Posted February 11, 2024.
Yes, it's true. There really are some places with free parking in San Francisco!
In fact, there are at least 10 fun places to visit in the city where you can park for free, with no hassles.
You may have experienced this: you're all ready to go do something fun in San Francisco, then that sinking feeling comes over you.
Some days you just don't feel like struggling.
For those days, I've put together a list of attractions worth visiting that you can just drive to and park.
...easy-peasy, free parking and no stress.
These are all places that have big, free parking lots, just like the suburbs;)
My listicle for a mellow day in the city
1. The Golden Gate Bridge. Always beautiful, in sun or fog. And there are lots of places to park.
Check out my maps showing where the best free lots are, and the location of the best parking lot in SF!
2. Ocean Beach. Three miles of sandy beach on the western edge of the city.
Lots of free street parking, with no residential time limits. A huge free parking lot across from the Beach Chalet and another free lot at the end of Sloat Blvd.
See Ocean Beach.
3. Golden Gate Park. Dozens of fun things to do in Golden Gate Park: museums, the tea garden, boating, sports, gardens, and more.
Miles of roads inside Golden Gate Park are available for parking, all free.
See Golden Gate Park.
4. Lands End/Sutro Baths. Lands End is a beautiful nature park with great hiking trails and gorgeous views, and the Sutro Baths are a cool ruin to explore.
Lands End has two good-sized free parking lots, one near the Sutro Baths and the Lands End Lookout information center, and another closer to the trailhead. The Cliff House (reopening this year) is nearby as well.
4. San Francisco Zoo. San Francisco has a large zoo out by the ocean. In addition to the animals, kids can enjoy a fanciful playground, ride on a vintage carousel, and travel on the little steam train.
The zoo has a paid lot near the entrance, but there is also a large, free lot just outside the zoo.
See SF Zoo.
5. Legion of Honor Art Museum. This is one of San Francisco's best art museums, with a large collection of European and ancient art works.
It's located near Lands End and has a couple of large, free parking lots.
6. Mount Sutro. A forested mountain inside the city limits with pretty hiking trails.
Park just outside one of several entrances in unmetered street parking.
See Mount Sutro.
7. Stow Lake. Stow Lake (just renamed Blue Heron Lake) is a popular man-made lake in Golden Gate Park. Hike the wooded trails, rent a paddle boat, or cross to the island in the center and climb Strawberry Hill.
All the parking around the lake is free and plentiful.
See Stow Lake.
8. Fort Funston. A locals' secret. One of the prettiest beaches in San Francisco, where the hang gliders take off from 200 foot cliffs. Best dog beach, too.
Plenty of free parking in the lot.
See Fort Funston Beach.
9. Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks has the best 360 view of the entire city.
The main parking lot at Twin Peaks is free, but can get crowded. But there are a couple of other free places to park up there, which I've marked on the map.
See Twin Peaks parking.
10. Baker Beach. Baker Beach is a large beach at the entrance to San Francisco Bay with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
It has a decent-sized, free parking lot.
See Baker Beach.
11. The Presidio. This large, park-like area near the Golden Gate Bridge has some fun attractions, like the Walt Disney Museum, a new children's playground (Presidio Tunnel Tops), and great views of the bridge.
There's lots of free parking throughout the area, and in front of the Disney Museum.
See The Presidio.
12. Coit Tower. Coit Tower is a San Francisco landmark located in the Russian Hill neighborhood. Inside the tower, there are some fascinating, Depression Era murals with scenes of old San Francisco, and amazing views of the city from the top of the tower.
There's a free, though somewhat small, parking lot at the tower. You have a good chance of getting a spot there, though you might have to wait a bit sometimes.
See Coit Tower.
13. Palace of Fine Arts. The Palace of Fine Arts is a beautiful remnant of the Panama-Pacific Exhibition of 1915. Grand domes and columned walkways with a faux-Roman feel, next to a lake with swans. Popular spot for wedding photos!
There's a small, but free, parking lot there. But be very careful parking there; leave nothing valuable in your car, and nothing visible, not even a jacket or a bag! One of the hottest car-break-in spots in the city:(
14. China Beach. China Beach is a pretty, less-busy beach next door to Baker Beach, with nice views of the bridge and a picnic area. Check out the sea anemones on the rocks at low tide.
There's a small, free parking lot at the beach. It usually has spaces avilable.
See China Beach.
Travel tips for San Francisco: