The Fun Never Has to End: Downtown Sarasota Offers Free and Low-Cost Parking Options

One of the biggest traveling challenges can be parking. Often parking is the most frustrating experience visitors will have, so read up on free and low-cost parking options before you visit.

“Variety is the spice of life” is a colloquial phase we are all too familiar with and is often used when referring to one of the many happy moments in our lives, but more so when we are vacationing in such a beautiful place as Sarasota.

TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards has named Siesta Key as the United States’ second-best beach partly because of its “renowned eight-mile stretch of sugar-fine, quartz-white sand,” and has deemed it as a “great spot for kids to collect seashells and sand dollars.”

In addition, The U.S. News & World Report has voted Sarasota as the twenty-first best place to live and the number one best place to retire in 2018. Housing and healthcare affordability are two primary factors that are influencing these rankings.

Such high rankings have produced an influx of vacationers and newcomers seeking out good times at the local destinations that have been brilliantly displayed on websites, social media and magazines. However, the caveat to all of this is commuting and parking woes are beginning to mount, especially during the tourist season.

To combat these challenges, the City of Sarasota is designing free and low-cost parking options in popular areas of town, so the fun never has to end for residents and visitors alike.

In 2017, the City of Sarasota introduced “Parker” a free app that helps drivers locate public parking spaces downtown, and at St. Armands Circle, Lido Beach and Southside Village. Parker’s real time map is accessible on smart phones and tablets to both iOS and Android users.

In downtown Sarasota alone, there are more than 3,000 public parking spaces including curbside parking, parking lots, and parking garages. Currently public parking is free, with limited time restrictions of 2-3 hours, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. There are no restrictions on designated City holidays.

The City of Sarasota offers a digital map of downtown Sarasota and surrounding areas on its website that serves as a guide to everyone seeking a public parking space including handicap and motorcycle. In addition to more than 3,000 public parking spaces in and around downtown, there are three public parking garages with more than 1,300 covered spaces.

The three parking garages are conveniently located on State Street, Palm Avenue, and 2nd Street/Whole Foods Market. Parking is free, but there are time restrictions and during busy periods and special events, a $5 pay on entry fee may be charged. Selected dates when this fee may be imposed are listed on the City of Sarasota’s website.

State Street Garage – 1538 State Street

There are 400 parking spaces available near Sarasota downtown’s premier shopping, dining, and business locations. Parking is free for the initial three hours followed by a rate of $3.00 for an additional hour, or a total of four hours. The $4.00 rate is applied for parking up to five hours and the $5.00 rate for a total of six hours. Handicap parking spaces are near the elevators on each level and there are motorcycle and bicycle spaces on level one. Four electronic vehicle charging stations are located on level two.

The Palm Avenue Garage – 1289 North Palm Avenue

Palm Avenue is an award-winning garage conveniently “located one block from Main Street on North Palm Avenue, only steps away from 5 points intersection in downtown.” There are 729 available spaces including handicap parking on each level near the elevators and four electric vehicle charging stations on level one. Parking is free for the initial three hours followed by a rate of $3.00 for an additional hour, or a total of four hours. The $4.00 rate is applied for parking up to five hours and the $5.00 rate for a total of six hours.

The 2nd Street Garage at Whole Foods Market – 1400 Block of 2nd Street

The first level parking is designated for customers of Whole Foods Market and levels two and three are open to the public where permitted. A public parking access ramp is located on 2nd Street at Central Avenue. Free parking is available for up to two hours on level one and up to four hours on levels two and three.

Additional information about all available parking options can be found on the City of Sarasota’s website. For the latest updates follow the City of Sarasota’s Parking Operations Division on Twitter @SRQParking or visit its page on Facebook. You may also contact its administrative office via phone at 941-954-7057 or by email at [email protected].

Lastly, the City of Sarasota offers i-Ride a free ride service “to connect people with places in the downtown area.” The i-Ride is a six-passenger electronic vehicle with daily services between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. (hours are subject to change). It provides point to point transportation within certain service boundaries that are highlighted on the City of Sarasota’s website. You may contact i-Ride at 941-444-2585.

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