Where, When, and How to Park in Grand Rapids
There are many family-friendly things to do in Grand Rapids, but it’s not always easy to figure out where to park or how to get around.
When I took my daughter to Festival of the Arts in June, I drove around for 20 minutes trying to figure out where I could park without breaking the bank or having to walk miles to the festivities.
I ended up in a parking ramp not far from the event, but not before my 4-year old asked a hundred times if we were there yet. I don’t blame her – she was excited!
To avoid that situation in the future, I did some research and found out there are a lot of easy options for parking and moving around the city.
Parking in Grand Rapids
Before heading downtown, use this interactive map to explore parking options near your destination.
Parking Meters and the new MOTU App
Parking meters aren’t what they used to be. Even if you don’t carry change and don’t feel like digging between the seats to find some, meters are still an option.
While they do accept coins, most downtown meters are also compatible with the Motu app on your phone. If you’re not already using it, just download the app, set up an account with your license plate number and credit card information, then look for meters with a Motu emblem. Enter the Zone and space number posted on the meter, your length of stay, payment info and start your transaction. Bonus- the app will send you parking session alerts. You can even extend your session remotely.
Most parking meters are not enforced on weekends or after 6:00 PM during the week. If you visit downtown on a major holiday, you’re in luck! Street parking is always free on these holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. This interactive map will tell you exactly when meters are enforced and the parking rates for those spots.
Parking Ramps and Lots
For off-street parking, choose between one of many ramps and surface lots. While the ramps accept credit and debit cards, most parking lots only accept cash and coins, so come prepared!
If you’re downtown after 5:00 PM on a weekday or any time on the weekend, you can park at several lots for free. However, during major events, many downtown ramps adjust their evening and weekend rates, so plan ahead. Also, the Monroe Center parking garage offers one hour of free parking every day before 6:00 PM.
Getting Around Downtown
DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle)
It’s now easier than ever to move around downtown. Grand Rapids recently introduced the Park Once District in which visitors pay for parking once, and use the DASH Coaches to move throughout downtown for free. The DASH runs from 6:30 AM – 10:00 PM Monday through Friday, but does not operate on weekends.
The DASH is especially great during downtown events like Artprize when there is lots to see and do! Read these tips for riding before catching the DASH.
If, despite all the options, you’d rather just avoid parking downtown altogether, you can park farther out and take the Silver Line bus into the city. There is a fee to ride between 60th Street and Wealthy, but you can ride around downtown for free.
Grand Rapids is a vibrant city with so much to do. Don’t let confusion about parking and public transportation keep you away!