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The USA includes a wide variety of cities worth traveling to. Unfortunately, difficulty parking is a common issue in many of them. This is often due to popular attractions or overpopulation. The 10 cities below typically have a lot to offer the traveler, but availability and cost make them the worst cities for parking in the country.
New York City, NY
I remember visiting New York City and, after many dollars’ worth of tolls and gas, realizing I also had to put down $35 for parking. Accustomed to cities with free or lower-cost parking, I was surprised for a second — before realizing both cost and availability are issues in most larger cities. The congested traffic in the heaviest sections of the city almost made me wish I had just taken the subway.
San Francisco, CA
Never-ending hills and small streets can make Frisco’s parking situation a nightmare. I found the city beautiful and interesting, but the parking — well, let’s just say trying to parallel park on a steep hill after hours of driving isn’t the best experience in the world.
As the fourth densest city and a hub of many businesses, it’s no surprise that Boston is much like its East Coast cousin NYC in that parking is best found through reservations and prior research. Finding a good parking spot in downtown during peak hours is close to impossible without some prudent research online beforehand. When snow comes, it becomes an absolute nightmare.
In New Orleans many of the streets are below sea level, which was a big issue during Hurricane Katrina, when 200,000 vehicles were destroyed. This frequent moisture isn’t the best environment for roads. It causes cracks and sinkholes that reduce the number of viable parking spots. This also makes driving in general a much bumpier road compared to cities similar in size. Be prepared for plenty of jolts.
DC is prone to car accidents, as evidenced by being the third most expensive city to insure a car. Confusing roads and reserved parking spots for diplomats and the like make DC less than ideal in terms of parking. When it comes to parking near the primary attractions in the city, be prepared for a bit of a walk. In fact, I’ve had better luck parking outside the city and taking the Metro in to avoid parking in the city altogether.
Hawaii can be paradise, but it’s also a parking nightmare. Costing around $42 per day to park, the island rivals cities like NYC and LA. In addition, Hawaii is second to California as the state with the most expensive gasoline, making car ownership a headache.
Recent advances in the city’s public transit system is a wise admittance by Chicago’s locals that their parking situation is indeed lackluster. Pricey and sparse parking is certainly an issue, but developments in the city’s elevated railway and other transit systems provide hope for solid transportation.
Parking is cheaper and more available than the cities above, but Seattle actually poses one of the highest risks for car break-ins, which is something entirely else to consider when you’re parking your car in any unfamiliar city. Believe me when I say that returning to your car after a long day of sightseeing to find it’s been ransacked is not something I’d wish on my worst enemy.
Los Angeles, CA
It’s crowded and full of things to see, and traffic is generally always a nightmare. Is it any surprise that parking is a pain? A ZDNet poll found that LA ranked just behind NYC in cities throughout the world with the worst parking. At least we can feel satisfied knowing that there are many cities around the world with worse parking situations, at least according to that poll. Maybe that thought would make trying to squeeze into a spot outside The Grove not seem so bad…Maybe.
Parking here feels like chaos. It’s located directly next to NYC and features a large number of people commuting to the city from neighboring locations. Newark and Hoboken are both popular living locations for NYC commuters, so both of their parking situations are predictably chaotic.
City Parking is the Worst
These ten cities all warrant looking into their parking situations before visiting. Doing so will keep you from wanting to tear your hair out while you search for a parking spot.
Original published date 11/20/2015 — Updated 5/10/2023