If you are planning to take a trip to Portland by car, one of the things that you are probably thinking about is the parking situation in this city. I personally get parking anxiety if I’m going somewhere new. Just like in other urban places in the country, many residents of Portland choose to travel around by car instead of taking public transportation. For instance, when going to work, 56.4 percent of Portlanders choose to drive instead of riding the bus. This presents somewhat of a challenge when it comes to parking.
Fortunately, the city of Portland has provided a few efficient solutions to the situation. With the combined efforts of the government and several private groups, Portland has sufficient parking spaces to accommodate all motorists in the city. Here is my guide to parking in Portland, with tips too!
Parking Space Options – where to park in Portland
There are two main choices that you have when it comes to parking. You can either park in one of the Smart Park garages located around the city, or you can park along the street on one of the 15,000 metered parking spaces that are available.
Smart Park Garage – where to park in Downtown Portland
There are five Smart Park garages located in downtown Portland that can accommodate a total of 4,000 cars. These lots are fully equipped with an automated sensor system that indicates whether each parking space is occupied or not. At the entrance of each garage, drivers can easily see how many available slots there are inside at any given time.
Of all the parking options in the city, Smart Park garages are the most affordable when it comes to short-term parking. The total fee is calculated based on an hourly rate. All 5 Smart Park garages in Portland are strategically located so that they are very accessible from the popular boutiques, restaurants and entertainment centers in downtown Portland.
Naito & Davis
This Smart Park garage is located along NW Davis St and, like the rest of the city garages, is open 24/7. For the first three hours, you need to pay $1.80 per hour while the fourth hour costs $2. If you need to park for more than 4 hours, you have to pay an all-day charge of $18. This garage is recommended for those going to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Lan Su Chinese Gardens, Portland Saturday Market and other nearby establishments.
10th & Yamhill
This garage has the same hourly rates as the Naito & Davis but their all day rate is a little bit lower at $16. If you are planning to take a stroll at Providence Park or the Director Park, or maybe you want to check out a book from the Multnomah County Library or do some shopping or dining at the Portland Pearl District, then this is the most ideal parking spot for you.
This garage has convenient access to the Red and Blue MAX lines, as well as the Portland Streetcar.
4th & Yamhill
Located at 818 SW 4th Avenue, the 4th & Yamhill garage can easily connect you to the Red and Blue MAX lines and also several bus routes to different areas of Portland. This is a popular parking garage for city employees who work at the City Hall, the Justice Center, the Federal Building and the Courthouses.
It is also very convenient for visitors heading to Terry Schrunk Plaza, Chapman Square and Lownsdale Square. Outdoor enthusiasts who want to check out the Eastbank Esplanade Waterfront Park Loop Hike can also park their vehicles here and go on their adventure on foot.
3rd & Alder
The short-term rates for this garage located at 621 SW 3rd Avenue are also the same as the others at $1.80 per hour for the first three hours and $2 for the fourth hour.
They also have a $5 per night right if you park from 5 pm to 5 am the next day. The 3rd & Alder garage is a handy place to park your vehicle if you have business at the Pioneer Courthouse Square or if you are going to either Old Town, Chinatown or Japantown.
1st & Jefferson
The hourly rates for this Smart Park garage are once again the same as the rest of the garages but they have a slightly higher all-day rate of $20 that you have to pay if you need to stay for over 4 hours. It also has the highest entrance clearance among all the Smart Park garages at 7′.
For all these parking garages, you can purchase a monthly pass that will give you huge savings if you expect to park your car on a daily basis. Monthly passes are limited and come at different rates depending on which garage you choose. There are also reduced rates available for Portland employees who work the swing shift or work at night. Employees who do not exceed a certain annual income can qualify for this discounted price.
Metered Street Parking
Central Portland has a total of 15,000 on-street parking spaces that are monitored by two parking meter systems. One of these is the conventional coin-operated single-space meter. Dozens of these meters line up certain streets in Portland. Wherever there is a vacant spot with a coin parking meter, you can park your car and pay the corresponding fee.
The other kind of meter system is the Multispace Smart Meter pay station, which is a more efficient method of managing parking spaces. The Smart Meters run on solar energy and can keep track of multiple parking spaces. For instance, a single Smart Meter will suffice for monitoring an entire block of parking spaces, as compared to erecting multiple single-space meters along the curb.
The parking rates and allowable times to park vary across the different locations. The cheapest spots are in the Lloyd District, which includes venues like the Lloyd Center, the Oregon Convention Center, the Rose Garden Arena, the Lloyd Business District and the Memorial Coliseum. Here, you only need to pay $1 per hour. For most of the other locations, street parking costs anywhere from $1.20 to $2 per hour, and most of them can be used from 8 am to 6 pm.
If you are planning to catch a game of the Portland Thorns or the Portland Timbers at Providence Park, however, you will have to pay a premium fee of $4 per hour at the Event Meter District. This takes effect 3 hours before the start of the game until 3 hours after the game starts.
Parking in Portland is not really expensive but of course, if you can have it for free, that would be even better. This happens on Sundays and certain holidays.
To be specific, parking meters do not take payments on the following Portland holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Juneteenth, Labor Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The exemption is the metered parking at city parks, where regular rates remain.
There are also a few places in Portland where you can park for one or even two hours without having to pay, but most of these places are not very close to the popular establishments so you might have to walk quite a distance to get to your destination. You can check out this map to find free parking spaces near you.
Also, it’s worth noting that many popular establishments downtown give validation vouchers if you make a minimum purchase and I’d recommend taking advantage of this. This voucher entitles you to a parking discount in any of the city-owned parking spaces, and maybe you can even get to park for free.
Valuable Parking Tips to Remember
Aside from knowing where to park and how much to pay, here are some important things that motorists might want to keep in mind about parking in Portland Oregon.
Where Not to Park in Portland – my tips
In almost every district, there are multiple spots where you can park. However, there are still some areas where parking is not allowed. Aside from the spots explicitly marked with a No Parking sign, you should also stay away from bike lanes, travel lanes, Truck Loading Zones, crosswalks, and spaces that are blocking a driveway or in close proximity to a fire hydrant.
You must also never block an ADA curb ramp, park inside the yellow curb, or outside of the marked lines.
The traditional way of paying for parking at the pay station is still being used, but the city is already converting this to a digital system. In other words, paper receipts will no longer be printed. A newer method of making parking payments is through the mobile payment app owned by the city, called Parking Kitty.
All you have to do is download the app, which is available for both Android and iOS. Then you just pay via the app once you have parked, which is considerably more convenient. You can watch this video to learn how it works.
Motorcycle or Scooter Parking in Portland
Both the Smart Park garages and the metered street parking have available slots where you can park your motorcycle or scooter. If you are parking at a pay-and-display meter, you must place the receipt conspicuously near the handlebars of your motorbike.
Furthermore, it is strongly recommended that you take a photo of the receipt while it is on your motorcycle, just in case it gets lost or stolen while you are away.
Portland has no shortage of disability parking spots in the meter districts and also in other areas of the city. These spots are reserved specifically for vehicles that have a valid Disability Placard. There are also varying discounts and time extensions allowed, depending on the parking location.
When you visit you will see that Portland has quite an organized system of parking, which makes it really convenient for vehicle owners. By keeping the above information in mind, and also by paying attention to the signs that you will see in the parking areas, I think you should have no problem at all parking your vehicle anywhere in Portland.
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Scott Balaam – writer and photographer
Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Australia, Ireland, UK and the USA but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting thirst for culture, good food and great football. In his spare time Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, the rest of Italy, Amsterdam, USA, Athens, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Find Scott on Linkedin, Instagram, or Twitter.