Thursday, May 8, 2008

Getting Around Downtown & Parking

The number one question that I have for customers when making a reservation is "Do you need directions or parking information?"

Directions vary depending on where your starting point is. Parking is very easy. The most important thing about parking in downtown Raleigh is learning to READ THE SIGNS. I'm sorry for the capitals, but it's a very important part of parking.

Each surface lot in downtown is privately owned and most of them are managed by McLaurin Parking. But even though they are all "managed" by McLaurin, the rules are different in each lot. Some are pay lots with a "Pay Box" in the lot. Some are leased by nearby restaurants. Some are completely private and "Unauthorized Vehicles" are towed.

The Parking Decks are owned by the city and managed by McLaurin. The Decks are no longer free after 7:00 pm. If you park in the Decks around Moore Square, there is now an employee in the collection booth until 10:00 pm. So if you stick around after dinner and go to a show nearby and leave the deck after 10:00, then the parking is free.

Street Parking is the best way to park in Downtown Raleigh. After 5:00pm, all street parking is FREE. The meters are free, the 2 hour parking is only until 5:00, the loading zones are available to everyone after 5:00 (6:00 in some locations). The only on street parking that is not available is the areas where the signs say "No Parking Anytime". So, back to my original tip on parking downtown, "READ THE SIGNS". If the signs say "No Parking between 8am-5pm", then don't park there. If the sign says "Parking $3 after 5pm, then pay the $3 before you leave your vehicle in the lot.

I have spoken to a lot of customers about parking and I have seen some customers that have "Selective Reading". They only read the part of the sign that doesn't apply to them. For instance: "The sign says No Parking between 8-5, so I don't have to pay, right?" Well the rest of the SAME SIGN says "Pay $3 after 5pm. So, Please read the ENTIRE SIGN in each situation.

I am trying to persuade the City of Raleigh to require all signs in Private Lots to look alike, outlining the fees and times in a similar manner for easier understanding. The best solution for a parking question is to call the restaurant, gallery, bar, club, symphony, theater, or the city to find out the best parking option for your venue.

My suggestion is to park only ONCE for all your downtown destinations. There are many ways to get around once in downtown Raleigh. On a beautiful evening, walking is my favorite. Other options include the R-LINE :: Downtown Raleigh, Raleigh Rickshaw , JL Horse & Carriage Rides or a local cab or transportation company. On the First Friday Gallery Walk the R-Line connects all the Galleries that are a part of the Walk. There is also a Historic Raleigh Trolley Tour every Saturday. The "Molly Trolley" will pick you up at any historical site along the route.

The Raleigh Transit Authority officially began their new Downtown Circulator bus service. Named the R-line, two buses will run the downtown route concurrently, Monday through Wednesday 7am to 11pm, Thursday through Saturday 7am to 2:15am, and Sunday 1 to 8pm. RIDE FREE to
Parks, Museums, Art Gallery, Movies, Coffee Shops, Farmers Markets, Shopping, Dining, Musicals, Symphony, Ballet, Concerts, Nightlife, Clubs, Historical Tours, the Governor's Mansion, State Legislature Building, the Capitol and Krispy Kreme.

There are so many fun things to do in Downtown Raleigh. Let's park once and make a day of it and have dinner at Mo's Diner!