Parking in Boston is notoriously awful. If it’s not street cleaning, spaces are “Resident Only” or there’s a Red Sox game (well, no more this season). Often it’s a choice between that dreaded orange ticket or an expensive garage that requires dipping into your vacation fund.
Fret not. You could still make it to Thailand yet. We’ve rounded up the best local parking apps to help you find the cheapest, closest parking spot without hours of circling the neighborhood. Bonus: They are all free and have iOS and Android versions.
SpotHero works with garages around Boston to sell unused inventory. You check the app before heading out, find the lowest rate near your destination, and book the spot in advance. Then you know a parking space (at a steeply discounted rate) is waiting for you when you arrive. Because these spots would otherwise go unused, the cost is significantly lower than the standard garage rates. Either way, you only pay the price you initially signed up for. Even better? You can pay by scanning the app on your phone as you exit the garage. No scrounging for coins in the glove compartment.
BestParking allows you to consult a visual map of parking spots around your destination. You can input an address, attraction, or event, and the time you plan to arrive and depart, to get a comprehensive overview of parking availability. The app not only shows garages but also lots and street parking with associated costs. You can sort results by price or location. For some lots and garages you can book a spot in advance and pay through the app. When you click on a lot, the app automatically pulls up GPS navigation.
Instead of endlessly circling the block looking for that needle-in-a-haystack space or waiting for slow-moving drivers to get settled and vacate their spots, watch street parking availability in live time on the ParkWise app. The platform shows you which spots are open and the ones that are about to become available. It also notifies you about those irritating regulations, like loading zone hours and street cleaning, so you don’t risk a ticket on a technicality. If something like the aforementioned is about to go into effect where you are parked, the app will send you a message to move your car.
Always dreamed of having a townhouse with parking in the Back Bay? Well, we can help you with the latter. Meet SPOT, an app that allows you to rent that convenient space from the owner. Think Airbnb for your car. Many residents make their spots available when not using them and you can score something downtown for $4.50/hour or $30/day. Just reserve in advance for however many hours you need and pay with your credit card through the app. This works the other way too. If you own a parking spot, you can rent it out for a few hours a week to make some extra cash or have it work for you while you’re on vacation.
Run by the City of Boston, ParkBoston allows people to pay for metered spaces with an app. That means no more running out to feed the meter when that “we’ll see” coffee date actually goes well. Each street parking spot participating in the program will have a sign nearby with a zone number. You simply enter it and your license plate into the app and choose how long you want to stay. Payment happens automatically through the credit card you register with the app. You’ll even receive alerts 10 minutes before your parking is about to expire and are often able to select “extend” to add more time. Pro tip: If the extend option isn’t given, you can usually start a new session right after your first one runs out. But you have to be fast, as you can get a ticket in the short lapse.