Downtown Grand Rapids Parking: Where to Find Public Parking, When Meters are Free & How To Use the Indoor Skywalk

Parking GR – Where to Leave Your Car and Other Ways to Get Around Downtown

There are so many interesting things to do in downtown Grand Rapids, if you can figure out downtown Grand Rapids parking.

If you’re not an urbanite, parking can feel overwhelming. We’re going to show you just how easy it is to park in Grand Rapids and how to get to your destinations once you’ve parked the car.

downtown grand rapids parking

Grand Rapids has meters and ramps for parking your car, and several public transit options as well.

We live in the perfect sized city, so don’t let public parking keep you away!

Grand Rapids Parking Meters are Run by MOTU App

I love going downtown, so therefore I don’t mind parking downtown Grand Rapids.

I know it can be intimidating for others, but if you are well prepared and confident, it can be a simple task before enjoying your time downtown.

The City of Grand Rapids is expanding options on ways to get downtown, so before leaving your house, check the city’s Downtown Visitor Mobility and Parking Guide.

How to Use the MOTU App

Downtown Grand Rapids parking meters aren’t what they used to be.

You don’t need quarters to park at a meter anymore! (Though you can still use them if you’d like.)

While they do accept coins, most downtown meters are also compatible with the Motu app on your phone.

If you haven’t already, download the app, set up an account with your license plate number and credit card info.

Once you have found a parking spot, open the app, and enter the zone and space number posted on the meter.

It will ask you length of stay and payment info.

(Tip – you can either save your credit card information to the app or load a prepaid wallet option for a quicker transaction next time!)

Motu Street Parking Meter

One of my favorite features about the Motu app is that it will send you parking session alerts, and you can extend your session remotely.

You can only extend your session twice, by 10 minutes each time, but sometimes you just need that extra 20 minutes!

If you take a picture or make note of your space number, you can also simply start an additional parking session as well.

Most downtown Grand Rapids 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 the day after, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day plus others.

This interactive map will tell you exactly when downtown Grand Rapids parking meters are enforced and the rates for those spots.

Public Parking Downtown Grand Rapids

For off-street parking, there are many ramps (AKA parking garages) and surface lots.

While the ramps accept credit and debit cards, most parking lots only accept cash and coins, so come prepared!

This interactive map of the public parking lots and ramps displays the rates nearby DASH routes as well so you can easily see where best fits your location and budget.

Heading to one of these popular downtown destinations? Here’s the intel on parking:

Grand Rapids Public Museum

If you are a Kent County resident and visiting the Grand Rapids Public Museum, you can actually park for free at the GRPM ramp on Front Ave (close to the Blue Bridge).

If you’re not a Kent County resident, there are street parking options if you can find one or you can simply pay to park at the GRPM ramp.

Grand Rapids Public Museum Museum Day Participant
GRPM validates ramp parking for Kent County residents

Studio Park

If you’re heading to Studio Park, use their ramp at 120 Ottawa Ave.

Get up to four hours of parking validated when you buy admission to a flick.

There are also public parking meters nearby.

If you go to a movie at Celebration Cinema, get your parking validated

Van Andel Arena

Catching a show at Van Andel? There are two public parking lots north of the building: Ottawa Fulton ramp and Monroe Center ramp.

van andel arena concert

When it’s freezing out (or raining!), park at the Campau Lot and take the indoor skywalk to the arena.

Skywalk Map of Downtown Grand Rapids showing indoor tunnel routes to popular destinations.

GLC Live at 20 Monroe

GLC Live at 20 Monroe is across the street from Van Andel and has the same parking options, save for the skywalk. (You can still park at Campau Square, but the cozy above-ground tunnel system doesn’t take you to GLC Live.)

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum & Civic Theatre

There is a limited amount of street parking around Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

The few meters right out front have a three hour limit while the ones around the Veteran’s Memorial square have a two hour limit.

The library lot at Grand Rapids Public Library’s Main Branch is also a parking option for everyone. No need to be a card holder!

Take your ticket inside the library before you leave to get it validated in their ticket reader (up to one hour). Otherwise, pay the regular parking fees.

The Gallery Ramp is also a good option. Just know you will have to cross Fulton to get to the museum and theatre.

