Parking in Downtown Charleston

Charleston is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. However, the parking downtown is not keeping up to speed with the amount of people moving to and visiting it. We love seeing the city grow and thrive but finding a place to park is turning into a nightmare. Here are a few tips that can help you park in Downtown Charleston like a pro.

Types of Parking in Downtown Charleston

Street parking meter

Different parking options like street and garage parking have both advantages and disadvantages.

Street Parking

Clearly, the original founders of Charleston did not take modern day traffic and giant trucks into account when they designed the roads. The City of Charleston has made some advances in making the roads easier to drive on but it’s quite a challenge to expand streets that are lined with treasured, historic buildings.

In spite of this set back, street parking can still be a convenient way to find parking in downtown Charleston for shorter stops. The limit for the meters is 2 hours since they were designed for a quick turnover rate for businesses. That being said, it’s probably not the best choice for an all day trip. Payment is required from Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. After 6 p.m.

Words for the wise – SET AN ALARM FOR YOUR PARKING METER. Nothing is worse than leaving a meeting and finding a not-so-friendly ticket on your windshield. Believe us, they’ll know if your meter runs out of time so it’s best not to take any chances.

Garage Parking

If you’re planning to spend the entire day Downtown – there’s definitely enough to see to do that – then garage parking is probably your best bet. There are many parking garages across the city but most of them are located near popular attractions. Depending on the garage, you’ll either pay an hourly rate or a flat rate.

Parking lots are very similar to garage parking but there are a few that have more convenient locations. You would have to be quick, though. A lot of these lots fill up fast, especially on the weekends.

Free Parking Downtown and Alternative Transportation

HOP Shuttle

Driving your own car isn’t your only option.

Sunday mornings are the best time to find parking in downtown Charleston. Because of church services, the city allows multiple parking spots to be free. The best part of this – STREET PARKING METERS ARE FREE!

If your destination is close by, consider parking in a residential parking area. These street parking spots are always marked with a sign and are good for either 1, 2 , or 4 hours. If you’re still in the area after the time runs out you can simply move your car to a different spot close by.

Consider using the HOP shuttle, or Hospitality on Peninsula, run by Carta. This shuttle service is especially convenient for people who work Downtown and live nearby but it can also be used by anyone else. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can also use their lot to park for a $5 flat rate or just use the shuttle for free. Learn about the daily routes and where the stops are here!

Plan Ahead – Helpful Websites and Apps

Plan ahead

Making a parking “game plan” can make things so much easier.

When planning a visit to Historic Charleston, it’s best to have a game plan for parking. If you’re visiting an area you’re unfamiliar with you can use websites like Parkopedia or Best Parking. There you can easily see what the parking situation looks like and how much each one charges. They can also tell you how far each parking garage or lot is from your destination and it has the option to reserve a space if the garage allows it.

The city of Charleston also has a list of their garages and lot with their rates. Go to to learn more!

What to do if you get a Ticket

You can’t always guarantee that you’ll get back to the meter in time – even if it’s only a few minutes late. Getting a parking ticket adds a huge annoyance to your day but it’s not the end of the world. If you get a ticket, it’s best to follow this advice:

  • Follow the instructions on the ticket carefully.
  • Make sure to pay the ticket before the deadline – those late fees can add up.
  • Don’t let unpaid parking tickets pile up. The city will boot a car if you have accumulated $200 or more in tickets.