With peak-hour downtown parking meter fees now as much as $4 an hour, Seattle is the sixth-most-expensive city in the nation in which to park a car, according to a 2011 Colliers International survey (an average of more than $24/day, behind Manhattan, Boston and Chicago).
Savvy downtown parkers know that many local lots have “early bird” specials for all-day parking, and some stores—such as Uwajimaya in the International District—offer two free hours of parking with a $15 purchase. Still, snagging a conveniently located parking spot can feel like a minor miracle, and those mythical “cheap” spots are closely held secrets. If you’re craving free-range free parking, best head to the Eastside, where copious covered parking structures abut megamalls. (But you could pay as much as $10 in tolls for the round trip!)
To find a parking garage or street parking in Seattle, visit the city’s official parking map—an eye-crossing blur until you zoom in on a desired neighborhood: web1.seattle.gov/sdot/seattleparkingmap. Or, even better, allow plenty of time and wear comfortable shoes.