7 ways to find a good deal on parking in Boston

Technology helps find the best parking rates, but you still have to put in the legwork.

 A parking meter in Boston.
A parking meter in Boston. –John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

Parking in Boston can be a challenge. From the recent increase in parking ticket fines, to the sheer number of drivers competing for the same spots, it can seem like the deck is stacked against you.

But doing your homework can result in a better chance of quickly finding a parking spot that won’t break the bank. Here are a few tips to help you find a good deal on parking in Boston.

1. Search around online.

Websites like SpotHero, ParkWhiz, and SP+ let you select the location, date, time, and duration of your visit. These sites return results all over the city, so you can shop for the best spot to fit your plans.

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From time to time, Groupon also offers parking deals and discounts. The Government Center Garage, for example, is a short walk from TD Garden, making it an ideal place to park for Celtics games, Bruins games, or concerts. Typical special-event parking is $35, but through Groupon, you can purchase parking passes ahead of time — $20 for concerts and $29 for sporting events.

2. Read reviews.

Yelp has crowdsourced reviews, including some that indicate whether local businesses honor discounted rates from other sites. TripAdvisor features forums where travelers can ask for parking advice and receive answers from locals.

3. Validate your parking.

Get into the habit of checking whether a lot or garage offers a validation program. The Prudential Center Garage, for example, provides a discounted rate if you spend $10 or more at any Pru store, restaurant, or kiosk.

Many of the city’s parking garages offer validation and reduced rates for special events, too. On Red Sox game days, for example, show your game ticket at the 100 Clarendon garage and pay $10 for parking, instead of the usual rates that can run as high as $36 for 2 to 24 hours). 

4. Take advantage of overnights, Sundays, and holidays.

Reduced overnight rates at many popular garages, such as Post Office Square and Boston Common, require you enter in the evening and depart by early morning. Be advised: Sometimes this means you have to leave by 3 or 4 a.m.

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If you are planning a day trip into the city, remember to take advantage of Sunday and holiday parking. Parking meter hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, so if you park after 8 p.m. Saturday, you can leave your car until 8 a.m. Monday. Parking is free on holidays, too. 

5. Don’t be afraid to valet.

Many restaurants and bars will validate for nearby parking, but if you valet, the rate may be even better. Legal Harborside, for example, charges $21 for valet, or will validate a $2/hour discount for up to two hours. The nearby Seaport District Garage charges $30 for parking from one to three hours. In this case, validating would mean paying $26  — and you have to walk a few blocks to the restaurant.

6. Look for a visitor parking spot.

One of Boston’s great letdowns is when you find an open spot, pull up, and realize it requires a resident sticker you don’t have. Many of the city’s bustling neighborhoods include spaces for visitors to park in for up to two hours, as well as overnight visitor parking between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Be sure to check all the surrounding street signage when you park, especially for street-cleaning times when your car will be ticketed and/or towed.

7. Download an app for seamless metered parking. 

When all else fails, thousands of metered parking spaces are scattered throughout the city. Instead of scouring for quarters, download the ParkBoston app. ParkBoston lets you to pay for a spot via your smartphone, and it keeps your vehicle and credit card information on file so you can quickly pay the next time you need to save a spot.

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Of course, if you find a metered spot after 8 p.m., there’s no need to pay as long as you’re out by 8 a.m.