Grand Rapids Children's Museum Mural Exterior

There are also many Ellis parking lots and ramps through out the city that can be utilized, especially during events.

Also, if you will be dining downtown, check with the restaurant beforehand as several will validate parking when requested.

Grand Rapids Public Transportation Options

Lime Scooters

Rentable scooters are the latest in Grand Rapids mobility.

Widely embraced by both downtown visitors and the locals, the city offers Lime e-scooters and e-bikes for rent.

You must be at least 18 to unlock a scooter (for $1) and then it’s about $.30/minute.

Downtown Grand Rapids - Electric Scooters

You can pick up a scooter just about anywhere around town. Use the Lime app to locate them.

Once you’re done, return it to any designated parking spots for the Grand Rapids scooters around town marked with signs.

Be sure to return the scooter to one of the designated locations when you’re done using it. Otherwise, you will be charged additional fees.

This is a fun option for anyone who is 18 and up. Irresponsible scooter use is the primary reason behind scooter-related complaints. Please follow the scooter guidelines.

Ride the Rapid – Grand Rapids’ Bus System

If, despite all the downtown Grand Rapids parking options, you’d rather just avoid it altogether, you can choose to take public transportation and Ride The Rapid!

There is a small fee to ride the bus downtown to the Bus Station, which is a short walk to many destinations downtown.

The Silver Line is perfect for getting through the busiest part of downtown Grand Rapids. Plus it connects to many other routes.

Riding the DASH

DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle)

Moving around downtown for free has never been easier!

The DASH buses pass by many “points of interest” every 15 minutes.

As of May 10, 2023, the DASH now runs on a single loop, going in both directions.

Don’t worry – it still goes to the same main spots as DASH West and DASH North.

They’ve also added a few new destinations at Bridge Street, Grand Rapids Public Library and Leonard Street.

The normal DASH schedule is:

Wednesday – Friday: 7:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Saturday: 11:00 AM – 1:00 AM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Currently no service Monday and Tuesday

To learn more about the schedule, real-time bus updates, and detours click here.

The DASH is especially great during events like ArtPrize when there is lots to see and do!

Skywalk Indoor Tunnel and Pedestrian Only Bridges

Don’t overlook easy navigation downtown via the pedestrian-only walkways, tunnels, and skywalks.

The skywalk’s above-ground tunnel system is a great option for those heading to big events during poor weather. The skywalk connects city parking ramps with many big hotels and popular destinations like DeVos Performance Hall and Van Andel Arena.

Skywalk Map of Downtown Grand Rapids showing indoor tunnel routes to popular destinations.

And we also have an underground tunnel! If you’re at the Government Center parking ramp below Calder Plaza, you can travel underground to get to either Monroe Street or even directly into GR Symphony Building at 300 Ottawa.

There are also pedestrian-only trails along both banks of the river, with two pedestrian bridges spanning the Grand River so you can easily criss-cross to either side as needed. 

The Blue Bridge is just south of GRPM and connects to the Marriott hotels.  The Gillett bridge links Gerald R. Ford Museum/Ah-Nab-Awan Park with the DeVos Center, as well as the Campau Promenade, Midtown Arcade, and Keeler Walkway.

Kids on tire swing in Grand Rapids
Motu Viget swing at Calder Plaza

Grand Rapids is a fun little big city with so much to do.

Don’t let confusion about downtown Grand Rapids parking and public transportation keep you away!

Downtown Grand Rapids Parking FAQs

Is Parking Downtown Grand Rapids free on the weekends?

Most parking meters are not enforced on weekends. If they are, they will be marked. Most of the meters with weekend rates are around Monroe Center.

When is parking free in downtown Grand Rapids?

Most parking meters are free on weekends or after 6:00 PM during the week.

Street parking is always free on federal holidays including New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

What is the app for Grand Rapids parking?

Downtown Grand Rapids parking meters use the MOTU app.

1 thought on “Downtown Grand Rapids Parking: Where to Find Public Parking, When Meters are Free & How To Use the Indoor Skywalk”

  1. need help regarding handicapped parking. Three of us elderly people are going to a wedding in Grand Rpaids and would like to know where to park close enough for us with wialker to the New Mertens Hotel Grill.

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