Where, When, and How to Park in Grand Rapids

There are so many family-friendly things to do in downtown Grand Rapids, but it’s not always easy to figure out where to park or how to get around.

When going to an event downtown, I like to know where my parking options are, and if I have children in tow, is there public transportation options? I don’t want to hear “mom I’m tired” every two minutes while walking multiple blocks to our next destination.

Since doing research for myself, I have found so many easy options for parking and moving around the city I’d like to share with you. We live in the perfect sized city, don’t let parking keep you away!

If You’re Parking Downtown Grand Rapids You’ll Want the MOTU App

I love going downtown, so therefore I don’t mind parking downtown.  I know sometimes it can be intimidating, 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.

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

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, payment info (Tip – keep your credit card stored in the app, for a quicker transaction next time!). 

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!

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 in Downtown Grand Rapids

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.

parking in Grand Rapids

Using Grand Rapids Public Transportation

DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle)

Moving around downtown for free has never been easier! The DASH buses pass by 21 “points of interest” every 8 minutes. DASH has also partnered with The Rapid to offer the Silver Line as Fare-Free in downtown as well. DASH runs from 6:30 AM – 10:00 PM Monday through Friday, but does not operate on weekends. 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!

Ride the Rapid

If, despite all the options, you’d rather just avoid parking downtown 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

If already downtown, the Silverline has a No Fare Zone. From Wealthy Street northbound, if you enter and exit the bus, there will be no fee. Again, perfect to move around downtown, especially with small children.

Grand Rapids is a vibrant city with so much to do. Don’t let confusion about parking and public transportation keep you away!

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Last year was our first adventure camping as a family beyond our backyard.

I was not prepared.

I had enough “stuff” – you know, the sleeping bags, the swimming suits, the s’mores stuff, the beloved bug spray…

But I never considered having to entertain my children during our camping trip. Sure, they can find things to do and let imaginations soar, but that doesn’t normally last an entire 12 hour day.

This year, as we prepare again for camping this […]

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