Friday, May 26, 2006

More on parking from Kevin

Kevin V. drives to Baltimore everyday for work and has a lot of experience. He offers this advice to those of us driving in:
Parking in Baltimore is an interesting challenge on a number of levels.
First, let me observe that the map provided here is a bit misleading.
One-way streets are more pervasive in the downtown area than your map suggests.

For the sake of context let me outline:
First the East-West bits-
The important parts: Pratt is one-way going East from at least Route 1(far more westerly than you want to think about going)to at least Patterson Park (quite interesting but far more east than you want to consider unless you're going to Greektown); Lombard is one-way going west with the same parameters as Pratt. Baltimore - Eastward, Fayette - westward, after that comes Route 40/Franklin Street which is another story altogether and then you are too far for practical purposes.

North South-
From 395 moving east: 395/Howard is two-way up to Lombard and then one-way north. Park (the next one west and not well marked on your map) goes south, Charles goes north, Light goes south, Calvert - north, south is, I believe, two-way, Gay street - north, after that is President street which is an esplanade. Moving east: Eutaw is two-way, Paca goes north, Greene goes south.

OK, with this grid lets talk about the specifics...the garages first- All day rates at the hotels average $15/day. Elsewhere the average is $10-$12 for the garages and lots. Mariner Arena parking (just north of lombard and Howard) is at the lower price range and is handy coming in.
The walk to the convention site isn't too bad. The spot just before it (just south of Lombard and Howard) is a bit more expensive, but easier to get into and out of. On Baltimore just east of Howard and on the north side is another garage (shown only as a "P" above the arena on the map). I park there most so there is my bias. $10/day and the walk is about the same as the arena. Turning on Pratt and then on Charles brings one to the Hopkins/Federal offices area. Just left on Lombard or just north of lombard on the left will both get one to this garage. They charge $15 - hey it's the feds...The good part is that the exit-also on lombard-will help with the leaving-the-city part. Further up Charles is Charles center parking. Usually some there, but getting there is slow.

The IBM garage is available, but also at the higher end. To get there - go further on Pratt to South (where the convention is centered), turn left, go to Lombard, turn left and go back to Light. Turn left and it is immediately on the left. Advantage here is that it is close. Continuing on Pratt to Market, turning left brings on to two more: left on Lombard to the Baltimore Community College area or further up to Cider and left to the Power Plant parking. Both of these are fairly close to the site and less favored by commuters and non-college folks. At the outer eastern edge for practicality is the parking garage near Pratt and President street. There is also lots of parking at the foot of President street, but that is a little far unless really pressed.

Lots: My experience is that the lot across from the hotel is mostly full, but is always fun to try. Heh. The Lots by Camden yards often have spaces, but getting longer term coverage (like for the day) can be a bit tricky. Also, if there is a ball game run while you can still save yourself.

I should mention the area from the Convention center south: The parking garage and Lot (yes, there are two) just off Conway are possibilities. Conway is an esplanade running right from 395/Howard as one is coming in (the west lane is just on the other side). Heavy commuter traffic here means plan your turn ahead if you wish to try this one. Continuing on Conway and turning on Light street will take one south and to a couple more garages and lots. The walk is very nice. If you decide to try this and change your mind you can always right on Lee or Hughes, go to Charles, turn right and head back into town.

This is a longish posting, I know, but it is intel you need for dealing with parking in this town.

I haven't really responded to the "recommend or warn" part. Parking, itself, is largely what one can find and how much one wants to pay. Traffic in Baltimore deserves a warn. The one way streets are infuriating at times around the usual commute schedule. I guess I would recommend being willing to walk a bit with respect to parking choices.

Your options, in general, increase and the relative price decreases with distance from the harbor. Even the parking near the courthouse area on South is not too bad in this respect. If one really doesn't mind the walk there is lots of cheap parking around Lexington Market (the eutaw/paca/lexington area) but the section of town is a little 'rough'. Also lots of parking around Enoch Pratt Library - but that too pushes the distance so I guess I'd suggest hesitation there. Downtown Baltimore pretty much empties out by about 7PM....

OK, that is probably enough. There is/will be parking spaces (that's why you will see lots of signs in Baltimore saying "Believe"). You now have enough information to search knowledgeably and with some hope of success.

Good luck to us all.


Update: Sally R. has some additions to Kevin's comments:
I just read Kevin's recommendations on parking. They are quite good, and generally I would agree.

However, I would add that the one-way streets alternate directions north-south and east-west. So that Lombard is one-way west, but the street one block north, Baltimore St., and one block south, Pratt St., are each one-way east. This was done purposely, to make it easy to "drive around the block," which you can do a lot, looking for parking. Public transportation in the area around the Inner Harbor / Convention Center area is quite good. If you are coming from the south (Anne Arundel, Montgomery or PG County or DC) or the north (northern Baltimore County, Carroll County, York / Harrisburg / Hershey PA), you might consider parking in one of the Light Rail stations (south - North Linthicum or Cromwell Station) (north - Hunt Valley Towne Center is about 1/4 mile east of I-83 and Shawan Road) and taking the light rail into Downtown Baltimore. There is a light rail stop at the west side of the Convention Center and the fare is about $3.50 for a full day pass. Monday - Saturday it runs from 6am to 11pm. Parking at most of the stations in the suburbs is free and quite safe. Schedule and map of the stations may be found at

Also, folks should be wary of where they might consider all-day parking. Try to stay in the Inner Harbor / Convention Center area. There are some sections of downtown Baltimore, not too far from the Inner Harbor, which are usually quite safe by day, but not too great, especially for the feminine gender, after dusk. I would avoid parking in those areas if you are going to be returning to your car after dark. Specifically, the area around the Lexington market.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin and Sally,

Thanks for your posts on parking. I think you intended to aim that at DC folk who might be driving up for the day and returning home at night. What about people who have car overnight in Baltimore? I am staying at the Radisson and need to have a car because I have some meetings in DC during the conference. The Radisson quoted me $25/day to park at the hotel. Do you have any other suggestions for safe, cheaper, nearby places to park overnight?

A second unrelated question which may have already been answered but I just discovered this blog. How has the best crab cake within walking distance of the hotels in the inner harbor?

David Grossman
"What's Next" Columnist
Searcher Magazine
Information Today

6/02/2006 6:53 AM  

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