Solving Parking Problems in Downtown Charleston: A Few Things You May Not Know

By Minta Pavliscsak

Getting around downtown Charleston, let’s face it, can have the tendency to take some of the charm out of your visit, whether you are just running a quick errand, having a night out on the town, or visiting for the first time. One of our goals here at Charleston Daily is to make your Charleston experiences as pleasant as possible, so we have put together a few getting around downtown tips and tricks that will hopefully make your next trip to the Peninsula stress free.

Let’s start off with what everyone gets aggravated with the most, regardless of whether or not you are a tourist or you have lived here for 20 years – parking.

?Time limit: Most have a two hour time limit, some are only one hour. If they are painted red, they are only 15 minutes. Most meters run from 9am – 6pm, but vary based on where they are located in the city (some start at 8am). Check the back if you are unsure.

Tip: Put a nickel or dime in first to make sure they are working! This way you don’t waste a quarter if it’s broken. Legally you are only supposed to stay for maximum allotted time for that meter, but hey it’s free. To report a broken meter call 843-724-7375?or take a quick moment and go online to the Citizen Support Center.
?No change? No problem! The City of Charleston sells a SmartCard that works in all of the meters downtown. It is a prepaid card that can be bought and reloaded at the Visitor Center or at the City of Charleston Department of Revenue Collections – Parking Division on Lockwood Drive. One of the other perks of using this card is that you can refund the amount not used at the meter back onto the card at the end of your stay. The card costs a one time fee of $5. Cards are rechargeable and can hold up to $300 in value.
?Motorcycles and mopeds: You must adhere to the same parking rules as cars do, including in the garages! (The garage attendants will call parking enforcement on you.) You can double park at the meters. Up to 6 motorcycles or mopeds are allowed to occupy one meter space, as long as each vehicle stays within that space. Should your time expire before you return, each vehicle parked there will be subject to a ticket. However, where you get lucky is in the residential areas. There’s not really any place to put that residential sticker now is there? Hmm…

Pay and Display Parking Stations
?For these, you go to the kiosk, input how long you will be there and it prints out a ticket for you to display on your dashboard. The only?one we know of being in the Garden Theater lot near King Street and Burns Lane (366 King Street). This one is 24 hours. You can also find these kiosks at the Washout on Folly. The nice thing about these stations is that they take debit or credit cards, as well as cash. They do not accept the SmartCard.?


Parking Garages?
?These can get pricey pretty quickly, but sometimes a garage is your only option.?You can park in the Visitor Center garage, with the entrance on Meeting Street, any time after 5pm for a flat rate of $4.00 as long as you leave by 8am the following day. For garage and other lot?rates click here.
In need of an EV charging station? The following garages have them:
?Gaillard Garage
?Queen Street Garage
?Visitor Center Garage

Flat Rate Lots
?There are flat rate lots where you pay anywhere from $8 and up to park for the day. These rates vary depending on where they are in the city and what time of day it is as well. Now they have flat rate lots where you can pay for a short period of time, perfect for going out to dinner.

Residential Parking
?Most residential areas are 1 or 2 hours parking, but can go up to 4 hours. It all depends on what the sign says. Tip: Residential areas are all different…read the signs closely! Please be courteous when you are parking in residential areas. Just use some common sense. Would you want someone blocking your driveway, even if it was only for a few minutes

Free Parking (YAY!)
?There are handicap spaces on the streets scattered about; these spaces are free if you have a valid handicap license plate or tag.
?Upper King Street parking: Many businesses are now validating parking on Upper King Street. It never hurts to ask!
?Battery parking: Parking along the water side only at the Battery is free…if you are lucky enough to find a spot.
?Keep an eye out for the city’s annual free holiday parking vouchers. Historically these are issued at the end of November and run through December. Most of the parking garages participate in spreading this bit of holiday cheer.
?The best thing the city does for parking – meters are free on Sundays and official city holidays.


I’m Parked, What Now?
You have a few options of getting around the city.
?Walk around! (My personal favorite!) Charleston is so beautiful and you will stumble upon so much just from walking and checking things out. I know walking isn’t for everybody, especially in our steamy Charleston summers. There are still options.
?Charleston Rickshaw Company or Charleston Pedicab: Either company?will be happy to bike you wherever you need to go. Both companies are only $5.50 per person for every 10 minutes. They are super personable and knowledgeable about the city.
?DASH: This is?the Trolley Loop by CARTA runs through the Peninsula. It is a free service and stops at some of the major spots around the city.
?Scoop Charleston: This is one of our newest additions and?are Charleston’s only fully electric transportation service. Not only are they great for the environment, they are great for the budget too, because they are absolutely free! (Just please be courteous and tip your driver!)
?Charleston Water Taxi: For only $10 you can go between the heart of downtown and Mt. Pleasant. That $10 gets you an all day pass on the Water Taxi that does a loop between?Patriots Point, Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, Waterfront Park, and the Aquarium Wharf. During peak season, it runs between 9am and 8pm daily. Off peak you can still catch it on Saturdays.
?Uber and other various taxi services: These will travel off of the Peninsula and run later than Scoop does.

So now that you are armed with this parking and transport knowledge, your next trip to downtown Charleston should be a breeze! Be sure to take advantage of every service our city offers. It’s here for you!

May your days be sunny, may the red lights always be green and may the parking gods smile down on you!