Updated: Aug 3, 2022
Whether you are visiting Austin or are there to stay, there is one thing that you have probably noticed: parking in downtown Austin is confusing and finding a parking spot near Austin Capitol can be a hassle. Not only does the area get a big number of tourists, but also attracts numerous residents.
With so many cars around, where are you supposed to park yours? Can you park on the street, or are there specific areas where you can leave your automobile? How do you pay for Austin parking, and how do you make sure you don't get a ticket? Read on and find out more about efficient parking.
Where to Park in Downtown Austin
There are plenty of places where you can park in downtown Austin - some for free and some with an extra payment. Each comes with its benefits, but you need to determine for yourself which option works best for your purposes.
You can easily find a parking facility in Austin, where the parking lot is set in a covered building or garage. There are plenty of facilities in areas near South Lamar Boulevard, Barton Springs Road, Toomey Road, 6th St, Lee Barton Drive, and Lady Bird Lake.
Smarking's parking garage at the Indeed Tower parking lot is the best option if you are in downtown Austin. This place is closest to the most famous tourist spots such as the Omnis Austin Hotel, Congress Avenue Bridge, and Republic Square.
You can use SmartPass in order to securely make a day purchase or get a monthly flex pass, depending on your preferences. Smarking offers the best parking rates throughout the entire city of Austin.
If you are not a fan of garages or want to be closer to your parking spots, the city of Austin also offers plenty of street parking options. You can book a parking lot on an hourly basis, for special events, or you may book for the whole day, all the way until midnight and beyond.
Below are the operating hours for parking meters in Austin:
Monday - Wednesday: From 8 AM to 6 PM
Thursday - Friday: From 8 AM to midnight
Saturday: From 11 AM to midnight
Austin parking is free of charge on Sundays, whether you park on 6th St or on any other street with a parking meter.
How to Pay for Austin Parking
Paying for Austin Parking is relatively easy, as long as you use the methods provided by the companies. Depending on where you park, you will either have to pay the owner of the parking garage, or you will pay at the Austin city station.
Paying by mobile app is usually the easiest solution, as you can make the payment while commuting. Apps such as SmartPass will provide a QR code so that you can enter or exit the parking lot within the appointed time.
You can also pay at the pay station using your license plate. Most of the time, cash is not accepted at pay stations, especially those on 6th St, so your parking spot must be paid through a debit or a credit card.
Midnight Parking in Downtown Austin
The city of Austin has numerous pubs, especially in the downtown area. As a result, the Austin government created some guidelines so that drivers can get home safely, without worrying about their cars in the parking lots or a potential ticket.
Parking meters have a button where you can make a payment for overnight parking. Often, this can be done through the app, so that you don't have to go to the parking lot yourself.
Even if you forget to pay the fare and end up with a parking ticket, you can waive your parking ticket by showing your Proof of Responsible Ride. This is usually a receipt for public transportation with the time stamped on it, such as a taxi ride or a bus receipt.
Understanding Austin Parking Rules
Downtown Austin has numerous parking meters and garages with parking rates going from $1 to $2 per hour. That being said, if you plan on leaving your car anywhere in the area, you should know the enforcement regulations.
Austin City doesn't enforce or regulate parking within the University of Texas or the State Capitol Complex
Parking meters aren't enforced on holidays such as the 4th of July, New Year's, Labor Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.
Vehicles that are legally parked and left overnight will not be towed
Parking is prohibited on 6th Street, between Brazos and Red River streets, from Thursday to Friday between 9 PM and 3 AM. The police department may tow any car that is parked in the area.
By following the parking rules provided by the Austin government, you should be able to avoid getting a parking ticket.
How to Avoid a Parking Ticket and Tow Vehicles
Not every street parking area features metered parking. Depending on where you are, you can also park your car on the street temporarily - especially if you have a residential parking permit.
That being said, if you don't want to get a parking ticket, here are a couple of rules that you should respect:
Do not park on red curbs, as they are only for firefighters
Congress has a lot of back-in parking spaces. If you find yourself there, make sure to back into the parking lots - otherwise, you may get a ticket.
Leave at least 15 feet between your car and a fire hydrant, lest you want a ticket
Don't forget to pay the overnight fare if you park in a space with a parking meter
Some areas downtown may need a residential permit for you to park on the street. You won't be ticketed for illegal parking if you respect the rules above.
Are There Any Free Parking Spaces in Downtown Austin?
Yes, there are several free parking spaces in Austin, although it depends on when and where you park. Some of the meters downtown stop charging in the evening, and street parking is free of charge on Sundays.
Can I Park In Front of My Yard?
This depends. Downtown Austin follows the Front Yard Parking ordinance, which prevents you from parking in the front of your yard without a driveway or designed parking space. You'll have to check the law of the neighborhood for that information.
Are There Any Street Parking Spaces for Large Vehicles?
Most probably not. Parking vehicles larger than 9,000 pounds is illegal on the streets of Austin. Some parking spaces are designed for vehicles that size, but you'll have to check with the Austin parking map.
What Is the Average Cost for Parking in Austin?
This depends. A parking spot on 6th St or the areas close to downtown can charge between $2 and $5 per hour. The next hours will be at a discounted price, depending on how long you will have to stay.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of spaces in downtown Austin where you can leave your car, each with its prices and benefits. For the most part, you have to check with the map provided by the authorities. Find the lot closest to your points of interest, pay the fees, and make sure that you respect the parking rules.