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Secrets to Gainesville downtown parking

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Metered spots available along University Avenue

One thing Gainesville has in common with many large cities is an intense strictness of its parking and towing regulations. Exactly 99% of all Gainesville residents have had a vehicle towed at least once; that’s a made up figure, but it sure seems that way (I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been towed).

In addition to apartment complexes and lots near campus, downtown parking is a hot spot for roaming tow trucks. There are a few obvious parking options when going downtown for an evening: the first is parking at one of the pay-lots (e.g. the Wachovia bank near the Top). These lots usually cost between 5-10 dollars, and remarkably, a lot of people will fork out the cash just to park for a few hours. A sometimes-viable (and free) option is to park in one of the metered spots along University Ave, Main Street, or a downtown side street. The meters don’t require payment after 5:00 PM on weekdays and don’t run on weekends at all; the problem is that the spots are almost always full. A third option (which isn’t really a parking option at all), and what many people end up doing anyway, is to drive around until they find something that looks quasi-safe.

There are several secret locations known only to longtime locals and downtown mavens that are almost always open, are within a few blocks of any downtown destination, and are always free. Below are the best four:

1. just north of the Masonic Lodge off of main street—from University Ave, turn north onto Main St., pass Masonic Lodge on right, then turn right on NE 3rd Ave. There are several metered spots on the left side of the street.
Very close to the Top and The Atlantic area

2. State Attorney’s office lot—from University Ave, turn north onto NW 1st St., then make immediate left into parking lot
Very close to Flaco’s or Durty Nelly’s area

3. Lot near courthouse—from University Ave: turn south on Main St., turn right onto SW 4th Ave, then turn right onto SW 1st St, lots are on both sides.
Close to Common Grounds, Shooting Star, Uly’s, Volta area

4. Neighborhood near crossroads of 2nd Street and 3rd Avenue—from Universtity Ave: turn north on NW 1st Street, at stop sign turn left on NW 1st Ave, then take first right at NW 2nd Street, continue north to NW 3rd Ave., parking is available on street along NW 3rd Ave
close to Durty Nelly’s area

For more info: The City of Gainesville sells parking passes, if you're into that sort of thing. Also, a Gainesville Sun blog post about the horrors of towing

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