Downtown Raleigh is great for shopping, eating and sightseeing but parking, especially on a budget, can be challenging. There are six parking decks located all over downtown with plenty of capacity but unless you’re using them on a weekday after 7 p.m., or on a weekend before 5 p.m., be prepared to pay.
Metered parking is available on many downtown streets, and spaces are free after 5 p.m. and on weekends. These parking spaces can be hard to come by, though, especially if there are special events going on.
It is possible to park downtown, or pretty close to it, for free but be prepared to walk or hop on the free downtown circulator bus known as the R-Line. For a full list of downtown parking options and the R-Line schedule and routes, check godowntownraleigh.com. Once you’re downtown, you can use the downtown app downloaded to you smartphone to find the parking options closest to your destination.
Boylan Heights: Located to the west of downtown, you can park on many of the Boylan Heights neighborhood’s streets for free. Make sure you’re parked 5 feet clear of all driveways, 15 feet clear of all fire hydrants and no more than 12 inches from the curb. Consult any street signs you see to make sure you’re parking legally. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from Boylan Heights to Fayetteville Street.
State property: Between Peace Street to the north and Morgan Street to the south, there are several parking decks and lots that are free and open to the public after-hours (between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.) and on weekends. Check out the NC Department of Administration’s online interactive map to see where they are.
As with Boylan Heights, the Oakwood neighborhood, located north of downtown has free street parking. The same parking rules apply and it’s a 10-15 minute walk to downtown.
The easy trick to parking at North Hills is to make a quick turn into the main entrance off of Lassiter Mill Road and drive directly to the bottom level of the parking deck. Use the elevator to the Renaissance Raleigh Hotel. It will get you to the hotel lobby quickly and you can walk right our the front door to the shops, restaurants and movie theater.
There are five parking decks along Glenwood South, including at 222 Glenwood and the Hampton Inn, as well as parking lots and metered street parking; all require payment. But, as with downtown, there are a few other options if you’re feeling frugal and are prepared to walk.
Most of the side streets off of Glenwood South, including W. Jones, W. Lane, W. North, Tucker and W. Johnson Streets offer free street parking in close proximity to Glenwood South. Additionally, Boylan Ave. and N. West Streets, which run parallel to Glenwood on either side, have free street parking options as well.
There is a large parking lot across the street from 42nd Street Oyster Bar on W. Jones Street. Though lot isn’t heavily monitored, a towing company does patrol occasionally, so don’t stay parked there for too long!
There are around two dozen parking decks and lots all along Hillsborough Street, eight of which offer free parking on nights and weekends; check hillsboroughstreet.org for more information on those. The real trick to parking on Hillsborough Street, though, is understanding how NC State University parking works. All NC State parking lots, on both sides of Hillsborough Street, are free after 5 p.m. and all day on Saturdays and Sundays until 6 a.m. Monday morning.
Locals, including students, park on side streets like Pogue, Chamberlin and Horne, where there’s free two-hour parking. But parking is monitored and you will be ticketed after 2 hours.
The Ferndell lot in that same roundabout is a new lot with metered and permitted parking; the permitted spots are free after 5pm.
If you want to visit Target, there are only around thirty 30-minute parking spots under the building, but Target now has 4 electric vehicles offering pick-up service. If you live within 1.5 miles, you can request a pick-up; they drop you off, you shop and then they take you home—super cool!
Only park in the lot directly behind Chipotle, Slice of NY Pizza, Jimmy John’s and Freshii if you’re going to one of those restaurants or are an employee because it is heavily monitored. If you park there and decide you want Golden Dragon just one block over instead, your car may get a boot.
For those regularly challenged by parking on Hillsborough Street, the nonprofit Live It Up! Hillsborough Street, the city, and NC State are, for the first time ever, partnering for a comprehensive parking study of the district. An input session on Monday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of West Raleigh Presbyterian Church is open to the public. It will be a great chance to for the community to share the parking challenges they face with consultants, as well as ideas for improving the situation. The study will conclude this spring and it will provide short, medium, and long-term solutions for improving parking in the district.