The Downtown New Haven Parking Guide

I live in Downtown New Haven. And whenever people want to come visit, the response is invariably the same: “Ugh, so I need to find a parking spot downtown? Forget it.”

I get it. Parking downtown can be intimidating. Finding a spot in certain areas can be difficult, to say the least. If you want to park on Crown or Temple Street, you can just get that idea out of your head right now. But having lived in New Haven for quite awhile (and downtown for 2 years), I’ve learned a few tricks. And I’m going to ruin it by sharing them with you, Dear Reader. Because my car is in a garage so screw it.

Don’t Park in a Garage Unless There’s a Deal

Parking in garages just isn’t worth it unless you have a total fear of parallel parking and want to live in a world where you never get better at it. Does that sound like the kind of world you want to live in? Then sure, go ahead. However, one thing many people don’t realize is that the Temple and Crown Street Garages actually have free parking for customers of select restaurants found on a list here. Basically, you need to buy dinner at a participating restaurant and they’ll validate your parking until 3 am. You usually need to spend at least 30 bucks, but that’s not too bad, right? Cause otherwise parking will set you back a solid 20 bucks on its own.

Scrooge McDuck
Unless you’re this dude, then fuck it, just pay for parking.

Avoid Crown/Temple Street Like the Plague

Oh, sure, you could find a spot on Crown Street right in front of Cask Republic. You could win Powerball. You could date Jennifer Lawrence/Ryan Gosling. But you won’t. And then you’ll have to do the dreaded George St/Church St loop. You don’t want that. You need a plan. Which is where my New Haven Parking Guide comes in. For the low low fee of nothing, you, too, can learn everything I have from finding a spot. But you’ll need to be brave. Cause some of these spots are near bus stops and I know you’re afraid, but bus riders are people, too.

Area 1: Upper Green

Listen, I know the Green is terrifying after dark. (Not really, it’s totally fine, though I wouldn’t sleep there.) But the top half of the green often has some sweet spots. Upper College St (near Elm), Elm Street across the entire Green (except where the buses park), and upper Church St (near Elm) are all ripe for spots. If I’m a betting man, I’d take a shot at Church Street first, cause worst case, you can take a right on Elm and take a shot at Orange (though doubtful to find a spot very close to Trinity).

Upper Green Parking

However, I’ve gotten a lot of pretty good spots on Church St and it’s only about 2 blocks to everything. Or, you can try near by…

Area 2: Chapel Street East of Church Street

I know, I know. It’s the part of downtown you try to avoid. There’s dollar stores and urban clothing shops and bus stops as far as the eye can see. You know what else there is? Parking spots. I’ve never had my car towed or vandalized or broken into or stolen. Admittedly, I drive a 2003 Mazda in a color which only a mother could love, but still! Never stolen! Not bad at all.

Chapel St East of Church St

You’re only a block from many downtown bars, as well as the restaurants and bars on Orange Street. I mean, is it ever a bad thing to be right near Tikkaway? Of course not.

Area 3: Crown and Chapel West of York Street

Once you get past York Street, things clear up a bit. Both Crown Street and Chapel Street (which run parallel) generally have spots. Sure, you’re a few blocks away, but this isn’t too bad, and Chapel Street is a pretty well-lit, safe area with a fair amount of stores and pedestrian traffic at almost all hours.

Downtown West

Plus, if you ever do decide to make the long, hard trek to Rudy’s (which I’m pretty sure is what The Revenant is all about), you’re already halfway there! Great job!

Consider the Outliers

Of course, these are just a few suggestions. You can really find a spot anywhere — but you’re best off checking the fringes of downtown. Whether it’s on State Street near Cafe Nine, or on George Street near Thali and Miso, or High Street (you never know!), it does require some persistence, certainly.

The further you’re willing to walk, the easier it’ll be. Unless you’re wearing heels. Then I guess you’re pretty much screwed. Sorry.

Finally found a spot!

A Few Free Lots Here and There

There are also a few less obvious options. There’s a Yale lot on Temple Street which is free after 5pm to the public, between Elm and Grove, but construction currently makes it unusable. However, once construction is done, that’s always an option.

There’s also another Yale lot on Temple a bit further up, behind Buffalo Wild Wings/Clark’s Pizza, which is also free after 5pm and on the weekends. I’ve had a few friends leave there cars there for the weekend and so far, so good!

Of course, there are other lots, like the Pro Park and Olympia lots, which are monthly/hourly, but rumors swirl around about just how well they’re enforced after hours. I, for one, would never advise parking in a paid lot and taking your chances. No sir.

But I know a few who have.

Disclaimer: If you get towed, you don’t know me, we’re not friends, I said nothing. Just call me Johnny Tight Lips.

Johnny Tight Lips
My hero.

One Last Thing…

Parking is free after 9pm and on Sundays and holidays. So don’t waste your money, eh?

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