Where to park a car in Chicago
December 6, 2022 11:39 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Chicago from early to mid January 2023, staying at a place with no parking spot, but I'll have a car. Can you recommend a hopefully cheap place to keep the car for that week?

I'll be in the area of Irving Park and Lake Shore Drive, so anything near there would good, as long as its safe. Would leaving the car at long term parking at O'Hare be a good option? Have been to Chicago before and don't see a need for car.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Society & Culture (17 answers total)
I would recommend parking on a side street near where you're staying. I live in that general vicinity and we park two cars on the street year 'round, it's been fine.
posted by bonheur at 11:41 AM on December 6, 2022

Response by poster: I would recommend parking on a side street near where you're staying

Have never parked in Chicago, is this really a viable option in that general area? How much is parking? Apologies for questioning you, this solution almost feels too good to be true.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on December 6, 2022

Parking is free on street in most areas of Chicago unless it is one of the major streets (then it is metered), but there are lots of places where it is limited if you do not have a zoned sticker. See map here. If you see, there are unzoned spots in neighborhoods near there. I would make sure your car is clean and you can't see anything in your trunk and just cruise around till you find a spot. Check signs. Street cleaning doesn't happen in the winter.
posted by sandmanwv at 12:06 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Street cleaning doesn't happen in the winter.

No, but snow parking restrictions do! Overnight parking might be restricted on a given block so that plows can get through in the event of snow. Other parking spots are restricted only when there is actually snow on the ground.

Definitely check the signs! But free parking is definitely a thing that can happen.

Leaving your car on the street is largely safe but obviously, lock the doors and close all windows, and ideally don't leave anything visible in your seats, cupholders, whatever.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:10 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Sure, most streets in Chicago are free parking. The area you're visiting is not downtown Chicago, it's a residential neighborhood. Most residents park on the street. Keep an eye out for signs to make sure you're not parking in a "zoned" area, those require a special pass. It can be tight finding a spot late at night and/or during Cubs home games-- I'm confident if you drive around for 5-10 minutes you can find a street parking spot near where you will be staying. You're comfortable parallel parking I hope?
posted by bonheur at 12:10 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

One challenge with street parking is the possibility of getting snowed/plowed in. I'd keep an eye on the forecast before making that call. I'm assuming you will not want to or be equipped for digging your car out from a foot of snow.
posted by misskaz at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: BREAKING UPDATE:
I've been reminded that the car belongs to a professional house sitter, i.e. someone who usually has a certain amount of stuff in their car, so options other than street parking would be great. Otherwise it's probably long term parking at O'Hare.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:15 PM on December 6, 2022

Best answer: If you want the assurance of a garage or known parking spot, you could download the Spot Hero app and search the area. There are individuals who rent out their personal condo/apartment spots, plus garages I see listed in that area.

It's been a long time since I've tried to park over there and don't recall it being super easy; personally I'd rather have it sorted ahead of time than circling a neighborhood I may not know well and has just enough diagonal streets to make getting disoriented a possibility.
posted by misskaz at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I also strongly recommend the Spot Hero app. It's the thing I use when I have to go somewhere with unreliable or impossible street parking. It's got fantastic coverage across the entire city and is easy to use. (Also their support is very good if you show up and find another car in your spot--only happened to me once!)
posted by phunniemee at 1:14 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

There is a big condo building near that intersection with a big covered parking lot - Park Place Tower. You might use that for a day or two (it's probably on the more expensive side of things) while you look for a longer term solution. You might be able to negotiate a flat amount for a few weeks with them.
posted by Mid at 1:15 PM on December 6, 2022

Craigslist! It looks like there are a bunch of parking rentals (probably all advertised as monthly) within 4-ish blocks (or less) of Irving Park & Lakeshore. Parking rental in Chicago is one place Craigslist shines. You can contact someone who's listing monthly and ask for a weekly rate; sometimes you can find a spot inside a locked garage, either a private garage or a parking deck of a high-rise (often, in fact).

Private landlords are choosy, so ... sound professional, and low-maintenance and easy, I guess? Anybody else in that space will be as vulnerable to you as you would be to them.

If you want a place that I personally have seen and used, Americana Towers (only one tower) is close to the Sedgwick Station and easy to get to from where you are -- although traffic can be a lot in that area if you plan to travel at rush hour. It's maybe a little more of an active/entertainment area than you might be looking to leave a car full of stuff, but Americana does have some spaces behind a solid garage door -- those might just be for residents, though; I'm not sure. They don't advertise a weekly rate, but you can always check.

Here's a bonus, though -- it's right next to Second City and some good restaurants. There's a sushi place on Wells St. that's really great.
posted by amtho at 1:54 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Don’t rent a Spot Hero space that’s under the L tracks. Those trains throw a ton of crud and grime.
posted by hwyengr at 3:16 PM on December 6, 2022

I don't live nearby, but I do think renting a spot is a great idea. My neighborhood Facebook group includes people posting spots for rent.

Would recommend against street parking for snow reasons. I live here and am prepared to dig out my car and it's still miserable. If I were not prepared, I would probably end up abandoning my car (I already threaten to do so every year).
posted by quadrilaterals at 7:16 PM on December 6, 2022

Best answer: Street parking not advised. Many break-ins, car jackings, and catalytic converter thefts throughout the city, not just downtown. I think the recommendations given for Spot Hero are on-target. The suggestion to look on Craigs List is also sound. Since you won’t be using the car, having it in an enclosed garage is advisable given that your battery may be stressed if the temps plummet and you are parked in an outdoor unprotected lot. Personally, I wouldn’t leave my car long term at Ohare, and very inconvenient if it turns out you want to use your car for something. No matter where you park, leaving a lot of belongings in the car is probably not a great idea. We pay $300/mo for exclusive use of a two-car private garage in a near northwest neighborhood, which I think is on the lower end of the range, but I haven’t done any comparison shopping so I’m not sure if that is a helpful reference or not.
posted by Lylo at 8:02 AM on December 7, 2022

Response by poster: Finding a private spot or garage seems like the best option, just a matter of sorting out who and what looks legit.

Neighbors.com looks like another place to look. But when I signed up there, someone texted and called, supposedly from the company, saying there were a success specialist, looking to help, so tread carefully there?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:11 PM on December 7, 2022

Was thinking of you! Where did you end up finding a place to park? Hope it's been a good visit.
posted by bonheur at 8:05 PM on January 14

Response by poster: I found a spot via Spot Hero that was two blocks from where I was staying for the second week in Chicago, was like $60 for the week, which was perfect. Could come and go as I pleased, had zero problem finding it. If someone wants to know the spot, feel free to message me.

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:10 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]

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