and that fee will need to be paid the day before you move. More info here.
9. Happy Holidays, Philly
Parking is free across the city for seven days each year — don’t miss it. More here from the PPA.
10. It isn’t all about that base… location
The PPA kiosks are time-based, not location-based. This means that if you feed a kiosk based on your license plate, you can change locations if you still have time left.
11. Pay your dues, because the PPA never forgets
If you get a parking ticket, for the love of god, just pay it or contest it. Don’t do nothing. There’s no statute of limitations on these suckers. That’s right, if your dad got a Philly parking ticket in 1979 and hasn’t yet paid it, the PPA *still* has a record of it.
12. It might be a weird experience, but you can contest your ticket online
You can pay a parking ticket online, but you can also contest one online. You literally don’t even have to get off your couch in order to call bullshit on a parking ticket. But seriously, don’t do nothing.