I can justify paying for an awesome show, but there’s something about having to pay for parking that makes me feel like a sucker. From $10 “special event” parking for otherwise free spots to pricey valets and parking garages — there is another way. Free parking. With a little luck and a little walking, here’s where you can scope out free parking at Phoenix’s most high-traffic concert venues.
Bar Smith, Monarch Theatre, Valley Bar, Talking Stick Resort Arena — Downtown Phoenix
I lump these together because they are all relatively close to one another and their free parking options are ultimately the same. Your best bet is meter parking, after 10 p.m., it’s free every day of the week, including holidays. There’s a chunk of space between First and Third Streets, and Monroe and Washington, you might have to extend your reach further north to Fillmore if it’s a busy night. Give yourself an extra 30 minutes for spot hunting and walking.
Crescent Ballroom and Comerica Theatre — Downtown Phoenix
Your best bet is street parking along Second and Third Avenues, south of Fillmore for parking at Crescent. Comerica isn’t too far of a walk from there, so it’s not a bad idea to scope out parking around here for that venue too. If it’s all full, and you don’t mind a bit of a walk, head all the way to Fifth Avenue near The Vig Fillmore and Cibo.
Livewire and Old Town Scottsdale Nightclubs
The streets webbing the old town nightclubs and bars together are a complete clusterfuck on the weekends. The earlier you arrive, the better chance you have at getting a free spot in the public parking lots on Sixth Avenue and down Shoeman Lane. If you arrive later in the night, and everything is packed, you have a few options. First, try the lot parking lots and garages at Fashion Square; the garages only close once they are full. If you really want to burn some calories before your night, or or don’t mind getting a rickshaw, there’s a free parking garage near Dos Gringos off of Third Avenue and Scottsdale Road and an underground free parking garage behind Barrio Queen off of Stetson Drive.
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Marquee Theatre — Tempe
Your best bets for free parking here is parking over the Mill Avenue bridge and walking over. Meter spots are a little tricky. Two-hour time limit spots are free after 10 p.m.; there are three-hour and 80-minute spots free after 6 p.m. You can also park in the lot at the Tempe Center for the Arts off of Rio Salado Parkway and the Tempe Beach Park Surface Lot off of Rio, which is open until 12 a.m. There’s also the City Hall parking garage off of Fifth Street, which is free after 6 p.m. on weekends, excluding “special events.” Now, we've heard rumors that you can always enter the Marquee parking lot during the show, and when they ask for cash, say “you’re just heading down to the lake,” and you can park for free if you head down towards Tempe Town Lake. But such shady tactics seem unlikely to work, and you're likely to ruin a good thing if you do something like that. So don't.
Personally, I’m an Uber kind of gal.